Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Manufacturing, Multiple Sectors Date: September 2017

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Opportunities for Wisconsin companies in sectors including aviation, automotive, energy, health and medical

The manufacturing sector is a critical component of the Canadian economy, contributing $610 billion to the country's GDP. Trends that are currently affecting the manufacturing sector include biomimicry, robotics, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT) and additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, has the capacity to make complex parts and speed up the manufacturing process using various types of additives such as metals, polymers, ceramics, electronics and biomaterials.

The additive manufacturing industry represents a $76 billion opportunity for various sectors such as power, aviation, transportation, oil and gas, health care, medical and automotive. Additive manufacturing allows for better, lighter and cheaper parts and systems, performance improvements, more complex functions, and a more durable and longer life. There are five levels of complexity within additive manufacturing, with levels one to three being extremely relevant right now:

  • Level 0: jigs/tooling and fixtures
  • Level 1: components, found in luxury goods components
  • Level 2: subsystems/system level, found in automotive components
  • Level 3: functional integration, found in medical and dental components
  • Level 4: advanced functional integration, found in aerospace components

To take advantage of the additive manufacturing/3D printing industry, companies can enter the market in various sectors including:

  1. Tooling and fixtures
  2. Prototypes
  3. Direct parts

Other areas to enter the additive manufacturing industry include:

  1. Consumables: build plates, glass and polymer substrates
  2. Materials: metal powders, filaments, UV curable materials, polymer pellets and packaging
  3. Services: reverse engineering, software consulting, heat treating, hot isostatic pressing, machining and surface finishing

The manufacturing industry will continue to identify what can be combined to eliminate errors, improve performance and reduce costs.