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The establishing 3D printing joint venture is forming a self-contained cooperating development model, combined with production, study, research and development. It is invested by Liuzhou funds platform and enterprises, led by Liuzhou Lanhai Science & Technology Ltd., key supported and policy guided by Liuzhou city Science & Technology Bureau, and is based on Guangxi Liuzhou Jinhui International Science & Technology Co., Ltd., which is partially formed by University of Oxford Isis Innovation Centre.
The total capital investment for the new joint venture is 20 million yuan, to build the first public technology service platform of 3D printing, provide service to Liuzhou district automotive industry, originality design park, overlap the whole industry product design sector and automative sector in Guangxi, aiming to become the key technology service platform and originality development industry public service platform in Guangxi.

1st Year

2nd Year

3rd Year

Open the market, and occupy the domestic national high ground of 3D printing technology

 

Reach the break even in the second half year

 

Capital investment of 20M RMB yuan

 

 

Recruit and train the personnels of technology and marketing sectors, configure CAD software, etc.

Recruit more staffs of technology and marketing sectors

Order machines:

EOS P356 & EOS M280

Order machine 3

 

Provision of AM and RP services

Provision of AM and RP training

Agree on licensing with Additech

Specify feasibility demonstrator

Experimental work with the feasibility demonstrator

Technology demonstrator project

 

Reassess Personnel, machine, and IT

 

 

Martin Baumers centre research coordinator /research fellow, Faculty of Engineering, a trained economist with an interest in the economics and application of Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing. The activity of the Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing Research Group spans across both the fundamental and applied research. Areas of research include: materials and process development, design-optimisation software and business management. The research is also aimed at exploiting the unrivalled design freedoms associated with 3D Printing to enable next-generation products (equipments) demanded by key industries. The Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing Research Group is built of firm foundations, with a legacy of AM research experience dating back to the mid 1990's and a current portfolio of research worth in excess of £10M.

3D Printing also as additive manufactory, can be defined as “joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer […]”(ASTM, F2792)

Laser Sintering (LS) and Selective Laser Melting (SLM) are widely used and suitable for the manufacture of functional prototypes and end-use products, based on the thermal fusion of particles of polymer or metal powders, all such systems incorporate an energy source (normally a laser), an internal build volume, and a powder handling mechanism. Advantages associated with these systems include the ability to manufacture highly complex parts with few geometric restrictions. On polymer processing systems, it is also possible to nest numbers of parts in three dimensions which enables productive machine operation. Disadvantage of powder bed fusion processes include: rough surface finish, limited accuracy, internal stresses (on the metals systems), and the requirement for system warm-up and cool-down in each build.

Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM) systems are characterised by material being forced though a heated nozzle for deposition. FDM systems are applied mostly in professional and amateur prototyping applications. Advantages of FDM include the use of relatively standard engineering plastics, including ABS and polycarbonate, and the low cost of entry-level systems. Disadvantages of this technology include geometric inaccuracy, low disposition speed and limited mechanical properties due to lacking part density and anisotropy.

Stereolithography (SL) is referred to as photopolymerization. SL systems are used mainly for industrial prototyping but also in high-value manufacturing in the hearing aid and dental industries. Process variants utilising a mask projection system instead of a laser are also commercially available. The main advantages of SL are that it is the most accurate commercially available additive process and that it is available in large machine sizes. Disadvantages of this process include non-standard and expensive build material, weak mechanical part properties, the need to support overhanging structures, and low build speed.

3D Printing (3DP) based on the deposition of build materials or binder materials through print head. Current 3DP systems are used mainly for design studies and prototypes but have great promise for manufacturing applications in the future. Advantages of such systems include low cost, relatively high speed, process scalability, and multi-material and multi-colour printing capability. Disadvantages include a limited range of build materials, weak mechanical properties, and process low accuracy.

The current low-value 3D printing machine (from several thousand to tens of thousands yuan) and 3DP service is wildly commercially available, mainly depositing PLA or ABS, with FDM technology. In places like Shenzhen and Shanghai, there are tens of companies with provision of small home use 3DP machine and relevant services, lower end 3DP application market is checked mature and saturated.

In other provinces of China, industrial 3DP projects has been included as strategy contents. For example, one Laser science & technology application company in Liaoning has the project portfolio of 10M yuan, raised from public body and enterprises. Its core team is formed by several doctors and professor from Cambridge University and other top UK and China universities. Up to late 2013, the company has implement the technology in relative industry sectors, and is preparing to open the southern China market for their industrial 3DP machine.

There are numbers existing companies with the provision of 3DP machine, and they have started works to win markets in each part of China. For example, one mechanical & electrical company in Wuhan, with the provision of machines base on SLM, SLA, SLS, LOM, and other technologies. The company is also high emphasized by national government. As many industries and design are shifting into 3DP approach, and many amateur plastic product bubbles are abating, domestic 3DP market is trending centralized into places.

As a relatively new manufacturing technology, 3D Printing is capable to work entirely without tools, moulds or cutting implements. One advantage of the approach is that it is capable of efficiently creating complex products. At the current state of technology, this makes 3D Printing highly attractive for the manufacture of prototypes as well as small numbers of specialised high value products.

3D Printing enables the user to produce parts and components directly from 3D design data and raw materials in a single process step without manual labour. This means that high quality prototypes for various purposes can be supplied to the manufacturing industry much faster and more efficiently than with traditional model making. This capability allows the local manufacturing community, for example the automotive industry in Liuzhou, to accelerate new product development, reduce costs and risk in the innovation process and ultimately improve product quality. Moreover, the ability to handle complex product geometries in the design process is likely to unlock unforeseen engineering solutions resulting in further innovation. Additionally, some 3D Printing technologies can be employed to create end-use products, enabling the manufacture of innovative specialist products in low to medium quantities.

In the context of existing manufacturing supply chains, the use of 3D Printing for prototyping will enable a shift towards higher-value products incorporating advanced designs. Such design improvements will lead to products that are more valuable to the end-user but also more competitive in the marketplace. Therefore, the implementation of state-of-the-art 3D Printing together with matching design capability will allow the user community to generate higher per-unit revenues for their products and achieve corresponding increases in market share and profitability. The 3D Printing services offered by the proposed JV will help its customers unlock these benefits.

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