Tuesday, May 9, 2017
Technology And Economics in Sichuan Province, China
How China is using international partnerships and advanced technology to compete in a competitive global market
By Thomas Jeffrey
The words Sino-German are proudly emblazoned on the royal red containers handed to us as we exit the dusky industrial park. Upon opening the aluminum to examine the contents, I am immediately taken aback, for a tooth lays nestled before me. Not a real tooth I come to realize, but a delicately designed and manicured 3D printed piece of the future. Hand crafted by the generous employees of DT Dental, one of the world’s, let alone Chengdu’s, premier orthodontic technologists. I admire the piece all the way back to my hotel.
The significance of Sino-German is realized in the story of China’s economy some forty years ago. Following significant market reforms in 1978, China has slowly worked its way up into one of the largest economic powers of the world. Hard workers, intelligent craftsman, and cheap labor drew many foreign investors to China. In this spirit, DT Dental was founded in 1995 to take advantage of recent German technology to manufacture high quality dentures at affordable prices.
Using cutting edge 3D Design Programs, printers, and painting techniques, DT Dental is able to make an astonishingly real product. See the recent blog post by Russell Miles to learn more on the different kinds of 3D printers, all of which are used to some extent at DT Dental, including, but not limited to, Stereolithography, Selective Laser Sintering, and Selective Laser Melting.
Factory floor employees, some of whom are only sixteen or seventeen years old, take advantage of many of the same tools available to us in the Hack Shack right now. Coming from some of the poorest families in the greater Chengdu area, DT Dental utilizes Confucius teachings to gives these kids the tools they need to succeed in the professional world.
This system, which teaches the kids respect to parents, critical thinking, and financial literacy, actually better prepares them for fulfilling lives and careers than many of the local public schools could do, according to Chengdu native, Rubio Dan. To many westerners, the idea of beginning one’s professional life at just sixteen is heartbreaking, but to these children, it is a dream come true.
DT Dental is admittedly an unusual business in China today. Not many choose to pay for all room and board for their employees. Even fewer decide to respect them enough to treat them like family and place values above overall profit, but they do. Much of this ability to conduct business in this way is attributed to the high degree of technology that they use, which increases productivity and quality immensely. The truth is that these kinds of highly skilled jobs better prepare workers to either move up the corporate ladder, or attain greater financial independence for themselves in the future.