INDIAN SCENARIO OPINION

Expert Analysis: Covid-19 Pandemic – Implications, Challenges and Opportunities for the Indian AM Industry

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Manufactur3D Magazine caught up with 11 Indian AM Industry Leaders to know their views of the implications, challenges, and opportunities the Covid-19 pandemic has brought for the Indian AM industry.

Covid-19 and Indian AM Industry
Above: Coronavirus Statistics/Image used for representation purpose only

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted several industries not just in India but across the world. However, in some cases, the technological changes inspired by the Covid-19 pandemic have come to the rescue. One such technology is Additive Manufacturing (AM). Covid-19 has opened up new avenues and has brought about positive change in the AM industry. This is reflected by the positive sentiment from the leaders in the industry. Almost all the executives expressed that Covid-19 has brought noticeable to significant change as more and more manufacturing companies are opening up and ready to evaluate, experiment, and adopt AM technology. 

1. RAJASEKHAR UPPUTURI, CEO & CO-FOUNDER – THINK3D

There is definitely a change in the mindset/attitude of the Indian manufacturing industry towards AM due to the current COVID-19 crisis, people are now looking at the local manufacturing because of the breakdown of supply chains and due to the lockdown that is being imposed. Below are the points I noticed for the change caused:

The tools for traditional manufacturing like CNC machining, Injection molding is not widely prevalent, as they require an industrial set up and these are located in very few cities. So getting the work done from those few cities is becoming daunting and an impossible task for the customers. Because of such constraints, people are now looking for other ways of manufacturing i.e. 3D Printing. 3D printing doesn’t need a massive set up, anyone can buy, install the machine and then start the manufacturing. 

People are not looking at investing massively in the molds due to depressed economic situations, so they are looking at batch and on-demand production. 

2. DEELIP MENEZES, MANAGING DIRECTOR – 3D SYSTEMS INDIA

There has been awareness generated by the positive news of how 3D printing has come to the rescue to save lives and protect people in the initial days of the pandemic when medical supply chains were disrupted. This has led to many curious minds wanting to learn more about 3D printing and investigate how it could help them in their workflow.

The flexibility of working from home has also enabled many people to join online webinars to learn more about this manufacturing process and the possibilities it opens. I wouldn’t say that Indian manufacturing industries are ready for AM adoption. Rather I would say that the COVID-19 crisis has helped a little in bringing 3D printing and additive manufacturing in focus for companies to consider it. At 3D Systems we are now finding it a little easier to talk to people and introduce our Figure 4 production printer with production materials and explain how the combination can be used to completely replace vacuum casting and injection molding wherever it makes sense.

3. SWAPNIL SANSARE, CEO & FOUNDER – DIVIDE BY ZERO TECHNOLOGIES

There is a positive change in the attitude of the Indian manufacturing industry towards AM due to the current COVID 19 crisis. 

With many of the companies facing supply chain issues, more and more technology startups and SPM manufacturing companies are now keen to try AM. Many of the medical and tech startups are now building end-use products using 3D printing. 

Skilled labour and material availability were major factors that forced many manufacturers to look at 3D printing as a solution, especially with AM’s capability of distributed manufacturing, companies have made on-demand spares/components for their products ensuring onetime deliveries and better customer support. 

Another major factor SME’s are looking at AM is due to the availability of 3D CAD design software on subscription platforms wherein SME manufacturer is able to adopt the new technology and evolve without major investment. 

Indian manufacturing industry looks very positive towards AM and with AM’s capability to build tools and solve mass-customisation problems for end-use components, it seems to have a bright future.

4. NIDHI SHAH, MANAGING DIRECTOR – VOXELJET INDIA

The COVID-19 crisis has pushed foundries to reconsider the value addition of Additive Manufacturing in terms of quick turnaround times, lower post-processing costs & time as well as managing with lack of availability of skilled labour. Apart from the regular business operations, we are getting a lot of strong interest from foundries that want to use this crisis as an opportunity to pivot their business, enter new verticals & industries.

5. AVINASH ABRAHAM, ACCOUNT MANAGER – MATERIALISE (INDIA)

The Indian manufacturing industry is acquainted with the changes AM would induce in-terms of re-structuring the supply chain. The restricted movement and reduction in work-force due to the COVID-19 crisis persuaded the industry to become more adaptable and explore the possibilities & applicability of Additive manufacturing. Materialise organised a series of Webinars on topics varying from basics on Additive manufacturing Software Suite to the advancements in terms of technology and its applicability. The receptiveness of the manufacturing industry towards AM was evident with the magnitude of registrations and the queries raised by participants through the Webinar series.

6. DARSHAN SHAH, BDM – NOVABEANS PROTOTYPING LABS LLP

I believe there is a significant change due to covid-19 and a transition towards a progressive Digital ecosystem. This undoubtedly involves digital fabrication as the front runner for future fabrication facilities and has a tremendous scope towards aiding supply chain demand. 

