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US dominance of 3D printing slides as China rises

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article image 3D printing is being hailed as the way of the future by many manufacturers.
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The United States dominance of the realm of 3D printing is sliding, according to a recent Wohlers report.

In the most recent Wohlers study, released on May 23 and published annually, it found that there are currently  16 European 3D printing companies, seven in China and two in Japan, while there are five companies in the US making high level additive manufacturing machines, according to an article in Modern Machine Shop.

However, ten years ago, the number of companies in the US was 10, seven in Japan and Europe, and three in China.  

The article does not take into account factors like consolidation, most recently seen in Stratasys’s acquisition of MakerBot this month, for $US 403 million in Stratasys shares, but merely the pure number of companies operating.

The total global revenue for 3D printing for 2012 was $US 2.204 bn. The US’s dominance is still obvious, for example the Wohlers Report 2013 found that 38 per cent of all 3D printing installations worldwide were in that country, followed by Japan (9.7 per cent), Germany (9.4 per cent) and China (8.7 per cent).

However of note is China’s aggressive pursuit to catch up, with the head of the Asian Manufacturing Association (a Chinese group), Luo Jun, announcing in June plans for a network of 10 3D printing innovation centres across the country, budgeted at a little over $US 3 million each.Luo estimated that in 2016, China would be worth $US 1.6 billion, nearly half of what Wohlers estimates the global market to be worth.

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