Founded in 2012 by Sridhar Balaram, Intech Additive Solutions Pvt Ltd’s management team has over three decades of rich experience in metallurgy and component machining. The company has transformed into a leading solutions provider in Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) systems and AM Software. Intech is revolutionizing AM by providing a complete ecosystem right from concept design material selection to printing, post-processing, and testing of metal parts, thereby accelerating the adoption of Metal 3D Printing in Manufacturing. During an interaction with Nitisha; Sridhar Balram, Founder and CEO, Intech Additive Solutions Ltd elaborates the 3D printing and its future demands.
Kindly talk about Intech Additive Solutions.
Founded in 2012, we are the first Indian Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to develop and supply Metal 3D Printers based on Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) technology. With over three decades of rich experience in metallurgy and component machining, we transformed from a service provider to a leading end-to-end solutions provider in Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) Systems, Design for AM, and software solutions. In 2017, we created the world’s first parameter optimization software called AMOptoMet, and in 2020, built India’s first Metal 3D Printer iFusionSF1 and AMBuilder Software. We also introduced the first-ever large-format machine in 2021 which made us a complete solutions provider in the industry. We also have a strategic partnership with DMG Mori (world leaders in 3D Metal printing) and we are one of the first service providers of 3D Metal printing in India.
Kindly elaborate on Additive manufacturing- Beyond 3D printing.
Industrial 3-D printing has reached a turning point and is well poised for wider acceptance. Although many engineers and most executives are still unaware of it, this technology has advanced far beyond fast tooling, trinkets, and toys. Durable and secure products are produced through “additive manufacturing” and sold in small to large volumes to actual customers.
More than 3D printing, there are several other distinct technologies that are utilised in the additive manufacturing processes. These include the Binder Jetting Process and the Powder Bed Fusion Process. The Binder Jetting process uses two components—the construction material as a powder-based substance and a binder in liquid form that makes alternative layers. The Powder Bed Fusion Process uses either a laser or an electron beam to melt and fuse material powder together.
As the variety of printable materials keeps expanding, more businesses are bound to follow. These already include ceramics, cement, glass, various metals, and metal alloys, to name a few. Although the direct costs of creating objects using these new techniques and materials are relatively higher, additive manufacturing’s greater flexibility allows for far lower overall costs.
We are starting to witness an increase in the number of businesses using this method of additive manufacturing to stay competitive and produce goods more quickly. It has the potential to revolutionise supply chains of various industries.
How does the digitalization of manufacturing benefit other industries?
The landscape of international manufacturing is expected to change due to the fusion of digital technology and manufacturing industries. To ensure and accelerate the quick adoption of metal AM, we are developing a range of smart machines which are IOT enabled. We are also working on building a full-stack intelligent cloud-based software to enhance production and ensure quality and reliability through closed-loop monitoring systems. We aim to develop automated production-based hardware and create a complete AM ecosystem.
Additive manufacturing technology is now a core component of modern smart manufacturing and is changing the products’ life cycle thereby impacting the way that products are fundamentally designed, prototyped, manufactured, and used. We are working on an integrated AM ecosystem, aligning with Industry 4.0, making processes fully automated and interconnected, using artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling digital transformation. We are also developing new multi-material printers for real-time production and in the process of creating metal AM systems to work at 10x speeds from the current levels.
From subtractive to additive manufacturing- how has the manufacturing space evolved?
Since its inception in the 1980s, additive manufacturing, often known as 3D printing, has advanced significantly. Although quick prototyping was the original purpose of 3D printing, the field has expanded to include a variety of technologies. The number of businesses utilising 3D printing has rapidly increased through various technological advancements. The uses and applications differ amongst industries, but generally speaking, they include tooling aids, visual and functional prototypes, and even end-use parts.
Companies are starting to look for ways to use 3D printing to develop new business models and opportunities as the technology’s potential applications grow. The demand for 3D-printed components and goods has expanded as a result of the rising global need for sustainable solutions and customised goods. Technology advancements in the area have reduced prices while doubling performance. The usage of 3D printing technology, particularly in supply chains, is expanding as the industry moves beyond prototype. Subtractive and additive manufacturing are complementary processes, despite some significant distinctions. The potential for a new era of manufacturing is emerging as more customers scale their production and further collaborate through a burgeoning ecosystem of partnerships.
By drastically reducing research and manufacturing costs, greatly streamlining logistics, and reducing carbon footprint, additive manufacturing has totally transformed how things are imagined, created, manufactured, and disseminated.
Kindly talk about the three verticals of additive manufacturing at Intech Additive Solutions- an overview.
We have three solution driven verticals which include- Software, hardware and Design.