Covid-19 has been a major factor of change and a reality check that business needed. Optimum resource utilisation and value of leveraging on assets has been the most essential aspects to focus on during this crisis. 

Indian Manufacturing Industry does not have many options rather than being ready and getting equipped with the right set of machinery, manpower, and materials. If not today, AM Adoption is going to exist by default for the upcoming years. 

So the questions remain, how ready the industry is, and how much the industry is ready to involve in it.

7. HARDIK PRAJAPATI, LEAD – STPL3D 

There is no clear sign that can prove the manufacturing industry is ready for AM adoption but AM has proved all its claim about rapid product development during the time of Covid. Very few set of people understand the real cost of product development and its implementation. The crisis has proved to be a catalyst in medical industries and PPE gear but the real chunk is when MSME will be empowered with AM. I always dream of a fully equipped AM centre in every industrial zone of the city of the country then I will say that the manufacturing industry is now ready for AM.

8. Dr. GURUPRASAD RAO, DIRECTOR & MENTOR – IMAGINARIUM INDIA

There is a clear change in the mindset/attitude of the Indian Manufacturing Industry towards AM during COVID Crisis.

This can be largely attributable to two important factors.

  1. The problems in the supply chain due to world lockdown.

I wish to elaborate on each to strengthen my opinions.

Post Wuhan outbreak, the logistics and travel all over the world initially played havoc in spreading the virus making it a pandemic. This led to the lockdown to contain the spreading of the pandemic. This disrupted the SCM overall and as healthcare was the only inevitable industry that could function. Now, they felt the heat of SCM of some of the essential consumables such as Face Mask, Medical Hardware. Foreseeing this, many makers, research labs, and corporates shared their designs online to be 3D printed and used to fight the pandemic.

This made anyone with access to the Internet and a 3D printer transform themselves into a micro-factory to fabricate the devices locally. This demonstrated the extreme agility of 3D printing to the world including, the Indian Industry. This kind of opened the eyes of Industry to explore. Lockdown further helped them with free time to learn about the technology and think about how it can add value. Many Industry, had to look for alternate ways to get their spare to fix the breakdowns and realised the value of 3D printing in such situations. COVID has thus played a positive role in fast-forwarding the technology adoption in many fields including, 3D Printing. Many start-ups found it as a good time to try new innovations and have done extremely well.  The NPD process broke all records and set a new benchmark in time to market.

2. The Industry had time to learn about AM offered by various agencies such as CII, FICCI, IAMF, TAGMA, IMTMA, CMTI, and many such industry bodies and Academic Institutes.

The second one, of course, the availability of learning resources and free time with industry. Social media helped to spread the role of 3D printing in such innovations. The Indian industry, watching these developments, was ready to consume more details. Various agencies such as CII, FICCI, IAMF, and many such industry bodies and Academic Institutes organised expert talks on 3D printing. This helped the industry to take a closer look at the technology and evaluate it for their own internal applications. Actual projects proving value addition will help acceptability.

9. SOHRAB KOTHARI, CO-FOUNDER – SAHAS SOFTECH

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the supply chains and value chains have been hampered even for the biggest of the MNC’s in the world. Getting products from one place to another was also a challenge during this time. During this time the entire 3d printing community has risen to the occasion to fight the spread of the pandemic. 3D Printing community and freelance designers have put their creativity and developed design and have made it available to the entire additive manufacturing community. Now you can manufacture this essential equipment’s in any part of the world. These essentials included face shields, Saliva Swabs, Reusable Mask, Valves, Respirators, and ventilators, etc. This has had a great impact on the community and the 3D printing industry has come into the limelight to the entire world. The mindset for on-demand manufacturing is something that is being evaluated by most of the industries now. After years of hype and pushing the technology, this crisis has changed the dynamics and outlook for the AM industry.

10. SELVAKUMARAN, CEO – GARUDA3D

We can feel there is some positive change in the Indian AM. As we are into FDM, we are getting a lot more inquiries for prototyping. People are ready to take AM as their prototyping requirements. Some people are using AM for small batch production also.

A lot of industries are showing their interest, but due to the economic slowdown, they are not moving forward to this AM. Even as our Honourable Prime Minister, Mr. Narendra Modi mentioned how 3D printing helped in the Covid crisis, definitely we can expect a lot of changes in the coming months.

11. NITIN CHAUDHARI, PARTNER – SHREE RAPID TECHNOLOGIES

There is an openness to evaluate, experiment, and implement. I wouldn’t say a catalyst to change, but a catalyst to look at additive manufacturing for the problems it can solve, for the solutions it can offer. About manufacturing industries, it is a much wider concept, but we are seeing peaked interest on a natural growth curve we were expecting in 18-24 months. 


In our Opinion section, we come up with interviews where experts from the 3D printing industry share their insights on the technology, the developments in the global 3D printing industry in general, and India’s 3D printing industry in particular. To share your thoughts, insights or to feature in our magazine, kindly get in touch with us at features@manufactur3dmag.com

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