The government of China is sending a clear message to its financial competitors abroad: the People’s Republic is taking 3D printing very seriously, and is taking the steps necessary to become a leading player in the global industry. Such is the core sentiment of the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology’s (MIIT) newly minted Action Plan for the rapid, healthy, and sustainable development of the Additive Manufacturing industry in China. By 2020, the Chinese government expects to boast an annual sales revenue of over 20 billion yuan ($3 billion USD) in the 3D printing industry, with an average annual growth rate of at least 30%.
Focusing on the next three years as its target time frame, the ambitious Action Plan seeks to build upon both the successes and the shortcomings of its previous iteration, the 2015-2016 National Plan for the Development of Additive Manufacturing Industries. While the earlier National Plan proved to be overall effective in boosting the country’s application growth, the MIIT notes that China still lags behind other nations in key technologies and innovation capability. The breadth and depth of 3D printing applications is also an area that requires improvement, ministry staff report.
The new Action Plan aims to resolve these issues through the strengthening of China’s core research and development sectors, in addition to expediting applications and adoption of 3D printing across various industries. What that all boils down to is a massive increase of fiscal support for Chinese 3D printing companies via funding from the MIIT and other national agencies. Diverse financing models that includes public investment, bond issuance, and financial leasing will also be encouraged. Two or three domestic firms are set to benefit from the proposed financing in particular, with the goal of competing with global rivals in overseas markets. At the same time, the MIIT will encourage foreign 3D printing firms to establish research and development centers in China, according to the Action Plan’s guidelines.
Specifically, the MIIT will see to it that breakthroughs are made in over 100 types of 3D printing equipment, key devices, and specialized materials. 100 pilot programs will be launched as well, said ministry staff. Key application areas will be aviation, ship building, automotives, health care, culture, and education. In sum, the proposed advances should total about 20 billion yuan in the next three years.
In addition, the Action Plan touches on safety supervision in the 3D printing industry, as advised by a panel of industry experts and government departments. A fully fledged registration system for purchasing additive manufacturing equipment has been proposed, in the form of filing basic information and registering and investigating practitioners’ certifications. The Action Plan also touches on criminality within the 3D printing industry, stating that the illegal production of goods or additive manufacturing equipment will be punished in accordance with the law.