Tej Prakash Jain
He is the Managing Director at Monotech Systems Ltd., one of India’s leading printing solutions provider. He is an experienced business leader with a track record of building businesses through entrepreneurship and innovation. He led the company’s growth to market leadership in several areas of digital and 3D printing equipment and solutions.
In an exclusive interview with Abhimanyu Chavan, Director at Manufactur3D Magazine for CXO Insights Series, Tej Prakash Jain, Managing Director at Monotech Systems Ltd., speaks about his entrepreneurial journey, how he built Monotech Systems & 3D Monotech from ground up, how he brings new international partners, addresses customer challenges through education and in-house products, what he feels about the national strategy for AM and more.
Q. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your experience of building a business like Monotech Systems Ltd.?
A: I hold three professional degrees in commerce: CA, CWA, and CS. I began as a finance professional in 1984 and rose to the position of CEO in 1997 before venturing out on my own in 1999, launching Monotech. In the year 2014-15, a team of 7 people operating from a small office in Chennai grew to a team of 500+ with a footprint across India and market leadership in a few industry verticals.
In June 2015, the Konica Minolta Production Printing business was sold to Konica Minolta Business Solutions India, and a new journey with a team of 250 began with a focus on domestic manufacturing. Currently, the company has a presence in over 20 countries, a team of over 450 people, a manufacturing turnover that exceeds half of the total turnover, and market leadership in certain business verticals. It was an exciting journey of learning at every step, team building, inventing and reinventing businesses and processes with the goal of innovating, being unique, and staying ahead.
Q. What inspired you to enter the 3D printing business with 3D Monotech?
A: For us, it began with the name ‘printing,’ which related with our business offerings. As I learned more about it, it turned out to be a completely different but a potentially transformative technology for the manufacturing sector. It is the technology of the future among many other possibilities, which gave me the impression that there is a significant opportunity.
Q. You offer almost all of the major 3D printing technologies and more. How do you decide which brand to partner with? Is it a market pull or is it your decision to bring certain technologies to India?
A: India has always been a manufacturing destination for most Western and East Asian countries, and the products manufactured range from automotive to FMCG, industrial machinery, textiles, and so on. It is also significant in terms of process manufacturing, such as casting, forging, stamping, injection moulding, and so on.
Aside from these, we are one of the largest jewellers and have a large market for dental-related manufacturing.
These requirements include everything from prototyping to in-process manufacturing to end-of-life parts. Furthermore, each industry has different needs and ranges in affordability from low to high. Because of this complexity, we believe that we will need to bring multiple technologies to cater to the majority of these industries. Today, we can say that we are the only company offering such a diverse range of technologies and catering to a diverse range of markets with polymers, plastics, composites, wax, metals, and ceramics, as well as machinery ranging in price from low to high.
As far as partner selection is concerned, the process is based on our analysis of these partners’ strengths in terms of technology, development, and foresight in terms of AM investment.
Q. Can you tell us about your in-house brands like Orbit3D, Metaform, and others?
A: We have always believed, since our 2D brands, that in India, unlike many other countries, needs vary based on investment capacity and requirements. As a result, there is always a gap that OEMs are unable to fill, which we at 3D Monotech decided to fill. With this in mind, we created products that offer a comprehensive solution to small and medium-sized investors and industries.
Orbit 3D is 3D Monotech’s in-house photogrammetry booth system that has the potential to be a very successful product in terms of low-cost, high-quality 3D captures that can be used for virtual and 3D printing applications. Nowadays, there are photography studios where people can go to take 2D photos. Similarly, Orbit 3D systems will be installed in studios, malls, airports, and other public places in the future, where you can spend a few seconds inside and a 3D profile can be created and developed within hours, and you can choose your selfie miniatures or virtual 3D profiles. Photogrammetry differs from hand-held scanners, which can take more than 10-15 minutes to scan and cannot be used with children or animals. Orbit allows you to take photos in real time in whatever pose or position you are in at the time.
