Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: As Mexico works to increase domestic supply, Wisconsin exporters can help fill the gap.
Mexico lags behind other developed nations in the manufacturing of industrial molds, dies and tooling. According to the Ministry of Economy exporting agency, the size of Mexico’s mold market is estimated at $ 3 billion USD per year as of 2017—slightly less than that of Germany and half of the U.S. market size, placing Mexico in the top five importers of molds and dies globally. The Mexican Association of Mold and Die Manufacturers places a value on the market that is three times higher; this discrepancy may be explained by the fact that the association includes in its estimates not only molds but also dies and tooling.
In either case, Mexico offers tremendous potential for foreign mold manufacturers given the high demand and low domestic production. It is estimated that, as of 2019, Mexico manufactures only 5% of the industrial molds needed to meet domestic demand, which is rising due to continuous expansion of several industrial sectors such as home appliances, consumer electronics, plastics, construction and especially the automotive industry. According to the manufacturers’ association, the total value of the mold industry in Mexico is estimated at $5 billion as of 2019. According to the same source, the total number of companies manufacturing molds in Mexico is estimated at only 250 as of 2019; meanwhile, the U.S. has 8,000 manufacturers, Japan 8,500 and China 40,000.
The reliance of Mexico’s industry on imported molds is considered a missed opportunity for Mexican metal industrialists and a threat to Mexico’s manufacturing industry, yet the industry has only recently begun efforts to correct the balance. The industry association was founded in 2014 with just 63 members in the city of Queretaro (which is the source of 25% of all molds made in Mexico and up to 60% of molds manufactured in Mexico specifically for the automotive industry); and as of 2020, it remains the only association in Mexico created to promote technological and commercial development of molds. As of 2018, the association became the newest member of the International Special Tooling and Machining Association. Another recent effort to promote the development of domestic mold manufacturing came from the Mexican secretary of the economy, who launched the Program to Promote Mold, Die and Tooling Manufacturing (Programa de Impulso de la Manufactura de Moldes, Troqueles y Herramentales) supported by the manufacturers’ association and the Supply Chain Association of Mexico; the program’s goal is to create a national supply chain for molds, dies and tooling in Mexico. Another recent effort comes from the monthly publications Modern Machine Shop Mexico and Plastics Technology Mexico, which launched in February 2018, and a new publication called El Moldero focused solely on domestic mold manufacturing, including a list of manufacturers, suppliers, articles, technological information, case studies and more, supported by the American Moldmaking Technology magazine and website. These developments are expected to yield tangible benefits by the year 2030; meanwhile, opportunities in the market remain strong for Wisconsin exporters.