If 3D printing will up-end manufacturing as we know it, and if China is home to the world’s largest and most successful manufacturing industry, it ought to stand to reason that if—or when—3D printing eventually goes mainstream, China’s manufacturing will suffer, right? Some people certainly think so.
But even if they are right, they are also far from the only ones to have thought of it. China’s plan to counter this eventuality? To take control of 3D printing. Luo Jun, the head of the Asian Manufacturing Association, a Chinese trade body, said at a 3D printing conference in Beijing last week that he expects revenues from products and services in the industry in China alone to grow to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) within three years. That’s a third of AMA’s own projections of global revenues of $5 billion by 2016, and just under half the $3.7 billion forecast for 2015 that Wohlers Associates, a research firm, made a year ago. Luo sees the market doubling in size every year after that.