Industry Report

Metal Forming: Tech Trends

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Here’s a report on how mature is the metal forming industry in India in terms of technology adoption.

An extremely price sensitive sector

Dr. Laxminarayan.K, Regional Manager Technical, DesignTech Systems Ltd, says, “Metal forming industry in India is yet an unorganised sector, relying mostly on their experience driven knowledge and trial and error approach or methodology towards work. They are not technology enthusiasts and it is an extremely price sensitive sector.”

He adds, “Being averse to or hesitant towards adopting technology, they need to see and realise the value that the advanced solutions or systems would bring to their area of work, contemplate the cost of ownership, and evaluate the ROI. If they perceive any tangible advantages that at they might stand to gain from investing in the new technology, they would go for it. But if they are convinced that their experience driven knowledge is serving them well, then they wouldn’t be too open to evaluating new approaches of conducting their work.

Laxminarayan feels as the young generation is taking over the charges from the baby boomers, we are seeing transition in the working methodology as they are more open to experimenting and also eager to learn about new ways and means of doing work. He informs, “They understand the need to adopt with the changing times and are hence constantly working towards redefining their practices to bring in more innovation, agility, speed to their processes while attaining robust product quality.”

The metal forming sector is a part of core mechanical industry and in India they still largely rely on the traditional processes. Nonetheless, winds of change can be sensed. Especially with the government promoting ‘Make-in-India’ campaign overseas; they all will have to adopt the advanced technologies and systems to stay competitive and relevant in today’s time to achieve engineering excellence.

Increase in awareness: Essential to uplift the metal forming industry to next level

Sameer Kelkar, CEO and R&D Head, Grind Master Machines Pvt Ltd, says, “Metal forming industry in India is very well equipped with certain technologies involving like latest technologies for basic metal applications like cutting, bending, punching, welding etc.”

He adds, “When it comes to the equipment population and quality for certain technologies say metal cutting, many Indian companies are having high-tech machines for laser cutting, plasma cutting, waterjet cutting, etc. However, certain applications like sheet metal deburring, polishing, flow forming are lagging adoption of modern technologies.”

Grind Master is able to produce quality components using various sophisticated cutting bending machines however, these products remain at just one level below world-class quality products due to lack of attention given to processes like deburring and finishing. The hurdle in establishing high-tech industries like aerospace is due to the lack of attention to these secondary processes which play primary role for various functional aspects. Increase in awareness is very much essential to uplift the metal forming industry to next level. Grind Master continuously works on this aspect along with its partners Timesavers from Holland and MJC Engineering from USA on creating awareness on various technologies including deburring, surface finishing and flow forming technologies.

Toolrooms

Vivek Nanivadekar, Executive Director, FIBRO India Precision Products Pvt Ltd, says, “As compared to the advanced countries, India is behind by minimum 10 years.  We have very few large size commercial toolrooms who could adapt to the latest technologies in metal forming.”

He informs, “As per the survey conducted by TAGMA (Tool and Gauge Manufacturer’s Association) the estimated total domestic market for tooling is around ` 14, 500 crores, out of which the sheet metal dies, are only 35 per cent. Again, if you divide sheet metal dies in two types, metal cutting and metal forming and assuming equal share, then the value of metal forming dies would be mere ` 2,500 crores. Whereas China market size for sheet metal forming would be 6-8 times bigger.”

Nevertheless, the positive side is that the Indian market of overall tooling is increasing by CAGR of 10-15 per cent.

The small commercial toolrooms (turnover below 10 crores) cater to the 45 per cent of the sheet metal dies in the country which are non critical dies. Due to the cost pressures or lack of exposure to the latest trends in the field, many of these toolrooms do not opt for the new techniques such as standardisation or better tool design or better machining methods etc. As such FIBRO India supplies standard parts to large and medium size toolrooms with few exceptions of small scale of toolrooms. The company keep on educating the customers on use of standard parts and recent advancement in the field.

In this limited market size FIBRO India share is estimated to be around 35-40 per cent. However Nanivadekar believes that gradually the small scale toolrooms also will be aware of the benefits of using standard parts and its market will grow over the time.

Fiber laser cutting machine

Shailesh Mehta, Director, Mehta Cad Cam Systems Pvt Ltd, says, “As you know that laser cutting is already very popular in metal forming industries for sheet metal cutting since many years and all the people who are old in this industries have very expensive CO2 laser cutting machines from big brands and they are still not adopting low cost fiber laser technology.”

Mehta informs, “Many new players are buying our manufactured fiber laser cutting machine and entering into metal forming industries. So we would say that this industry is getting expanding but in coming time it will increase in multiple forces.”

The `Make in India’ campaign

Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd, says, “Indian metal forming sector is rapidly hiking towards the peak since last few years gaining new height. Amidst the favourable conditions started making way for metal forming tool industry, Indian government gave the progress much needed momentum by ‘Make in India’ initiative. What the campaign has been essentially doing is distributing the progress in more balancing way. Prior to the aforementioned program, the metal shaping sector was facing the inharmonious growth and the gap amongst the high performing sections and low performing sections were tremendously high, so in larger picture it used to hamper the growth of entire sector.”

Patel informs, “The focus of ‘Make in India’ campaign is going to be the proliferation of small to medium size industries and that involves substantial amount of segments and sub segments of the metal forming industry. It reflects that, the drive is all set to revolutionise the face of all the Indian industry as, the government has determined to  transform the ecosystem across the industry right from small extending to big enterprises.”

