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3D printing is growing, but won't threaten traditional manufacturing: CEO

2013-09-24 14:01 Global Times Web Editor: qindexing

The 3D printing sector is developing fast with the maturity of the industry chain, but it will not pose much threat to China's traditional manufacturing industry, the chief executive of Dassault Systèmes SolidWorks Corp said Monday.

"The 3D printing is a new way of manufacturing products, and the industry is growing fast with cheaper facilities," Bertrand Sicot, CEO of SolidWorks, a 3D computer-aided design software company, told the Global Times at a media briefing held in Beijing.

In the US, high-tech printing firm Formlabs released a small, easy-to-use 3D printer for less than $2,000, according to Sicot. In China, GoldenLaser, a Wuhan-based high-tech enterprise, also invented a 3D printer recently, aimed at the consumer market with a retail price of less than 10,000 yuan ($1,634), Shanghai Securities News reported Monday.

The Obama administration is promoting the industrialization of the 3D printing technology, raising concerns that the industry will pose challenges to China, the world's largest manufacturing country, according to media reports.

But Sicot said the 3D printing industry's potential should not be exaggerated.

"In today's manufacturing industry, there is always a balance between cost, speed and machinery shapes," he said.

In his view, the emergence of 3D printers can be used in certain fields such as satisfying consumers' hobbies for printing their self-designed products, but it's not going to replace the traditional manufacturing industry.

In the highly competitive market, SolidWorks is facing competition from its global competitor Autodesk Inc and Chinese counterparts such as CAXA and ZW Soft.

Starting from September 16, Autodesk's software products became available under a rental license, which offers freelancers and startups cheaper access to its products, the company said in a statement.

China's 3D printing market is expected to hit 10 billion yuan within three years from 1 billion yuan in 2012, the China 3D Printing Technology and Industry Alliance said in June.

Domestic companies should pay more attention to the 3D design software sector, an important part in the 3D printing industry chain, Beijing S&P Information Consulting said in a research note published in May.

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