Mumbai:Additive manufacturing, or 3D printing, is gradually gaining mainstream attention in India following years of limited adoption, after most industries faced covid-led supply chain disruptions.
Following the covid-19 outbreak, 3D printing startups collaborated to address the shortage of several key medical equipment, including face shields and ventilator valves.
According to experts, application of 3D printing has grown since then and demand is now stronger in other sectors such as pharmaceuticals, jewellery, defence, aerospace, fast-moving consumer goods and construction. “Earlier, the automotive sector was the biggest user of 3D printing, accounting for up to 70% of all demand while the remaining 30% came from the rest. In the last few months, this percentage has reversed,” said Swapnil Sansare, CEO, Divide By Zero Technologies, a Mumbai-based 3D printing firm.
Earlier this month, a critical aero engine component, manufactured by Wipro 3D and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, was awarded an airworthiness certification by the Defence Research and Development Organisation. In December, L&T Construction successfully 3D printed the first two-storey building, which was developed with a special concrete mix.
“India has seen increasing adoption of 3D printing technologies with growth rates over 30% year-on-year across materials. The industry has evolved from being a prototyping tech to end use production, with metal AM (additive manufacturing) leading the course,” said Mahesh Makhija, partner, technology consulting, EY.
The manufacturing sector has been under a lot of stress. Using 3D printing companies can break centralized manufacturing load centres into smaller production hubs that can be set up closer to the market.
“The pandemic forced the shutdown of global supply chains and compelled firms to restructure their production locally. The risks of blocking capital in inventory that was lying unused was another big learning post-covid,” said Tanmay Shah, sales and marketing head at Imaginarium, a Mumbai-based 3D printing firm.
Experts said the Centre’s schemes to boost local manufacturing and reduce dependence on China is likely to drive the adoption of 3D printing.
“As the focus on domestic production is driven harder with Make in India push, some high-cost imported part products will switch to 3D printing for production at scale,” adds Makhija.