Financing – One major attribute that drives the adoption rate

Pradeep Patil, Managing Director, TRUMPF India (P) Ltd, says, “The environment is getting conducive for the manufacturing segment in India to adopt innovative technology.”

He adds, “While even today majority customers are investing in the ‘entry’ level technology we do see some established manufacturers exploring the high end solutions and choices for scaling the investments to meet needs of tomorrow.”

Patil informs, “Financing is one major attribute that drives the adoption rate for our customers and making appropriate financing schemes to encourage the manufacturers at competitive rate of interest should be the corner stone in rate of maturity.”

Technology trends that will drive the metal forming machines demand

Greater use of aluminium

Dr. Laxminarayan.K, from DesignTech, says, “Current prediction is that in the next 3 years there will be greater use of aluminium and composites with almost no steel in metal forming machines. This trend is particularly noticeable in the automotive and aerospace industries, where light-weighting; efficiency and enhanced functionality are demanded by end users. This is because of the increasing demand for environment-friendly vehicles requiring reduced fuel consumption and weight.”

Many analyses have also shown that further significant weight reduction can be achieved in automobiles and aerospace using fibre-reinforced composite materials. Carbon-fibre reinforced polyamide seems to be particularly suitable for this purpose: it satisfies the requirements of production in large series together with good mechanical strength and shape stability.

3D Printing

One of the latest ranges in the products development technologies arena is 3D Printing. It has radically transformed the way products are built. Metal 3D Printing is also fast picking up and has huge applications in the fields like tooling, dental labs and research areas. It is ideal for producing or developing small batch of customised products. Metal forming industry on the other hand works on the volume business. E.g. Sheet metal components for cars are manufactured in large numbers. Hence these technologies are non-competing but in fact are complementary. Metal 3D Printing can in some cases replace CNC machining requirement but not forming.

Product design analysis and simulation solutions

The CAE technologies, such as product design analysis and simulation solutions would be the next big technological trend that is already fast catching on in the metal forming industry. These technologies help companies evaluate product performance and undertake necessary corrective measures such as change in material, design change, process change that would effect in enhancing the overall product quality. He opines, “CAE solutions allows companies to conduct various analysis and tests including structural analysis of the metal components, crash and impact tests for the sheet metal of the cars, durability and strength tests, and many more.”

Not single, but many aspects will drive the demand

Nanivadekar from FIBRO India, feels it’s not anyone technology trend that will drive the demand for metal forming machines. But the combined effect of many aspects will drive the demand. To name few – drive for ‘Make in India’, developing India as manufacturing hub, domestic demand for automobiles etc.

He explains, “These aspects in turn depend upon many factors such as government industrial policies, development of Infrastructure such as transportation by roads, sea and air, improving skills of the people and improving the availability of skilled manpower, improving ‘ease of doing business’, etc. Therefore, it is long way to go. But certainly, now we are on the right path.”

Fiber laser cutting technology

Mehta from Mehta Cad Cam says, “Of course for sheet metal cutting fiber laser technology has taken over CO2 technology and CO2 laser technology is losing its presence in these industries. There is a complete market for fiber laser cutting technology. 1.5 kw and 2 kw fiber laser cutting machine will get more popular to cut thick material and to cut thin material at a high speed.”

He  informs, “Now our company have adopted world class plasma source ‘Kjellberg’ Germany through which one can get better quantity of thick sheet cutting with low cost plasma cutting machine and we believe that the market for plasma cutting machine will also increase a lot in this coming time.”

Productivity, sustainability and safety with security

According to Patil from TRUMPF India, The demand for machines is depended on 3 major parameters, productivity, sustainability (energy efficiency is viewed as one major sustainability parameter) and safety with security.

He adds, “More often we see for the manufacturers, productivity and sustainability are prime focus area.”

While innovative technology in basic design itself will continue to be critical, it is digitisation readiness which will be immediate need for the manufacturers to maintain their competitive edge in global market thus digital readiness will be critical for growth in coming years.

 

 

Current prediction is that in the next 3 years there will be greater use of aluminium and composites with almost no steel in metal forming machines.

Dr. Laxminarayan.K, Regional Manager Technical, DesignTech Systems Ltd

 

Increase in awareness is very much essential to uplift the metal forming industry to next level.

Sameer Kelkar, CEO and R&D Head, Grind Master Machines Pvt Ltd

 

Not anyone technology trend that will drive the demand for metal forming machines. But the combined effect of many aspects will drive the demand.

Vivek Nanivadekar, Executive Director, FIBRO India Precision Products Pvt Ltd

 

A complete market for fiber laser cutting technology. 1.5 kw and 2 kw fiber laser cutting machine will get more popular to cut thick material and to cut thin material at a high speed.

Shailesh Mehta, Director, Mehta Cad Cam Systems Pvt Ltd

 

The demand for machines is depended on 3 major parameters, productivity, sustainability and safety with security.

Pradeep Patil, Managing Director, TRUMPF India (P) Ltd

 

The focus of ‘Make in India’ campaign is going to be the proliferation of small to medium size industries and that involves substantial amount of segments and sub segments of the metal forming industry.

Maulik Patel, Executive Director, Sahajanand Laser Technology Ltd

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