Not long ago the bells were ringing and the champagne was flowing to ring in the New Year. We’re already days into 2020, and predictions for the year are already being forecasted. We’ve been in the plastic injection molding business for many years, and we’ve seen trends come and go. Not all innovative ideas work out for various reasons, but the industry will continue to evolve with better technology, global economic conditions, and material specifications. These are the 4 trends we see for the plastic molding industry in 2020:
There’s no doubt that somewhere in 2019 you heard about how much trash is continually going to landfills, and that recycling was becoming more of a topic of conversation and discussion. Recycling in the past has been thought of something you only do with plastic bottles and cardboard, but headed into 2020 you’ll see a focus on every material in injection molding and turnkey assembly being pushed to a goal of 100% recyclable. Recycling has become its own industry, and there are now consulting experts that can offer solutions for businesses on how they can increase their operational recycling options, how to change their materials to add more recycling options, and change their clients view of recycling in the products they purchase. It’s not just an injection molding evolution, but it will certainly continue to drive the molding industry to challenge and change as it moves forward in 2020.
Better Automation through Software & Technology
Injection molding has been around for almost 150 years, and in that time has seen the rules rewritten of what was possible. Many products started as an expensive experiment to understand where the boundaries of the molding industry were, but the 1940s and World War II drove innovation to produce inexpensive and quickly made parts. In 2020 you can expect that to continue with better automation thanks to better software and technology. Analysis software to design and verify plastic flow through an injection mold will continue to increase accuracy and require less testing and refinement before it can be moved into production.
Continued globalization will start to make plastic packaging more common in 2020. Single use cardboard and plastic will be changed for molded packaging that can be reused over and over, and when it is time to replace it, recycling will be a viable option instead of a landfill. You can expect packaging to also decrease in thickness while retaining its strength because of better-engineered materials. Thinner packaging will also cost less, and decrease the overall cost of products.
Speaking of packaging… The plastics industry is changing. Bio-plastics are expected to grow to over 20% of the overall market largely driven by changes to packaging material. Although there are plenty of other applications using injection molding such as agricultural, biomedical, structural, electrical and other consumer products. Bio-plastics are made wholly or in part from renewable biomass material like corn or sugarcane. Bio-plastics made from these renewable resources can be naturally recycled through biological decomposition.
High Performance Materials
Material selection in 2020 will become more difficult as high-performance materials will be more plentiful. Over the last decade, engineered resins have made lighter and stronger injection molded products possible, and that will continue into the next decade. The aerospace industry saw a large surge from composites and exotic metals in the last decade, and those material choices will move from exotic materials to engineered resins that can function the same, be of comparable weight, and cost less than ever before. The military industry will continue to see engineered resins selected to replace traditional metal components as their durability are proven in the harshest environments known to man. The medical industry will also follow suit, choosing engineered resins for lightweight components and products, and the added bonuses of low cost and corrosion resistance in cleanroom environments.
Over the last decade, resins have continually been refined and optimized for specific tasks and products that tailor their use to the benefit of each industry. The focus has been on Green technologies, and engineered resins will continue to be pushed into more extreme environments, into ways to increase recycling options, and new uses that will transition traditional materials to injection-molded applications. If you have a new product that fits into these trends, we’d love to hear about it. SEA-LECT can design and mold your next product from concept to customer delivery. We specialize in turn-key solutions, molding and assembly, and logistics to deliver your products to your customers. Give us a call at (425) 339-0288 or email us at email@example.com. We can offer you advice on the best technology to use, the best materials to meet your product demands, and how to navigate through each development stage with ease.
Matthias Poischbeg was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Matt moved to Everett, Wash., after finishing his bachelor’s degree in business in 1995 to work for Sea-Dog Corporation, a manufacturer, and distributor of marine and rigging hardware established in 1923.
In 1999, Matt took over the reins at Sea-Lect Plastics Corporation, a sister company of Sea-Dog and a manufacturer of plastic injection molded products with an in-house tool & die shop. Matthias Poischbeg is also a contributor to Grit Daily.