Moulding plastics for growth sectors

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The global injection moulded plastics market is expected to reach US$277.78 billion by 2020, according to a new study by US-headquartered Grand View Research.

Growth sectors pushing demand for plastics

The global demand for injection moulded plastics was 92,312 kilotonnes in 2013 and is expected to reach 130,139.7 kilotonnes by 2020, growing at a CAGR of 5% from 2014 to 2020.

Increasing demand for plastics as a packaging material coupled with the growing packaging industry in Asia is expected to be a key factor driving market demand over the next six years.

Packaging was the largest application segment of the market, accounting for over 3 million tonnes or 30% of plastics demand in 2013. Growing preference is towards plastics as packaging materials, owing to their light weight and better aesthetics.

Packaging finds applications in both consumer packaging and industrial as both flexible and rigid packaging. The demand for packaging is on the rise owing to the improving economic conditions of countries such as India, Brazil, Russia and other Asian countries.

The other sector driving the growth of the market is the automotive market, which is also expected to augment the demand for plastics as a substitute to metal. Automotive and transportation segments are expected to emerge as the fastest growing applications at an estimated CAGR of 5.7% from 2014 to 2020.

Meanwhile, the building and construction segment (doors and sanitary wares) accounted for close to 10% of the market in 2013.

Other applications such as healthcare devices accounted for 14% of the global demand in 2013, says Grand View in its report titled “Global Injection Molded Plastics Market Analysis And Segment Forecasts To 2020”.

Asia in the lead

Other key findings from the study suggest that Asia Pacific was the largest regional market for injection moulded plastics, with a market revenue of US$70.18 billion or 37% of global demand in 2013.

In addition, the region is expected to witness the fastest growth in demand, at an estimated CAGR of 5.4% from 2014 to 2020, owing to its growing automotive and construction industry.

The growing sectors, such as automotive, electronics and construction, in India, China and other parts of Southeast Asia, are expected to be key drivers.

Furthermore, the low labour and raw material cost in the region is expected to augment the growth, in turn boosting the demand for plastics over the forecast period.

North America and Europe accounted for a significant share of the market in 2013 but are expected to lose their market share to Asia owing to the shift in manufacturing activities to other low cost markets. Latin America and Middle East were small markets and together accounted for over 10% of the demand in 2013.

However, volatile crude oil prices coupled with growing environmental concerns are expected to be key issues for the market.

Material usage for moulded parts

The upturn of the packaging and automotive markets is expected to increase the demand for ABS, polypropylene (PP) and HDPE, which accounted for 17% of global demand in 2013 and is expected to grow owing to its increasing use in the packaging industry.

PP was still the highest injection moulded resin, with volume estimated at 32,836.1 kilotonnes or over 34% of global demand in 2013. PP is one of the major resins used in rigid packaging, while ABS use is picking up in the automotive industry, owing to the increased focus on weight reduction in vehicles to attain higher efficiency.

Globally, the cost of resin or raw material accounts for 42% of the total cost incurred for production of injection moulded plastics.

Cost incurred for the process and other costs associated with it accounts for 45% of the total cost and machinery accounts for 13%.

The market is fragmented with key participants that include US materials suppliers like Dow Chemicals, DuPont, Eastman, Huntsman and ExxonMobil Chemical as well as European materials makers like Lyondell Basell, BASF and Sabic among others, according to the research.

Moulding sets a record

With 190,000 caps/hour and 1.5 billion/year, German/Japanese injection moulding machinery supplier Sumitomo (SHI) Demag together with its partners, Total Petrochemicals and Plastisud, says it has set a new world record in the production of HDPE caps with tamper-evident band without post-moulding operations.

Displayed at Chinaplas 2014, the El-Exis SP 420-3000 packaging machine produces 1.3 g HDPE screw caps on a 96-cavity hot-runner mould (29/25 design) with a production cycle of what is said to be 1.9 seconds.

This machine is equipped with a 25:1 L/D ratio barrier screw and has been designed with a special backflow barrier aiming to improve reproducibility.

The fast cycle time results, on one hand, from the combination of optimised mould dynamics by what SHI says is its unique independent hybrid clamp system and optimised injection and plasticising performances.

On the other hand, this achievement has been made possible thanks to the close co-operation between packaging partners, including Total, who has contributed its expertise in polyolefin resins for the caps and closures industry.

Total’s HD6081 (d = 0.960 g/cm³, MI2 = 8 g/10min) is dedicated to still water application and is said to be the “best” HDPE resin capable of achieving fastest

crystallisation, thus reducing demoulding time between shots while giving optimised mechanical parts.

According to Arnaud Nomblot, Business Development Manager Packaging at SHI, “Total’s know-how in the field of materials for caps production has greatly contributed to this success.”

He said that the material provides a vital contribution in terms of production efficiency. “The technical breakthrough was made possible thanks to the excellent flow characteristics of the HD6081 material,” he added.


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