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China formulates Action Plan for the development of 3D printing industry

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China, along with 12 other departments, has jointly formulated (link in Chinese) an Action Plan for the rapid, healthy and sustainable development of Additive Manufacturing (commonly known as 3D printing) industry (2017-2020) in China.

In 2015, MIIT, the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Finance jointly released the National Plan for the Development of Additive Manufacturing Industries (2015-2016). The MIIT press release note that though there have been advances and breakthroughs and growth in applications, in comparison with some countries, the country still lags in key technologies and innovation capability. There is also a need to improve the breadth and depth of the applications of the technology.

Hence, this action plan created in response to these shortcomings, will focus on strengthening core research & development, as well as speeding up applications of the technology and its adoption in industry.

According to Xinhua, the MIIT is going to increase fiscal support for 3D printing companies. It will also encourage diverse financing models, including stock market listings and issuing bonds. Financial leasing will also be promoted. Foreign firms will be encouraged to set up research and development centers in China, according to the guidelines.

The Plan aims to foster two or three domestic firms which will have their products recognised in overseas markets and will be able to take on global rivals.

With increasing industrial applications of 3D printing technology, production lines and process flows in manufacturing will be impacted. By 2020, more than 100 pilot demonstration projects will be conducted to promote the application of additive manufacturing in 10 key manufacturing industries, such as aviation, automotive and ship-building, and drive its applications in the areas of healthcare, education and culture.

The Government expects China's additive manufacturing industry to have annual sales revenue of more than 20 billion yuan (US$ 3 billion) by 2020, with an average annual growth rate of 30% or higher.

The development of additive manufacturing technology, is also expected to bring up challenges in areas such as public safety, and intellectual property rights.  

During the compilation of the "Action Plan", industry experts and government departments suggested that precautions should be taken to enhance safety supervision in the additive manufacturing industry. The Plan of Action explicitly proposes that the establishment of a real-name registration system for the purchase of additive manufacturing equipment, a system for filing basic information on the equipment and a system for registration and filing of practitioners' certification should be investigated. It also says that illegal/ criminal activities such as the illegal production of goods or manufacturing equipment by means of additive manufacturing should be punished in accordance with the law. 

Featured image: Jonathan Juursema/ CC BY-SA 3.0

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