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Mahindra Advances Pilot Project to Bring Distributed Manufacturing to Rural India

From solar lamps and water jugs and even prosthetic limbs, 3D printing has the potential to drive positive change in the lives of people everywhere, offering the advantage of low-cost, proximate manufacturing. The Mahindra Group designed and implemented a pilot project to bring its benefits to semi-urban and rural India. That project is now showing promising results, especially in manufacturing of automotive parts, as recently disclosed by Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group to the The Hindu BusinessLine.

“We are running experiments in additive manufacturing. It’s confidential so I cannot disclose much details, but… we are trying to see… how we can do this in rural areas,” Mr. Mahindra said. “Experiments to make components is not a big deal… The challenge is to decentralize it. What is the model one can use for setting up a cottage industry in the villages?” he added.

The project envisages placing 3D printers in a semi-urban / rural setting to enable learning, innovation and potential creation of additional employment opportunities. The Group has thus, presented the B.M. Pawar School in Chakan with 3D printers and has also developed a comprehensive programme to enable students and teachers to realise the true potential of this technology.

“We see 3D printing as the future of technology and a potent tool to help bridge the tech divide between urban and rural India. Through this project, we seek to inspire young minds to think creatively and open up a whole new world of possibilites for themselves and their community. While this is still a proof of concept, we hope it will ultimately reach more schools and offer potential employment opportunities in design and prototyping,” said Ulhas Yargop, Group President (IT Sector) & Group Chief Technology Officer, Mahindra Group.

As part of this initiative, two teachers from the school have been trained in 3D printing technology, enabling them to teach Std. XI students – who range in age from 15 to 18 years – in the school. The three-month certified course will see the students gain proficiency in 3D printing, the design process and ideation. They will also benefit from the expertise of eminent guest faculty including Dr. S. Venugopal from Mahindra Research Valley, Mahindra’s R&D centre near Chennai as well as professors from IIT Madras and NID. This will result in the creation of an eco-system which will enable experimentation and creativity while providing the students with the basic skills required to use this technology to its full potential.

Students will also be encouraged to create prototypes of their ideas and develop a mind-set conducive to design, innovation and computational thinking. The project will culminate in a Design Challenge where students will be encouraged to showcase their work.

3D printers have been adopted as a common tool for prototyping and are in use by several design agencies, engineering firms and research institutions. However, developing economies can also harness the potential of this affordable and possibly life-saving technology to help them leapfrog highly capital intensive manufacturing.

The Mahindra Group focuses on enabling people to rise through solutions that power mobility, drive rural prosperity, enhance urban lifestyles and increase business efficiency. A USD 17.8 billion multinational group based in Mumbai, India, Mahindra provides employment opportunities to over 200,000 people in over 100 countries. Mahindra operates in the key industries that drive economic growth, enjoying a leadership position in tractors, utility vehicles, information technology, financial services and vacation ownership. In addition, Mahindra enjoys a strong presence in the agribusiness, aerospace, components,consulting services, defence, energy, industrial equipment, logistics, real estate, retail, steel, commercial vehicles and two wheeler industries.

In 2015, Mahindra & Mahindra was recognized as the Best Company for CSR in India in a study by the Economic Times. In 2014, Mahindra featured on the Forbes Global 2000, a comprehensive listing of the world’s largest, most powerful public companies, as measured by revenue, profit, assets and market value. The Mahindra Group also received the Financial Times ‘Boldness in Business’ Award in the ‘Emerging Markets’ category in 2013.

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