There is no doubt that the forecasts and expected trends for 2020 were upended in the first quarter of the year. We’ve been in the plastic injection molding business for nearly 30 years, and our expectations for 2020 didn’t go exactly as planned. We expected recycling to become a big issue, and it did. We thought technology would bring better automation. It also happened, and then some. And lastly we thought materials would continue to evolve, better packaging would be designed for the global market place, and both of those did occur too. We never expected how the global economy and landscape would change from a pandemic that reached every corner of the world. That one may have caught most of us by surprise.
As we inch closer to 2021, COVID-19 is still is a daily topic. It has changed how many of us work, how we shop, and how we bring goods and services to our homes. As a vaccine isn’t available world-wide, we still see 2021 being affected by the pandemic. Many of the future business decisions will be made on what has happened over the last year. We’ve picked five trends that we expect to see in 2021. Some will be a direct result of the pandemic, and others will be based on other global economic changes. These are the five 2021 trends we are expecting for plastic injection molding:
Plastic Injection Molding Will Increase for Medical Devices
There are numerous reasons why the medical industry is replacing metal components and complete equipment with plastic injection molded products. Medical tubing including catheters and syringes, implants, instruments, diagnostic equipment, and braces and prosthetics are just the tip of the iceberg of products that are moving to plastics. Each product offers an opportunity for more regulatory compliance and a global marketplace that can be limited by metals. There are unlimited design options, minimal manufacturing side effects, and plastic offers many options for biocompatibility and recycling. We expect to see more products making the change to plastic injection molding, and more manufacturers offering support to the medical industry. We currently support the industry with 3D printing, rapid prototyping, mold creation, and engineering design. We expect that to increase beyond the estimated growth rate of 6.5% over the next 10 years.
Increase in Contract Manufacturing
Contract manufacturing has become a very popular option for many manufacturers. It can save time and money for a product to have a specialized partner do a portion of the work to bring a new product. Some choose to have a contract partner do all of the work concerning manufacturing, then they just have to market and sell their product. SEA-LECT Plastics offers integrated design and rapid prototyping, streamlined production trials, and cost-effective turn-key production manufacturing processes. We believe that contract manufacturing, whether partial or complete product development and manufacturing, will increase in 2021 as small companies can offer more nimble operating conditions in an evolving market.
The pandemic that started in early 2020 showed the weaknesses in the global logistics and just how many industries took advantage of trade options outside of the united States over the last decade. Many of the low cost options for offshore manufacturing and shipping were stopped due to COVID-19, and it started a change for more companies to reshore their tooling and manufacturing. With a new presidential term starting in January 2021, don’t expect the trade war with the Asian-Pacific region of the globe to end. Companies that are bringing their manufacturing back inside the United States will continue to do so. More will find that their tooling is not going to be brought back to the U.S. easily. They may need a recovery service to offer support in retrieving their tools, inspecting the tools, and getting them back in service as soon as possible. We offer that option for companies that need help.
An Increased Focus on Sustainability
Sustainability and how it affects the climate is a big topic that will continue and grow into 2021. The goal is to cut emissions and decrease waste heading to landfills. Recycling will continue into 2021 trends as a huge focus to push for a goal of 100% recyclability. 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. Product development will add a focus on sustainability, biodegradation, and bioplastics.
Technology Shifting Behavior
How many businesses had to shift their employee work schedule, where they worked from, or completely had to close because of social distancing rules being enacted? Many businesses have found that they could keep working by changing their habits and adding in technology. There are now software packages that allow remote monitoring of operations any day of the week and any time of the day. We can work from home and still conduct virtual meetings. The technology that has allowed ordering and delivery of almost every product available will continue into 2021. Consumer buying trends shifted, and manufacturing operations have followed suit to keep up. That won’t change in 2021.
The focus on Green technologies and engineered resins will continue to be pushed into more extreme environments, into ways to increase sustainable options, and new uses that will transform products with injection-molded applications. If you have a new product that fits into these coming 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.