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Graham Tromans in China
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Tromans at the 6th Annual Conference of Asian Manufacturing
Graham Tromans joined by a number of dignitaries at the 6th Annual Conference of Asian Manufacturing
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Graham Tromans on Chinese TV
Fame at last: The conference sessions were well covered by the media.
My visit to present at the 6th Annual China Additive Manufacturing Conference that was supported by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers, turned out to be a most enlightening and surprising visit. Arriving in Bejing I was met by a representative of the Longyuan Automated Fabrication Systems Ltd. The following day I visited the company’s facility in the Haldian District of Beijing. Longyuan Automated Fabrication Systems Ltd, which was founded in 1994, is an Additive Manufacturing machine manufacturer and service bureau, that supplies a large number of industries in China with casting patterns produced from its sand sintering/polystyrene process. The total number of systems sold amounts to 170 systems in 103 different companies, according to company figures.
The company is very focused on the foundry industry, supplying polystyrene, wax and sand patterns. Its facility currently uses eight of its own machines: Four AFS500s, with a build area of 500 mm x 500 mm x 500 mm; three AFSLaserCores 5300 with a build area of 700 mm x 700 mm x 500 mm; and one LaserCore 5500 with a build area of 1400 mm x 700 mm x 500 mm. They also manufacture a metal sintering system, with two product ranges: the Diemetal 120, which has a build area of 120 mm3; and the Diemetal 250, with a build area of 250 mm3, although neither of these machines was available for me to see.
While I was in Beijing I was also invited by Luo Jun, CEO of the Asian Manufacturing Association, to take part in an Additive Manufacturing forum on Saturday afternoon. As part of the 6th Annual Conference of Asian Manufacturing Forum a number of high-profile Chinese delegates were present including the Deputy Director General, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of the Peoples Republic of China, and the Vice President of the China Center for Information Industry Development, and the Commissioner Assistant Director Emerging Industries Department Director.
This was recorded for a number Chinese television channels and had a large number of the Chinese media present. The following day I was invited to present as one of the keynote speakers at the 6th Annual Conference of Asian Manufacturing. The conference was attended by a number of dignitaries including the Vice Chairman Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference Regional committee and the Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology Of The Peoples Republic of China, as well as a lot of industry/government leaders of China.
The next day saw me moving on to Wuhan for the 6th Annual China Additive Manufacturing Conference. The following day I spent time at Huazhong University of Science and Technology with students, looking at discussing their work as post graduates, in the field of 3D scanning, in relationship to AM. Huazhong University have developed one of the largest sintering machines in the world with a build area of 1200 mm2, as well as other smaller systems
The 6th China National Additive Manufacturing Conference which took place on the 13th–16th December 2012 in Wuhan was itself very interesting. My presentation which was titled “Global Applications of Additive Manufacturing” seemed very well received and generated a lot of discussion both during the conference and afterwards. Again there were a lot of high-ranking officials there, trying to gain knowledge on how AM will impact manufacturing in the coming years, and how the Chinese government should help and support the research into these technologies and in particular how to integrate them into industry.
The day after the conference saw me travelling to Zhengzhou Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering. This was to present to a group of researchers, students and other members of staff. I was originally asked to present my “Global Applications of Additive Manufacturing” presentation which again generated a considerable discussion I the discussion period, but what really surprised me was the almost complete lack of knowledge regarding the technologies and how they worked. So to try and help with this I presented some of my technology briefing workshop to them in addition to my original presentation and although this resulted in a one hour presentation being extended to over 2 hours the audience seemed very keen to understand what the potentials were for them within their own research projects. The feedback I had from this was that the presentations had provoked a lot of thought in this area and hopefully would drive a new area of research within the institute.
Overall the information I got from the visit was very informative. At the conference Bo Su, Vice Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said that 3D Printing will profoundly affect the future of the manufacturing industry in China, and he feels that China will strengthen and establish organisations and use tax incentives to speed up the development of the 3D Printing technology. Already we are seeing a number of universities and research institutions moving forward in developing new systems, materials and applications.
Industry analysis has shown that although China has only 8.6% of the installed systems worldwide, last year showed they had the largest growth in installed systems worldwide.
My impression was that although in some areas more development was already taking place, China will ultimately become one of the largest and possibly the strongest countries in applying and developing AM technologies.
With the formation of the new 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance recently announced, and the planned advanced technology park, which will include a national 3D printing technology R&D centre and a demonstration centre for industry in China. They have the foresight into the impact these technologies could have on their economy and environment.