3-D printing hits Mexico's Plastimagen conference

14 March 2013 02:34  [Source: ICIS news]

MEXICO CITY (ICIS)--A distributor of 3-D printers made his debut at Mexico's Plastimagen plastics show, with the goal of introducing additive manufacturing to Latin America, he said on Wednesday.

The distributor, Baumann & Compania, started its operations in Mexico this year, and the company attended its first trade show in the country a couple of weeks ago, said Oliver Baumann, president. Plastimagen is only the second show for the company.

"3-D printing is relatively unknown in Mexico," Baumann said. "We are really starting to build a generation of users."

Despite the novelty, the printers have attracted a lot of attention at Plastimagen, he said. "When they see the machines going, the creativity starts flowing."

Visitors at Baumann's booth have talked about making jewellery and architectural models of buildings, he said.

Baumann has also received interest from dental surgeons, he said. For some procedures, the surgeons need to make guides to help them drill at the proper angle and depth.

These guides are made specifically for a patient, he said. Once used, the guides are no longer needed.

This type of one-off use is ideal for 3-D printing, since the method is a low-cost way to produce unique items.

Baumann had three printers making objects at his booth at Plastimagen. He distributes UP! printers made by China-based Delta Micro Factory.

The printers can use acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS) and polylactic acid (PLA), a renewable plastic, Baumann said. The company is testing nylon and a wood filament.

The objects made from the wood material feel like wood, Baumann said. When the objects are being printed, they smell like wood.

Baumann also had samples of what the printers could actually make. There was a cathedral, a skull, a hand, a lighthouse and a Volkswagen bus.

Baumann chose Mexico to distribute the machines because it is accessible from the US and it is the second largest economy in Latin America, he said. The largest economy, Brazil, is too costly for a start-up company.

The printers also have great potential among the smaller countries in Latin America, he said.

The markets in these countries are often too small to support traditional manufacturing, Baumann said. The economies of scale are too small to justify the cost of a mould.

As a result, these markets rely on imports, and consumers pay higher prices as a result, Baumann said.

3-D printing eliminates the expense of moulds, making micro-fabrication possible, he said.

Smaller markets could rely on domestically made products tailored to the needs and preferences of the consumers – and at a lower cost.

Plastimagen ends on 15 March.

By: Al Greenwood
+1 713 525 2645

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