A Brief History of the Mexican Steel Industry
The Metal Industry in Mexico currently employs 38% of all industry workers, making it among the most important sources of employment in the country. More specifically, the steel industry generates 120,000 direct jobs and 600,000 indirect jobs. The industry has had a continuous growth trajectory as Mexico has expanded its output in response to growing needs of the global market, particularly within the cold rolled sheet market that is frequently used in the automotive industry and in the production of house appliances.
The Rise of the Mexican Steel Industry
In Mexico’s storied history, the use of steel weaponry and armor was a decisive element during the time of the Conquistadors, and the Spaniard’s use of the metal put them at a strategic advantage. The conquistadors and their indigenous allies started forging facilities for the manufacture of nails, chains, and anchors necessary to win the war effort, and their attempts to topple the capital of the Aztec empire. Then, during the Colonial period, the first forges of iron and steel were used to create essential consumer items – things like scissors, knives, farming tools, nails, and weapons. As the technology grew in ubiquity, the lowly smithy soon grew in importance, becoming an integral part of the creation of temples, castles, and houses.
The 19th century was characterized by the large amounts of iron and steel. Plates and platinum as a result made up a majority of the imports. In 1807, blast furnace technology arrived in Mexico in the Guadalupe foundry. In that time, other foundries adapted and renovated their old facilities with new technologies. It wasn’t until 1879, when Don Manuel Corcuera brought machinery manufactured by Siemens of Germany, giving place to the manufacture of the first cogwheels, corrugated rods, and drawn iron in the country.
In the 20th century, ironworks were relieved by major steel companies that were emerging at the rate of economic and industrial development that was being experienced within the country. The most important of these was FUMOSA Company that would drastically modify the way steel was made in the country. Their facilities housed 1,500 workers and they were among the most cutting edge of that time, since they used the steel technology that was being applied in United States, a country that was in full industry boom.
One of the most important steps for the Mexico steel industry was the privatization in the 1990s. This gave the industry the benefit of more consolidated investing which created a more competitive industry in terms of cost and quality.
Since then, the steel industry in Mexico has had major growth, with national production being somewhere between 19 and 20 million tons (source: Cancero). Mexico’s output equals 27.7% of the steel market in Latin America and 1.13% of the steel that is placed in the international market according to Canacero, the Mexican iron and steel industry chamber.
Mexican steel industry and service today
Today Mexico is the world’s eleventh largest steel importer and has reached 14th worldwide as a manufacturer of steel. The steel industry represents 2.2% of the national gross domestic product (GDP) and contributes to 12.9% of the GDP of the manufacturing industry. The investment of the steel industry in the country is approximately $385 million dollars yearly.
List of countries by steel production can be seen here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_steel_production
Mexico’s expanding steel industry
The world is counting on more conscious measures when it comes to our environment. The automotive sector is not excluded from these policies. As a result, the automotive sector has the ultimate goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption. In order to carry out this reduction, new, lighter materials are needed, with the capabilities to fulfill the same mechanical features. Advanced high strength steel (AHSS) is the answer to this call. The main difference between conventional steel and AHSS steels is their microstructure. Conventional steel is a single-phase structured, whereas AHSS is multi-phase. Most types of AHSS have a greater hardening capacity, resulting in greater resistance-ductility properties to conventional steels. Therefore, AHSS is a better fit for today’s environmental challenges.
National Material of Mexico, one of the largest automotive-focused flat rolled processors and distributors in Mexico, has expanded its Monterrey facility by 82,000 sq. ft. (7,700 sq. meters) to add capability for processing advanced high strength steels & aluminum, increase its railcar receiving capabilities, and to create a new headquarters office building. NMM’s recently installed Red Bud 72? (1830mm) wide slitting line with in-line leveling has a thickness range of .012” – .250” is capable of slitting grades up to 250,000 psi (1725 MPa), mainly used in mass reduction engineering designs for parts used in cars and trucks. National Material of Mexico, with its network of seven plants (including joint ventures), has a combined slitting capacity of > 1 million tons and a configured blanking capacity of 300,000 tons.
About National Material L.P. – With more than 3,000 employees from a multinational portfolio of companies, NMLP provides engineered metal products, which include aluminum extrusion and stainless steel rolled product companies, to automotive, aerospace, construction, defense, electrical, and industrial markets.