Oct 23, 2015 | By Benedict

Earlier today we reported that Belgian 3D printing behemoth Materialise has been offering its range of 3D imaging and modelling services to the Indian healthcare market. However, when it comes to additive manufacturing, India isn’t all about importing foreign expertise. DF3D, a Bengaluru-based startup launched in February 2014 by Deepak Raj, has been on a whirlwind journey the past year and a half, receiving funding from an unlikely source.

DF3D first started gathering interest when it was part of TechSparks 2014: India’s Largest Entrepreneurship Summit. Back then, the young company operated under a business-to-customer model, but things quickly changed. Raj, who has 22 years of experience in software and sales, including a stint at GE, soon realised that the real revenue was to be found with a business-to-business model.

“There are at least 25 players in India in 3D printing, concentrating more on production and mechatronics. We wanted to concentrate on designing and software for making prototypes and customised products,” explains Raj. The company received no external funding at first, but the move to business-to-business meant that it was soon generating enough revenue to support itself.

Deepak Raj (above) and the team. Images from DF3D.

With business going smoothly, the company launched Osteo3d, a medical subdivision of the company specialising in the development and production of 3D printed surgical models, to assist in the pre-operative planning stage of complex surgeries. Perhaps noticing that the work being done by Materialise and other international firms could be done just as well by an Indian company, the Indian government started to take notice of Osteo3d, and in March 2015 the Department of Biotechnology sanctioned a grant of Rs.50 lakh (around $77,000) to DF3D.

To date, Osteo3d has worked on 38 medical cases, in cranial, orthopaedic, and maxillofacial surgical procedures. One particular service that Osteo3d can offer surgical teams is the 3D printing of components for the surgical fixing of jaw bones, in which an exact piece is designed and printed, before placed in position by a member of the surgical team. More recently, surgeons of the Sakra Hospital in Bangalore, India used a 3D printed model for a surgical procedure to correct orbital hypertelorism using both a box osteotomy as well as a facial bipartition technique with the aid of Osteo3D.

Raj is keen to emphasise the value offered by his company, and says that while many 3D printed surgical products are on the market for around Rs.1,20,000 ($1,850), Osteo3d can produce a product of comparable quality for a quarter of the price. The company are even planning to reduce their prices further.

Raj has billed Osteo3d as the first e-commerce marketplace for skulls and bones. “Based on live patient data, how will you get a skull for a particular defect? We have 150 different models for this,” he explains. Osteo3d provide a range of products and services to assist in correctional surgery for skull deformations, such as 3D printed helmets which exerts pressure in certain parts of the skull to encourage correct growth.

Osteo3d is able to keep overheads at a minimum by working primarily with digital files, only sending them to print at the location where the 3D printed object is required. “Products get manufactured after you place the order; hence there is no need for an inventory. In that sense, 3D printing is a threat to courier companies. Even for orders from US, we send them the design, they manufacture it in US itself,” explains Raj.

DF3D launched its own app, Extrud3it, three months ago. The app is able to give clients a quote for their desired product or service, which the company claim is the first of its kind in the 3D printing world. DF3D currently has eight members of staff and customers all over the world.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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