National Strategy on Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is the process of manufacturing an object, layer by layer. It differs from the traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques involving cutting large blocks of material to form the desired object. AM has the potential to transform manufacturing due to design freedom, shape optimisation potential, reduced time-to-market, ease of making changes and low capex requirements. Furthermore, AM plays a key role in bringing about Industrial Revolution 4.0.
India has an excellent opportunity as the world begins to adopt AM techniques. Additive manufacturing development and adoption can help India in become a leading manufacturing hub. To achieve this, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) formulated the ‘National Strategy on Additive Manufacturing’. The strategy aims to increase India’s share in global AM to 5% in the next three years. Meity estimates that AM can add US$ 1 billion to India’s GDP by that time.
Some of the advantages of AM are explained below:
- Simplified Supply Chains: The world is still reeling under the supply chain disruptions after the pandemic. AM is likely to simplify supply chains as semi-fabricated products substitute raw materials and suppliers consolidate. Procurements and labour costs will also decrease. This will help make the Make in India campaign and the Atma nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan successful.
- Gross Value Addition Growth: AM can lead to democratisation in innovation by empowering individuals to create and actively participate in the global value chain. Many product designs are freely available and individuals can purchase a 3D printer and start manufacturing and selling products.
- Employment Opportunities: AM is expected to increase productivity which may lead to reduction in employment. However, higher productivity and new products create new employment opportunities. Workers may need to be provided upskilling opportunities to ensure they remain competent.
- Sustainable Development: AM is likely to lead to significant reduction in raw material, due to material-efficient designs; reduced wastage; and less need for manufacturing tools, moulds and dies. Furthermore, products will be more energy-efficient. This will help India reduce its carbon footprint and lead to sustainable development of the nation.
- Ease of Redesigning: AM technologies allow manufacturers the ease to redesign their products. This reduces design constraints and associated costs. This will allow small businesses to innovate and experiment, thus making their products more efficient and enabling product differentiation.
Government Initiatives to Strengthen AM
The Government of India has taken initiatives to strengthen the adoption of AM in Indian manufacturing. These initiatives are described below:
- Atal Innovation Mission (AIM): AIM is the government’s flagship initiative to create and promote entrepreneurship and innovation across the country. AIM has developed several programmes to achieve its objective, one of which is the Atal Tinkering Labs (ATL) initiative. ATL aims to foster creativity and innovation in young minds and focuses on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts. Dedicated workspaces have been set up with do-it-yourself (DIY) kits including 3D printers, robotics and miniaturised electronics are installed. Some initiatives such as 3D design were also undertaken. AIM is also being complimented by the Digital India initiative.
- State Government Initiatives: The Gujarat government signed an MoU with US Institute of 3D Technology and OEM 3D Systems to set up seven 3D printing Centres of Excellence in technical institutes and engineering colleges. Additionally, the Andhra Pradesh MedTech Zone collaborated with the University of Wollongong to establish a 3D bioprinting lab. The Department of Heavy Industries COE at IISc Bengaluru collaborated with Wipro to build India’s first industrial grade 3D printer. Moreover, the Andhra Pradesh government and HP Inc. signed an MOU to build a Centre for Excellence for 3D printing.
The National Strategy on AM aims to create a conducive environment for the development, design and deployment of AM technologies. The recommendations made by the strategy to achieve this goal are summarised below.
- National Additive Manufacturing Centre (NAMC): The strategy recommends the establishment of a dedicated agency to promote the adoption of AM technologies, through a public-private partnership (PPP) model. Subject-matter experts and industry leaders should be members of that agency and initiatives could be taken in consultation with all members. International collaboration may also be undertaken. It further recommends undertaking a detailed study to analyse the manufacturing sector and gauge its adoption potential. The centre could also support the adoption through initiatives such as formulation of standards on quality control, safety, etc.; focusing development on advanced material; development of design tools; strengthening of cyber laws and setting up a legal framework.
- Strengthening Technology Leadership: The strategy recommends addressing the need for skilled workforce. This can be developed by updating the curriculum of students of different classes ranging from school degree to engineering degree and diplomas. The establishment of facilities and conferences to enable upskilling of workforce is also recommended. This can be developed on a PPP framework and modelled around the ‘Maker Village, a collaboration between MeitY, IITM-K, Government of Kerala and Kerala Start-up Mission.
- Research and IP Creation: The strategy focuses on promoting R&D in AM, encouraging competition, and creating a next generation workforce. Research efforts may be funded in the form of grants and aid. Furthermore, funding agencies can have a dedicated budget for AM. The government may also provide tax incentives and other benefits. The Centre for Promotion of Additive Manufacturing (CPAM) shall be initiated to develop indigenous AM technologies and function as the hub for end-to-end innovation. This will also help in e-governance. In addition, international R&D partnerships are suggested.
- Supply Chain Development: The strategy recommends procurement policies to include AM machines. Furthermore, the government can provide incentives to small businesses aligned with the AM Technology Advancement Plan and include AM in various schemes and incentives.
AM is among the most revolutionary scientific innovations & discoveries. It enables access to cost-effective and flexible manufacturing and designing techniques. It is a boon for small businesses as they can adapt to the changing demand environment due to simplified supply chains and grow faster through innovation and product differentiation. The National Strategy on AM is thus crucial in helping the Indian industry remain competitive. The strategy aims to create an ecosystem comprising 100 start-ups, 1 lakh new skilled manpower, 10 AM sectors and 50 AM products and technologies. It also aims to create an ecosystem for adopting the latest developments. The PPP model will help procure the best of private and public resources. India is currently a nascent market for AM and, given the strategy, has immense potential to become a world leader in revolutionising manufacturing with AM.
USD/INR Rate: 0.0134