Industry 4.0 & Role of Additive Manufacturing/3D Printing
Published by : Industrial Automation
The Indian composites industry needs to enhance the manufacturing capabilities to supply critical components to defence, marine and aerospace sectors, says Titli Chatterjee.
The transition to new manufacturing processes which had started in Europe and now termed as the First Industrial Revolution, has paved the way to fuse the physical, digital and biological worlds through a range of emerging technologies. This is under the paradigm of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is fundamentally different, connecting masses to digital networks and significantly improving the efficiency of organisations across industries. The fourth industrial revolution or Industry 4.0 is the recent progress on intelligent automation technology and utilisation of modern manufacturing processes. Industry 4.0 aims to build smart factories through the convergence of cyber and physical systems.
Additive Manufacturing: The shift from conventional
Additive manufacturing (AM) is one of the vital components of Industry 4.0, which helps to develop the non-traditional manufacturing methods. It refers to a group of fabrication techniques in which parts are fabricated in layers directly obtained from a CAD file. Even though additive manufacturing has emerged as a disruptive technology in the past decades, one of the areas that needs a detailed study is the combination of composite techniques with additive manufacturing. The use of composite laminated plates has been widely adopted in areas such as defence, marine, aerospace, and industrial uses like drones, moulds and fixtures. It’s a massive disruption and moving out of the conventional, where the end-to-end manufacturing process takes 90% lesser time and consumes 80% lesser energy. Research indicates additive manufacturing or 3D printing is projected to touch a market of US $20 Bn by 2020, while the Indian 3D printing market is expected to be worth USD 79 Mn by 2021. Thus as the trend remains aligned to make things lighter and faster along with a robust implementation, the demand for carbon-fibre (CF) has been experiencing a step-up and companies are working on automated composite manufacturing (ACM). Research implies large market gains for composite materials from 2015.
Winning new businesses through Carbon Fibre
Toyota developed a multi-material roof consisting of aluminium, CF and other materials to a fuel-cell powered bus. In such cases of mass production automation will be imperative to success.
Boeing adopted automated composite manufacturing (ACM) to build the rear spars of the 777x wing. By utilising the strengths of automated fibre placement, Boeing accomplished to bring the massive amount of material to place
Michigan based Plasan Carbon Composites produces carbon-fibre components such as hoods, roofs and side panels for popular vehicles such as Chevrolet Corvette, Dodge Viper and Ford Mustang. The company is focusing on engineered solutions and automated manufacturing driven by continuous research and development to pioneer the mass production of carbon fibre.
Adoption of AM/3D Printing in India
Composites growth in India is driven by transportation, building and construction, electrical and electronics and renewable energy sectors. The Indian composites industry needs to enhance the manufacturing capabilities to supply critical components to defense, marine and aerospace sectors. Interestingly, efforts in continuous fibre-reinforced 3D printing is diversified in terms of high-volume applications and prototypes. The need for low-cost, automated fabrication process and design flexibility have spurred the development of additive manufacturing. Advocating the need, industry should adopt to automated carbon fibre manufacturing, as then we will see continued growth of materials like carbon fibre.
There are Indian start-ups innovating in this space with a fast, efficient quality process. From in-house developed 3D printers with fibre printing capabilities, economical fabrication capabilities to multi material combination technologies, the industry is adopting an aggressive approach in terms of research and development to bring in contemporary reforms to Indian manufacturing. NASSCOM Research has been working on these particular startup stories emerging at the industrial front to understand the capabilities of the emerging technologies like AM.
Long range drone manufacturing company, The ePlane Co, is collaborating with Fabheads for building a Monocoque Carbon Fibre Structure. Implementing right from the initial design phase until the delivery of a finished product, Fabheads played a pivotal role for an end-to-end fabrication for them.
AM/3D Printing – Still a nascent technology
The adoption of 3D printing in India has largely been scattered. It is believed that the Indian market is at the edge of adoption of the technology and has been galvanised by few of the sectors like automotive, healthcare and defence. There are also new avenues such as medical pre-surgery or the education sector where it is being adopted. The ‘Jhada’ installed at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai created using 3D printing by London-based studio Fractal Works is a classic example of embracing the technology in India. Though there is a lot of interest across industries to adopt the technology, it has been running at a slower pace. This can be attributed to lack of understanding about 3D printing/AM, costs incurred, lack of investment and fewer R&D centres which is holding back the application in India.
Titli Chatterjee has been leading the ER&D/Industry 4.0 research initiatives of NASSCOM, having experience in research and consulting in the areas of emerging technologies and engineering services. In her current role as Manager – Research Titli is closely working with industry leaders, startups and other stakeholders to highlight how technology can be a game changer on the industrial front, and developing a roadmap in disruptive technologies for Indian IT-BPM industry.