Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology, Jodhpur (IIT Jodhpur), one of India’s premier public technical university, have developed an indigenous DED metal 3D printer that can be used for aerospace, defence, and general engineering applications, according to the team. Except for laser and robot systems, the IIT Jodhpur team designed, developed, and manufactured the metal 3D printer in India.
The metal 3D printer is ideal for printing fully functional parts because it can repair and add material to existing components.
The project’s main goal was to lower the cost of metal 3D printers and attract a broader range of users.
DED Metal 3D Printer
The researchers decided to pursue and develop a metal 3D printer based on Direct Energy Deposition (DED). The DED technology uses a focused energy source to melt a material while a nozzle deposits it. A plasma arc, laser, or electron beam could be used as the energy source.
The machine can also print 3D parts using Indian metal powders and has in-situ monitoring technologies that constantly monitor the melt pool temperature during the manufacturing process.
The newly developed printer is suitable for repairing and adding material to existing components. According to the researchers, it can print 3D parts using metal powders made in India.
Furthermore, the metal 3D printer features India’s first state-of-the-art variable spot size laser optics that do not compromise laser beam homogeneity for laser cladding and additive manufacturing.
According to Dr. Ravi K. R., Associate Professor, Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering, IIT Jodhpur, “Such an initiative would further strengthen the policy decisions of the Government of India under the ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ initiative.”
Reducing the Cost of Metal 3D Printer in India
3D printing was invented in the mid-1980s and has since grown by leaps and bounds around the world, but India still accounts for less than 0.1 percent of the global market. This is primarily due to slower adoption for which the major reason have been the high cost of 3D printers. Because of the high capital investment required to adopt a new technology, it was out of reach for MSMEs, stifling its adoption. Furthermore, the costly proprietary metal powders are mostly imported from abroad, raising operational costs even higher.
However, the tide is turning now, and 3D printing technology is becoming more popular in India. This is due to a variety of factors, including market leaders’ acceptance of the technology, the development of indigenously built 3D printing technologies, and the availability of affordable technologies in India.
“Our study results show that if all the parts needed to make a metal printing machine could be manufactured indigenously, the cost of a metal 3D printing machine could be reduced by two to three times.”– Dr. Ravi K. R., IIT Jodhpur
This new metal 3D printer developed in India will also play an important role in providing a sought-after technology such as DED at a lower cost.
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