Updated: Feb 17, 2020
What drives the adoption of AM technologies across India, which industries are leading the process and what are the most common applications? The highlights of 2019 INDIA AM Report by the Indian 3D Printing Network.
Aditya Chandavarkar, Co-Founder | Indian 3D Printing Network
1995 marked the first investment into AM by the Indian industry. Almost 25 years have passed since and Indian industry has made advances including:
Acceptance by Jewelry and Automotive industries for mold making & prototyping respectively
Increased Metal AM installations entering diverse applications like Aerospace, Space, Defense and Tooling
Establishment Medical AM and Bio-printing companies
A growing startup ecosystem addressing various needs including software, digital manufacturing and system development
Ongoing projects at Academic & Research Institutes and Educational Curriculum
In the Western world, the driving force for AM is the design authorities and owners like GE, Volkswagen, Boeing, Airbus, Honeywell and similar. In India the AM supply chain has been driving the industry or technology, hence the time taken for technology adoption is longer. Design owners and authorities in India are now adopting AM which will lead to exponential growth of the same in India.
Source: Indian 3D Printing Network
We surveyed the Indian AM industry and found that the application split is lead by adoption in Automotive/Transportation and Tooling/Engineering (Fig 1). While sectors like Aerospace, Automotive, Architecture, Healthcare, Jewelry, Engineering, Tooling and Dental are already adopting AM, the custom gifts, food, drugs, oil & gas, construction sectors will open up in the near future in India.
Source: Indian 3D Printing Network
Fuel System Elbow Part
As part of the Phase-IV Su-30 MKI manufacturing under Transfer of Technology from Russia, a shortage of some castings for manufacturing of components was encountered. In order to overcome this shortage, HAL chose to develop and manufacture this fuel system elbow part using AM. The pilot part has been successfully manufactured and has been certified by CEMILAC.
Jet Engine Turbine Side Blade
The Jet Engine Turbine Side Blade is the individual component, which makes up the turbine section of a gas turbine or steam turbine. The blades are responsible for extracting energy from the high temperature, high pressure gas produced by the combustor. This project executed by Objectify Technologies Pvt. Ltd. included manufacturing Jet Engine Turbine Side Blades or High Pressure and Low pressure in Nickel based alloy utilizing AM. The turbine blades required having fine cooling channels, high precision and a short lead time, thus AM was a perfect fit.
Topology Optimized Steering Bracket
Bengaluru based Wipro 3D developed an additively designed steering bracket using their proprietary Additive Thinking framework and a topology optimized Steering Bracket was realized. The part was fabricated in EOS M400 machine and the part dimensions were quite large at 390 x 225 x 180 mm.
A weight reduction of around 15% was achieved. The component is currently under field-testing and validation. The Steering Bracket is a component that connects the Steering Column and related components to the vehicle chassis and takes the steering loads. The original design of the steering bracket was heavy, unwieldy and having traditional mechanical structure.
Compressor Housing Hand Head
Bengaluru based Intech DMLS developed and manufactured a compressor housing hand head used for automobile air conditioner application. The part was manufactured using an Aluminum alloy and lead to a considerable reduction in lead time.
Growth of Home-grown Hardware Manufacturing
A clear sign of the Indian AM industry maturing is the growth of home-grown hardware manufacturers not only manufacturing FDM and DLP but also technology like Selective EBM Technology, Laser Melting and Binder Jetting
In a first, Wipro3D, the additive manufacturing (AM) business of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering (WIN) and the prestigious Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (IISC) have developed an industry grade indigenous metal Additive Manufacturing machine which works on Selective Electron Beam Melting technology and offers higher build rate, better thermal management, higher part density as well as superior mechanical properties.
Intech Additive Solutions Pvt. Ltd. (Formerly known as Intech DMLS Pvt. Ltd.), one of the pioneers of Metal Additive Manufacturing in India, announced ‘Made in India’ technological solution, with the launch of their new range of Metal 3D Printers. The newly launched iFusion series of Metal 3D Printers- the iFusion SF1 and the iFusion LFMulti, designed and built at Intech Additive Solutions’ facility in Bangalore, is a significant milestone in the innovation journey of Intech and Metal Additive Manufacturing in India. These cost-effective machines are part of Intech’s 3D eco system with software's bundled in for machine parameter optimization and build process being sold as a package.
Enerzi Microwave Systems Pvt. Ltd., a company based out of Belagavi, has developed a Binderjet Printer with Processing Furnace for Metals, Ceramics, Polymers and Composite powder materials. Built on the vast experience of working with a variety of engineering materials, ENPRINT ALPHA is the first variant in a series of Binder-jet 3D Printers that the company has launched. Enerzi has been building and delivering Microwave Assisted Sintering furnaces for powder metal and ceramic parts for over a decade now. Enprint Alpha is a Binder Jet 3D Printer with an atmosphere controlled Advanced Microwave Assisted High Temperature Furnace.
This is only the beginning and many other indigenous technologies including hardware and software will soon emerge from the Indian market for local and global consumption.
Indian AM Industry – Way ahead!
Based on our insights gained, the foundation is now clearly set for the Indian AM industry. It is clear that Aerospace, Medical and Automotive applications will be drivers of AM in India. New opportunities will open up driven by either technological or business Disruption.
Speed, Quality, Consistency and Automation will be areas of Technological Disruption. Business Disruption will be defined by how the OEMs and end users can manage the entry cost. Different business models like pay per use, rental, BOOT will be seen coming into the forefront. Also an important growth factor for the Indian AM industry will be the development of local AM systems, software and material. Moving ahead AM and a host of other emerging technologies will reduce the impact of labor arbitrage and the scale of manufacturing will no longer be applicable as products will be customized and with shorter life cycles. Design for AM will take center stage to accelerate AM, and will India will be at and advantage with one of the largest IT and engineering talent pool worldwide.
FDM and other desktop entry-level technologies will continue to grow, as these will be the first choice for the consumer market and engineering companies.
Desktop FDM’s will continue to have a market in education, MSME’s and in design companies.
Those technologies that are able to innovate on better materials, higher speed in a cost effective manner will be able to gain traction in this increasingly competitive production AM space. SLA, MJF, SLS and other technologies will continue to win market share based on the respective application segments.
On the Metal front, PBF will continue to be the leading technology adopted in India. Binder jetting or Filament based Metal printing, which are seen as direct replacements to MIM process, will be adopted in the mainstream probably 1 -2 years down the line. DED will also see an increase in adoption with MRO being one of the low hanging fruit applications. In manufacturing larger structural parts, DED will play an important role in the Automotive, Aerospace and Engineering sectors. EBM technology also shows a lot of promise for both Aerospace and Medical applications and we will see some investments in this area.
India is today only touching the tip of the Iceberg in adoption of this technology, however with the ingenuity of Indian industry and existing & upcoming government policies an exponential growth in this space is just around the corner.