Hospitals, Cars, and Warships: China’s Ambitions in the 3D-Printing Industry

China has been making news for some time now with demonstrations of just how evolved its latest 3D-printing technologies have become. We have seen the world’s largest 3D-printed structure (a five-story apartment building in Suzhou) and a brand spankin’ new college that is dedicated solely to offering hands-on courses in 3D printing.

One of the latest announcements—specifically highlighting China’s continued interest in 3D printing in the medical field—is the country’s first Medical 3D Printing and R&D Center, located at the Jilin University Hospital in Changchun, a large city deep in Northeast China.

The center will play a key role in developing improvements on existing procedures using such 3D-printed body parts as replacement joints. And last year the hospital made itself known by performing the world’s first 3D-printed elbow replacement surgery.

This center in Changchun is not the only attention grabber however. A Chinese company has recently (and successfully) 3D printed a working electric car. The cost? Only US$1,770 to produce.

Sanya Sihai, a tech company based on the island province of Hainan, unveiled the odd-looking car last week. Fully electric, the vehicle is capable of speeds of up to 25 mph (40 km/h) and seats two. Printed using a “Tyrant Gold”-colored filament it is more than a bit tacky looking, but it still looks rather fun as an open-air beach cruiser.

And while this is not the first 3D-printed car (nor is it as snazzy as the Strati, created by U.S.-based Local Motors), it is still worth checking out.

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology is reported to be placing more priority on developing the nation’s 3D-printing industry, so that China maintains its competitive edge on global players in this field. There is also talk of an (overly?) ambitious goal to see a 30% rate of sales revenue growth per year.

Plans include further development of high-quality 3D printing for applications in heavy industry, setting up 3D-printing companies that compete internationally, and building additional research centers, such as the one just set up in Changchun.

There are even reports of 3D printers being used on Chinese warships, something that is no doubt invaluable in regard to spare parts and repairs while at sea.