Smart companies are always looking for ways in which to improve their processes, be it manufacturing or delivery, so that the end result is both cost competitive and provides a good customer experience. Whether it is the use of the latest technology, artificial intelligence, or machine learning, the biggest companies the world over—across sectors—are pushing the boundaries to become more nimble and efficient. As these changes become a part of manufacturing or services, they make life easier for the consumer. In this issue, which we at Fortune India refer to as The Future Issue, we take a close look at one such trend sweeping sectors from manufacturing to aviation and healthcare: 3D printing. Invented more than three decades ago, 3D printing was, for long, seen as an industrial process. But today, the technology has come into widespread use and is being seen as a game changer in several sectors. 3D printing is being used for homes, aviation, automotive parts, and even in areas like prosthetic limbs. As Abhik Sen and Ashish Gupta, who put together the story, say, 3D technology is gradually changing the way we live and work today.
Essentially, in layman’s parlance, instead of the “subtractive” way of manufacturing, where metal parts or moulds are carved out of raw materials like aluminium or steel plates, 3D printing involves “additive” manufacturing, where companies are able to build components by adding layers of metals, plastics or powders on top of each other. Once design inputs are fed into the 3D printer, it puts out fully formed usable products or parts. This saves time, manpower, and money. Aviation is one area where the technology is being used widely. Some of the world’s biggest companies like GE, Honeywell, and United Technologies are busy making jet engines and parts using 3D printing. In the auto sector, 3D printing allows on-demand printing of parts, making inventory management easier since spare parts need only be made when there is a demand for them. This reduces costs significantly for companies.
On the healthcare side too, 3D printing is revolutionising things, where companies are able to print artificial human-sized bones, cartilage and muscle, and offer customised prosthetics. While 3D printing is catching on globally, with the market growing at a sharp 60% over the past two years, India has been relatively slow on this front. A key reason for this is the prohibitive cost of an industrial 3D printer. But companies are gradually finding a way out of this, thanks to some offering 3D printing as a service for a fee. This means companies can outsource the printing work to specialised firms instead of having to acquire their own printer. Experts feel this can significantly change the fortunes of midsize companies.
Far away from the hustle and bustle of such cutting edge innovations, however, the Indian heritage city of Varanasi is undergoing a change. Deputy editor T. Surendar and chief photo editor Narendra Bisht travel to the temple town to bring you a first-hand account— together with some stunning photographs—of the Kashi Vishwanath corridor project, where the state government is in the process of building a pathway from the river Ganga to the Kashi Vishwanath temple. The authorities have successfully evacuated 250 families and over 100 small businesses to make way for the corridor. In all, ₹298 crore has been spent in acquiring the land and another ₹250 crore will be spent in building the pathway itself. A dramatic transformation is under way.
This was originally published in the August, 2019 issue of the magazine.