Executive Interview: Mr. Vikas Khanvelkar, MD, DesignTech Systems Speaks on 3D Printing Technology
With 3D printing industry growing at a faster pace globally, 3Dians.com interviewed Mr. Vikas Khanvelkar, Managing Director, DesignTech Systems Ltd. Pune, India to learn more about the 3D printing industry – future trends, best practices, growth drivers, applications, business opportunities and adaption curves in 3D printing.
Here is the interview.
Would you briefly introduce yourself and your firm?
DesignTech Systems Ltd. is a leading CAD/CAM/CAE, PLM, and Additive Manufacturing technologies provider in India. Besides that we also provide Engineering Services at every stage of product lifecycle starting from Concept design and development, 3D Modeling and validation, product design analysis and simulation, Design for Manufacturing, to developing interactive 3D Technical documentations. For Engineering Services, outside India, our main client base spans North America and Europe inclusive of companies from cross vertical domains and wide industry segments in engineering and product development.
DesignTech CAD Academy, a training wing of DesignTech is Siemens Industry Software and Altair Engineering authorized training partner for their PLM and CAE Suite of solutions. With training centers operating out of Pune, Nashik and Hyderabad DesignTech CAD Academy is showing aggressive growth in the area of students and corporate training. As a recipient of some of the prestigious awards such as Maharashtra IT Award in 2010, NASSCOM Emerge 50 Award and ranking among the top 100 IT companies in India by Channel World Premiere, DesignTech has carved a niche and coveted position for itself in the CAD/CAM/CAE Technology space in India. I and Sachin Chougule envisioned a great opportunity in this field back in 1990s and formed DesignTech Systems in 1998 to help Indian industry adopt latest technology to match the global standards of engineering and manufacturing excellence.
3D Printing is getting more and more attention lately. How and when did your company entered in 3D Printing business and what were your first thoughts?
We share a long association with Stratasys and have been selling their 3D Printers in India since 2006. Back then, Stratasys offered only FDM Solutions. With the recent merger of Stratasys with Objet to form a new unified entity operating under the name Stratasys Inc. they now offer much advanced 3D Printers including PolyJet and FDM technology with some of the most wide variety of material options. 3D Printing and physical product design validation, was the next big thing revolutionizing the way products are built, developed and tested. They were taking the western markets by storm and we knew, it would not be late that Indian industry too realizes the significance of this technology and the value it brings to product engineering and innovation. We hence joined hands with Stratasys which has always been a renowned name and an industry leader in this segment.
Today 3D Printing is not just limited to Prototyping and physical product design validation, but is also considered to be an alternative for batch productions. With faster development process, low iterations, and robust part development possibility, these printers are replacing the conventional CNC machines to develop limited quantity parts for end-use applications e.g. jigs, fixtures, mold inserts etc. Metal 3D Printing technology is also fast paving its way in the Indian Market. The Indian industry is maturing fast and has understood the importance of maintaining their pace of development and advancement in correspondence with their global counter parts to stay relevant in the competition. Which is why they are willing to invest higher in R&D to maintain the competitive edge through product design and performance excellence.
With “Make in India” propaganda spreading far and wide across the globe, foreign companies are investing in India to set-up their Hybrid R&D centers, which will also contribute and result into steep rise in the demand for 3D Printers. DesignTech envisioning this transition and trend, has also signed up with Europe’s proven Metal 3D Printing Technology Company, SLM, to introduce their machines to India.
Which verticals in India will be the largest implementers of 3D printing?
Any company related to product design, development and engineering will be the largest users of 3D Printers; then they could be from any industry such as Automotive, Aerospace and defense, Heavy Engineering, Consumer goods and Electronics, Industrial Machinery, Medical and even Education. Applications of 3D Printers in Medical are also quite prolific and this market in India is relatively less tapped but coming up in a big way. Education, taking place right next to Medical, has also started investing in 3D Printers to introduce students to the technology that has deep penetrated the industry and being used exponentially by the industry.
Explain to us your business model. What are your offerings and which segment do you cater to?
DesignTech has three primary verticals; first being CAD/CAM/CAE, PLM solutions and Additive Manufacturing technologies sale; second is providing Engineering Services; and third is imparting training on latest CAD and CAE platforms to students and working professionals. The industries we majorly cater to are Automotive, Aerospace and Defense, Industrial Machinery, Heavy Engineering, Consumer Goods and Electronics, Education, and Power and energy.
DesignTech is a one-stop-shop for all engineering technology, training and services requirements. Our work motto is to help customers derive highest returns on their investment in the technology or service offered by us thereby enabling them to attain their goals of product design, quality and productivity. We are a customer oriented company that strives to make every dealing with the customer a delightful experience for them.
What are advantages of using Stratasys 3D printers over others?
