3D printing begins to permeate everyday life 3D

"We ’3D print’ your imagination and efforts," an ad copy reads, as a tiny nozzle slowly moves around, squeezing out a melted filament, a sort of eco-plastic. "It takes two or three hours to produce a Pikachu doll with this desktop 3D printer, which is priced at US$2,730," said Yoon Dae-sik, a marketing director at Vision Technology Korea.

The global additive manufacturing(AM)market grew 25.9 percent on-year to $5.16 billion in 2015, according to Wohlers Associates, a U.S. consulting firm specializing in 3D printing. South Korea’s related industry is still in a nascent stage despite its ICT prowess.

Amid a lack of capital and investment, local businesses, mostly small ones, produce desktop 3D printers, of which the average selling price is $1,055 worldwide. 3D printers help easily and quickly produce prototypes and are useful for creativity in education at schools and the production of customized medical devices, he pointed out.

Manufacturers here would not need to wait several days, weeks or months for a single prototype usually made in China. An estimated 3,500 desktop 3D printers were sold in South Korea last year and the number is expected to rise to around 5,000 this year.

The South Korean government regards 3D printing itself as a core industry for the country’s future economy. In May, it announced a plan to ease some of regulations on 3D printing.

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