About World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference
Journalist: The 3D printing technology did not achieve obvious developments since it was invented over 30 years ago. From your professional point of view, why is that?
Luo Jun: In my view, there are three reasons why the 3D printing technology did not make breakthroughs in the past 30 years. First, the key is that the substitution of 3D printing technology for traditional manufacturing technology is not such a strong effect as Internet can penetrate all aspects of life and producing process and can bring direct changes and feelings. Second, this industry is “small and scattered” in a long term, and can not form a joint force due to the disunity, each deals with their own things without communication within the industry, which is not good for the development of the industry, and not good for the people’s understanding to this technology. Third, the enterprise users still lack of enough confidence into 3D printing technology and do not form effective demand in the market.
Journalist: Why did you suddenly take great interest in the 3D printing technology and try your best to promote the development of the technology?
Luo Jun: As the CEO of Asian Manufacturing Association, I am committed to promoting the dialogues between Chinese manufacturing and Asian manufacturing, between Asian manufacturing and world advanced manufacturing, and I am sensitive to the combination of emerging technology and traditional manufacturing. Last year, many believed that "the 3D printing technology will drive the third industrial revolution", which really makes me curious: What kind of technology is so energetic to push the third industrial revolution? What is the 3D printing technology? With strong curiosity, I spent over three months to study and analyze all kinds of materials, having a comprehensive understanding of the 3D printing technology. I think 3D printing technology indeed has a lot of mystery. It is energy-saving and environment-friendly, and can solve many complex and challenging process problems and can be used as an important carrier of industry design, cultural and creative industry. There are many things worthy of our expectation. After the research, I think 3D printing technology and traditional manufacturing are complementary, instead of replacing traditional manufacturing. As for the question of 3D printing technology driving the third industrial revolution, it is a little bit exaggerating according to the information we know so far. But it is undeniable that after the further maturation and application, the 3D printing technology will create more miracles. Today, if we are able to correctly guide the development of 3D printing technology, it will play a very positive role in the traditional manufacturing enterprise transformation and upgrading, and structural adjustment. So I think our domestic research institutes and enterprises in 3D printing industry should unite together, integrate the internal resources and form a joint force.
On Oct. 15, 2012, with the support of Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance was initialed to establish by over 10 leading institutes and enterprises including Asian Manufacturing Association, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Tsinghua University, HuNan Farsoon High-Technology Co., Ltd, Wuhan Binhu Mechanical &Electrical Co., Ltd, Wuxi Falcon Technology Co., Ltd, etc. The alliance is the first one in 3D printing technology industry in the world.
After the establishment of the alliance, we respectively held three board meetings in Beijing in October, in Chengdu in January, in Nanjing in March. And we united our thoughts, found the gap and formed a consensus through these meetings. At present, over 40 enterprises from both the upstream and downstream of the industry and relevant institutes joined the alliance, a lot of overseas enterprises applied and joined as well, including Microjet Technology Co., Ltd, etc.
Journalist: How valuable and meaningful is the 3D printing technology? Can it replace the traditional manufacturing?
Luo Jun: Compared with traditional manufacturing, the 3D printing technology is indeed a great technological revolution. It is not exaggerating at all to use the phrase "overthrow" the traditional manufacturing to describe the technology. It can solve the technical problems which can not be solved by traditional manufacturing. And it can inject fresh energy into the innovation and development of the traditional manufacturing. But through thousands of years' accumulation and development, traditional manufacturing has been very maturing in the aspects of production process, production technology and materials, etc. Meanwhile, the traditional manufacturing has formed a perfect, fully-functional, and widely-recognized industry base.
Seen from the technical principles of 3D printing, 3D printing technology can easily print any complex and difficult products designed by our designers which can not be produced by traditional manufacturing. Such advantages of traditional manufacturing as mass production and lean production are just the weaknesses of the 3D printing technology. The 3D printing technology is good at solving the personalized, complex and difficult production technology, in comparison, the traditional manufacturing is good at mass production. These characteristics decide that they are complementary instead of one replacing the other. So the 3D printing technology itself does not mean to replace traditional manufacturing, and it can not replace as well.
Journalist: Some experts believe that there is no need for us to go to shopping malls as long as we have a 3D printer and we can print whatever commodities we need at home in the future. Do you agree with that?
