Our involvement with the 3D printing community in Russia started in 2013 when my colleague Professor Thierry Rayna and I were invited by the Moscow Agency of Innovation to attend a FabLab conference co-organised by the MIT. During this event we had the privilege to be invited to the opening of the first Centre for Maker Innovation and Technology (CMIT), which are makerspaces and fablabs aimed to cater for the young audience. During the next four years we continued our collaboration with this CMIT, which allowed us to meet many professionals involved in 3D printing and eventually to recruit them for the horizon scanning workshop.
We had nine participants from a variety of backgrounds: automotive, 3D printing manufacturing, 3D printing software, financial services, medical, nano technology, bioprinting, creative industries. The workshop was mostly conducted in Russian (with informal exchanges in English during the break).
We are still in the process of transcribing and translating the data, but again can offer a few initial insights as to our findings:
According to our participants, industrial 3D printing in Russia started in the 80s, particularly in the airspace industry. It was in 2012 however that the first official distributor of 3D printers was opened in Russia. Prior to that the 3D printing community was using (open source) printers brought from China. Similarly to Chinese colleagues, participants also mentioned the expiration of some 3D printing patents in 2012 as an initial driver which led to the industry development. The current driver was outlined by the participants as the new roadmap approved by the State Council Presidium, which focuses on building Digital, Smart, Virtual Factories of the Future.
Participants came to the conclusion that at the moment there is not enough content (especially in Russian) and final production is usually not possible, as many objects require usage of additional manufacturing processes. The other conclusion was that, considering current legislation (not related to IP), 3D printing is highly unlikely to disrupt any of the industries. For example, in Russia, making any change to a car voids the car insurance.
Spasibo (thanks) to everyone who gave their precious time to participate in this research. Thanks again to Andrey Teslenko, CMIT Director for providing us with space and assistance and Alexandra Porozova for taking notes.
Please contact me (ludmila.striukova AT skema.edu) or Thierry Rayna (thierry.rayna AT polytechnique.edu) with any questions about this work.