NetEase Financial Think Tank "Chasing Light" Interview with Li Guangsheng: In the future, when humans immigrate to Mars, the first one must be a 3D printer.

Author: LiM Laser


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Li Guangsheng, founder and general manager of TSC Company, participated in the recording of the special planning program "Chasing Light" by NetEase Financial Think Tank. The following is the edited version of the manuscript:


Domestic 3D printing technology has caught up with and surpassed Germany
3D printing technology originated in Germany, and we have been catching up with it over the years. With the growing market for metal 3D printing services in China, the demand for metal 3D printers from customers is also becoming more and more diverse, with some requiring large and others requiring high. Faced with different needs, German suppliers have a slow response time in providing equipment, and the equipment is far from meeting the requirements, so we began to develop our own. We have iterated multiple times since the first prototype in 2016. The largest product and model currently being developed has surpassed the size and printing efficiency of foreign countries. There are many things condensed behind the size. For example, a large-sized instrument system is different from traditional systems in that it needs to bear greater force and torque, solve the problem of multi laser splicing, solve the wind field problem during the printing process, and also involve stress issues. So a simple "big" contains multiple technical problems that need to be solved, tackled, and surpassed. Compared to imported 3D printers from Germany, domestic equipment can save enterprises at least 50% of costs. If we add up all the 3D printing in China, we can save billions of yuan. In 2018 and 2019, imported equipment accounted for 70% -90% of the entire metal 3D printer market. Now, their market share is less than 10%, and domestic 3D printers are already very strong in the domestic market. After foreign countries learn about the current equipment capabilities of China's 3D printing industry, they will also come to China to purchase the equipment they need. We are also gradually going overseas and selling our equipment to Germany.
3D printing has been widely used in daily life
Many people believe that 3D printing is far from the daily life of ordinary people, but in reality, there are many application scenarios in daily life, such as the plastic shell of cosmetic packaging, which may use injection molding technology. There is a mold in the injection molding process, and the traditional process used to be a female mold and a male mold. Assuming the production efficiency of the mold is two to three per minute, if the shape core produced by 3D printing with shape following waterway technology is used instead of the tools inside the female and male molds, its cooling efficiency will be greatly improved. Because during the injection molding process, production efficiency depends on the cooling rate, I inject several hundred degrees of softened plastic into the mold. I need to wait for the mold to cool down, remove the plastic shell, and then proceed to the next step. Traditional cooling is a diameter waterway, and 3D printing can be made into a spiral waterway, which increases the cooling area and accelerates the cooling speed. This spiral waterway cannot be achieved with traditional techniques, but 3D printing is easily achievable. But it's hard for these ordinary people to see. When buying a car, I don't need to know which air conditioning or plastic parts are made with 3D printing molds, nor do I need to know how the steering wheel and steering gear are cast. But in fact, 3D printing is already closely related to the lives of ordinary people.
The first person to immigrate to Mars in the future will definitely be 3D printing
In the civil aerospace field, there are also many applications of 3D printing technology, as 3D printing can help products become lightweight. Most industrial products are still used on the ground and do not place much emphasis on lightweight. But once the product is launched, if it can save 1 kilogram of structural weight while ensuring the original structural performance, it is of great significance. This is the initial application idea. After in-depth understanding, we found that we can improve its mechanism and motion system by implementing some special structures, which not only have lightweight but also special functionality. Another characteristic of civil aerospace products is their super complexity, which leads to high costs. However, the integrated manufacturing of 3D printing simplifies the previously expensive items, resulting in lower costs. Based on these reasons, there is a strong demand for 3D printing in the civil aerospace industry, including rockets and engines. Someone internationally proposed to move 3D printing to space for a long time. In the future, when humans migrate to Mars, the first one to move on must be a 3D printer, which can be used as a mother machine to produce other parts that need to be printed during the migration process. Medical materials made by 3D printing also have better performance than traditional processes. Traditional techniques can also produce these medical materials. The original intervertebral fusion cage was a small metal solid block with a different elastic modulus from the human skeleton. A strong elastic modulus can cause the bones around the human body to degrade, while being too weak can make it difficult to find a suitable material. The materials for 3D printing are designable. For example, when I add a hollow structure in the middle of titanium alloy, its overall elastic modulus and density, as well as its overall stress performance, become a new material. I can always adjust a type of intervertebral fusion device similar to human bones. The advantage of 3D printing is to achieve its overall performance by adjusting its structure and porosity.
Traditional processes, whether forging or casting, are difficult to achieve this structure, and 3D printing can solve this problem. For example, the 3D printed hip joint material has a hollow structure, allowing flesh and blood to grow in and better integrate with the human body. Traditional processes cannot compete with 3D printing in terms of cost and performance. For example, dental implants used to be cast, but now the cost of 3D printing is half that of it. Therefore, many people choose 3D printed products. Moreover, 3D printing can be economically personalized for production. Just like when we buy shoes, it turns out to be sizes 41, 42, and 43. You can choose a shoe size that is almost wearable. The size is not so precise. But for organs, they are also divided into large, medium, and small sizes for you to choose from, which is not so suitable. 3D printing can be personalized, just like when buying shoes, you can choose size 42.1 or more precisely, size 42.123. Teeth are even more so. If it weren't for your precise model, but for different sizes, you wouldn't even be able to install them. Even if you could, your upper and lower teeth wouldn't be able to bite. 3D printing can play a significant role in this personalized production aspect. There is also a bicycle seat that can be redesigned according to your ergonomics, including the pilot controlled aircraft handle that can also be printed. Many places are starting to try this kind of personalization, which is a significant application point.


3D printer

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