India Insights

Trends in Additive Manufacturing: An interview with Ajay Parikh from Wipro 3D

In an interview with I3DPn, Ajay Parikh, VP & Business Head at Wipro 3D, has discussed about the trends in additive manufacturing. He mainly focused on the end-use adaption speed, how rapidly the technology is evolving and how the ecosystem is evolving in terms of materials, printer manufacturers and other stakeholders.

I3DPn: 3D printing: Is it here to stay? Or is it just a fad.  How is 3d printing disrupting manufacturing processes globally?

Ajay Parikh: Definitely here to stay. If we go by numbers, leading analysts like IDC and McKinsey valued the additive manufacturing Market at USD 6 Bn in 2016, and expect it to grow to USD 16 Bn in 2020 at a growth rate of 27%. They attribute this growth to the Metal AM market owing to an increase in its industrial applications. The growth of Metal AM is expected to be 42% with Aerospace, Automotive and Medical segments driving the growth.

Also, typically, you would want to judge a new tech by the extent of end-use adaption, the ecosystem maturity and how fast is the tech evolving. If we look at the rate of enterprise adaption across the globe, it’s been pretty rapid in the last few years, metal 3D printing being the highlight.  The entry and investments of large players like GE, HP in addition to entrenched incumbents such as EOS, Stratasys etc, further reinforces confidence. Besides full suite solution providers in various genres that offer services ranging from Additive Consulting, Engineering, Manufacturing and R&D are driving up adaption.

At Wipro3D we are seeing the merit in offering solutions (as opposed to being a print shop) which involves deep engineering and domain understanding. Manufacturing processes and supply chains are going to get disrupted with the flexibility that Additive Manufacturing brings.

I3DPn: Is the technology finally moving beyond prototyping and onto the manufacturing floor and production processes?

Ajay Parikh: Absolutely. Organizations in sectors ranging from Aerospace to lifestyle footwear are moving into regular production using various methods and materials. 3D printing is going to become a critical and integral part of an enterprise’s digital manufacturing strategy.

I3DPn: What are the advantages of using 3D printing over traditional manufacturing processes?

Ajay Parikh: 3D printing is tool-less production. Enterprises don’t need to invest in capital-intensive setups and manufacturing lines that are committed to one specific geometry or product. The number of operations required to manufacture products can drastically reduce owing to the ability of the technology to achieve complex, monolithic, functionally optimized products. 3D printing allows an enterprise to completely rethink its engineering, manufacturing and supply chain.

I3DPn: What does it take as an end user or a consumer of this tech to adopt and use this technology for better business outcomes?

Ajay Parikh: First, you need high resilience. The trick is to find the right applications for the right type of technology to create proper use cases and business cases. End users need to work with the right Additive Manufacturing (AM) partners being OEMs, RM suppliers and solution providers. A systematic adaption roadmap is the key. A good AM solution provider can make a big difference. Another aspect is executive sponsorship. If this is not on the board’s agenda, there is pretty good chance it’s going to be limited to prototyping.

I3DPn: When it comes to India, what is the current scenario when it comes to adoption of 3D printing by manufacturers – what are the immediate challenges (expensive raw materials, print consistency, build properties etc.) and what are the ways around it?

Ajay Parikh: Though the US and Europe are the most mature and high visibility markets in terms of the 3D printing ecosystem, specific pockets in Asia especially China, are seeing intense activity. India is catching up. When it comes to enterprise adaption, certainly Return on Capital Employed, Utilization, Service life, comparison to conventionally manufactured components in terms of mechanical properties are top of the mind considerations. As in any case, early adopters face a steep learning curve, but one which is to come in handy, as the technology matures and use cases grow. Repeatability, choosing the right type of 3D printing technology for the right type of application and use case is going to be a key consideration for business leaders. Eventually, the technology has to provide business value. As we go forward, in terms of tech maturity, you are going to see, increased build speeds, different energy sources and raw materials and build techniques with a fair degree of democratization as opposed to a limited number of OEMs/ providers that one sees today.

I3DPn: As a solution provider, how do you differentiate yourself?

Ajay Parikh: We are a full suite player. Wipro3D offers Additive consulting and adaption guidance on choosing the right use cases, provide great Additive Engineering ideas to adapt existing components as well as new designs, provide superior manufacturing services based on superior R&D and control on the realization process, and finally efficient operations. Given our strong pedigree in business solutions, we offer an integrated supply chain view as well as digital manufacturing solutions working with other business units in Wipro.

We also offer the customer the ability to bring the tech in-house by building great process packages and offer to build and run captive centers for our customers.

All in all, a complete suite of outcome-based offerings, coupled solid engineering and R&D, the ability to invest and obtain process control on different technologies is something that sets us apart. All this is underpinned by identifying and nurturing good talent.

However, the key to our success is the quality of our 3d printed components that deliver on the promised business outcome.