Sebastián Romo
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Additive Manufacturing Opens Door to Solutions: Intelligy 3DLab

By Sofía Garduño | Thu, 07/07/2022 - 15:56

Q: How would you describe Mexico’s adoption of additive manufacturing (AM)?

A: The adoption of this technology in Mexico rapidly accelerated during the past five years. 3D printing involves different levels of technology. The desktop 3D printer, the most basic level, is the most popular in Mexico; about 40 percent of companies in the automotive and engineering sector own one of these. Next are professional machines, preferred by companies that better understand AM. Finally, industrial machines generate high-quality final parts at large volumes. The desktop printer allows users to learn, the professional machine allows companies to find new applications for this technology and the industrial printer allows companies to produce large industrial parts and create value in their business models. Many companies in Mexico know about desktop machines but are in the process of discovering what industrial and professional grade machines can do for them.

OEMs are increasingly using this technology. Almost all OEMs in Mexico own a professional or an industrial machine.

Q: What are Intelligy 3DLab’s strategies to foster the adoption of AM across automotive manufacturing plants?

A: We understand companies’ business models and guide them through the implementation of AM solutions. We recently merged Tridi with Intelligy (3D software and 3D printing machinery company) and we are looking forward to being the most important AM center in Latin America. With this partnership, we will operate as Intelligy 3DLab and cover design, manufacturing and sales. We want to add value to the 3D printing ecosystem.

We are planning an aggressive commercial strategy and aim to have representatives around the country pushing forward applications related to 3D printing. We want to help customers understand how this technology works and how they can take advantage of it. For those that do not need our current machines, we will introduce new technologies for the low-volume, high-speed manufacturing process.

Q: As Mexico is a manufacturing rather than a design hub, in which specific processes can AM be more useful?

A: The technology is being used mainly for jigs and fixtures, helping companies reduce costs and to give their employees the tools to do a better job. We are also seeing more low-volume manufacturing and some specific cases where printed end-use-parts are being used in the final vehicle.

Q: What are the barriers that Mexican companies are facing that keep them from fully adopting AM in the automotive industry?

A: Clearing up misunderstandings about the technology is the largest challenge. Customers are used to low-value printers and when we present them with the capabilities of a high-value 3D printing machine, they don't know about the benefits. We are educating customers and helping them understand how to add value with our complete range of available 3D printing technologies.

Moreover, budgets for prototyping have decreased following the pause in investment in innovation that came after the COVID-19 pandemic. Many companies believe that innovation keeps them moving forward but the financial crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is leading companies to return to old practices. However, this situation has changed in the past months as more customers are becoming interested in our solutions to apply in new areas of the company where savings are needed.

Q: What public strategies have boosted the use of AM?

A: Queretaro invested and opened the Consortium of Additive Manufacturing (CONMAD) and Guanajuato and Mexicali have also deployed strategies to support the technology. There has been public investment in AM but not enough incentives for companies to adopt this technology. US President Joe Biden introduced an initiative to promote the use of AM but Mexico lacks similar incentives. Mexico needs the correct ecosystem to support AM and collaboration with academia must be boosted to ensure that the talent is prepared to work with this technology.

Study programs tackle what is on the market but new technology is rapidly being developed and companies have not caught up. For example, it is expected that by 2030 about 60 percent of a vehicle’s metal parts will be 3D printed. Students need to learn the AM of the future rather than what is out there now.

Q: How is Intelligy 3DLab ensuring its products adhere to quality standards?

A: We always work with certified materials that can be traced back to their origin. We use top technologies and track and monitor every process. Intelligy 3DLab also generates traceability and quality reports. We run the business as what it is, a manufacturing facility, and we treat every part as the final end product.

Q: How is Intelligy 3DLab reducing development and production costs?

A: Our team knows how to optimize production and save costs for our customers. The key to saving costs on 3D printing solutions is to build the parts with a deep understanding of the AM technology.

Q: What factors are influencing the growth of the AM market?

A: The decentralization of products is boosting the market. It is now possible to build any part whenever and wherever. Companies no longer have to wait for parts that are manufactured in China. Also, companies are understanding that with AM you can simplify many processes. With the volumes required by the automotive industry, it probably does not make sense to use AM but in the aerospace sector, this technology can greatly reduce costs. Prototyping and fast development speeds are also helping many design firms.

 

Tridi provides additive manufacturing services and bridge manufacturing for companies in the automotive and aerospace sectors

Sofía Garduño Sofía Garduño Journalist & Industry Analyst