3D printer makers flock to Thailand

3D printer makers flock to Thailand

Simon Shen, chairman of XYZprinting Inc, displays the 3D printers his company plans to manufacture in Thailand.
Simon Shen, chairman of XYZprinting Inc, displays the 3D printers his company plans to manufacture in Thailand.

Global three-dimension (3D) printer manufacturers are pushing into Thailand, paving the way for a growth cycle in Southeast Asia.

XYZprinting Inc, the world's largest 3D printer maker, established Bangkok as its first Southeast Asian office in September, with investment of almost 20 million baht.

The Taiwan-based company believes 2D printing technology will be obsolete by 2025, with 3D printers replacing them for office and household use.

Chairman Simon Shen said Thailand had huge potential for 3D printing solutions, in particular for creative works, fine arts and industrial design projects.

3D printing offers the opportunity for many high-end system features at lower price points, increasing productivity and speed, he said.

"3D printing signals the beginning of another industrial revolution. We are bracing for an age of 'marker'," said Mr Shen. Marker is a type of 3D printer.

XYZ (Thailand) is a 50:50 joint venture between Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand) Plc and Kinpo of Taiwan.

Both Cal-Comp Electronics (Thailand) and Kinpo are subsidiaries of New Kinpo Group, the world's leading electronics manufacturing conglomerate of innovative products and services including printers.

Mr Shen, who is also chief executive of New Kinpo Group, said Cal-Comp Electronics uses XYZ's factory in Phetchaburi as its 3D printer manufacturing base. Cal-Comp has strong experience in making printers as original equipment manufacturers, supplying them to global brands.

The company plans to make its own XYZ brand printer to capitalise on emerging demand.

"Europe, the US, China and Japan are leading the adoption of 3D printers, with Southeast Asian countries, particularly Thailand, going to be the next group," said Mr Shen.

XYZ (Thailand) expects to sell 5,000-6,000 3D printers in Thailand in 2016, targeting the educational, commercial and consumer sectors.

XYZprinting Inc had a 26% share of the global 3D printing market in 2014, increasing to 28% as of June 30 this year. He said the global 3D printing market has doubled annually in the past few years and is expected to reach 500,000 units in 2016.

Stratasys Asia Pacific, a subsidiary of US-based Stratasys, is also gearing up to promote its 3D printing products in Thailand.

"Thailand has high growth potential in Southeast Asia thanks to its strong industrial manufacturing bases, particularly in the automotive and medical sector," said Ido Eylon, general manager for Southern Asia and Pacific of Stratasys Asia Pacific.

The Thai government's stimulus measures for investment in innovation clusters should boost the need for 3D printing solutions, he said.

However, Mr Eylon said Thailand still lacks awareness about 3D printing compared with Germany, Japan, South Korea, Britain, the US, Singapore and India. But he believes the 3D printing market in Thailand will jump in the next three to four years.

3D printing plays an important role in initial design, tooling and the production stages throughout the manufacturing process for automotive, medical and industrial machinery, he said.

Marubeni (Thailand) Co is the authorised distributor for 3D printers of Stratasys Asia Pacific, priced from US$10,000-500,000.

Global research firm Gartner Inc forecasts the global 3D printer market will be worth $20 billion by 2020, up from $1 billion in 2014.

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