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India’s First 3D Printed Post Office Opens for Business

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While additive construction (AC) is booming the world over, India is among a handful of countries that leads the pack for widespread and high-profile adoption. Most recently, the nation inaugurated its first-ever 3D printed post office, located in Bengaluru, Karnataka.

The project was first announced in September 2022 before work officially commenced in March 2023. Construction took just 44 days, with the building completed in May and opening its doors for business on August 18. The structure was estimated to cost 2.6 million rupees (USD$31,200), about 40 percent of traditional construction techniques.

Ashwini Vaishnaw, Union Minister for Railways, Communications, Electronics & Information Technology, inaugurated the post office, saying: “This city always presents a new picture of India. The new picture that you saw in terms of this 3D-print post office building—that’s the spirit of India today. That’s the spirit with which India is progressing today…The spirit of development, the spirit of developing our own technology—that’s the defining feature. All this is possible because the country has a leadership that is decisive and has confidence in our people’s capabilities.”

India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, commented on the event on X, noting, “The unveiling of India’s first 3D-printed Post Office in Cambridge Layout, Bengaluru, is a source of pride for every Indian. This achievement not only underscores our nation’s progress in innovation but also encapsulates the essence of a self-reliant India. My commendations to the diligent individuals who dedicated their efforts to bring this Post Office to fruition.”

Under the guidance of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Madras, the three-story, 1,100-square-foot building was built by L&T Construction, one of the few companies in India to pursue AC, in addition to Tvasta. A subsidiary of the $23-billion Indian conglomerate Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T), the company has been researching construction 3D printing since at least 2016. L&T was also responsible for 3D printing a reinforced, two-story building in 2021.

To execute its projects, L&T relies on technology from AC printer manufacturer COBOD. It may be no coincidence that L&T relied on a Danish firm for its 3D printing equipment, as the Indian giant was founded by two Danish engineers back in 1947. The successful printing of the post office is indicative of both the spread of 3D printing and AC in India and the growth of COBOD.

COBOD’s most recent estimates from 2022 suggest that its machines have been used in about 40 percent of the world’s total 130 printed buildings, including seven out of the 28 in Asia. For its sake, India’s AM adoption has ramped up significantly in the past several years, with an increasing number of Western companies investing in the sector while domestic firms flourish. Most recently, companies like Siemens, Schneider Electric, Ultimaker, HP, Meltio, and AddUp are collaborating with Indian partners.

Given India’s status as the fastest growing nation, economically speaking, we can expect the country’s adoption of 3D printing to accelerate following many of the same patterns as other locations but at a faster rate. For this reason, it shouldn’t be surprising that niche sectors like 3D printing for new space and AC are emerging as quickly as they are.

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