Context: Bengaluru will soon have India’s first post office constructed using 3D printing technology. The project is being implemented by Larsen & Toubro, which has experience in constructing 3D-printed buildings.
- Additive manufacturing or 3D printing uses computer-aided designing to make prototypes or working models of objects by laying down successive layers of materials such as plastic, resin, thermoplastic, metal, fibre or ceramic. With the help of software, the model to be printed is first developed by the computer, which then gives instructions to the 3D printer.
- Low wastage: Enables the production of components and parts while utilizing significantly less material than traditional manufacturing.
- Efficient: Reduces production costs and saves time.
- Boosts Innovation: Enables new design engineering possibilities.
- Localised manufacturing: Localized, on-demand production, reducing the logistical burden
- E.g., Facilitates the creation of novel material combinations for armour, self-heating military clothing, and ammunition.
AM & Biotechnology could be used to create adaptive camouflage, cloaking devices, or lighter, stronger, and—potentially—self-healing body and vehicle armour.
- Supply chain resilience: Alternative source of supply, reducing dependence on traditional suppliers and increasing supply chain resilience. This is particularly relevant in times of disruptions, such as natural disasters, geopolitical tensions, or pandemics.
- Aerospace and Defence: Manufacture and repair spare parts of aircraft and weapons.
- Automotive and Electronics parts: Creation of complex geometries and lightweight structures, 3D printing spare parts like engines, interior and exterior parts of luxury vehicles, turbine blades etc.
- Construction and Manufacturing purposes.
- Consumer Goods like food items, wearables, jewellery, sportswear etc.
- Healthcare: 3D printing is used for the creation of patient-specific replicas of bones, organs, and blood vessels, dental prosthetics, surgical planning, regenerative medicine and organ transplantation.
3D bioprinting is being used in healthcare for the creation of living human cells or tissue for use in regenerative medicine and tissue engineering. Enables the creation of functional organs that can be transplanted into patients in need, reducing the dependence on donor organs and addressing the issue of organ shortages.
Disadvantages of 3D Printing
- Restricted Build Size: The chamber size integrated into 3D printers is usually relatively small, thereby restricting the part sizes that you can print. Therefore, any larger item needs to be printed separately and later assembled after its production.
- Limited Materials: The materials needed during the manufacturing process are limited.
- 3D Printing Machines are Expensive: Initial capital required to embark on using 3D printing technology is prohibitively expensive.
- Post-processing challenges related to finishing.
- Copyright issues and risk of counterfeit products.
- High cost of imports: There are few 3D printers produced domestically. The cost associated with importing industrial-grade 3-D printers is too huge for medium and small-scale industries.
- Lack of Awareness: The reach of AM is limited due to a lack of awareness among manufacturing companies for design-prototyping-manufacturing assistance.
- Lack of AM Standards: In absence of a proper national strategy, private players have refrained from investing in AM sector.
- Inadequate Research: Lack of a centralised approach to AM constraints Indian institutions from undertaking intense research on AM-related technologies.
- Risks Employment: Large-scale use of AM in India may risk the employment of poor assembly workers.
National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing, 2025
- National Strategy for Additive Manufacturing aims to increase India’s share in global additive manufacturing to 5 per cent by 2025, with the hope to likely add $1 billion to the gross domestic product by that time.
- India will aim to achieve certain targets such as 50 India-specific technologies for material, machine and software, 100 new startups for additive manufacturing, and 500 new products and employ at least 1 lakh new skilled workers over the next three years.