ShortCut: Additive Manufacturing

SHORT CUT RISING UP THE SCALE Why 3D printing is the future of mass production in China Additive manufacturing (AM) – or 3D printing – has developed as a radical alternative to traditional manufacturing methods. But despite being a popular method used at the prototyping and testing stages across many industries, AM is still rarely used for large-scale production. The technology’s maturity remains low in most of the industries in China, and therefore it is presently slower and more costly than traditional mass production methods. However, as the technology continues to develop over the coming years, goetzpartners anticipates these challenges to become less impactful. AM in China will shift from prototyping to small-volume production, then to large-volume production in the long-term. As the industry approaches this turning point, it is crucial for new market entrants to understand the emerging areas for AM application, as well as the ongoing educational challenges. Innovated in China goetzpartners estimates that China’s AM market size will reach more than €4 billion by 2025. In addition to an increase in the technology’s popularity, the market development is also being caused by support from the Chinese government. The Chinese government sees AM as a key technology within the innovative manufacturing sector – the growth of which is the subject of the “Made in China 2025” policy. It is estimated that 30 per cent of the AM industry’s year-on-year growth in China is supported by the government. 1 A diverse customer base Aerospace and healthcare currently have the greatest demand for AM methods respectively in China, which is why maturity of the technology is highest in these sectors. And alongside those, electronics, automotive and robotics are all significant growth areas for AM. KEY CRITERIA FOR AM APPLICATION 2 MATERIAL Wide material choice to support growing list of applications 1 TECHNOLOGY Technical merit that can meet functional parts’ R&D requirement 3 SERVICE Responsive support, training and regular maintenance The Chinese market for 3D printing offers dramatic sales potential while being highly competitive. It is only with a clear, localized AM strategy that multinational corporations can succeed here. In the automotive industry specifically, the electric vehicle sector is currently showing substantial interest in AM, as its pursuit of lightweight materials is well suited to the method’s capabilities. Therefore, the technology could move to the core of large-scale production methods in the automotive industry by 2025. Volkswagen has recently announced that it plans to print select parts such as gear knobs and it would mass produce structural parts using AM within two to three years. The leading options As industry applications for AM will develop to become more commonplace, it’s increasingly clear that certain technologies within AM – specifically, selective laser sintering (SLS) and selective laser melting (SLM) – have huge growth potential over alternative methods. In China, SLS and SLM are showing a 20 per cent year-over-year growth rate on equipment. This trend can be attributed to the methods having higher precision and a wider choice of material options. 1) “AM Industry Development Action Plan”, The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the People‘s Republic of China, 2017