3D printing: an innovation to bring change

Israel-based Objet to revolutionise rapid prototyping market in India

With a wide range of applications, especially in industries involving design–led manufacturing, three dimensional (3D) printing continues to enhance its market across the world, and now has started getting popular in India too. “Globally 3D printing technology is maturing and on the verge of radically changing the rules for what, how and where everything is made, as manufacturing literally comes home. But in India, the adoption of this technology is yet to realize its full potential. The user-friendliness and affordability of 3D printing systems indeed offer countless opportunities for Indian companies, facilitating them to perform design validation requirements, thereby minimising errors, time-to-market and ultimately, costs,” conveyed Ashan Dhunna, sales director - India & ME, Objet AP Limited, committed to revolutionise rapid prototyping market in India. In 3D printing, a three dimensional object is created by laying down successive layers of material. 3D printers are faster, affordable as well as easier-to-use, and providing various advantages such as shortening time-to-market, minimising manufacturing errors, increasing confidentiality, and ensuring cost savings. Different types of materials such as ABS-like, rubber-like, transparent, and bio-compatible are also available to cater the requirements of the different sectors. With this, everybody who designs products using 3D software may be user of 3D printers. Resultantly, industry sectors like consumer electronics, automotive, entertainment, medical, animation, industrial machinery, jewellery, toy industry, educational institutes, etc are potential verticals driving adoption of 3D printing. Encouraging growth, immense potentials

“As compared to the global market of 3D printing, the Indian market is relatively young, but the growth has been very encouraging, with more and more companies adopting the technology to meet their manufacturing needs. The accelerated technology environment in the country will prove to be a great impetus for the 3D technology drive and adoption thereof. With the launch of the Desktop 3D printing systems earlier, 3D printing is made available to business of different sizes. More businesses, namely the SMEs, are now benefitting from these office environment friendly-systems, at an affordable price. We do expect to see the adoption trend to grow rapidly for the desktop systems whilst we foresee a steady growth rate for the high end professional models,” said Ashan, talking about scope for 3D printing in India. “At the wake of industrial growth hitting 13 percent in the country, the Indian domestic IT sector is estimated to grow $50 billion by 2020, when the overall IT industry size would grow to $175 billion. With this growth momentum, the addressable markets for 3D printing systems will increase considerably, thus including immense scope arising for our best-in-class 3D printing technology and adoption thereof,” he added.

“3D Printing market is associated with the 3D CAD (computer-aided design) industry. As opposed to a 2D programme, 3D CAD systems produce virtual prototype that offers data for subsequent processes. Further, viewing 3D models on screen helps in the early detection of errors. Organizations in the Indian architectural design industry and manufacturing industry are also moving from 2D to 3D CAD environment. The Indian CAD market has undergone rapid transformation in the last few years. The rapid economic growth, coupled with the high disposable income of the Indian population is propelling the growth of manufacturing, construction and automotive industries. The demand for CAD in educational and engineering institutions and booming small and medium businesses (SMB) segment is adding to this growth. Further, the government’s favourable policies for infrastructure development are driving the growth of CAD market in the architectural segment. The major Indian IT vendors are now moving up the value chain and are offering high end engineering outsourcing services to their clients. Many multinational companies (MNCs) have also set up their in-house design R&D centers in India. According to a report by TechNavio, the Indian CAD market is forecasted to reach $166.9 million in 2013 from $93.0 million in 2009; thus, growing at a CAGR of 15.7 percent over the period,” Ashan explained further.

Fuelling factors

Mentioning what are the factors fuelling the growth of 3D printing in India, he mentioned that 3D printing is poised to be the next big industry as it presents a great opportunity for the software, hardware and prototyping industry of the country. According to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers, there will be a strong demand for rapid prototyping equipment and technology especially in emerging markets of China and India. Additionally, these regions are investing in new R&D and product development centers. Many industry observers and analysts predict 2012 to be a breakthrough year for 3D printing. “There are various benefits of 3D printing which are generally being considered key factors fuelling the growth in this arena. Due to increasing pressure to market products promptly in the competitive phenomenon, companies have to make faster and accurate decisions during the conceptual phase, and 3D printing facilitates better decision making at an early stage and optimizes profits. Use of 3D printing also minimises manufacturing errors. With promptly available prototypes through a 3D printer, designers can make multiple iterations, reducing possibility to redesign products multiple times. During the economic slowdown, opting 3D printing over traditional outsourced prototyping also helped business establishments sustain, ensuring significant cost savings. Last but not the least, producing the prototype in-house with 3D printers also enables to maintain confidentiality of the project, minimising risk of leaking a design,” he mentioned.