Luo Jun: I think this kind of view is very misleading, neither scientific nor practical, and it is impossible to make it. The key thing is that any commodities we need in our production and life are functional, and any functional commodities are made from different materials. We need many kinds of commodities in our production and life, and the family can not become a factory to purchase different kinds of materials. If all commodities we need depend on our own printings, firstly the cost will far exceeds the same products in the shopping mall. Second, after thousands of years' development, traditional manufacturing is much more maturing in the production process.
Journalist: What is your opinion about the industrialization of 3D printing technology? And what should we do to push the industrialization?
Luo Jun: Only through industrialization, can the emerging technology get rapid maturation and perfection. In the past 30 years, 3D printing technology has been widely applied in aerospace industry, auto industry, biomedical industry, etc. Now the technology has already got the base and condition of industrialization. We should actively create conditions for the industrialization of 3D printing technology, combining the 3D printing technology with traditional manufacturing closer.
Currently, no matter in the global or in the domestic, the 3D printing technology enterprises take the operation mode of traditional industrial enterprises, that is, producing the equipment and selling them. On the condition that most enterprise users do not know the 3D printing technology, they are reluctant to spend tens of millions to buy the equipment. So the key point is that how to combine the 3D printing technology with users. At present, no enterprise form enough influence in the 3D printing technology industry, so we decide to fully play the advantages of China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance, to develop in a united form, and to firstly select 10 industrial cities to build 10 China 3D Printing Technology Industry Innovation Centers. Each center is a separate legal entity, and each is planed to invest 20 million RMB, which will be supported by the local government by 1:1. The functions of the innovation center are: exhibition center, science and education center, manufacturing and service center, research and development center. Obviously the core function of the innovation center is the manufacturing and service center.
The 3D printing technology innovation center is a window which allows those officials from government, enterprise users, and the society who care about 3D printing technology to increase their perceptual knowledge. In addition, the center has to be pushed toward the market, and be operated according to the rules of market-oriented. If the center wants to earn money, the local market must be developed as soon as possible. With the help of local government, we organized several research groups to respectively investigate local traditional manufacturers, and put forward a comprehensive set of solutions. The products of the center are purchased from the member enterprises. In the Initial phase, we do not advocate to directly sell the products to users but to provide processing services. When the time is right, the member enterprises fully master the 3D printing technology, we directly sell the products. It is predicted that the volume of the market can reach over 10 billion RMB in three years, once the innovation center enters into the normal operation. And once the market is opened, the market size will double year on year. So our commercial model attracted a lot of attention from investors. Next we will consider the IPO of the center and extend the number of centers to 20 or 30. The day of innovation center achieving success is the day when 3D printing technology industry rises.
Journalist: At present, what is the most difficult point of the industrialization of 3D printing technology?
Luo Jun: Although many experts, scholars and media praise the 3D printing technology, the users in the market still keeps silent. The core of industrialization of 3D printing technology is to combine the technology with the market, enabling wide traditional manufacturers and users to touch 3D printing technology in a more direct way by actively creating conditions, rather than merely stay in the stage of conceptual understanding. "3D printers entering into family" widely spread by the media are actually the desktop printers which are not all, just the most simple and most direct ones in the field of 3D printing. So it is easy to confuse and mislead the users. We build the innovation center to fully exhibit the products of our member enterprises. Next we will exhibit the products of our foreign member enterprises.
Journalist: What is your expectation of the development of world 3D printing technology in the next 3-5 years?
Luo Jun: Now the 3D printing technology is still in initial stage, and still in the early stage of industrialization. The following 3-5 years are the most critical period for the 3D printing technology. We hold optimistic and positive expectation for the development of 3D printing technology. If everything is smooth, the output value of domestic 3D printing technology will reach over 10 billion RMB in three years, and the output value in the world will reach 5 billion US dollars (the number last year is over 2 billion US dollars).
Journalist: You proposed to initial the establishment of China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance. What have you done in the past six months?
