BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 449

BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 449

IELTS Academic Reading Test
BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 449

Hello 3D printing, goodbye China

A. A spectre is haunting the great container ship ports of China, with their highways jammed by lorries and the vast factory estates stretching from the coast of the South China Sea to the mountainous inland provinces. It is the spectre of a revolution led by a quiet, software-driven 3D printer, a machine that can laser up layers of liquid or granular resin or even cell tissue into a finished product.

Some 3D printers are huge devices that make complete components such as aircraft parts. Others are small units that could stand next to a desk and create a small plastic prototype. Maplin, the British electronics retailer, said last week it would start selling one for just £700. The Velleman K8200 will allow those who are so inclined to make simple objects – mobile phone covers, perhaps, or toys. ‘The only restriction is your imagination. You can make whatever you want,’ said Pieter Nartus, export manager at Velleman.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

B. To visionaries in the West, the digital 3D printer promises to disrupt conventional manufacturing and supply chains so radically that advocates compare its impact to the advent of the production line or the internet. In China, whose big factories are thinking of using giant 3D printers for manufacturing, the technology does not seem to pose an immediate threat. ‘It is on their horizon but it is not a factor right now,’ says a British buying agent who sources plastics in China. However, as Chinese leaders ought to know from their compulsory classes in Karl Marx, control of the means of production is everything. And if 3D printing takes off, production will come back to a place near you.

C. The implications, economists say, are limitless. No huge factories. No fleets of trucks. No ships. No supply chain. No tariffs. Few middlemen. Orders tailored exactly to demand, so no need for stock and warehouses. Just a printer, raw materials, software and a design. The advantages do not end there. Because the item is ‘sintered’ – created from a powdered material – to precise settings using a laser, there is no waste such as metal shavings. To customise a product, the user simply changes the software. An operator presses a button and the printer spits out the item.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

D. ‘The first implication is that more goods will be manufactured at or closer to their point of purchase or consumption,’ said Richard O’Aveni, a professor at Dartmouth College in the USA. Writing in the Harvard Business Review, D’Aveni predicted the elimination of the long supply chain linked to a huge factory staffed by cheap workers and sited on the other side of the world. It may be the most significant, if underplayed, article in that distinguished publication in decades.

‘China has grabbed outsourced manufacturing contracts from every mature economy by pushing the mass-manufacturing model to its limit,’ he wrote. ‘It not only aggregates enough demand to create unprecedented efficiencies of scale but also minimises a key cost: labour …. Under a model of widely distributed, highly flexible small-scale manufacturing, these daunting advantages become liabilities. No workforce can be paid little enough to make up for the costs of shipping across oceans.’

IELTS Academic Reading Test

E. In the brutal war for margin amid volatile commodities and currencies at the bottom end of the market, where China has carved its niche, the numbers tell their own ominous story. In a world of 3D manufacturing, the classic supply chain makes no commercial sense. ‘China won’t be a loser in the new era,’ D’Aveni argued in the Harvard Business Review. ‘It will have a domestic market to serve … and its domestic market is huge. But China will have to give up on being the mass-manufacturing powerhouse of the world.’

F. China, of course, is not sitting still. It is eagerly buying Western 3D printing technology and making its own lightweight machines to sell to consumers. The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has already allocated £20 million to fund 10 research centres and set up a group of 40 participating companies. So there is no doubt about China’s scientific, engineering and intellectual commitment to 3D manufacturing. However, it is a fundamentally different concept in China. To the Chinese, it is an industrial tool to be used in making more things to sell. To Western economies that are hooked on cheap imports with a huge carbon footprint, it could be a means of transformation – perhaps even an agent of de-industrialisation.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Reading Passage 3 has six paragraphs, A-F. Which paragraph, A-F, contains the following information? Write the correct letter, A-F, next to Questions 27-32.

27. a change in China’s markets

28. the advent of a new technology

29. a description of the new business model

30. a comparison of 3D printing with past innovations

31. China’s investments in 3D printing

32. possible future consequences of 3D printing

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Classify the following as said by

A. Pieter Nartus

B. Karl Marx

C. Richard D’ Aveni

Write the correct letter, A, 8 or C, next to Questions 33-37.

33. China will not manufacture products for the world in the future.

34. There will be no advantages in efficiencies of scale.

35. Control over how we produce things counts for everything.

36. What we make will be limited only by our imagination.

37. Goods will be made closer to the consumer.

IELTS Academic Reading Test

Choose the correct letter A. B, C or D.

38. Which is NOT an advantage of 3D printing?

A. You do not need to buy stock.

B. You do not need to store materials in large buildings.

C. Goods are made from powder.

D. There is no waste.

39. How did China achieve industrial growth?

A. It had manufacturing contracts.

B. It had low labour costs.

C. There was high demand for its products from one area.

D. The cost of shipping goods across the oceans was not significant.

40. What does the writer think about China’s reaction to 3D printing?

A. Chinese business leaders do not fully realise the implications.

B. China should be investing more in it.

C. China should concentrate more on its domestic market.

D. The changes will leave China behind.

IELTS Academic Reading Test


BEST IELTS Academic Reading Test 449

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IELTS Academic Reading Test

27. E

28. A

29. D

30. B

31. F

32. C

33. C

34. C

35. B

36. A

37. C

38. C

39. B

40. A

IELTS Academic Reading Test

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