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China to overtake US in 3D printer shipments

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According to IDC, 3D printer shipments in the China market passed 34 000 units in 2014, and is expected to reach 77 000 units in 2015, exhibiting a growth rate over 120% – driven largely by sales of desktop 3D printers priced under $5000.
As the Chinese government continues to promote 3D printer awareness and usage within schools and educational institutions, the desktop 3D printer market is expected to maintain an annual growth trend in the coming years.
“China’s local 3D printer market will surpass the US market in 2016 with an annual growth rate over 100%. However, the US is expected to retain its position as the market leader in terms of market revenue, due to the greater proportion of high-end printers adopted by the manufacturing sector,” says Wendy Mok, research manager for IDPS at IDC China.
“To capitalise on this growth, 3D printer vendors will have to discover and meet the demands of corporate users and the trend of industrial transformation in China. Vendors should aim to provide comprehensive solutions in different market segments in order to increase their competitiveness,” adds Mok.
Desktop 3D printer shipments contribute to over 90% of the China 3D printer market. However, low-end desktop fused deposition modelling (FDM) 3D printers priced as low as US$500 occupy a high proportion of the desktop market. On the other hand, professional 3D printers make up 78% of total revenue in the 3D printing market. As a result, market revenue from desktop 3D printers in China is lagging due to the distinct revenue gap.
Aided by the Chinese government’s initiatives to promote 3D printer awareness and training within the education segment, IDC expects the China 3D printer market to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 43% with a total shipment of 440 000 units by 2020.
3D printing started to pick up in China since its mainstream popularisation in 2014, with the Chinese government recently identifying it as a major aspect of its “Made in China 2025” industrial transformation plan. Considering the high support that industrial transformation has received from favourable policies introduced in China’s 13th five-year plan such as the “Made in China 2025” initiative, China buyers from the manufacturing sector will become more conscious of and more reliant on high print quality.
The Chinese government is heavily promoting development in areas of high-tech manufacturing such as bullet trains, aerospace and aviation. Demand from these segments for parts made by high-end professional 3D printers will drive the growth of Chinese 3D printer market, narrowing the revenue gap between the China and US 3D printer markets.