Over the past two years, I frequently exchanged opinions with Guido Palazzo, of INTI (the Argentinian Instituto Nacional de Tecnología Industrial). He is a material scientist and one of the strongest assisters of 3D printing that I know. I finally created up my mind to go to Buenos Aires and, with his assist, visit a few of the 3D printing companies in the area. The initially one on my tour is Replikat, a developer of several FFF versions that has been active on the local market since 2012, with a few 400 machines sold to date.
Other reasons that pushed me to go to Buenos Aires were the fact that I had never been to South America and in addition that I have not long ago had the opportunity to speak with Mariano Pedernera, founder of I3D Revista (the initially Spanish language digital magazine on 3D printing) and organizer of the main Argentinian 3D printing show.
Before getting into my experience with Replikat, I should point out that, actually after a 14-hour flight across an ocean and and two hemispheres, it took me of half a day to fall in love with Buenos Aires in the austral summertime. With effects of both the New World (Americas) and the Old (Spain and Italy), I feel that we have a lot of things in common. Which brings us to the title of this article, an old Italian saying that I modified
into Spanish and quite much translates to “All the World is a town”. It means that actually folks in places that are quite far apart share common habits.
One aspect that one must consider when discussing any type of making business in Argentina is the limit on imports that the previous Kirchner government applied over the past decade or so. Whether this is beneficial, and to whom, is a debate for the ages (all I can say is that many in Europe may wish for a slightly stricter limit on foreign imports, but, of course, that may mean having less choices). One consideration, yet, is that 3D printing, in a way, can make this a moot issue, since you can theoretically source and 3D print 3D printing device parts locally, and the only element that requires to cross borders is the knowledge of how to put them together.
In a way, that is what happened with Santiago Omar Scaine and Pablo S. Gonzalez when they decided to take their experience in the Robotics Department of the Universidad de Palermo (a quite really great part of Buenos Aires) and use it to create their initially Mendel RepRap. As Santiago explained over an Argentinian steak of the fancy restaurant in the new facility they only moved into (additional on that additional down), they “did not get any financing in the startup phase. In the beginning,” he said, “we had to carefully mass equite penny and, with the money we created of selling one 3D printing device, we may buy the parts to make two additional, one step at a time.”
Through its new website and other local and international distribution partners, Replikat now contributes three 3D printing device versions: the Replikat M4 and M5 and the Replikat XY, plus a Replikat Scanner. The printing devices have heated plates and a 23 x 23 x 20 cm create volume, with the M5 starting at 22,900 pesos that translates to of 1,600 US dollars. They manyly print with PLA; yet, one particularly astounding print I saw was a sizeable rocket created in ideal 3D printed nylon. Santiago ascertaind me that it gave them less warping issues than ABS. A new M6 and another enclosed Core XY version are on the way, along with a massive, 2-meter-tall experimental machine.
Assembly, R&D, and administrative operations are may already located in the original office at Parque Industrial Champions in Villa Martelli, an area on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. Guido picked me up and we reached the place by car.
The within of the factory is much like to many other much like developers, with many of the assembly bringing place on a sizeable center table and the R&D in a separate, smaller in size room. Many of the printing device parts are 3D printed, but Replkat is now moving on to internally laser cut and serially maked parts, since the demand onlyifies it. The waiting period for a machine is as low as a week and the team has been expanding consistently.
The limitations on imports are an advantage for the reduced competition of foreign developers, but, at the same time, they represent a difficulty in obtaining parts such as motors and PCB boards at inexpensive
prices. As they scale up production, the solution for Replikat may be to make the PCBs in house and buy only the basic components.
That’s for the reason the team at Replikat does a lot of experimenting and R&D. They created the commercial rotational scanner and created a photogrammetric booth that they use to contribute 3D scanning services to prefer industrial partners. In fact, while the company’s customer base comes with single users, a worthwhile part is created of sizeable government and educational initiatives, as well as specific partnerships with sizeable developers of goods and entertainment.
One such partnership, with a sizeable national TV channel, focuses on the collaborative development of their sizeable format 3D printing device, that has a create volume of 1 x 1 x 2 meters in height. Whilst this is a absorbing prospect, the company is in addition via the quiet summer period to finalize the move to the new facility.
After we finished the tour of the current plant, we moved to the new one, located in the Parque Austral, a scientific, technological, and entrepreneurial facility located in Pilar, of a half-hour drive away. This attractive structure is not effortless for a startup to get into, as the preferion system has quite strict requisites for company stability.
Being part of it is in addition a massive strategic advantage, since the park hosts several other high profile, new companies, which include the Hospital Universitario Austral, one of the country’s most (where the previous president, Cristina Kirchner, was operated on for thyroid cancer in 2012). Replikat may already has an significant agreement in place to collaborate on the medical research front, via its 3D printing devices.
The new plant is housed in a brand new createing, surrounded by lawns and trees. Santiago said that it can only take a few days to set up the new assembly line, that has been accurately planned out for optimal efficiency over the past months. Now the real complex part begins: opening up the market in Argentina and, in addition, in neighboring countries, such as Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, and Salvador.
Alyet they have attained ample coverage of local media for the reason of the many new activities they carried out, which include providing affordable prosthetics, medical versions, and photogrammetric 3D scans of celebrities and actually Christopher Columbus (as in the massive Statue in front of the Casa Rosada), a dedicated business development and marketing/PR team can have to focus specifically on business expansion.
As other companies’ experiences have taught, you can’t only make the market grow, but you require to cater to the actual user requires. For folks to buy a fewthing they have to know why they require it and what they can use it for, here and anywhere else. In this, for certain, “todo el mundo es pais.”