The best advantage of Stratasys is that they offer printers in two unique technologies namely FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and Polyjet that can serve a wide range of applications which other companies find difficult to match. No matter what the need or requirement a customer might have, Stratasys machines can cater to it. The impressive plethora of materials that Stratasys offers right from production grade thermo plastic or ABS+ material known for its sturdiness and ruggedness, to transparent, flexible, rubber like material and many more, gives companies options to develop products that are unbelievably real like or close to their actual product giving them better understanding about the look, feel and functioning of their product. Stratasys Machines can help you create functional models which is a big ‘plus’ to its set of advantages. Choice of colors also makes designers and engineers give shape to their imaginations thus helping them make their products aesthetically more appealing and attractive to their consumers. Stratasys offers printers in three range:
- Idea Series: these desktop printers are ideal for concept development and validation. Easy to use, they can sit perfectly in the office environment, giving designers and artists the liberty to immediately print their designs for better visualization. With the product it hand, they can better communicate their ideas to others. These cost effective printers, gives designers a free hand to test their concepts and come up with a design that not just looks great but also performs equally well. These printers allow you to print functional models, which is why they can be tagged as the ‘best friends’ of designers helping them boost creativity, innovation and performance of the product.
- Design Series: these printers can help engineers develop real-like products. They also facilitate multi-material and offer digital printing facility which can enable designers print parts with more than one material bringing them closer to the final product. A color pallet comprising of impressive range of various colors and shades also further augments creativity and visualization. They can build functional models making it an ideal approach to physically validate product designs including fit, form and ergonomics.
- Production Series: as the name suggests, the printers in these series can help develop products for end-use applications making it an ideal alternative for small batch productions.
What are the growth drivers for this industry? What are the current trends here?
The growth drivers or success imperatives for the industry today are:
- Shorter shelf life of the products and cut throat competition has necessitated
- frequent product design innovations
- compressed design and development cycle
- getting product design right the first time and hitting the market early
- achieving cost and time efficiency resulting in competitive pricing
- establishing non-iterative design and development processes
- eliminating the wastage of resources including man efforts, machines, materials, time and costs etc. in development processes
Trends and Imperatives:
- Catering to wider markets and geographies by making products or services customized to their needs and requirements e.g. offering various language options on the mobile devices
- ‘Online’ is the new market place – making sure that you are present on the relevant sites based on your target audience
- Understand your product differentiation and pitching strategy based on ‘Economies of scale’ or ‘scale of Economies’ in case your product is higher end and high value
- Radical Innovation comes but once in a while, but Kaizen or incremental innovations play as much an important role in helping your product success and supersede other competitive products in the market. E.g. introducing new features ever year with new versions.
- IF applicable, Deliver at door step or miss the door of opportunity. Customer service is key to product success
In terms prototyping and manufacturing applications of the industries that you serve can you tell us where you have seen the biggest growth areas in the last few years in terms of 3D printing?
That will have to be Automotive, Education and Government sectors
Do you think 3D printing have potential to replace traditional manufacturing processes?
Not in Volume manufacturing, but definitely for batch productions.
What are the challenges in 3D printing Industry? What are some of the important lessons learnt?
Some of the greatest challenges are:
- Mindset transition from the traditional and conventional to the new and advanced technologies with bigger benefits
- Finances, Funds and resources
- Technology adoption curve is slower
- Sales cycle are longer
Important lessons learnt are:
- Value selling counts – demonstrate the benefits and the ROI that customers can derive. Do a pilot for them or a benchmark or proof of concept which will reassure their confidence in the technology and convince them to opt for it
- Patience and perseverance are directly related to results bearing fruits. Be in touch with the industry or lose the ground.
- Over selling or too much follow-up is inversely proportionate to the positive result or result being in your favor. The customer themselves have to internally get sold on the idea of 3D Printing; too much follow-up can negate the chances of that. Practical demonstration and benefits in ‘black-and-white’ should help. After that they will come to you if they are convinced.
- Finally your technical support, customer service, rapport with the customer plays a significant role. Hence maintaining a pleasant relationship is non-optional.
Do you think that CAE software for 3D printing work would play bigger role in developing better 3D Printed parts?
CAE solutions are a great way to identify product design weaknesses and fallacies. However, some of the design errors cannot be gauged virtually; they can be only identified with a physical product in hand. E.g. fit, form, ergonomics and visualization. Hence CAE will not come in the way of 3D Printing.
What is your vision, including personal predictions, for the next 5 years for 3D printing in general; and for DesignTech’s 3D printing business?
There is a huge opportunity for 3D Printers; especially the metal 3D Printers are making new waves and are the latest rage in product development segment. This industry will grow at the rate of more than 20 % CAGR for the next five years. Low cost 3D printers and anticipated entry of Biggies like HP and Autodesk in this segment will increase the completion on one hand bur on the other hand this will also increase the knowledge amongst the users and will increase adoption. Metal 3D printing will also grow and overall market size will grow. At DesignTech this is a high potential growth opportunity for us and we will try to maintain our dominant position in the market with our deep penetration and excellent credentials of Customer Support.
We would like to thank Mr. Vikas Khanvelkar for taking the time to answer my questions. If you have any questions for him or for 3dians, please leave a comment below or mail me on sachin@3dians and we will be glad to answer.
Sachin Nalawade and Nishant Kashyap
Editor – 3Dians.com