3D printing is known as an important symbol of the “third industrial revolution”. Previously, the world’s first building was completed in Dubai. From the data point of view, the global 3D printing industry has entered a period of rapid development, with an average market growth rate of 30%. It is predicted that the global 3D printer market will grow to 21.1 billion U.S. dollars by 2018. During the period 2012-2018, global 3D printer shipments have an average annual compound growth rate of 106.6%, and revenue growth during the same period was 87.7%.
Technical 3D printing has attracted much attention, and an important reason is that it may eventually allow American and European companies to move manufacturing from China back to their homeland. In the past 40 years, most of the manufacturing industry has moved to China and other underdeveloped countries because of the availability of cheap labor. Today, China is the world’s number one manufacturer, while the United States ranks second.
But just this trend does not mean that the future pattern will not change with the changes of some factors. In fact, we have already begun to feel the first round of shocks brought about by some important changes in global trade. For example, labor costs in China are rising. But does this mean that China will definitely lose its dominant position (in manufacturing)?
Automated production is increasing, so high labor costs may not be so important when companies decide where to produce. At the same time, oil and transportation costs have become relatively expensive, so the distance between the place of production and the consumer is more important. Both of these trends seem to herald the recovery of the US manufacturing industry. In fact, it is partly for this reason that some US companies have moved part of the manufacturing industry back to the US.
However, don’t expect China to give up manufacturing easily. China attaches great importance to automation and is using its original industrial power to try to become an innovator in global 3D printing technology, and is expected to become the world’s largest 3D printing economy in 2016. It has built the world’s largest 3D printer, 6 meters in diameter, enough to print vehicles; some other large industrial 3D printers can print titanium alloy products, including satellites, rockets and parts used in nuclear power plants. Therefore, even if home-based 3D printing develops rapidly in the West, whether it is done by humans or robots, China will strive to maintain the world’s leading position in the field of large-scale industrial manufacturing.
In the long run, this also emphasizes that Western countries cannot expect overseas manufacturing to return to their homeland to create employment opportunities, just as we cannot expect the return of subsistence agriculture that has been replaced by manufacturing.
Such beautiful data indicates that 3D printing will be a key area of investment, so what is the actual situation? Let Pintejin take you to see the recent situation in the United States and the in-depth analysis of 3D printing China.
1. Desktop Metal: The elite team from MIT is favored by capital
Desktop Metal (hereinafter referred to as DM) is a metal 3D printer startup company founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2015. Their goal is to produce cheaper and smaller metal 3D printers.
The company conducted A round of financing in October 2015, which was also their first round of financing. Six investors including Kaipeng Huaying, New Enterprise Associates, Lux Capital and 3D printing giant Stratasys invested a total of 1,400 Ten thousand U.S. dollars.
In April 2016, DM conducted a B round of financing. Kaipeng Huaying, Enyi Investment, Mike Volpe and Data Collective participated in a total investment of 33.76 million US dollars.
DM has more than 6 co-founders, 4 of whom are professors at MIT:
Co-founder Ric Fulop: Once participated in the lithium battery startup A123 Systems, and helped the latter develop the KERS energy recovery system, which has been adopted by the Mercedes-Benz Formula One team.
Yet-Ming Chiang: is the former co-founder of A123 Systems.
Jonah Myerberg: is a former A123 Systems engineer.
Chris Schuh: Dean of the MIT School of Materials Science.
Among the other two, Rick Chin was an early engineer at 3D CAD software provider SolidWorks, and Matt Verminski was once the vice president of robotics company Kiva Systems (the company was later acquired by Amazon for $800 million).
2. DM’s ambition: to make industrial metal 3D printing smaller and more economical
The current mainstream metal 3D printers are very large and costly, and only the government and large companies can afford to use them. Therefore, DM hopes to change this situation. They are preparing to produce cheaper and smaller metal 3D printers that can be put into use. On the desktop or in people’s pockets.
At present, 3D printers with such a small size can only print lightweight materials, such as plastic and paper. Of course, the price is thousands of dollars lower than before. But metal 3D printing has not been able to make such a big progress.
The reason that affects the development of metal 3D printing technology is that metal 3D printers are too cumbersome for many manufacturers, and the operating costs are high, requiring a large amount of gasoline and industrial-level electricity, requiring operating permits, and the potential for use. Dangerous strong laser. Metal 3D printing is still so for large manufacturers, and it is even more out of reach for many individual engineers and hobbyists.
DM has now developed a prototype metal 3D printer, which is one step closer to their goal. However, the current DM has not disclosed more details, but they said that they will adopt a completely different mechanism from most current 3D printers and will not use lasers. Their goal is to produce a metal printer that is suitable for office use, does not require professionals to operate, and the machine runs faster, more convenient and more economical. Their target customers are large manufacturing companies such as General Motors (GM), Boeing, Honeywell and some small engineering companies.
