• India
  • Feb 25

Govt unveils new strategy to boost additive manufacturing (3D printing)

The ministry of electronics & IT (MeitY) released “National Strategy on Additive Manufacturing” to cater next-generation digital manufacturing and mitigate immediate disabilities of local industries.

Additive Manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, produces objects layer by layer and has the potential to transform manufacturing through expanding design freedom, reducing time to market, bringing production closer to demand and improving industrial sustainability. 

India has a potential to create its dominance and leadership role in all the four verticals of AM technology — materials, software, machines and service due to its existing expertise. Innovation and R&D ecosystem engaging academia and industry participations would be important for realising the fruits of this emerging technology.

The Strategy aspires to achieve 5 per cent of global AM market share and add nearly $1 billion to the GDP by 2025. This will create an ecosystem for creation of nearly 100 new startups, 10 AM sectors and one lakh new skilled manpower, besides, development of 500 AM products and 50 Indian AM technologies on material, machine, process and software. In addition, awareness for adoption of AM products to facilitate this growth will be created.

Scope of additive manufacturing

• Rapid transformation has been witnessed in next-generation manufacturing. 

• AM is defined as the technology that constructs a 3D object from a digital 3D model or a computer-aided-design (CAD) model by adding material layer by layer in precise geometric shapes. The addition of material can happen in multiple ways, namely power deposition, resin curing and filament fusing. The deposition and solidification are controlled by a computer to create a 3D object.  

• AM is ushering the world into an Industrial Revolution 4.0, offering immense potential that could revolutionise India’s manufacturing and industrial production landscape through digital processes, communication, imaging, architecture and engineering that provide digital flexibilty and efficiency.

• Valued at $7 billion in 2017, the industry is growing rapidly, and is expected to be at $35.6 billion by 2023.

• Foreign countries are aggressively promoting AM technology through significant financial support and other policy measures for capturing global manufacturing space in emerging business opportunities.

• The AM market globally focussed on the sectors including automotive, consumer products, medical business machines, aerospace, military, academic and others.

• The global online 3D printing demand is primarily by the US and the UK. The US alone amounts to nearly 50 per cent of the worldwide demand for 3D printed parts.

• Governments of China, US and Russia have bolstered user-confidence in advanced technologies through adoption and development of applications for their military forces. For example, the additive manufacturing unit of the US Marine Corps Systems Command has created the world’s largest 3D concrete printer capable of printing a 500 square foot barracks hut in just 40 hours. 

AM scenario in India

• In comparison with the US, China, Germany and Japan, the adoption of AM hasn’t seen as much traction in India. However, it has generated considerable interest in the Indian manufacturing ecosystem, due to its potential to support tremendous socio-economic growth.

• Government-led efforts include establishment of a 3D printing manufacturing lab at National Institute of Electronics & Information Technology, Aurangabad. 

• Under the aegis of Atal Innovation Mission, Atal Tinkering Labs promote  technologies like 3D printers.

Benefits of additive manufacturing

• Upstream supply chains will be flattened and simplified as semi-fabricated products replace materials. AM will enable supplier consolidation as a single source may suffice for a variety of parts, increasing production agility. Consequently, procurement costs will decrease due to lower labour costs associated with fewer manufacturing touch points.

• Small manufacturers can adapt to demand very quickly and the supply chain can be simplified by the industries by creating in-house AM printed end-use and spare parts.

• AM has significant potential to contribute to sustainable development. It facilitates development of new materials and technologies which are more energy and resource efficient. 

• It has potential to fabricate biomedical implants, prosthetics, skin and tissues and intricate organs. Specialised surgical instruments and medical devices can be manufactured quickly and cost effectively. In this way AM technology is going to create patient specific medical care in the future. 

• Technological advancements in AM have the potential to fortify the country against military and cyber warfare. 

Challenges to AM adoption in India

• Since AM technology in India is still evolving, the equipment and material costs are high. 

• There is a lack of formal AM industry standards. 

• Service providers are limited and most are not equipped with competitive AM technologies compatible with materials such as plastic, metal and ceramic.

• There is a monopolistic approach as most of the AM original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are foreign companies. 

• It requires a workforce with a technical know-how of the technologies. Lack of trained and experienced engineers and designers is a major impediment to the adoption of AM.

• There will be issues related to intellectual property (IP) and possible concerns around trademark and design violations.

• It also raises some ethical concerns around bio-printing. It may be possible to print organs which are more advanced than regular human organs. This in many ways is akin to issues raised against gene-editing and presents its own challenges.

National Strategy on Additive Manufacturing

• Additive manufacturing has immense  potential  to revolutionise India’s  manufacturing  and  industrial  production landscape  through  digital  processes,  communication,  imaging,  architecture  and  engineering. 

• The ministry of electronics & IT (MeitY), being a nodal agency for digital technology, has evolved a strategy to promote all the verticals of the AM sector, including machines, materials, software and designs to leverage the untapped business opportunities in this emerging technology that will unfold in the near future.

• With the release of the Strategy, innovation and R&D ecosystem will be encouraged in PPP mode to transform existing research knowledge-base to develop AM grade materials, 3D printer machines and printed indigenous products for vast domestic and international market in various sectors including electronics, photonics, medical device, agro and food processing, etc.

• A dedicated agency, National Additive Manufacturing Centre, will be constituted to spearhead the national initiative for positioning India at the forefront of development and adoption of AM technologies through a PPP model.

• The sector specific centres will also be created to infuse indigenous AM technology to offer Indian manufactures an edge over global peers. 

Key objectives:

• Encourage domestic manufacturing across the value-chain to promote ‘Make in India’.

• Increase domestic value addition in core and ancillary components, machines, materials and software.

• Reduce import dependency of domestic market by developing local skill, technology, scale of production, etc.

• Encourage global market leaders to establish global bases for manufacturing AM transformation and driving capabilities by continuously engaging all key stakeholders. 

• Promote innovation and research infrastructure for commercialisation of end-user application based industrial AM products suited for domestic and global markets.

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