Priyanka Nadig is the Assistant Manager-Materials Engineering at Intech DMLS Pvt. Ltd, a Metal Additive Manufacturing company in Bangalore, India. Intech provides solutions for the aerospace, automotive, health, and general engineering applications. At Intech, her research is primarily channelized towards reducing the manufacturing cost, development of new alloys, process optimization and characterization. She also collaborates with multiple leading academic institutions and carries out research activities that are both strong academically and from the business perspective.

Through her past experience, she has gained expertise in different manufacturing domains such as FMCG and Steel Industry. As an undergrad in mechanical engineering from Sir.MVIT, Bangalore, India, she constantly kept herself engaged with projects   in the field of metallurgy. The subject intrigued her so much that she received a Master’s degree in Material Science and Engineering from the University of Sheffield, UK.

Priyanka, could you let us know about your background and what brought you into 3D printing in the first place?

3D printing gives an opportunity to understand the printing machine, materials that can be printed and the behavior of materials on changes in the machine settings. As engineers  we have to constantly find the best fit of machine settings (parameters)  and the material to  arrive at  the right product with properties that suit the application. This challenging approach is the very reason that brought me into 3D Printing.

What was your very first experience with 3D Printing?

I had taken a course on Rapid Manufacturing in my undergrad, but during that time the technology was not very popular and not much was spoken about 3D printing   revolutionizing the manufacturing industry. Few years later I attended a seminar on 3D printing and could relate to the training that I received. It was exciting to know how rapidly the technology had already engulfed several areas of applications.  

Could you explain furthermore what INTECH DMLS is and the services that you are providing?

I would like to take this opportunity to Introduce Intech DMLS Pvt Ltd, Bangalore, India as the forerunners in the field metal 3D printing and solution providers of Additive manufacturing (aka 3D printing) in the metal space. 

We have the largest installation of commercially available 3D printers which is complimented by a sophisticated design studio for development of a fully functional part/component using the DMLS technology. Intech has a wide range of Alloys in  Aluminium, Inconel, Steel and Chrome based.  Successfully completed projects related to industries such as Aerospace, Tool and Die, Automotive, Medical, Oil and Gas and General Engineering.  The printed   parts are shipped ready for validation and testing to our customers. We are also associated with hospitals and leading medical professionals and developed medical devices for surgeries and orthotics. 

Intech also works continuously on developing new products and one of the exciting products launched recently at Formnext 2017 is the software called AMOptoMet.

AMOptoMet is a predictive software with a high degree of accuracy assisting prediction of parameters for powder bed systems. AMOptoMet eliminates months and years of experimenting and understanding of Additive Manufacturing  build technology. This tool helps reduce extensive research and development and limiting design of experiments to establish feasible parameters for printing. The software helps you gain complete control of what you want to print, be it high speed printing outputs, specific surface quality or varying densities with powders from any manufacturer literally. This tool is a must have for those who intend to minimize cost and maximize production.

Could you tell us more about your role in the company and what you do?

At Intech we always work as a team and the  typical activities involve characterizing the properties of powder and printed metal parts with every change in the machine parameters. Based on the results, the right combination of parameters and the metal powder characteristics are established that fit the end application. AMOptoMet has reduced the time spent on this activity considerably and we are continuously working on including more features for the same. Other activities include projects related to waste optimization, developing alloys and parameter optimization that yield the expected material properties. Meanwhile, my team and I are also working on several exciting innovative projects for the health industry that could benefit the rural mass in the developing countries.

Metal 3D printing industry has been growing a lot the past few years, what do you think could help to scale up to mass production?

If we can reduce the cost per part, more industries and applications can crop up and different avenues for 3D printing will be generated. At the moment, I am currently focusing on this aspect at Intech DMLS to achieve the shift from batch to mass production. Several iterations have already led to scaling up in the productivity of machines, shift in design approach, effective   powder management etc. In parallel, our activities pertaining to development of new alloys will also contribute to scale up mass production.

Have you ran into any challenges from being a woman engineer in 3D Printing?   

So far I have not seen any gender bias   because at the end of the day the skill set of the person oversees the gender. Many girls after graduating would shy away from taking up manufacturing jobs for many reasons. However, the trend is slowly changing, manufacturing industry’s attitude has become much more welcoming and encouraging for women in the recent years. In fact, some manufacturing companies find pride in recruiting, retaining and advancing women. The element of surprise that a lady is seen on the shop floor is gradually receding.

Anything exciting coming up you’d like us to know about?

We are constantly working on updating the software AMOptoMet  to make metal 3D printing easier. Some of the new features include integrated microstructural image analysis, optimized heat treatment cycles, powder management etc. We are also coming out with an orthotic medical device that is going to have a huge impact in the developing countries.  

What is the most impressive or impactful use of 3D printing you’ve seen so far?

Impressive use has been mostly in the aerospace industry, especially in the Jet engine where the number of parts were reduced from 1000s to only 18. Life changing impact has been on the health industry such as implants, devices to assist surgeries, highly customized cranial structures, prosthetic arms etc.  

What makes the 3D printing industry particularly interesting for you:

As an engineer?

3D printing gives an opportunity to address the product end to end-from the concept   to the stage of   actualization. There are several herculean tasks between pre-processing and post processing, giving an opportunity to understand the design fundamentals, quality, metrology, metallurgy, machining, surface finish etc.  A 3D printing engineer ends up growing in all dimensions. The most interesting part about 3D printing is the fact that the technology is constantly evolving every day and as engineers we have to keep ourselves abreast with the rapid evolution.  

As a woman?

3D printing   is an intersection of science, art and technology and women are out there to prove to the world that they are here and to get things done the right way. Be it jewelry design or giving engineering solutions, women do it with efficacy. The technology has opened plethora of opportunities to showcase their talents in various fields, making us much more empowered and financially independent.   

What do you consider game-changing technologies in additive?

Technologies such as Binder Jet , multiple laser printing, flexible and printed electronics and in-situ process monitoring technologies like melt pool analysis, development of AI and machining learning in process improvements, multi material printing etc.

What do you think of the metal 3D printing industry today? And how would you like to see it evolve?

The use of 3D printing has  shifted from prototyping to printing functional parts that are actually up and running. With the evolution  of this  technology with newer and novel  alloys, close monitoring systems the trend will soon change from batch manufacturing  to mass customization and production.  

In your opinion, how could we encourage more women to become involved with 3D Printing?

Irrespective of the application, 3D printing requires equal contribution from various domains such as print shop, design, software development, materials engineering, testing, R&D, sales and marketing etc. to print a successful functional part.  With so many options on the platter, women coming from diverse backgrounds can choose the right profile and get involved with 3D printing.  

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