Sprint of the prints

l Booming trend
Last Updated 18 April 2016, 18:47 IST

Bengaluru is no stranger to modern software, innovative startups and new IT projects. However, the ‘smart’ city has also been witnessing a boom in the world of 3D printing in recent times.

Also called additive manufacturing, it is a process by which an object is created layer by layer. A number of startups and students are open to the idea of 3D printing now because of the affordability of 3D printers.

Arvind Nadig, the CEO of ‘Brahma3’ —  a solution provider which includes state- of-the-art 3D printers, design support, embedded systems solutions and more  — explains that 3D printing has become popular as the common man is able to print real world objects within the comfort of his home. He says, “The term 3D printing is actually a misnomer. It is essentially manufacturing. When we print in a traditional method, it’s usually a page with ink on it but here, the ink is replaced by some form of material.”  

“3D printing has been around for a long time but the revolutionary aspect now is that people can afford 3D printers and print objects from home as the prices have come down. So one can print a coffee mug in their 3D printer rather than going out to buy one,” he adds.

According to Arvind, the phenomenon has risen in the city as Bengaluru already has the necessary technology and software  needed to nourish the growth of 3D printing.
Since affordability is one of its advantages, students are extremely excited about the idea as well.
Lyle Rodericks, an engineering student, says that this is one of the fastest ways to get complex mechanical designs and structures in the form of a presentable model.

“Bengaluru has seen a rise in 3D printing because of the IT surge. People are exposed to new technologies so companies are willing to invest in such printers. Printers are getting smarter and design software that supports 3D printing is being released for free, thus making the process increasingly simple and affordable. It helps people design the models themselves and they have the product in their hands within hours. This is why students and the tech community love 3D printing so that they can bring their models and designs to life at minimal cost.”

Another big advantage, he adds, is that the process for prototyping is much easier in 3D printing. “It’s inexpensive to go through iterations in the design and make changes between 2 consecutive iterations. In the traditional mode, creating the dye is very expensive and it is wasted if there is a change in the design. There is a lot of wastage due to the subtractive nature of the technique. There’s minimum wastage in 3D printing because only the amount of plastic needed in the model is used up.”

3D printing can also be quite dangerous! A big challenge here may be the misuse of technology.

People may resort to making items such as guns and weapons at home! “Yes, it’s possible,” says Arvind. “The challenge is in the way 3D printers are regulated and made available. It also depends on what product one wants to market.One of our key functions is building prosthetic hands for young handicapped children. The same solution has now been extended to stray dogs and pets affected by injury.”

But despite these difficulties, Arvind agrees that it is the future.

Vijay, the CEO of Fracktal Works, adds, “This phenomenon is gaining popularity because of the ease with which objects can be made. Complex geometries and even complete assemblies can be printed in place on a 3D printer. In the future, many will own, or have easy access to a 3D printer and files can be shared digitally, instead of physically sending them across. I see this as a technology that will aid important research and development efforts in companies, colleges and possibly, even in the basement of every home!”

(Published 18 April 2016, 18:47 IST)

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