A number of industries have started the use of 3D printing for manufacturing of their goods. Makers of 3D printers expect the trickle to soon turn into a flood.
Welcome to the new world of additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing – the making of three-dimensional objects from a digital file. This process involves building a thing or an object by stacking up successive layers of raw material. Each layer can be seen as a finely sliced horizontal thin cross-section of the required object. It is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing, which involves cutting out/hollowing out of a piece of metal or plastic.
The technology, which took its first steps over three decades ago, is now catching on in India, where companies ranging from Tata Motors, JSW Steel, GE Transportation and tens of start-ups, apart from organisations such as ISRO, are using its benefits in the form of higher precision and lower costs. Even the fashion industry of India is using 3-D printing to give its exclusive clients a customised experience. And to deliver to such high demand, players such as HP, Wipro3D and Siemens Digital Industries Software are offering a set of solutions. While the early adoption of this technology was restricted to visualising and prototyping, it has now moved on to the realm of hi-tech and precision manufacturing. You will find many 3D printer some of them even claim to manufacture best 3D printer.
“In India, the market size for 3D printing is about Rs 3,000 crore (including players who provide 3D printing solutions and services – prototyping, product manufacturing and services.) The market is growing by 40-50 per cent a year,” says Vinay Awasthi, Managing Director, HP Inc., India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
Global market research and consulting firm 6Wresearch found that India’s 3D printer market is projected to touch $79 million by 2021. The 2019 Wohlers Report has forecast $15.8 billion market for 3D printing products and services worldwide by 2020. This is expected to grow to $35.6 billion in 2024. India clearly has a lot of catching up to do in spite of the fact that 3D printing has opened doors for leapfrogging in the manufacturing sector, especially in high value/low volume products.
High Precision for Key Spare Parts
Some manufacturers are using this technology just to make their important parts as this will give precision to the part which is very important plus it will also cost less and saves time as well.
“From the design perspective, 3D printing changes the innovation paradigm. By freeing designers from constraints that traditional manufacturing imposes – essentially allowing any shape to be printed – it brings automated optimisation to the forefront of the design process. In effect, engineering is tipped on its head; instead of the designer being responsible for defining the form of the part, with the simulationist evaluating the function, additive manufacturing lets the designer define a part’s function, while the software figures out the form. This is the beginning of an age of autonomous innovation,” says Zvi Feuer, Senior Vice President, Manufacturing Engineering Software, Siemens Digital Industries Software.
Healthcare – The Big Use
This is one of the biggest industry using 3D printing technology or additive manufacturing. This is mostly used to make prosthetics and implants. Generally it come in standard sizes which may not be suitable for some person. After 3D printing technology now we can make any kind of prosthetics and implants according to the patients need and size. The cost of manufacturing does not have much price gap as they are just around the normal price rather more accurate. For example, a prosthetic hand cast manufactured with the help of additive manufacturing can cost you around 350 rupees which is enough for an artificial available in the market.
Fashion – Customisation is the Key
Fashion industry after using 3D printing technology have given their customers a gift of customisation. Recently, sneaker brand Adidas launched Futurecraft 4D customised shoes made using a software programme. An Indian start-up, Spacecrunch, has been making 3D-printed insoles – using images of the feet – that it says can treat foot pain.
“In manufacturing, there are two areas – traditional manufacturing for large volumes and mass customisation,” says Swapnil Sansare, Founder & CEO of Mumbai-based Divide by Zero.
As 3D printing is increasing tremendously it has certain challenges. There are multiple barriers to wider adoption of 3D printing in India. These include high equipment costs, limited availability of material, shortage of talent pool, longer production timelines and absence of formal standards and strong IP safeguards. These are the challenges faced by the industries from a long time. Some of them have made out of it and have solutions to these problems. In spite of the challenges, Indian companies will in all likelihood embrace 3-D printing in earnest and make it essential to manufacturing.