Maker culture back in focus
Hyderabad: The maker culture is getting pronounced in Hyderabad with Government, institutions and startups working to put manufacturing in the driver's seat. They are setting up prototyping centres that allow design and development of products by trial and error method.
After T-Works, the Telangana Government's arm working to create a culture of hobbyists, makers and innovators, city-based International Institute of Information Technology- Hyderabad (IIIT-H) has recently opened a maker's lab. According to Ramesh Loganathan, Professor, Co-Innovation at IIIT-H, the dedicated mechanical and digital prototyping facility has been set up with support from the Department of Science & Technology under the Nidhi-Prayas Programme, which aims to support young entrepreneurs with grants to address the gap in the early stage idea/ proof of concept funding.
Prakash Yalla, Head, Technology Transfer Office and Product Labs, the new maker's lab is an extension to the Product Lab, which basically focuses on software products. The new lab has facilities to churn out wood-based, glass-based and acrylic-based prototypes. There is also a laser welding machine which finds a use on jewellery design as well.
Several power tools apart, the lab also has 3D printing facilities with four printers including an SLS 3D printer- currently the only one in South India. There is also a PCB printer for those into making circuit. In addition, it has a bio-printer, a high precision laser cutting machine.
Currently, eight start-ups are selected under the Nidhi Praya grant. The products in the making include an automatic meal maker, drones for mosquito eradication in lakes and land surveying, bots that can navigate underwater to clean the pool, a robotic system for solar panel cleaning, an affordable light-weight electric bike, an automated CPR device and a healthcare device with integrated games for rehabilitation.
According to Loganathan, the programme minimises the risk of failure and cost to the entrepreneurs. These are among the key deterrents for entrepreneurs while in initial stages of product development. Start-ups and innovators, under the grant, can bring in the required materials and use the facility at no further cost. Any tech-based start-up in need of hardware prototype can apply for the grant. Other incubated start-ups at the institute can use the equipment on rent for building prototypes.
T-Works is readying its new facility at Raidurg near Gachibowli with an outlay of Rs 70 crore. The new building is ready and machine installations will be ready in about five months.
According to Sujai Karampuri, Managing Director of T-Works, it already has facilities for wood working, welding, sheet metal machining, PCB fabrication, pottery, finish shop, 3D printing and e-workstations. It gives startups the required equipment, software, advise, expertise, market access, funding and do hand-holding.
Makershive, a Hyderabad-based startup, too has set up facilities for prototyping. It has a 32 printer for rapid prototyping. It als has a thermal imager to detect thermal radiation from devices, a dynamic balance for drone applications, a 3D scanner for volumetric capture and several power tools for grinding and drilling, according to G Chanakya, its Chief Technology Officer.
"Many of the Government schemes are in favour of services and manufacturing is taking back side. Creating common faciltiies will go a long way in aiding manufacturing sector make a comeback," said K Rama Devi, President, Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of India.