AMBuilder is a pre- build design software for use in a laser sintering based additive manufacturing process. AMBuilder with AMOptoMet and Intech’s range of Metal 3D printers provides users with an end-to-end solution for all their metal additive manufacturing needs.
AMBuilder fills the gap in the additive manufacturing space, where there is a need for an application which is easy to use for beginners, while at the same time has advanced features which allow users to get the right print in the first attempt. AMBuilder incorporates all of Intech’s vast expertise in metal 3D printing, in its algorithms.
AMOptoMet is a parameter optimization software that provides the right process parameters to achieve better surface finish and desirable mechanical properties in metal 3D printed parts. It helps in printing parts “Right First time” and reduces the time taken for the Design of Experiments (DOE) when developing parameters to print new materials.
The iFusion LF is a high-performance large format laser Metal 3D printer indigenously designed, developed, and manufactured by Intech Additive Solutions. The printer is combined with extensive features designed for the Industrial use of Metal additive Manufacturing.
It is designed for industrial applications and offers a large build volume of 450mm x 450mm x 450mm combined with lasers for higher productivity. The iFusion LF comes with laser integration from 500W laser and up-gradable to 700W and 1000W. It is specifically designed to meet the industry need from single laser to quad laser.
The iFusion LF will mainly address the key production process with its robustness to meet the specific industry requirements. The system is powered with automation on powder handling, part removal, and powder sieving to ensure efficient output.
The iFusion LF can work with a wide variety of materials and metal alloys like Aluminium, Inconel, Stainless Steel, Maraging Steel, Cobalt Chrome, Titanium, and other metal alloys. With a build volume of 450mm, iFusion LF is the best metal 3D printer for any industry.
The iFusion SF1 Metal 3D Printer is based on Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) technology. Over 30,000 man-hours of Innovation and R & D have gone into its development. The iFusion SF1 Metal 3D Printer produces parts with high structural integrity along with the required surface finish and mechanical properties. With the unique combination of a 500 Watt Laser and a larger build chamber in its class, it is a game changer and meets the requirements of entry and mid-level component manufacturers.
DfAM – is the process of creating the design of a part that is most suitable for Additive manufacturing. It is a method that guides designers through a structured, step by step design process for developing AM products.
It helps designers find possible solutions for product functions, suggest ideas to enhance, stimulate their creativity to find innovations, remove cognitive barriers & subconscious limitations in design.
Generally products were Designed for Manufacturing and Assembly (DfMA), onset of AM has changed that, Conventional manufacturing constraints do not restrict product design anymore; ‘Design for Additive Manufacturing’ (DfAM) puts the emphasis back on functionality & efficiency of the part.
The main objectives of DfAM at product conceptualization stage is to:
– Reimagine a part‘s physical representation
– Form Driven by Function
– Incorporate AM features in design
– Maximise product life cycle efficiency
What challenges is Additive Manufacturing facing today?
While a majority of the western nations have widely embraced this technology, the Indian market is gradually catching up. Presently for small part production and prototyping, a select few early adopters are turning to additive manufacturing (AM). It will take some more time for it to become an integral part of routine production procedures in the Indian manufacturing industry as well. Adoption of this nuanced technology is being impeded by a number of causes like specialisation of a field, a place, or significance, etc. Moreover, these difficulties can generally be due to technical, financial, capability, integration & compatibility, material, and design difficulties. Other difficulties include the widespread use of technology and design, as well as a dearth of credible information and knowledge about the capabilities of Additive Manufacturing.
How was business in 2021-22?
No doubt the pandemic had impacted the AM sector as well. Although companies are enthusiastic about the new and emerging technology, successful implementation has been delayed. On a positive note, industries like manufacturing, defence, research, education, and space have all expressed a strong interest in and want to include additive manufacturing into their prospective plans. However this financial year has brought us great business. On the LPBF technology platform, we have sold the most number machines nationwide. Furthermore, we have exported two machines to Europe, and a third one is on its way.
Kindly highlight your future marketing strategies.
We are using a two-pronged strategy to build the market and consolidate our presence as part of our long-term marketing plan. We envision Intech playing a big part in opening up the prospect of digital manufacturing. We are also preparing to offer a wide range of hardware, software, and design solutions in AM with the purpose to give a comprehensive and full spectrum of AM solutions that create tangible value for the industries and sectors. The strategy is to use an integrated approach to tap target audiences, develop media conversations, create experiences through product demos and workshops, etc. We are also planning to increase our footprint in Europe, Asia-Pacific in the coming quarter and expand our visibility through Global Exhibitions like ACHEMA, FormNext among others. We give engineering students workshops and skill-development training in additive manufacturing and DfAM. We also encourage college students to visit our facility in Bangalore for an industrial visit.