中国正在追赶美国3D打印业领军的步伐

写在前面:这篇文章初载于USA TODAY 2:33 p.m. EST December 1, 2013。作者是Paul Davidson和Nina Trentmann。小编在这里做一个简单的翻译,以供参考。由于时间和水平有限,翻译难免有所疏漏,因此附上英文原版,有任何不当之处,欢迎指正。_Amy

China chasing U.S. lead in 3-D printing
中国正在追赶美国3D打印业领军的步伐

SHANGHAI — Manufacturers hoping to use 3-D printing technology to slash labor costs and bring some production back to the U.S. from China didn’t foresee this: China is furiously developing its own 3-D printing industry.
来自上海——那些希望用3D打印技术减少劳动力成本、增加美国本土制造能力的生产加工商没有预见这样的情景:中国正在拼命发展她自己的3D打印产业!

3-D printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is still in the early stages in China, and the world’s second-largest economy is far behind the U.S. But China has made significant strides this year in its effort to modernize its reputation as a center of cheap mass production. Some American industry officials say the U.S. should step up its investments to maintain its advantage.
3D打印,或者称为加法制造技术,在中国依然处于早期发展阶段。中国作为世界第二大经济体,尽管远落后于美国,但是今年,其在努力成为现代化的大规模低成本制造中心方面,取得了显著的进步。一部分美国行业官员说,美国应当加紧投资,以保持她的优势。

Here at DF Robot’s production facility in the Zhangjiang Business Park, a roomful of humming 3-D printers and robots substitute for a traditional factory’s clanking presses and churning milling machines. One printer spews layer after layer of green molten plastic onto a canvas until an iPhone case takes shape in seven hours. Soon after, the versatile printer molds a pair of black high-heel shoes — a more complex task that takes 26 hours.
在张江软件园DFRobot的生产中心内部,一屋子“嗡嗡”响的3D打印机和其他机器人装置取代了传统工厂中叮当作响的压力机和搅动铣床。其中一台3D打印机在它的“画布”上一层一层喷涂着绿色熔融的塑料,7小时内,这些塑料会成型为一个IPhone手机外壳。这台多才多艺的打印机还打印了一双黑色高跟鞋。这个任务更为复杂,使得它花费了29小时。

“Since 2012, we have seen a strong increase in demand for our printers,” says Ricky Ye, CEO and founder of DF Robot, which both manufactures printers and uses them to make product prototypes on a contract basis.
“从2012年开始,我们打印机的需求量开始显著增加。”DFRobot的创始人兼CEO叶琛说到。DFRobot公司是一家制造3D打印机,并使用自生产的打印机打印产品设计原型的公司。

3-D printers look like document printers but crank out 3-dimensional objects. Based on a digital design, they lay down hundreds or thousands of layers of powdered metal or plastic until parts or entire products are sculpted.
3D打印机虽然看似平常用于打印文件的平面打印机,然而它可以加工出三维的物体。基于数字化的设计,3D打印机喷涂出几百上千层金属粉末或者塑料,直到塑造出产品整体或者其零部件。

Since the 1980s, U.S. manufacturers largely have used the printers to quickly create prototypes. In recent years, a growing number have turned out limited runs of actual products, such as surgical tools and medical implants, as well as certain parts in airplanes, cars and other machines. Entrepreneurs and hobbyists are also snapping up inexpensive “personal” printers to make jewelry, toys and other trinkets.
自从上世纪80年代开始,美国的制造商就已经大规模使用这些打印机迅速制造设计原型体。最近,越来越多实际产品开始在有限的范围内使用起来,比如手术工具和医疗移植体,以及飞机、汽车或者其他机器上的某些零部件。企业家和爱好者们也抢购着廉价的个人级3D打印机,用于制造珠宝、玩具或者其他小饰品。

In China, 3-D printers are making prototypes and quirky objects for consumers but — apart from artificial teeth and dental implants — lag in end-user part production. That’s the more critical sector that has the potential to transform manufacturing.
在中国,3D打印机正为消费者制造各种原型体和古怪的物品,但是——除了假牙和牙科移植方面——滞后于末端用户的产品生产(End-user part production)。而这恰是3D打印有可能改变制造业的较为关键的一部分。

Whether deployed in China or the U.S., 3-D printing can yield significant reductions in labor costs. Just a few employees oversee dozens of automatic printers, matching the production of several hundred or thousands of workers in standard factories.
不管是在中国还是在美国,3D打印都可以显著降低劳动力成本。只需要几名员工的监督,几十台自动化打印机就可以生产出传统意义上的工厂里靠几百上千名工人生产的量。

3-D printers also cut waste, reduce lead times for product rollouts and are better than conventional factory machines at customizing objects. But they’re expensive and not adept at mass production, making them most suitable for limited runs of niche products.
另外,3D打印机减少了废料的产生,缩短了产品推广期的交货时间,在生产个性化产品方面也比传统机器更有优势。然而,它们价格昂贵、且不适用于大规模生产的特点,让3D打印机更适用于做利基产品的限量生产。(小编注:利基产品是指该产品表现出来的许多独特利益有别于其他产品,同时也能得到消费者的认同。每一种产品被消费者接受都有它的利益所在,利益表现出来是多方面的。_by MBA智库百科)

In China, about 17,000 mostly personal 3-D printers are in operation, estimates Terry Wohlers, president of consulting firm Wohlers Associates. The U.S. has about 47,000, and nearly half are industrial, he says.
据Wohlers Associates咨询公司的主席Terry Wohlers估计,在中国有大约有17,000台个人3D打印机正在运转;在美国这个数字则是47,000台,其中将近一半是工业用的。

