Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Once considered a technology to be used for prototyping, 3D printing is now being used to create end products, and is experiencing rapid growth.
Although 3D printing once seemed like something out of a science fiction novel, it is becoming increasingly mainstream, and is transforming manufacturing in Mexico.
In the beginning, these printers only existed at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and a select few research centers and private companies. The technology was initially considered to be something companies would use to create prototypes and not the final product, but gradually that has changed.
By 2017, companies such as Volkswagen, Ford, General Motors, Nemak, Caterpillar and others had begun to acquire large 3D printing equipment in their Mexico operations, while their subsidiaries in the U.S. and Europe strengthened their plants with additive manufacturing systems in metal, plastic and other materials. By 2018, it was clear that 3D printing was not just for prototyping, but was becoming a mass production technology.
Today, eight out of 10 Mexican engineers recognize the technology (up from two out of 10 seven years ago), but only four have used it.
At present, 3D printing is becoming more widely available outside of major corporations in Mexico. There are currently more than 300 “entry-level” 3D printing centers with inexpensive printers, but which allow the technology to become familiar and to materialize the simple ideas of ordinary people.
Mexico is part of the product design and decision-making processes in the manufacturing processes of many important companies; in the Bajío region alone, the addition of more than 1,500 engineering and product design positions in various industries is expected. Predictions call for growth of Mexico’s 3D printing industry by 30% year-over-year.
Mexico’s market for industrial 3D printers is very dynamic and continues to grow. The five most important companies in the market are:
- GE Additive
- 3D Systems