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21 Nov 2018 Current Affairs

General Studies Paper-3

Syllabus- Indigenization of technology and developing new technology

Industrial Manufacturing by 3D Printing technology

(The Hindu Editorial-Make it the Indian Way)

Introduction– Unlike the Traditional manufacturing of mechanical parts which involves making a mould and then stamping out parts by thousands every day, in “additive manufacturing” (3D printing), the physical object to be built is first designed in software. This design is fed to computerized machines, which build that object layer by layer.

Additive technologies Vs Traditional manufacturing technologies

        Traditional manufacturing technologies Additive technologies
  • one typically builds many small parts, which are later on assembled on an assembly line using unskilled labour or robots to build an entire system.
  • The technology is suitable for building the entire system in one go, with hollow interiors without assembly or interlocked parts.  Retooling of machines is not required and each unit can be customized.
  • Traditional manufacturing leads to high inventory costs of multiple parts that need to be produced and stored before being assembled. This makes the design phase complex and costly.
  • By eliminating the need to hold a large inventory of parts, set up an assembly line and purchase costly machines, adaptive manufacturing reduces capital and space requirements as well as the carbon footprint.
  • It expensive to redesign to correct initial mistakes or innovate to meet changing consumer needs.
  • Changing features or tweaking shapes is a simple software change effected in minutes.

Global Scenario of Use of 3D printing:

  • Additive manufacturing has now gone mainstream in developed countries and is beginning to replace traditional manufacturing for many different applications.
  • One recent survey of U.S. manufacturers shows that about 12% have started using additive manufacturing for their products and expectations are that this will result in about 25% of products in the next three-five years.
  • This technology is used to build helmets, dental implants, medical equipment, parts of jet engines and even entire bodies of cars. In some industries, the progress is astonishing.
  • Nearly all hearing aid manufacturers now use additive manufacturing.

Implications for developing Countries:

  • It decreases reliance on assembly workers and bypasses the global supply chain that has allowed countries like China to become prosperous through export of mass-produced items.
  • This may well lead to the creation of software-based design platforms in the West that distribute work orders to small manufacturing facilities, whether located in developed or developing countries, but ultimately transfer value creation towards software and design and away from physical manufacturing. This would imply that labour intensive manufacturing exports may be less profitable.

Opportunities in India:

First, it eliminates large capital outlays. Machines are cheaper, inventories can be small and space requirements are not large. Thus, the traditional small and medium enterprises can easily be adapted and retooled towards high technology manufacturing.

Second, the Indian software industry is well-established, and plans to increase connectivity are well under way as part of ‘Digital India’.

Third, it is possible to build products that are better suited for use in harsh environmental conditions.

Fourth,Products that required assembly of fewer parts also implies that they may be better able to withstand dust and moisture prevalent in our tropical environment and be more durable.

Fifth, in a country where use-and-throw is an curse, maintaining old products is far easier because parts can be manufactured as needed and product life-cycles can be expanded.

Finally, maintaining uniform product quality is far easier because the entire system is built at the same time and assembly is not required.

Way Forward:-

For countries that have already invested in heavy manufacturing, this shift to adaptive manufacturing will be difficult and expensive. For new entrants, it is easier to leapfrog. It will need public-private partnership and multi-pronged efforts. On the one hand, we need to accelerate research at our premier engineering schools on manufacturing machines and methods and encourage formation of product design centres so that the products built suit the Indian environment and consumers. We also would need government support to provide incentives for distributed manufacturing in smaller towns, and for the IT industry to work on creating platforms and marketplaces that connect consumer demands, product designers and manufacturers in a seamless way.

However, a combination of science and art, with a pinch of Indian entrepreneurship thrown in, will allow us to develop a manufacturing ecosystem that will not only allow India to compete with global manufacturing, it will also create products that are uniquely suited to Indian conditions. The Industrial revolution somehow bypassed India, but we have a unique opportunity to catch the wave of the manufacturing revolution if we can learn to surf.

Source:The Hindu(Editorial Page)




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