Dubai launches the world’s first 3D printing office
According to Reuters, Dubai recently launched the world’s first 3D printed office. The building uses a special cement mixture, has only one floor, covers an area of 250 square meters, and is built with a 6x36x12 meter printer. It took 17 days to complete and cost about US$140,000. It will be used as the temporary headquarters of the Dubai Future Foundation, the company behind the project. Research estimates that this technology can cut 50% to 70% of construction time and save 50% to 80% of labor costs. Dubai’s strategy is to use 3D printing to build 25% of buildings by 2030.
3. The order of the 3D printing industry has yet to be established
According to ReportBuyer’s report on the metal 3D printer industry, metal 3D printers are the most widely used in aviation and medical industry, and their growth rate in the market is 48%. Companies like Boeing and Lockheed have already put metal 3D printers into their production processes. At present, metal 3D printers are not only used in one industrial system, but also in production groups in each industrial system.
In 2015, the 3D printing industry giants 3D Systems and Stratasys’ downward performance in the stock market made many people start to succumb to the 3D printing industry. However, experts believe that the 3D printing industry will continue to rise in 2016, and authoritative experts have analyzed that this industry will maintain rapid development until 2019. The decline in the stock prices of these two companies is entirely due to their encounters from small companies. Challenges, and those small 3D printer manufacturers have achieved record profits and will soon become major players in the industry.
In addition, Canon, HP, Siemens and other traditional manufacturing companies have also entered the 3D printing market. On the one hand, it shows the great charm of 3D printing for the manufacturing industry. On the other hand, it also shows that if investors want to determine the industry winner through competition, It takes a longer period of time. From the above analysis, we can fully see the logic behind why DM has obtained two rounds of investment of A and B in just 6 months.
After receiving the investment, DM decided to double the number of employees in the next few months, expand the company to 50 people, and accelerate the speed of product prototypes to real products.
4. How is the development of 3D printing in China?
1. The market has great potential for growth
In 2015, the output value of 3D printing in my country was close to RMB 10 billion. If the progress goes smoothly, it will double to RMB 20 billion in 2016. Some experts said that although my country’s related technology temporarily lags behind the world’s advanced level, this does not prevent us from becoming the world’s largest 3D printing market. Professionals predict that in the next 3 to 5 years, my country’s 3D printing market is expected to grow at least twice as fast every year.
2. Favorable at the policy level
In my country, 3D printing has shouldered the major mission of manufacturing transformation, and the policy has also shown great enthusiasm for the 3D printing industry. Following the “National Additive Manufacturing Industry Development Promotion Plan (2015-2016)”, “China “Manufacturing 2025” and other policies have been introduced, and the additive manufacturing method represented by 3D printing has been upgraded to the national strategic level.
3. The manufacturing industry will use 3D printing and smart manufacturing as breakthroughs
The above amazing growth data seems to confirm the view of the famous economist Jeremy Rifkin. With the continuous development of the Internet and the advancement of technology, the manufacturing industry will use 3D printing and related intelligent manufacturing methods as a breakthrough, starting from centralized manufacturing. Transition to national manufacturing, which will greatly increase human productivity.
4. Where is the huge market for 3D printing?
(1) Future industrial field
At the end of 2015, the US industry giant 3D Systems announced its withdrawal from the “consumer” market and will shift to the more lucrative professional and industrial 3D printing market. Some experts pointed out that the future industrial field will still be the mainstream market for 3D printing. More companies will reluctantly abandon the consumer market and focus on the industrial market. The platform, intelligence, and systemization of future industrial applications of 3D printing will be inevitable.
(2) Medical field
At the same time, some people predict that, especially in the medical field, 3D printing will have a wider range of applications. The investment community’s pursuit of 3D printing in the past five years has led to a period of rapid growth in 3D printing technology and materials. Among them, there are more and more materials that can be used for orthopedic surgery assistance and implantation, and more medical applications can use 3D printing. Materials, from guide plates to prostheses, from rehabilitation equipment to dental crowns, and future cell printing technology, the development of 3D printing in the medical field is worth looking forward to.
(3) Internet of Things
“Internet of Things” is an important element of modern products, and more and more consumer products are installed with sensors or other electronic components. In the future, the use of artificial intelligence to design products will become the mainstream, and many parts of these smart products can only be produced by 3D printing.
Joe Ellison wrote in “The Impact of 3D Printing on the Manufacturing Industry”: “Today, 3D printing is still regarded as a technical solution, but the future of 3D printing will be a commercial solution.”
5. China is regarded by investors as a young market for 3D printing
George Smoot, winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physics, appeared in Tsinghua Science and Technology Park as an investor and announced a contract with O.ME, a 3D printer development company incubated by Tsinghua Science and Technology Park. This is Smoot’s first investment in China.
Smoot believes that the development of 3D printing technology in the United States has matured. Model products, print shops and other industrial technology applications have already reached a certain scale, and industry competition has become fierce. However, China’s 3D printing industry is still very young. Even though many companies in the United States and Europe have achieved certain achievements in the field of 3D printing, it is still not easy for them to enter China. Therefore, investors need to do some basic work now, so that they can gain a firm foothold before major companies in the industry enter China.
