Developing 3D printing in VN: priting machines cheap, but materials lacking


The biggest problem hindering the development of 3D printing in Vietnam is not technology and equipment, but the lack of materials. 3D printing is a process in which material is joined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional (3D) object.  3D printing is used widely in many business fields, from manufacturing and fine arts to healthcare and industrial production.

In the healthcare sector, 3D printing can produce many body parts. Complex parts in industry such as wind power turbines and aircraft parts can also be made with 3D printing technology.

In Vietnam, the application of 3D printing technology remains very modest. Most 3D print products are used for fine arts. The problem is not in technology and equipment, but in materials. Software products and equipment for 3D printing have become cheaper. Some kinds of printing machines are priced at VND5-6 million,

According to experts, plastic remains the most commonly used material for 3D printing. It is expected that the total value of plastic products to be created by 3D printers will reach $1.4 billion.

ABS is the most popular plastic used for personal printers, while PLA from corn flour or bagasse is mostly used for cheap printers because it is easier to print with PLA than ABS.

Other types of materials such as ceramics, organic materials and metals have also been used for 3D printing. 3D printing uses metals to manufacture parts and equipment for industrial machines.

The prices of 3D printing materials in Vietnam vary, from several hundred thousand of dong to tens of million of dong. All the materials are imports because they cannot be made domestically, and are mostly used for art printing, not for industry.

Materials, together with technology and equipment, play a decisive role in manufacturing products with high complexity.

The lack of materials is a ‘bottleneck’ for 3D printing development in Vietnam, but this offers a great opportunity for research & development (R&D) teams to develop new materials.

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