Yet China is closing the gap. The country’s stock of 3-D printers has grown more than sevenfold since 2008, Wohlers says. He says national interest in the technology intensified early this year after President Obama proclaimed in his State of the Union address: “3-D printing has the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.”
中国仍在缩小差距。Wohlers说到,从2008年开始,中国有关3D打印机的股票已经增长了7倍以上。他说,当美国总统奥巴马在他的国情咨文中宣布“3D打印具有改变几乎任何物品的制作方法的潜力”之后,今年年初国家对3D打印技术的兴趣变得更强。

“The comment more than lit a spark in China — it started a bonfire,” Wohlers says, adding that Chinese sales of 3-D printers have surged.
“这句评论在中国不仅仅只是点燃了火花,它简直燃起了燎原之火!”另外,Wohlers还提到3D打印机在中国的销量已经飙升。

Their growing popularity is laying the foundation for wider usage of 3-D printing in manufacturing. Wohlers says the Chinese government and industry ultimately intend to use the technology to make high-tech parts and “high-value finished products.”
越来越受欢迎的3D打印机为在制造业中大规模使用3D打印机奠定了基础。Wohlers认为中国政府和工业界运用这项技术的最终目的是制造高科技零部件和“高价值的成品”。

For now, even the spread of personal printers has huge potential, says Ye of DF Robot. “It takes forever to produce a prototype or a mold,” he says. “Once you have a 3-D printer at home or in the office, you can speed up the innovation process. Many more people will be able transform their ideas into real products.”
DFRobot的叶琛认为,现在,即使是推广个人3D打印机也有巨大的潜力。他说:“3D打印机可以一直生产设计原型或者模具。一旦你在家里或者办公室里有一台3D打印机,你就可以加快创新的过程。更多的人将能够将它们的想法转变成真实的产品。”

China’s government, meanwhile, is sowing the seeds for industrial production, opening a 3-D research center this year and planning nine more. With Chinese labor costs rising sharply the past few years, the country has been losing production to factories in Vietnam and Bangladesh that pay lower wages. 3-D printing can help preserve China’s reputation as “the factory of the world” while expanding beyond labor-intensive assembly lines, Ye says.
同时,中国政府也在为工业生产传道播种。在今年,它开放了一个3D研究中心,并计划在未来还要建立9个。随着最近几年中国的人力成本急速增加,中国在产量方面比起薪水低廉的越南和孟加拉国已然开始失去市场占有率。叶琛说,3D打印可以帮助中国依然保有“世界工厂”的名声,而且不仅仅停留在劳动密集型流水线的生产模式上。

Developing the industry, however, will require retraining a work force of old-line factory employees. “We will need less unskilled workers if we use 3-D printers more frequently,” Ye says.
然而发展这项产业,还需要再训练一班从事传统制造业的工人。“如果频繁使用3D打印机,我们将需要更少的非技术工人”叶琛说。

Also, few Chinese engineers have the technical know-how to build the printers, says Jack Wu, the China representative of EOS E-Manufacturing Solutions, a German company that operates a research facility in Shanghai. Entrepreneurs and manufacturers, meanwhile, must be educated.
另外,一家在上海设有研发中心的德国企业EOS电子制造解决方案的中国代表Jack Wu说,很少的中国工程师知道设计3D打印机具体的技术原理,导致企业家和制造商必须是受过教育的。

“There are customers that buy the most expensive 3-D printer and only use it once a week,” says Kim Francois, head of the Chinese unit of Belgium-based Materialise, which builds printers and does contract printing and research. “Of course, such an investment will never pay off.”
“有一些顾客,买了最贵的3D打印机,却只一周用一次。”提供研究、制造和打印服务的比利时Materialise的中国部主管Kim Francois说道,“这样的投资当然永远不会有回报”。

Francois teaches Chinese elementary and high schools students how to use the printers. “This is the next generation of Chinese entrepreneurs,” she says. “If they get to use 3-D-printers early in their lives, they will potentially become much more innovative than their parents.”
Francois教中国小学和中学的学生们如何使用3D打印机。“他们是中国下一代的企业家”她说,“如果他们很小的时候就学会使用3D打印机,他们将在创造力的发展上比他们的父母更有潜力。”

3-D, she adds, can help China transition from a “copy culture” that makes products designed elsewhere to one that turns out more domestically designed goods.
她还说,3D打印可以帮助中国实现“山寨文化”过渡。“山寨”是指将别处设计的产品通过一系列转变成为自己国产化设计的产品。

Wu thinks China will move swiftly to try to close ground with Western nations. “Companies, schools, universities and individuals will start using this,” he says.
Wu认为中国将迅速采取行动,与西方国家接轨:“企业、学校、大学和个人即将开始使用3D打印机。”

U.S. officials are taking notice. Ralph Resnick, founding director of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute in Youngstown in Ohio, says China’s advances underscore the need for the U.S. to continue to invest in the technology.
这引起了美国官员们的注意。俄亥俄洲杨斯敦国家加法制造创新研究所创始人Ralph Rensnick说,中国的进步非常需要美国继续投资该项技术。

“I think China’s initiative has the potential to continue to make China more competitive,” Resnick says. As other countries develop 3-D, “we have an innovation edge that has been slipping.”
“我认为中国的初步行动具有将中国继续变得更有竞争力的潜力,”Resnick说,“我们的一个创新优势已经下滑。”

Davidson reported from McLean, Va., and Trentmann reported from Shanghai.

原文:http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/12/01/china-advances-3...