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Materialise NV, the Belgian provider of additive manufacturing software and 3D printing solutions in the medical and industrial markets, officially established the Chinese wing of their operations with the opening of Materialise Shanghai Co. Ltd. yesterday.

The announcement took place in front of the company’s new office in Shanghai’s Baoshan District, and though Materialise has been active in China since 2005, this official registration of their activities marks a step forward in their dedication to the Chinese market with a 3D printing software and R&D facility on site.

While China is home to arguably the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing economy, the Chinese have yet to make serious inroads into the 3D printing market.

Luo Jun, the head of the Asian Manufacturing Association, has said he believes revenues from products and services related to the industry in China will grow to $1.6 billion over the course of the next three years. Depending on the numbers from various sources, that might be a conservative estimate. Wohlers Associates, the 3D printing market gurus, say they think that number will be more like $3.7 billion for 2015.

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Both forecasts are bolstered by the news that the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology formed the “China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance” aimed at funding 10 research centers to the tune of 200 million yuan, or $32 million, and those funds will be matched by local governments. To date, 40 companies have joined that alliance with more expected to take part.

In 2013, the US accounted for nearly 60% of the 3D printing industry’s global revenues at around $2 billion. China? Sources say they were good for only $150 million of the total revenues.

Materialise is clearly betting that the interest of the Chinese in the 3D printing industry will follow an upward trend with their move to stake an official position in China.

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Bart Van der Schueren

“As one of the leading 3D printing software providers, Materialise works with the Chinese government and businesses in developing the 3D printing industry in the country, one of the focuses in the current five-year plan,” said Materialise Vice President Bart Van der Schueren at the event in Shanghai. “By deepening our relationship in China with an official company that not only provides state-of-the-art software, but also focuses on R&D, Materialise China can now further support the emerging Chinese 3D printing market.”

The official opening event on December 18th was attended by approximately 80 luminaries, among them academics from the medical and industrial fields, Baoshan government leaders and representatives from the Belgian consulate.

The list of speakers included Dean Pei Guoxian of Xijing Hospital, the Vice President of Altair China, Liu Yuan, the Founder and Chief Design Officer of Xuberance, Steven Ma, the General Manager of AKEC, Li Zhijiang, Regulatory Specialist Dr. Lin Shangzhi, and Metal AM Researcher, Professor Xue Lei.

Do you believe the Chinese will come to dominate 3D printing technology and markets the way they’ve achieved the heights in global manufacturing? Let us know your thoughts on how Chinese firms and researchers will fare in the 3D printing sphere in the Materialise Shanghai Co. Ltd. thread on 3DPB.com.

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