Global 3D Labs looks to accelerate the 3D printing revolution in IndiaHarshith Mallya
Global 3D Labs is a startup in the 3D printing sector that is into manufacturing, sales, and servicing of 3D printers. Their main products are ‘Pramaan’ and ‘Pramaan Mini’ targeted at organisations and hobbyists respectively. They also develop custom 3D printers which are industry specific, for instance, they developed ‘Chocobot’ to cater to the baking industry.
They have also been developing various technologies related to medical and other manufacturing sectors. Gopal Krishna, one of the co-founders, says, “We are a research driven startup and work towards developing technologies that make additive manufacturing more sensible to various industries.”
The startup was co-founded by Gopal Krishna and Aviral Kedia, both graduates of Manipal Institute of Technology, Manipal, and Manish Amin and M. Shreyas Kudva, both graduates of MITE, Mangalore. They met in Manipal while Gopal and Aviral were running Expiscor Technologies - a startup focused on bio-medical research; Manish and Shreyas were a part of a software development company. The four of them often met because of common development work, and soon realised that there was a big need for ‘prototype’ development across industries in India.
They found that the existing techniques were not sufficient to address the needs of the industry. They then thought of building tools to solve the problem themselves and started Global 3D Labs. They are an eight member team currently and expect a few more to join them in the next two months.
Their main product ‘Pramaan 2.0’ is a Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) 3D printer with a build volume of 30x30x30 cubic centimetres and can print in over ten materials that include conventional plastics like PLA, ABS, and Nylon, Delrin composites like Laywood, Copper, and flexible filaments like Ninja Flex and Flex PLA. All the parts of Pramaan are sourced locally, and the printer is manufactured and assembled in India.
Pramaan Mini caters to SMEs, hobbyists, enthusiasts, and artists who cannot afford high end 3D printing. The printer has a smaller build volume of 18x18x18 cubic centimetres that allows the users to only build multiple and bigger parts in a single print. It can print in PLA, ABS and other commonly available 3D printing materials. Both the printers have LCD support and SD card connectivity that allow them to be independent systems.
Global 3D Labs claims that Chocobot is one of India's first commercially available 3D Printer for chocolate. The printer comes with modular heads that can be switched to create quick moulds for chocolates using materials like polycarbonate. They can also be used to print directly with white chocolates, dark chocolates or milk chocolates. They are currently improving this product based on the feedback they have got from bakeries. The startup has been invited by 3D Print UAE as their official Chocolate 3D print partners.
In their early days Global 3D Labs found the entry barrier to be high as they needed to educate both corporate clients and private individuals about the benefits and applications of 3D printing. Now, after many months, they see that there is awareness in the public and corporate sectors and clients are aware about the applications and their uses. In June, this year, they received many leads from the automotive ancillary sector.
Initially, they had a lead time of 28 days for their printers which they have now brought down to 14 days, and aim to reduce it even further. They also solved many technology challenges through feedback and research. They made modifications like changing the nozzle of the printer to a higher quality.
A major challenge confronting them is the remote servicing of clients. Though they address many issues over the phone they have to often travel to client locations to resolve the issues. Gopal says, “We are in the process of setting up geographical sales channels to provide service to our customers, and reducing the table times of the production and prototyping runs.”
They also host meet-ups through the Bangalore 3D Printing Group and impart regular training to the community. To keep themselves up to date and get necessary exposure, they have been attending a few trade shows. They plan to attend ‘3D Print UAE’, Dubai, in August this year. Gopal adds,
We have grown organically. Our customers are the biggest marketers for us and they have been pushing our products through referrals. We are also developing online products like training courses and knowledge blogs for creating a community around our products.
The primary revenue source for Global 3D Labs is 3D Printers and the sales of allied accessories. They have supplied 3D Printers to clients all over India - Indian Railways, National Chemical Laboratory, CMTI Bangalore, Bremer Engineering India, Innovation and Knowledge Park, are the big ones. They help set up digital labs, impart government sponsored training, and corporate training as well. They even sell some of their accessories like filaments on e-commerce portals like Snapdeal and Amazon.
They also develop need based custom printers for clients according to their specifications. One of their clients, Yes Industries, requested for a 3D Printer with a build volume of 500x500x300 mm³, and Hindtech CNC, Chennai, has also requested for a custom printer.
Their main focus is on building and assembling 3D Printers and not on services such as providing customised parts for clients. For that, they refer customers to a few startups that have bought their printers, and are running businesses around customised services. They aim to enter the biomedical 3D printing services sector, and are exploring applications such as replacing Plaster-of-Paris casts that are used to heal broken bones with custom 3D printed casts.They are currently self-funded but are in the process of closing their first round of funding. Gopal says,
It should be finalised by the next week. We are happy about the investors coming on board because they come from a deep manufacturing background, and are leaders in their field. Their expertise will certainly be handy for us.
While MakerBot, Stratasys, Fabbster, 3D Systems, Leapfrog, Flashforge and Optomec are well known on the global arena, there are some interesting companies and startups coming up in India- AltemTechnologies, Imaginarium, Brahma3, JGroup Robotics, REALiz3D and design shops like df3d. Recently Fracktal Works also by Manipal alumni raised a seed round of funding from 1 Neoteric at a $3M valuation.
Within a year from now they aim to see Pramaan as an off-the-shelf machine that consumers can pick up and start using without waiting for lead times or other delays. They also intend to expand on the international front in the next two years. They are targeting emerging economies in the Middle East and Asia. Their goal is to sell 1000 3D printers by next year.
They plan to develop more compact 3D Printers in the FFF 3D Printer space, and also products in the ‘Stereo lithography’ (SLA) space. They have also been working on other technologies like 3D scanning, ceramic 3D printing and medical grade 3D printing. They aim to bring out commercial models of all of these in the near future.