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3Dexter : Pioneers in 3D Printing Connects the Dots with Education Sector

At present, 3Dexter currently provides an all-round package to schools consisting of 2 to 3 printers, spool (bio-degradable raw material), trained teachers, 3D pens and lesson plans according to the client’s preference.

Beginning with a seed investment from home company Smapsters, 3Dexter printing jacks have climbed up the ladder to reach schools in Delhi/NCR with fresh investment of 1 Crore.

BW Disrupts brings to you the journey of 7 innovative friends to a crew of entrepreneurs who want to transform the education sector with 3D printing technology.

Correspondent Soumya Gupta in conversation with the core team of 3Dexter.

About the startup

3Dexter is a 3D printing startup which was incorporated in July 2015. Based in Delhi, it began its journey with bootstrapping from its earlier startup ‘Smapsters’ which is an adventure travel company.

This brand has slowly entered the education domain in the capital and opened its doors for all those who wish to adapt to a futuristic technology. 3Dexter currently is a pioneer in the domain of operating and training school students and synching printers with the academic curriculum. Other competitors have been operating either in the retail or in the industrial sector.

After our successful operations at Maxfort, Dwarka, a lot of other schools have also shown an interest in receiving a 3D printer setup for their respective schools. Since, this technology is something which has already been a hit abroad, a need adapting it here in India is also felt.

The effect of this is already seen with students building innovative products in the 2-3rd year of engineering. 3D printing helps translate ideas and designs into reality quicker. However, at the primary school level, 3D printing technology is just gaining recognition.

There are a handful of schools that have invested in this, mainly because they are yet to understand the overall scope of such technology. But it is important to realize that today’s students are learning more complicated subjects than the earlier generations.

Genesis of the Idea

The technology is relatively new to the Indian market but not to the regular technological consumers. It might come across as a lesser known fact but 3D printing technology allows you to create whatever you like.

All major industries have begun taking up projects internationally of manufacturing and designing products using 3D printing technology in sectors such as architecture, manufacturing, space and automobiles.

Right from prosthetic human organs to buildings, from selfies to modeling automobiles, all it needs is some spool material and a little training. Such a technology is of immense importance to children of today, as it promotes creativity, problem solving and logical reasoning.

“The reason why this technology gained our attention was its ability to transform the education sector and the way education is being delivered. Our aim is to take it to almost 500 schools by the end of 2018,” says Shantanu Kwatra, Business Head at 3Dexter.

About the founders

Nikunj Singhal- Operations Director at 3Dexter, B.Com (Hons.)

Parth Batra- Operations Director and Web Developer at 3Dexter, previously intern at Shack Co., (Computer Science)

Raghav Sareen- Product Development Director at 3Dexter, B.Tech (Computer Science)

Smarth Vasdev- Product Development Director at 3Dexter, previously interned at Air India, B.Tech (EEE)

Shantanu Kwatra- Business Development Head at 3Dexter, previously intern at GOjava, B.Tech (IT)

Raunak Singhi- Marketing Chief at 3Dexter, previously at Times of India, B.Com (Hons.) graduate.

Naman Singhal- Finance Director at 3Dexter, previously intern at Kotak Mahindra Bank, B.A. Business Economics.

The Interaction

An ambitious lot of seven founding members, who knew each other from school, decided to take a leap of faith and invest in a startup. They found 3D printing to be a fresh-farm patch in India which is gradually picking up as one of the hottest business in the present.

3D printing is not something to be confused with printing words on paper. It is a catchy phrase which is commonly used to describe additive manufacturing. Meaning that developing a product is made easy for everyone. Anyone can design a product by depositing thin layers of a material using squirts of material in liquid form. A product design can be achieved via Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software.

Belonging from science and commerce background, they understand the nuances of hiring, extracting raw material, tying up with suppliers and acquiring clients.

The Product Development team at 3Dexter has been investing a lot of time and effort in creating a leaning structure based on the ‘Design Thinking’ approach.

What does 3Dexter do?

