Final-year engg student from Bastar makes 3D printer
Depending heavily on jugaad, the printer is largely made from waste material and costs about one-fifth of a comparable readymade device
Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh: How amazing would it be to have a machine that creates things we want for practically nothing! In the Maoist-affected area of Bastar in Chhattisgarh, Anil Kumar Joshi, who is in his 20s, has made it a reality. As his final semester project, he constructed a 3D printer from scratch.
A student of Jagdalpur Engineering College (JEC), Anil has always been interested in the sciences and always had the spark of innovation in him. Since he was always interested in Mechanics, he chose to pursue mechanical engineering.
A 3D (three-dimensional) printer is used to make a physical object from a 3D digital model, typically by laying down multiple thin layers of a material in succession.
Since it’s created with the help of additive processes, an object is made by laying down layers of material—polymers, metals, concrete, ceramics and paper. 3D printing has an edge over traditional techniques like milling as it enables you to produce complex shapes using less material.
Repairing household items
A readymade 3D printer starts at about Rs 40,000–50,000, but Anil created his version for less than Rs 10,000 based on Rapid Prototyping Technology. According to Dr GP Khare, principal of JEC, the printer can be used to make models and prototypes. In addition, the unit can also be used to manufacture objects used in daily life.
To make this, Anil employed the Indian technique of jugaad (hack). The entire printer was made from scrap or waste items.
Anil revealed that he has used this contraption to repair inane household objects. He revealed that once a bulb holder in his house had stopped working and with the help of the printer, he made a holder. In addition, he utilised the metals part from the old holder to get it to work.
Khare added, “Such a printer will definitely become a boon to middle-class families in due time.”
Anil stated that he had also constructed a plotter—a type of printer—by spending Rs 300.
Ironing out kinks
According to a study by 6Wresearch, India’s 3D printer market is projected to become a $79 million industry by 2021. In the automobile industry, Tata Motors and Maruti Suzuki have been using 3D printing to create prototypes and for Research and Development.
Presently, Anil’s machine can be used to make small plastic products—nut-bolts, bulb holders, brackets—with the help of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software. Anil informed that CAD software is used to design an item, after which it is converted to G-code in slicer software. After this, it is sent to the printer. The quality of the product depends on the material used. The finished product can have maximum dimensions of 30cmx30cmx50cm.
The biggest hurdle in 3D printing becoming mainstream is the time it takes to create a product. Currently, Joshi’s machine takes about 3 to 4 hours for 5 cm. Anil informed that the 3D printer is being upgraded constantly to improve its strength and reliability.
Anil has always been interested in technical areas. In class eight, he had made a path-following robot. Anil credits his parents and teachers for their support. While the 3D printer is still being enhanced to meet certain quality standards, Anil hopes to have a start-up and has already registered the product for funding.
Anil, along with his professors, is spending time to upgrade the 3D printer. The printer has been tested, but a lot of work needs to be done before the final product is ready, claimed Anil.
Anil is not the only engineer to venture into 3D printing. In January, the Indian Space Research Organisation launched a satellite built by the students of Hindustan Institute of Technology & Science, Chennai. The 3D-printed satellite, Kalamsat, named after the former president A P J Abdul Kalam, became the lightest satellite that India had ever launched. It was built at a cost of around Rs 12 lakh and took the took over six years to complete.