As we enter into 2021, Covid-19 remains a daily topic across every corner of the world. The pandemic-laden 2020 upended almost every economic prediction, with global sales, supply chain, and consumer demand all crashing amidst lockdowns.
Today, we look at 2021 and the potential trends that may shape the injection molding sector of manufacturing. Our predictions revolve around the recovery of the economy and the shift to a more eco-friendly material option for part production.
1. Medical Injection Molding Will Climb
Plastic injection molding, along with 3D printing and CNC machining, currently accounts for the vast majority of medical devices and equipment in today’s hospitals. In 2020, the medical and health sector was grossly overburdened by the coronavirus pandemic. From personal protective equipment to testing kits and ventilator parts, a significant chunk of money was spent by the medical industry and its key value players to curtail and treat the virus.
With the vaccine’s announcement, we envision a climb in need of medical equipment and testing kits. Some of this equipment will be made possible by injection molding processes. Apparatuses like catheters, implants, tubing, braces, PPE, prosthetics, and other biocompatible solutions will also be in high demand.
2. Contract Manufacturing and Outsource Services Will Increase
The economic slump of 2020 means that sizeable companies will be looking to cut down on their overheads and fixed costs. One of the ways to achieve this is to outsource manufacturing services. In 2021, we predict an increase in contract manufacturing as it offers many ways to save time and money. Companies like ours provide injection molding, mold creation, 3D printing, rapid prototyping, and on-demand digital services for streamlined and efficient product development.
We believe that 2021 will be a year where many companies will look to smaller manufacturing partners to mitigate risk and lower exposure for new product development in a gradually recovering economy.
3. Reshoring and Local Production
With a new President emerging in the USA and the continuous disruption of global supply chains by the pandemic, many companies have begun to explore regional, local, and reshoring supply and production methods. The high tariffs and trade wars between the USA and China may also continue deep into 2021. We predict a tilt in procurement strategies from offshore and overseas to local geographies. Irrespective of reshoring, some companies will continue to produce in China because of the economics of scale, cost of transferring tooling, or an overall lower production cost. If you currently manufacture offshore or looking for a manufacturing partner and supplier in China, click here to contact us here at Firstpart now.
4. Eco-friendliness and Recyclability
We predict more push for 100 percent plastic recyclability and eco-friendlier practices in the coming year. Since the goal is to trim down on emissions and reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill, injection molding companies will have to seek innovative ways of ensuring that plastic waste can be reprocessed into other useful forms. Starting in 2021, manufacturers will engage clients in exploring how product development can imbibe sustainability, biodegradation, and more recyclability in their raw materials or final product usage.
5. High-performance Plastics
Plastic materials have evolved over the last decade to meet the aerospace, automotive, medical, and engineering sectors’ high-performance needs. In 2021, we predict more emphasis on high-performance resins and engineered thermoplastics. Expect more production with corrosion-resistant, temperature-resistant, low-weight, and high-strength materials.
These materials are excellent for increasing product lifespan and can help reduce fuel/energy consumption in automobiles. High-performance plastics like polypropylene, PVC, and polyurethane are finding more applications in cars, helping to reduce vehicle weight and improve engine efficiency. Other solutions like carbon-based fibers, aramid, and glass-fortified plastics are all going to see improved demand in construction, power, nanotechnology, and mobility uses.
The relatively lower cost of these materials, coupled with their high strength, is certain to drive this trend in 2021 and beyond.