Here in the United States, many economists believe that one of the major economic impacts of 3D printing, along with robotics, will be the repatriation of jobs. Jobs which companies in the U.S. may have outsourced overseas, particularly to China, may begin coming back onshore, as corporations begin bringing their manufacturing hubs back to American soil. We have already seen this to some extent with Apple, as well as Google within the last year. One of the reasons for such moves is the decrease in manufacturing costs due to automation. While robots and 3D printers will be responsible for many of the laborious tasks involved in these new onshore facilities, human workers will need to be hired to oversee manufacturing, service the machines, and manage supply chains.
What may be a boon for the U.S. economy could potentially devastate that of China’s, if they don’t find a way to compete. This is likely why the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) within China, this week has announced a new initiative to develop the 3D printing industry within the country. They expect to release a blueprint, which has already been drafted, for this initiative later this year. China realizes the importance of keeping up with western nations in the manufacturing space. A failure to do so could mean the destruction of China’s biggest industry.
The plan which will be put forth by the government, is said to create a preliminary technical innovation system within three years, as well as plant the seeds, and nurture between five and ten companies based around additive manufacturing. The aim will be to grow these companies so that they all have an annual production value of over 500 million yuan ($81.3 million). Additionally the government will seek to establish an investment fund, as well as a national innovation center, based on 3D printing technologies and companies.
China already is a major player in the additive manufacturing space, but as a percent of their population, the numbers are not staggering. The United States currently leads in 3D printing revenue, and is projected to continue to lead for the foreseeable future. China has been coming on strong, however, they still do not have a single additive manufacturing company with annual sales revenue of over 100 million yuan ($16.26 million).
One way for China to eradicate the risks of losing manufacturing jobs back to the United States and Europe, is to keep pace and innovate within the additive manufacturing space. If China can offer U.S. companies the same types of automated manufacturing as they can achieve on American soil, plus cheaper labor costs, it may prevent many companies from repatriating jobs. The next few years will be interesting from both a technlogical, and economic point of view. In the end, the additive manufacturing industry will only gain from this battle, as innovation flourishes. Let us know what you think about China’s ambitions to try and halt the loss of manufacturing jobs within their nation, in the ‘China Initiative’ forum thread on 3DPB.com.[Source: Global Times]
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