6. What are the problems with 3D printing in China
Although it is as good as mentioned above, the gold consultant has to say, don’t be blindly optimistic, because our 3D printing in the past few years was not as wonderful as imagined.
(1) A rush to the virtual fire
2013 is considered the first year of 3D printing in China. Since the end of 2012, 3D printing industrial parks have “bloomed everywhere”, and some third- and fourth-tier cities and even townships have also proposed construction plans, striving to share the “3D cake”. All of a sudden, the development and sales of 3D printers, the provision of 3D printing services, and the flocking of 3D printing stocks flocked to them. However, over the past few years, the industrial park has remained tepid, printing services have not been well-known, and most of the famous 3D printing photo studios and experience halls have disappeared. Questions about imaginary fires and bubbles are everywhere. Will 3D printing repeat the mistakes of the photovoltaic industry?
Lu Bingheng, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, believes that “the 3D printing industry does have a trend of crowding, and local governments should actively guide them to prevent investors from blindly entering the market. According to the requirements of the Made in China 2025 plan, a national-level 3D printing innovation center is under construction, which can provide 3D printing for all regions in the future. The industry provides more cutting-edge technologies.”
(2) Disorderly competition will be an industrial disaster
Li Guanglian, vice chairman of Zhuhai Consumables Industry Association and managing director of Recycling Times, said that in recent years, in the 3D printing industry, various applications and various new technologies have emerged, which is a very good thing.
However, it is worth noting to avoid disorderly competition. The current price competition is very high, which is very unfavorable to the development of the domestic 3D printing industry. “I have seen a machine with more than 1,100 yuan. Once it enters such a vicious circle, I think it will be disastrous for the development of China’s 3D printing industry.”
Huang Weidong, director of the State Key Laboratory of Solidification Technology of Northwestern Polytechnical University and a doctoral supervisor, also said that the popularity of 3D printing has been overwhelming in some aspects, and some aspects are cold. “For example, for desktop 3D printers, there are more than a thousand companies in China now. Why are there so many small companies established in China? Within a period of time, they will have room for survival. However, for the future, I estimate that More than 90% of the thousands of households will be dumped. This is a very painful process.”
(3) There is no future without technology accumulation and research
Domestic 3D printing started later than abroad. Thirty years ago, the technical school was studying 3D printing, and the technology has matured and entered the market. However, domestic technical research and accumulation are too poor, and it is basically impossible to achieve a revolutionary breakthrough without a deep technical background.
The reason is that 3D has become popular in China in recent years. One of the important reasons is that foreign patented technology has expired, that is, we can use foreign technology at will, which provides a basis for the development of 3D printing in China. I believe many people will feel sad, where is the technology we developed ourselves! Can we stand on the commanding heights of 3D printing in the future?
The technology of constructing objects through layer-by-layer printing, which is very popular in China, has been studied 30 years ago, and it has been used in the United States and other countries in the 1990s.
Gold consultants also found that some companies think that 3D printers are simple, but many companies have always shown a machine to the outside world three years ago and now. Experts bluntly say that 3D printing is more than just a machine, it also needs to develop materials and nozzles. You can use overseas open source technology, but open source things are used by engineers. You need to improve them so that ordinary people can use them.
There is not much gap between domestic ordinary 3D printers and foreign countries, but in the industrial field, there is still a 20-year gap between China’s 3D printing technology and foreign advanced technology, especially in terms of materials. For example, an expert said: “Others’ materials can be sold for 3000 yuan per kilogram, while our materials can only be sold for 500 yuan per kilogram. This is for a reason.” And the internationally renowned research organization IDC Asia Pacific Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions Project director Maggie Tan believes that the shortage of consumables and consumables issues will also affect the development of 3D printing technology in China.
7. How do investors view 3D printing
When gold consultants finished this article, they saw a piece of information showing that in that year, 2013, known as the first year of 3D printing, many 3D printing companies found investment institutions to recommend themselves for investment, but they were investing in In the eyes of people, they are basically selling hardware, just as an investor said, “If it is purely selling hardware, in the Chinese market environment, profits will be quickly diluted as competitors continue to squeeze in. E-books This is the best example. “Three years have passed, but we are a little helpless to find that the 3D printing market still has no more changes!
Of course, there are also some investors who have different opinions. They refer to the development history of 2D printing and believe that it will take at least nearly ten years for all links of the 3D printing industry chain to unfold and concentrate on a few companies through competition. Its most lucrative skimming profit period will not exceed the first three to five years. This is undoubtedly the best growth opportunity for companies that have entered the 3D printing industry earlier and can grasp the direction of industrial technology development.
These investors who are optimistic about 3D printing do not think that 3D printers will become standard equipment for ordinary families, especially in China. Because there is a precedent for 2D printers there! Same as the US market, they are more optimistic about the potential growth space of 3D printing in the 2B market.