The biggest problem hindering the development of 3D printing technology in Vietnam is not technology and equipment, but lack of raw materials. 3D printing is a process in which materials are combined or solidified under computer control to create a three-dimensional (3D) object. 3D printing is widely used in many business areas, from manufacturing and fine arts to healthcare and industrial manufacturing.
In the healthcare sector, 3D printing can create many body parts. Complex industrial parts such as wind turbines and aircraft parts can also be fabricated using 3D printing technology.
In Vietnam, the application of 3D printing technology is still very modest. Most 3D printed products are used for fine art. The problem is not in technology and equipment, but in materials. Software products and equipment for 3D printing have become cheaper. Some types of printers cost 5 - 6 million VND,
According to experts, plastic is still the most commonly used material for 3D printing. It is expected that the total value of plastic products created by 3D printers will reach 1.4 billion USD.
ABS is the most common plastic used for personal printers, while PLA from cornstarch or bagasse is mainly used for low-cost 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 price of 3D printing materials in Vietnam is very diverse, from a few hundred thousand dong to tens of millions of dong. All materials are imported as they cannot be produced locally and are mainly used for art printing and not for industry.
Materials together with technology and equipment play a decisive role in the production of highly complex products.
The lack of materials is a 'bottleneck' for 3D printing development in Vietnam, but it presents a great opportunity for research & development (R&D) teams to develop new materials.