At present, 3Dexter currently provides an all-round package to schools consisting of 2 to 3 printers, spool (bio-degradable raw material), trained teachers, 3D pens and lesson plans according to the client’s preference.

The startup has always aimed to synchronize the 3D printing course with classroom subjects an enriching experience for the users. People from the education sector have found the technology of great use for the science students and to comprehend complex concepts in Geography, history, psychology as well.

“If students can get a hands on experience on models and learn about heart, jaw structure and every other concept in books, there is nothing like it,” says Alfred – trainer at 3Dexter.

The team has been working on the concept of 3D labs and focusing on subject integration for almost 6 months now. Considering the fact that the student shouldn’t be burdened with learning a novel technology, it should ease the burden he already has.

The Product

Through 3D printing technology, it is possible to create unlimited computerized models, with as many changes, till the right product is arrived at without necessarily creating them physically; thereby improving efficiency, saving time and cutting expenses. Far more efficient than traditional modelling methods, the cutting-edge technology complements traditional manufacturing methods by adding value to the product development phase of many industries.

“The operations team has been mentoring participating students in partner schools and has been working extensively on advanced learner’s machine and electronic prototypes”, says Parth Batra, chief executive operations.

To this Nikunj Singhal added, “Even the trainers we provide for schools, get hands on training on the printers. They learn the handling of toolkits and the art of inducing challenges, to outset the minds of students and re-iterate their creations”.

For example, in automobiles product development, a part that costs Rs.40,000 using traditional modelling methods will cost only about Rs.1,000 with 3D printing modelling methods. It leaves immense room for learning through trial and error method without adding much on cost.

On the funding front

As far as funding and investment is concerned, 3Dexter recently closed a deal of Rs. 1 crore with EduLift who have been working PAN India, in the education sector. Their contribution has helped us gain momentum with operations and complete contracts with the initial 5-15 clients.

In terms of product manufacturing, 3Dexter now engineers their own 3D printers under their brand name. Though these printers are not yet sold on retail outlets but soon the technology will become affordable enough for home use too. Right now each product costs Rs. 1.5 lakh each.

Highlights in the past 1 year

o Conducted workshops in 20 schools with a student base of 3000 per school.
o Started operations in Maxfort School, Dwarka with a student base of 335 for trial period of 5 months
o Already operating in 5 schools in the Delhi/NCR region
o 7 more schools in the pipeline to adopt this technology.
o An online portal started for students where they can login and access video lectures, research objectives and other curriculum related information.

Marketing 3Dexter and the Challenges faced

Designing and marketing a product of unique value among every other STEM educational product in the market hasn’t been a cake walk for the marketing team. Due to 3D printing being a fairly new technology for India, they have been facing a lot of questions.

Since, there is lack of awareness about it, it is quite a task to make a customer understand its utility and also generate goodwill or guarantee in his mind.

“We knew that convincing people might be a challenge but we decided for this startup, the time is now. Our biggest strength has been our deep trust in each other.” says Raunak Singhi, Marketing Head at 3Dexter.

Simultaneously, the company has been securing coverage in multiple economic dailies due to their unique product. Also, very recently the firm has formulated a distributor model for vendors with footprints southern and western schools for the maximum outreach of their product.

Future Plans

“We would be content only when we establish a greater clientele throughout states. Especially, cities like Ahemadabad, Vododra, Chennai, Bangalore and Kolkata are next on our list,” says Parth Batra, Operations Director at the firm.

Post capturing schools out in Delhi they also plan to target the industrial market and produce customized 3D printers. Growth in retail selling might come at a later stage as the printers for home-use need to be low-cost and user-friendly. Nevertheless, with continuous innovation coming in, this disruptive technology is expected to reach each individual.

Soon after, when it gains enough recognition like the interactive smart-class technology, its adoption rate at schools and others will grow at a higher rate. Till now, 3Dexter has been receiving a good feedback from students and teacher alike. Educators have communicated that a futuristic technology like 3D printing can enhance the process of academic enhancement.

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India Startups 3Dexter 3d printing

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