India’s Largest 3D Printing Company Allies with Ultimaker as Government Focuses on 3D Printing

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Mumbai-based Imaginarium, India’s largest rapid prototyping and manufacturing firm, has announced a strategic partnership with Ultimaker, the Dutch manufacturer of 3D printers. The new collaboration will see Ultimaker’s entire line of fused filament fabrication (FFF) desktop printers, including models like the 2+ Connect and the S5, to Imaginarium’s existing range of 20 industrial 3D printers. Serving customers in a diverse array of fields, from jewelry to electronics, aerospace, and automotive parts, Imaginarium’s leaders emphasized in a press release the versatility of Ultimaker’s product line as the main reason the two companies are an apt fit: Ultimaker’s machines work with about 200 unique materials.

Additionally, in the press statement, Kamlesh Parekh, Imaginarium’s CEO, highlighted the synchronicity between the partnership’s announcement, and recent policy-making news from India’s government: “The Government of India’s upcoming policy strategically aims at promoting a conducive ecosystem to seamlessly adopt 3D printing for local manufacturers. With the Make in India initiative, we are hopeful that 3D printing will shape the innovative horizons of the future and increase focus on India as the nerve center for global manufacturing. I feel our association with Ultimaker who are unparalleled in [FFF], will usher in a new direction for the company and help us be the segment leaders in the 3D printing industry in India.”

Image courtesy of Ultimaker

Specifically, Parekh is referring to the Indian Minister of Electronics & Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw’s announcement, on February 24, of the nation’s new National Strategy on Additive Manufacturing (AM). According to the plan, the Indian government is aiming to facilitate the creation of “50 India-specific technologies” relevant to AM. These run the entire gamut of the sector from machines and materials to software, as well as 100 new startups and 500 AM products — all in the next 2-3 years.

Vaishnaw also said that, with the initiative, the government anticipates adding USD$2-3 billion to the Indian economy over the next few years. This will go along with achieving the arguably even more crucial goal of capturing five percent of the global market share in the AM field.

It’s also worth mentioning that Imaginarium and Ultimaker are announcing their partnership only a couple of months following the announcement of a similar collaboration between Belgian AM firm Materialise and Primaeam Solutions, headquartered in Chennai, on the opposite side of the Indian peninsula from Mumbai.

In our post covering that development, I mentioned that investment in the region seems designed to bypass China’s Belt and Road Initiative, and reiterated a point I’d made in an even earlier post about “how India’s economic trajectory over at least the next decade will largely be shaped by its role in counterbalancing Chinese economic power on America’s behalf.” I think it’s safe to say that many of the same points can be made about the Imaginarium and Ultimaker deal, especially in light of India’s newly-revealed national AM strategy.

Finally, although of course not directly related to India, given the extent to which the ongoing Russian military campaign in the Ukraine has dominated not only diplomatic but, equally, financial news, it seems as if explicitly geopolitical events are only becoming evermore-tightly linked with national economic trajectories around the globe. In this sense, any major announcement by, for instance, the Indian government, can be useful in helping us to interpret the rest of the AM field across the planet. This is certainly the case regarding all significant macroeconomic trends, but it’s especially true about what are becoming known as critical and emerging technologies (CETs), of which AM is one of the farthest along in terms of its development and practical industrial application.

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