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Formulation of Policy for 3D Printing

  • 14 Dec 2020
  • 5 min read

Why in News

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) will soon come up with a policy aimed at promoting 3D printing on an industrial scale in view of its emerging market.

Key Points

  • 3D Printing:
    • 3D printing or additive manufacturing 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.
    • 3D printing and a viable industry around it is mostly in the shape of additive manufacturing, wherein companies make specific products for projects where there are very specific demands such as lightweight equipment, etc.
      • One of the key applications for such products is in the medical and allied sector.
    • The USA remains the global leader in 3D printing, with more than 35% market share.
      • In Asia, about 50% of its market is cornered by China, followed by Japan at 30%, and South Korea at 10%.
  • Features of the Policy:
    • Encourage market leaders to establish global bases for 3D manufacturing in India, while also discouraging imports of printed material for domestic requirements.
    • Objectives:
      • Help develop a conducive ecosystem for design, development and deployment of 3D printing and additive manufacturing.
      • Help domestic companies to overcome technical and economic barriers so that they can build supportive and ancillary facilities for world leaders in the technology, such as the USA and China.
    • Key Areas of Focus and Application:
      • Auto and ancillary auto and motor spare part business, such as engines, interior and exterior parts of luxury vehicles, or landing gear, complex brackets, and turbine blades.
      • There can be some application of it in consumer electronics, printed circuit boards, clothing, toys and jewellery as well.
    • Challenges:
      • Lack of Standards: Since 3D printing is a very niche and new domain, there are no global qualifications and certification norms.
      • Hesitation in Adoption: Another challenge is to convince the industry and ministries to push for its adoption in their respective sectors as any new technology, which is not understood easily, faces a tough time.
      • Risk of Job Losses: In the initial meetings on the subject, there was a lot of resistance on whether this technology would eat into the jobs of highly-skilled workers in the medical equipment or aerospace technology sectors.
      • High Costing: Although actual printing is cheap, parts to build a 3D printer are very expensive as the equipment and manufacturing costs are very high. In addition, there is a concern about warranty hence, resource companies are hesitant to put 3D-printed parts into their machines if they are not covered for damage in case the parts fail.
      • Sector Specific Challenges: Globally and even in India, the largest consumer of 3D printing is the automotive industry and right now it is going through a lot of changes like the introduction of BS-VI and electric vehicles. New vehicle design development has slowed and so has the demand for 3D printing.
    • Potential Market:
      • According to MeitY’s estimates, the global market for additive manufacturing is expected to reach USD 34.8 billion by 2024, which is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 23.2%.
      • 3D printing may not lead to an increase in net employment, but this technology is something which can be pushed ahead.

Way Forward

  • Lack of investment and fewer research and development centres for 3D printing are some of the additional factors that are holding back a large scale adoption. However, a better understanding of 3D printing technology and its applications among users will definitely help increase its adoption in India.
  • Indian market has a high potential ground as the adoption of 3D printing solutions is continuously rising for the past few years with increased general market awareness and there is still a lot of growth here compared to markets that are more mature such as Japan, Germany or the USA.

Source: IE

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