“We can use a lot of technology to build things like that and make a lot more money,” says Dr. Hsieh.
“It’s not a one-time use thing.”
But the potential for rapid growth, the lack of regulation and the sheer number of products to print can make it hard to scale.
A study published last year by the MIT Technology Review looked at the impact of new 3D-printed manufacturing technologies on the manufacturing industry, including the manufacturing of clothing, footwear and home furnishings.
It found that by 2020, there would be more than 10 million new jobs in the garment manufacturing sector alone, with the vast majority of them in China.
It estimated that the industry’s gross value added would double to more than $20 billion in 2027.
That would represent a $40 billion increase in the GDP of China.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Dr. David Zagorin, CEO of the MIT Manufacturing Innovation Center, said the Chinese manufacturing industry is currently struggling to grow.
He said there is a lot that could be done to support growth, including introducing a “soft landing” strategy that would give manufacturers access to the local market.
“What we’re talking about here is a soft landing for the manufacturing sector,” he said.
“We need to encourage a lot in the way of innovation and collaboration and to create new jobs.”
However, Dr Zagors claims that there are ways to support manufacturing without relying on the Chinese government.
He said the US government has recently taken a more aggressive stance on foreign direct investment in the Chinese sector.
“I think they’ve started to take a stronger stance on it and the Chinese companies are now stepping up to support US manufacturing,” he told Bloomberg.
So how does Dr Zags solution compare to the alternatives?
The solution, according to Dr. Zagoras research, is to have a new way of manufacturing in China that does not rely on the government.
“There’s a lot we can do to help, not just in the short term but also the long term, in terms of supporting this industry,” he says.
Dr Zagoric is not the only one advocating for the use of 3D printers in manufacturing.
Earlier this year, China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China, announced plans to allow foreign firms to make their own plastic prototypes for manufacturing.
The bank said it is “working to establish a framework for research and development in the fields of 3-D printing and plastic production” and that the new research and technology would help “to advance the country’s industrial technology sector.”
China has long been a leader in manufacturing, and Dr Zaguorin believes that the country could become the largest manufacturing hub in the world.
“China is the world’s biggest exporter of plastic and it is growing at a tremendous rate,” he tells Bloomberg.
“This is going to allow us to take the place of the US and be the world leader in plastic manufacturing.”
For more from Dr Zagnorin on 3D Printing, check out this episode of The Next Web’s Newscast from the University of Manchester.
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