“At national level, we need to declare it as one of the Technology Mission Areas. There is a need to form a professional body with OEMs, National universities, major service providers and industry department. Imaginarium has been promoting this through various informal forums and its own efforts for past five years,” says Guruprasad Kuppu Rao in conversation with Nishant Kashyap.
Tell us something about Imaginarium and its business vertices?
Incorporated in 2009, Imaginarium is the largest 3D printing company in India. The company’s founders had known about the technology and benefits as early as 2000. The company was formed to enable every industry to benefit from the new technology.
The main business verticals that we cater to are jewellery , automotive, engineering and Medical. Imaginarium has a state-of-the-art facility at Mumbai with branches at Surat & Delhi. Today we work on more than 30 industry types, have more than 4000 satisfied customers and have grown into a trusted brand in 3D print services.
Trends that you observe in global and Indian 3D printing industry…
It is hard to differentiate between global and Indian trends in 3D printing at present except its consumption. Globally Metal 3D printing is emerging as most promising due to its rapidly manufactured end use part applications. While customised consumer printing is a major sector for its growth, aerospace and medical are fast growing sectors.
What’s the market size of the 3D printing industry?
Global market is estimated at 5 billion dollars for end 2015. Indian market is currently around Rs 200 crore with a growth potential of more than Rs 3000 crore.
How has the technology evolved over the years and what are the breakthroughs that we could look forward to in the near future?
Technology has been evolving since the 80s. It started with the development of SLA and SLS which are still considered seminal work in the area. The 1990s saw FDM, metal machine technologies. 2000s saw new multijets, polyjet, DLP based SLA etc. The year 2006 saw the FDM open source systems. Today it is still growing with a lot of startups working on it and sure to push its boundaries further. As of future, we can see more materials, more reliable and faster systems and special purpose machines such as food printers, drug printers etc. File format will move from STL to AMS and will enable data portability. Breakthroughs cannot be predicted…but will come for sure.
3D printing has some limitations such as mass manufacturing and material. Do you think this will go down in the near future and 3D printing replacing other manufacturing technology (up to some extent)?
Yes, 3D printing has a lot of limitations when it comes to material options. I do not see it replacing other manufacturing process except few select areas such as custom medical implants, jewellery and aerospace applications. However, it can soon be part of many products in a complementary role where traditional manufacturing are not deployable. With a lot of research going on, the application areas will grow.
Your views on Indian 3D printing industry…
Indian 3D printing industry is fast growing and is getting noticed more due to the support from media. There is a huge market and supply side and there is huge deficit.
It needs lot of support & promotion to build a good ecosystem.
Many Indian companies are not aware of the benefits of 3D printing. What can be done to spread awareness about 3D printing industry?
At national level, we need to declare it as one of the Technology Mission Areas. There is a need to form a professional body with OEMs, National universities, major service providers and industry department. Imaginarium has been promoting this through various informal forums and its own efforts for past five years. We now have a dedicated vertical Imaginarium Academy which will work on it aiming at skilling Indian youth to create a sound ecosystem.
Is there any support from the Indian Government to promote this technology?
There have been several discussions in various departments and notable one is its inclusion by Department of Heavy Industry under:
There is still a lot of work need to be done and we have been trying our best to present the opportunity.
Lately, there have been few startups coming in for 3D printer manufacturing or service from India. What are the reasons behind this, why young Engineers are coming to this market?
Yes, quite a few groups have been working on it for past year and we see this in line with Indian upsurge in entrepreneurship and availability of open source resources and promise of huge and nascent market.
What are the demand trends and how does the demand differ in Western and Asian countries?
We can see a clear trend in global demand as more and more businesses are going for actual end use parts as against prototypes. This trend has given new impetuous to the growth of Metal 3D printing technologies. India is has lot of potential and has similar trends but is growing at a much slower rate.
If we look at the Western countries, we can see that not only have they developed the technologies but also are major users of 3D printing. Asian countries, barring Japan & South Korea, rest are not only late adaptors but have a long way to go.
The future of Indian 3D printing industry and what’s your future plan…
It will be one of the fastest growing manufacturing areas with CAGR of 25% (Globally it is 35%). It will soon be more organised with state support to foster growth. Imaginarium will grow both organically and inorganically and maintain its position. Imaginarium will work towards building a better ecosystem in 3D technology space. Will work closely with academia, industry and community to build the much needed awareness, training and applied research.