Mahesh Dhoka: Metal 3D Printing in India, Incredible 3D

Mahesh Dhoka. Director, 3D Incredible Medical. “I have done post my bachelors, taxation, and law along with business management. later joined the family business where we are making high purity iron powders and flakes for food , pharma, aerospace and engineering industries exporting to about 30 countries across the world. started 3d Incredible in 2017 with the idea to bring this technology to the masses in India especially with respect to medical applications. so far we have done close to 1400 implants across more than 30 cities in India working and promoting 3d printing with close to 700 surgeons. with respect to engineering, we work with companies across various sectors right from prototyping to small batch production.” Mahesh will be joining us at the upcoming virtual event Healthcare 3D Printing Ecosystem: India.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Mahesh: My first real counter with 3d printing was when I visited London and went to SCIENCE MUSEUM where I saw the 3d printing section which was fascinating and looked like great disruptive technology for the future.

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey?

Mahesh: We have always worked with niche products and technologies in our company and hence 3d printing also fitted that description. The idea started with making powders for 3d printing but later we found that doing 3d printing itself was more exciting. Usually, people start with plastics in 3d printing but we started off directly with metal printing which was more challenging. The idea of making metal parts with 3d printing inspired us as very few in India were doing metal 3d printing. Plastics were pretty much everywhere. We built a state-of-the-art facility here in India.

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey in 3D printing?

Mahesh: I think our inspiration was largely from looking at patients’ benefits with customized 3d printed parts. Giving patients a solution that no other technology could give and also we could see the awesome results. The first surgeon we met actually told us not to get into the technology as he said easier, quicker, and cheaper options were available. But that kind of negative comment spurred us on to still look further as we believed the technology is truly patient-centric and would be used by every surgeon in the years to come.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Mahesh: I think the biggest motivation for us is one – is one of the pioneers to bring about this technology nationwide in a huge country-like idea with people from different economic strata and take it to the masses with cost benefits. Being one of the leaders to bring this technology to India on a mass scale is really motivating.

Jenny: What is/are the biggest obstacle(s) in your line of work?

Mahesh: The biggest obstacles are costs of 3d printing, reaching out across a large country like India which is a huge task with costs, meeting, and convincing surgeons, and most importantly design skills where we combine engineering with anatomy understanding such that we can understand the surgeons.  So costs we have been able to bring down by 50% from the time we started by improving the process at every step right from design to dispatch and having better numbers. using expos, seminars, and one on one meetings to reach out to the surgeons, setting and training a marketing team across India, and lastly putting together data of 1400 cases so far for bettering design skills. Keeping funded any start-up also is a huge task.

Jenny: What do you think is (are) the biggest challenge(s) in 3D Printing/bio-printing? What do you think the potential solution(s) is (are)?

Mahesh: Biggest challenges are the cost of software, machines, and powders.  These are problems that will be resolved as there are more players when doing business.

Another major challenge is educating hospitals and surgeons to use this technology as most of them are too busy to find the time to learn and adopt the technology or are happy with the present technology. However, with consistent meetings and case studies, we have been able to find some traction here.

Design skills – where we involve both engineering skills and anatomical skills isn’t easy and in every case many times a surgeon has a different approach. To be able to design something that’s also printable properly needs a good combination of skills.

Lastly, funding a start-up and helping it grow till it becomes cash positive would need a lot of patience and perseverance and of course money.

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 

Mahesh: Good health all around, a more peaceful and healthy world, and a cleaner and greener environment.

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”? What bad advice you heard should they ignore? 

Mahesh: My advice would be to have patience and consistency, spend a lot of time continuous learning and skilling, understand that hard work is an important ingredient for success and work as a team having people skills.

Look at the product or technology and see how you can be different from what’s being offered and if customers would find value in buying or using your services.

Bad advice that they need to ignore is the price is the most important factor in case of any product or service. Also, that education is over once we get the degree, it actually starts as now you will educate yourself in the actual product or service.

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