Wipro 3D, a part of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering that provides metal additive manufacturing services, has launched its state-of-the-art solution and experience centre for metal 3D printing. Wipro chairman Azim Premji inaugurated the 12,000 sq ft facility in Bengaluru on March 14. Speaking to Business Today, Pratik Kumar, chief executive officer (CEO) of Wipro Infrastructure Engineering, talked about what new the centre could offer and what it meant for Wipro. Here are the excerpts.
What is Wipro's pitch on differentiation it can offer to customers in the 3D printing space?
The 3D printing is still in its early stages of evolution, and people do tend to have a very general level of understanding of what 3D printing is. So, if I speak to a customer, I need to hand hold him through the entire process and help him understand how the technology will add value. To be able to clearly explain that it is not merely a cost play but a value play. I can help by visiting his establishment, and setting up and running his entire 3D. It is almost like the captive centres you have in IT. The adoption of this technology is linked to three things: the speed of the end-user adoption; how is the ecosystem developing in terms of material, other players, printer manufacturers; and how quickly the technology is evolving? In each of these, there has been a fairly good progress over the last few years.
So, we bring in consulting and engineering knowhow, R&D on parts and metals, prototype development, batch production, and provide support, over the life of the product, across the globe. We don't merely print, we have in-house post processing centre and collaborate with ecosystem partners - be it printer manufacturers or metal players or academia. Our differentiation does not come from the suite of offerings but from the knowledge base and the engineering talent we have built. Think about a customer who wants to embark on this journey and wants to use 3D. We can help them through the entire lifecycle.
Tell us a bit about your customers?
We have customers in the field of aerospace, space, oil and gas, automotive and healthcare, etc. For the kind of work we do with many of them we can't reveal the names. But, in the last three to four years, we have addressed the needs of close to two dozen customers with majority of them being India-based.
This space is constantly evolving with newer technologies. How do you ensure you customer stick to you?
If the technology is evolving it is good news as it will benefit the whole additive manufacturing space, and eventually the customers. Let us look at where the technology is changing: In trying out new alloys and metals, which can make it lighter. It could be in terms of the build-size or with respect to speed. Right now, 3D printing allows you to do small batch production but you can visualise. Going forward, production-scale printers could also be there.
Means you need to keep investing in newer technologies and ensure customers stay?
Not always because sometimes the upgrade is in terms of the software which runs on it. Also, we are not making printers and we are in the services space. So, we collaborate with the printer manufacturers. There is more potential to collaborate than to compete.
Will you use the new 12,000 square feet experience centre for internal use or other innovators?
If someone says look I am very keen on 3D printing, give me a chair and a table. It is not for them. It is for the ecosystem partners with whom we have alliances - be it on the printer side or academia. So it becomes a collaboration platform wherein we pool in our experiences and do different things. Also, it has to a capacity to address the customers' needs.
Which segment you have been focussing on the most?
We are focussing on aerospace, space research organisations, automotive and healthcare like the medical equipment manufacturers.