3D printing makes slow but steady inroads into industry

“JSW SteelNSE -1.77 % is building a captive power plant at Salem. The industrial steam turbine being set up needed oil sealing rings, a seemingly small component but a crucial one for the running of the unit. JSW Group’s procurement team made inquiries from their usual suppliers and were told that in a best case scenario, they could manufacture the oil sealing rings in 4-6 months. 

This was a typical situation faced often by the industry where delay in sourcing of a small components often lead to derailing commissioning timeline. But something different happened this time. “We were looking at options to compress time and Siemens offered to make the same component for us through 3D printing,” said Seshagiri Rao, joint managing director at JSW Steel. “We told them to do it and they delivered it in a matter of days. We tried it as an experiment and we were successful,” he told ET.

3D printing, or additive manufacturing — the process of building three-dimensional solid objects from a digital design using additive methods — has yet to pick up in the country but experts see significant potential. “The market for 3D printing in industry is latent and is hard to define. It is not a market where the product is ready for commercial purposes; it is pretty much in the development stage,” said Prashant Jain, country division lead – power generation services division, at Siemens India “

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