Additive manufacturing is becoming a game changer in the manufacturing ecosystem as 3D printers and 3D printing software are gaining popularity. Olivier Ribet, vice president, industries, Dassault Systemes, speaks with Baishakhi Dutta of Electronics Bazaar about India’s adoption of 3D technologies, and the company’s strategy to strengthen its presence in the country.
EB: What are the various application areas your vast 3D technology inventory covers?
The advances in printing technology have resulted in additive manufacturing being used beyond just prototyping. Today, it is used for industrial applications, either to create tools and fixtures for manufacturing or for creating low volume production parts. Aircrafts with 3D printed parts are already flying in the skies. For example, Airbus has announced 3D printing of plastic parts.
Dassault Systèmes and Airbus APWorks, a subsidiary of Airbus that specialises in metal 3D printing, have a collaborative partnership for an integrated end-to-end approach that connects upstream material design with downstream manufacturing process parameters. This partnership will enable the standardisation of parameters as well as certification. Dassault also has an alliance partnership with Sogeti High Tech to help companies in the aerospace and defence, transportation and other industries to implement additive manufacturing.
EB: Dassault has a vast portfolio of brands. Do any of your own products end up competing with other brands in this portfolio?
Our different brands cater to different kinds of customers, of different business sizes and business requirements. And we have diverse brands, as well as the 3DEXPERIENCE platform to cater to their requirements at every stage of their growth. Therefore, for a customer, it is more about increasing their usage of Dassault Systèmes brands, depending on their business requirements. The brands provide us the breadth and depth to cater to customers across a wide variety of key, associated industries as well—from large enterprises to mid-market SMEs and startups.
EB: Do you model your products to be compatible with legacy systems?
Our products and brands come with inbuilt functionalities to address customers’ business requirements in areas like product design, digital mock ups and manufacturing, wherein the application needs to seamlessly connect with existing legacy systems. This is possible through the 3DEXPERIENCE PLM Collaboration Services that offer collaboration and digital continuity in the product development process.
EB: What is your view on the additive manufacturing and 3D tech scenario in India?
Contrary to what most people think, 3D printing has existed for more than 30 years, and enterprises have been using it for quick prototyping. The difference between rapid prototyping and 3D printing is in the machine used. At present, the function of these machines is to manufacture additive layers, and laser and powder technologies have been mastered by several manufacturers around the world. There are many high quality 3D printing manufacturers in India, but the numbers are higher in Europe, America and Japan, where these machines are more robotic.
The usage of 3D printing in India is increasing, as the country is importing more machines. In India, we see both OEMs and startups exploring additive manufacturing and trying to leverage this for a business advantage. However, the access to printers can be limited for small to medium sized organisations. Further, there are several types of additive manufacturing processes with new and improved technologies being introduced rapidly. Thus, even large OEMs who have invested in an in-house 3D printer will sometimes need access to external printers to test or to compare some of these newer processes.
EB: Does 3D printing deliver any benefits like reducing expenses during manufacturing?
When it comes to reducing costs in the overall budget, 3D printing allows companies to save a lot of money. The added value of 3D printing is that you can create just one part, making the design process more efficient and cost effective.
There are some very critical components, such as Airbus’ 3D printed components, which are used in aeroplanes. 3D printing can reduce the weight of such parts as well as the final cost. The weight can come down from anything between 20 per cent and 50 per cent.
Also, you can localise the production of spare parts instead of using warehouses. This reduces logistics costs.
We deliver solutions according to the need of the customer, and 3D printing helps us to analyse those needs closely. It also helps us to address the minute problems that couldn’t be analysed earlier and to provide the most optimal solution to customers.
EB: Do you have any business unit in India? What are the operations carried out from here?
In India, we have more than 2500 employees located in six cities—Bengaluru, Chennai, Pune, Mumbai, Gurgaon and Kolkata. These include sales and marketing staff, as well people in R&D who contribute to our strategic 3DEXPERIENCE platform.
EB: How important is the Indian market as a customer base?
India has become the world’s fastest growing major economy. The country has witnessed a steady GDP growth. There are promising opportunities across sectors like aerospace and defence, transportation and mobility, consumer goods, life sciences, natural resources, industrial equipment, and utilities.
India is an important market for us and we are growing at a double digit rate in India. We are trying to increase our footprint in various verticals and industries in the country. In India, Dassault Systèmes is planning to take a big leap in the manufacturing sector, generously contributing to the Make in India, Smart Cities and various other initiatives across the country.
EB: Do you have any further expansion plans in India?
Our double digit growth in many segments is not just with big OEMs but also with small and medium sized businesses. India is a very important hub of innovation for us, because of which we have 2500 full-time Dassault Systemes employees here, along with an extended network of partners and suppliers that we work with. We really want to accelerate our growth here in the next few years.
EB: Do highlight your training programmes and academic collaborations in India.
India is expected to emerge as the world’s third largest aviation market by 2020. Hence, there will be a substantial increase in demand for a skilled workforce in the aerospace industry. We embarked on setting up the Aerospace & Defence Centre of Excellence (CoE) project at Visvesvaraya Technological University in September last year. Under this, we aim at providing high-end training for nearly 1600 engineers every year. Karnataka, being the hub for the aerospace and defence sector, was an obvious choice for this initiative and we were fortunate enough to collaborate with the state government in this journey, to achieve a common goal.
We are closely working with state governments to develop the workforce of the future. In line with this, we have also collaborated with the Andhra Pradesh State Skill Development Corporation (APSSDC) to open a Centre Of Excellence that caters to the automotive, aerospace and defence, and marine industries.
EB: What is your roadmap for India and the world?
Our first priority in India is to strengthen our presence in key verticals like automotive, aviation, defence and industrial equipment. We also aim to reach out to more businesses in these verticals and add them to our portfolio. We are constantly working towards increasing our footprint in newer verticals like retail, mining, renewable energy and architecture. We are closely working with several state governments in India to address the skills gap and develop the workforce of the future.