Bottlenecks…

Almost every technology has some limitations to expand market, and 3D printing is not an exception. “As the 3D printing market in India is at a nascent stage and is growing slowly and steadily, there are various factors that may hinder adoption. Considering the market is young and there is lack of adequate awareness about the benefits of the new technology, adoption is seen as scarce. However, estimates show that the market is set to experience a boom in the coming 2-3 years. Another factor to be considered is the cost of technology. Having 3D printers installed in every business set-up may not be economically viable leading to lower adoption rates. However companies today have come up with affordable ink-jet based desktop 3D printers which are being increasingly used for producing 3D prototypes at a far lower cost using 3D printing,” said Ashan mentioning factors hindering the adoption of 3D printing in India.

Objet: an innovation leader in 3D printing

Founded in 1998 and presently owning more than 110 patents as well as patent pending inventions, Objet Ltd is an innovation leader in 3D printing for rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing. Serving its growing global customer base through own offices and a global network of distribution partners, the company provides 3-dimensional printing systems that enable manufacturers and industrial designers to reduce cost of product development and dramatically shorten time-to-market of new products. Their ultra-thin-layer, high-resolution 3-dimensional printing systems and materials utilize PolyJet polymer jetting technology, to print ultra-thin 16-micron layers. The market-proven Objet Eden line of 3D printing systems and the Objet24 and Objet30 desktop 3D printers are based on Objet’s patented office-friendly PolyJet technology. While the Objet Connex multi-material family is based on Objet’s PolyJet Matrix technology, which jets multiple model materials simultaneously and creates composite Digital Materials on the fly. All Objet systems use Objet’s FullCure materials to create accurate, clean, smooth, and highly detailed 3D parts. Objet systems are in use by customers worldwide, including Fortune 100 companies, in multiple industries such as automotive, architecture, consumer goods and electronics, dental, defense, education, industrial machinery, medical, medical devices, toys, footwear and service bureaus.

New offering to India: Recently, Objet Asia Pacific Ltd, a subsidiary of Objet Ltd revealed the Objet260 Connex, a compact and attractively priced addition to Objet’s family of multi-material 3D printers, in India. Objet260 Connex is the world’s only rapid prototyping system able to jet two materials at the same time. It is based on their patented inkjet 3D printing technology, allowing users to select from a large range of composite materials when building 3D models, such as Objet’s recently released ABS-like material. The system can also print a model replica made of up to 14 individual materials in a single print run.

“The availability of the Objet260 Connex will not only ensure high quality results but we believe that it will also be a preferred choice for a price conscious market such as India. The compact Objet260 Connex brings our high-resolution, multi-material 3D printing to new levels of accessibility for front-line designers and engineers who demand the highest quality prototypes and true-product representation. And all this in a system that is quiet, reliable and small enough to run in the corner of any office,” conveyed Ashan. The Objet Connex family of 3D printers is the recipient of the EuroMold 2007 Innovation Award, recognizing the most innovative developments from the fields of mold-making and tooling, design and application development.

Future plans: “India is a very important market for us where 3D printing and prototyping sector holds huge potentials. Our global experience will be the pivotal in establishing ourselves as the biggest player in the Indian market. We are following the strategy of distribution through channel partners and have appointed Redington India as our master distributor in the country. In addition, Objet has invested substantially on marketing efforts in India. For instance, a demo center has been set up to showcase Objet 3D printing solutions at Redington in Chennai, alongwith a series of markering efforts including PR, advertising, events, etc. Objet and/or its partners will be participating in a series of seminars and exhibitions. India is our key focus for the coming years and we believe that we will see tremendous growth there,” concluded Ashan mentioning their future plans for India.

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