FDM/FFF 3D printers are widely available around the world, and have recently been manufactured in India. However, the majority of machines manufactured in India use Chinese parts and designs, making them unreliable and inefficient. Furthermore, these machines are manufactured and sold by small businesses that are unable to maintain them due to low quality and a lack of service personnel or technical knowledge. As a result, many machines are idle with the majority of clients. With our experience in servicing and manufacturing printers, we at 3D Monotech have developedMetaform Pro-500 – a strong and robust FFF 3D printer with a design based on our experience with various polymer applications, as well as providing clients with user friendly and long lasting machines.
For example, even with the doors open, our printers are very quiet while printing. The body is built to withstand vibrations during printing and can be used for more than 5 years without deterioration. We introduced the Metaform Pro-500 at a price comparable to desktop printers.
However, we are not done yet, and we’re looking into a few more options from our Metaform brand of 3D printers.
Q. You are currently not offering any Indian brands, why is that so?
A: 3D printing in India has only reached maturity in a few areas, such as jewellery and dentistry, using Wax, DLP, and Metal 3D printers. Today, Indian brands have mostly perfected FFF, but the majority of their offerings are at the lower end of the spectrum and are unreliable in terms of construction and performance. Monotech has a reputation for introducing the best technologies to the Indian market and will not hesitate to partner with Indian brands if they meet those standards, which may take a few years. Furthermore, we believe in collaborating with complementary technologies that do not compete in the market.
Q. You’ve partnered with some of the world’s leading 3D printing brands. What is your pitch to global brands as to why they should partner with you, and what is Monotech’s competitive advantage?
A: Throughout its 23-year journey in the Indian industry, Monotech has consistently grown, bringing the best in 2D Printing and now 3D Printing Solutions. We have many advantages, but the most important ones are: longstanding and trustworthy partnerships with all OEMs, multiple offices across India to support clients from the closest location, post-sales service support, professional approach to business, implemented ERP and CRM systems internally, never hesitate to invest in new technologies, and built a highly experienced and resourceful team.
Q. Being a reseller, what specific challenges do you encounter while pitching to potential buyers of AM systems?
The prototyping machines 3D Monotech offers come from high-quality brands, thus costly and thereby it becomes difficult to persuade clients to invest in such systems. However, our product line is now primarily focused on production and shop floor applications, where we must educate users on the benefits of such investments, which aid in an overall efficient and cost-saving investment, but most of them calculate part-to-part costs. It is also difficult to persuade most of them to replace traditional methods with 3D printing and various materials. Today, for example, there are some composite polymers and plastics that can be stronger than aluminium and metals for certain applications, but users are hesitant to make such decisions despite evidence to the contrary. Furthermore, because our industry is more focused on manufacturing for Western and East Asian OEMs, we tend to adhere to certain standards as prescribed by them, making it difficult to change.
Q. According to you, what do you think is the market size of the Indian 3D Printing Industry, and what do you think is its potential in the next five years?
A: According to some reports, the market size of 3D printing in India is currently around 140 million USD, and we expect it to grow at least 30 percent year on year for the next five years. The government of India is also aiming for 5% of global 3D revenue by 2025, and with the global market size estimated to be around 31 billion USD in 2025, India’s market size for 3D printing should be around $1.5 billion by 2025.
Q. What are your thoughts on the recently launched National Strategy on AM? How do you think it will benefit the industry?
The National Strategy on AM should have been implemented several years ago, and seems to be brought in too late, as it coincides with the government’s Make in India and Atma Nirbhar Bharat initiatives. 3D Printing enables Startups to quickly validate their designs and bring their products to market; however, a proper ecosystem is required to achieve this goal. The recently announced strategy will take several years to fully implement. Until then, 3D printing will continue to be an unorganised business.
Q. What do you think about our ‘CXO Insights’ initiative?
A: CXO insights is a fantastic initiative that allows readers to get an inside look at the birth and growth of a company while also allowing companies to reach out to their target audience more effectively. It allows medium and growing businesses to present their business perspectives, which can guide and inspire Startups and new entrepreneurs.
In our CXO Insights section, Abhimanyu Chavan, Director at Manufactur3D Magazine interviews leading CXOs from the global Additive Manufacturing community and gain insights from them on the 3D printing technology, the developments in the global 3D printing industry, and also on India’s 3D printing industry in particular.