Luo Jun: In the past six months, we did a lot of jobs, generally speaking, there are four parts: First, we reached consensus and unified our thoughts, everybody realized the importance of joint development. The only way to make breakthroughs in 3D printing technology industry is through joint development and cooperation. One enterprise, or two enterprises, or even several enterprises at home and abroad do not have enough resources to drive the development of this industry. Second, we found the gap of 3D printing technology between our country and the counterparts from US, Germany. And we found how to narrow the gap. Third, we found the developing way, and the 3D printing technology has already got the base and condition for the industrialization. The key is to push the application of 3D printing technology in practice and to achieve the combination of 3D printing technology and traditional manufacturing technology. Fourth, we should strengthen the international communications and cooperation. As a result, along with 3D printing industry organizations from USA, UK, and other countries, we will hold the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference during May 29-31 In Beijing, building a platform for the communication and dialogue within the world 3D printing Industry. Meanwhile, it will also provide chances of Interactions between the 3D printing technology and users of the market. In order to make the international dialogue mechanism regular, we will initial to establish World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance on May 29 In Beijing.
Journalist: Now you positively initiate to establish the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance. What is the goal? And what does it have important significance?
Luo Jun: Establishing the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance was based on three targets: First, the normalization, mechanism of the international dialogue will be beneficial to the joint development in the world 3D printing industry. So far, the reputation of 3D printing technology is great, but the size of it is very small. Less than 100 research institutes and enterprises (including materials, software development, and commercial operation) are engaged in the 3D printing industry around the world. So we have to solve the internal problem of "small and scattered" to achieve the development of 3D printing technology industry. Second, we have to precisely select the breakthrough and key areas, to jointly develop. We predict that China and USA are the most possible places to firstly achieve the industrialization of 3D printing technology and yield great successes. In 2012, US president Barack Obama personally command the development of 3D printing technology industry and put it in the level of national strategy. Although our country has not promulgate relevant national strategy, the government attached importance to it and positively formulate relevant policy to support the development of the industry, and the Ministry of Science and Technology has already put the 3D printing technology into research projects supported by National 863 Program. The local governments hope to seize the emerging 3D printing technology to push forward the industrial upgrading and structural adjustment. So the local governments are very positive and they have sufficient capability to support and promote the development of 3D printing technology industry. We have already signed the cooperation agreement on building the Headquarters of China 3D Printing Technology Industry and the China 3D Printing Technology Industry Innovation Center with Nanjing city and other cities this March, so as to implement the idea of joint development within the industry. Next we will build the Headquarters of World 3D Printing Technology Industry together with the ones of China 3D Printing Technology Industry, effectively push the joint development of the upstream enterprises and downstream enterprises in this industry. Third, we show the world an attitude: China 3D printing technology industry sets sail and the center of world 3D printing technology industry is probably in China In the future.
Journalist: What is the difference between the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance and China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance?
Luo Jun: The World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance is a platform for the dialogue within the world 3D printing industry, which will be initialed to establish by leading enterprises, research institutes and industry organizations from China, USA, UK, Germany, etc. The core of World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance is to push the constant improvement of the technology and to promote the industrialization of the technology. Initiated to establish by 40 domestic research institutes and enterprises in 3D printing technology industry, the China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance is the main initiator of the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Center, and is responsible for the work of secretariat of the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance.
Journalist: Which aspects will the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance play the important roles in? What will it effect the development of 3D printing technology industry?
Luo Jun: The World 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance will play an important role in the following aspects: First, organize the dialogue within the world 3D printing technology industry, discuss the hot and difficult issues in the process of industrialization, and tackle the problems. Second, lead the world 3D printing technology industry to concentrate on building the headquarters in domestic firstly, and promote the joint development of the industry. Third, organize the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference in the end of May each year. Fourth, organize international visits, special exhibitions and other activities. Fifth, showcase the new technology, new products and new achievements of world 3D printing industry, and represent the world 3D printing industry before the society.
Journalist: To my knowledge, World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference this year attracted a lot of research institutes, enterprises, service providers from the world 3D printing industry, and a lot of traditional manufacturers. Will you hold the conference next year?
Luo Jun: The World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference is not an academic one. The focus is how to achieve the industrialization, and how to combine the technology with the users. So the participants of the conference are not just the research institutes and enterprises engaged in 3D printing technology, also including the users, traditional manufacturers, industrial parks and local governments. The conference is held for the first time this year, we will continue to improve it, and regularly hold the World 3D Printing Technology Industry Conference every May.