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3D printing, a growing technology sought by major industries

3D printing is not an entirely new technology. Known also as additive manufacturing or rapid prototyping, 3D Printing technologies have been around in the market from past two decades. 3D Printing is a process of converting 3D CAD design from the CAD screen or a 3D scanned data of an existing component to a 3D physical model without any tooling or human intervention using 3D Printers with a push of a button. In simple words, 3D printer converts a digital geometry into a physical part very quickly, with minimal or no material wastage, without manual intervention and with precision.

The plethora of printer models available these days enable you to 3D print parts in your office R & D or your production premises. The deployment of 3D Printers for creating concept models and functional prototype during new product development is well established in India and worldwide. Today with the advent of new and cheaper consumable materials it is not only radically transforming manufacturing, supply chain etc but also enabling one to engage into production without a production line for a limited series outputs.

India has been more actively discovering 3D printing in the last two to three years. 3D printing technologies are most widely used in the field of Aerospace, Automotive and Electronics majorly for prototyping at design stages.

However, recently we are seeing more people grow fond of the benefits of 3D printing in fields like healthcare, architecture, FMCG, retail, fashion, academia, medical etc. Smaller companies are more willing to spend on 3D printers as they begin to envision the long-term savings of such technology. There are low-cost 3D printers, some of them manufactured in India that have swarmed the market in the recent times. Besides helping tremendously in creating awareness about 3D printing in an under-penetrated market like India, they have also empowered hobbyist individuals with accessible 3D printing.

Professional 3D printing systems on the other hand are disrupting the enterprise process through 3D printing solutions such as rapid tooling applications like injection mold tooling, investment casting, sand casting, quick and easy creations of tooling aids like jigs & fixtures, (MRO) Maintenance Research and Overhaul to name among several others.

Today, small and large enterprises, are feeling the need to invest in a professional 3D printers which will enable them to reduce their design cycle time, save costs associated with conventional tooling and provide them a competitive edge.For instance, we at ALTEM, being a customer-focused organization, believe in partnering with our customers for a vision of “Design-Right-at-First-Time”. Our 3D printing systems encompassing those that can create parts in thermoplastics, photo-polymers and even in metals have helped our customers in elevating the product performance to the next level with an approach to compress the development time and reducing overall costs, not only in the design and prototyping stages but also in manufacturing processes. Further to complete solution range, Altem also deals in 3D CAD software and Hand held portable 3D Scanners which can provide inputs to the 3D printers .

To put things in perspective, an aerospace enterprise, based in Bangalore, created a huge assembly of 3D printed parts in a short span of six weeks, which conventionally would have taken him 12 months. Besides time, customer had a saving of over 65% on cost as well. We also have a home appliance manufacturer who validates their cooker designs using 3D printers. We also have a number of very small organizations that have adapted to 3D printing technology and have even developed newer applications using our 3D printers.

The writer is Mr. Prasad Rodagi, Founder Director, Altem Technologies.

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