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Market insight: Injection moulding plastics market set to double in size in 10 years

Injection moulding is one of the most common manufacturing processes and generally involves creating a mould and injecting a molten material into it. That material then cools down and takes the form of the cavity inside the mould. 

The materials used in injection moulding can vary from plastics to metals, and even newer, modern composites. But mostly injection moulding used to make plastic parts and components.

Among the advantages of injection moulding is that it can be used for mass manufacturing and low-volume manufacturing, and for rapid prototyping.

Also, a crucial advantage is the quality of finish – you don’t get the roughness that you might get with 3D printing, where the depositing of successive layers creates a ripple or uneven effect. 

There are ways to mitigate the unevenness of 3D printing through additional finishing processes, but for now, injection moulding tends to offer a higher-quality product from the beginning.

And injection moulding has advanced quite a way, to the extent that some auto manufacturers are considering making vehicle body parts using the technique.

One of the main advantages of this would be that the automaker can possibly eliminate the need to paint the body part at a later stage, a process which is relatively complex and expensive.

But that’s to do with injection moulding using metals as the molten metals.

In this article, we are taking a quick look at the injection moulding plastics market, based on the findings of Grand View Research.

According to GVR, the injection moulded plastics market was worth around $284 billion in 2016, meaning that’s how much revenue the leading injection moulding companies generated in that year.

Increasing demand for plastic components was observed in various industries, including:

  • packaging;
  • automotive;
  • electrical;
  • electronics;
  • home appliances; and
  • medical devices.

The majority of the plastics were made from petrochemical raw materials such as:

  • benzene;
  • ethylene;
  • propylene; and
  • styrene.

However, GVR notes that the growth of the injection moulding plastics market may be hindered as result of growing environmental concerns regarding plastics disposal, as well as fluctuating prices for the raw materials.

As well as the major economies such as the US and those in Europe, among the countries GVR expects to drive new growth are China, India, Mexico, Russia, and South Africa – mainly because of the growing spending on construction in those countries.

The packaging sector is expected to remain the biggest customer for injection moulded plastics, but automotive manufacturers who want to reduce the weight of their vehicles are also increasingly switching to plastics instead of metals for their components as well.

While auto manufacturers may by partly motivated by making lighter, more energy-efficient cars, they are also being required by some government regulations mandating that they use plastics instead of other materials such as iron and steel.

The largest companies in the injection moulding plastics segment include:

  • BASF
  • Dow Chemical Company
  • DuPont
  • HTI Plastics
  • LyondellBasell
  • Eastman Chemical Company
  • Huntsman
  • Ineos Group
  • Magna International

These are the companies which supply the materials, mainly plastics, which are used in the injection moulding process.

Forecasting ahead, GVR expects the injection moulding plastics market to generate revenues of almost $500 billion by 2025.

That would suggest that the market will double in about 10 years from now.

GVR calculates that the global injection moulded plastics demand was more than 130 million tons in 2016 and is poised to see annual growth of more than 4 per cent from 2017 to 2025.

Demand for injection moulded plastics in the medical sector is expected to rise at a rate of 5 per cent a year during GVR’s forecast period owing to rising consumer healthcare expenditure in countries such as India, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia.

The packaging industry was the leading revenue contributor in 2016, representing close to 31 per cent of the overall market revenue.

Packaging was said to be the leading injection moulded plastics application segment with a net demand of more than 43,385 kilotons in 2016.

Demand for injection moulded polypropylene products is estimated to hold a little over 36 per cent of the overall volume by 2025.

The Asia-Pacific injection moulded plastics market is anticipated to post annual growth of close to 7 per cent in terms of revenue during the forecast period.

GVR says Europe is a major injection moulded plastics market with the total revenue estimated to amount to $122 billion by 2025.

Europe’s non-food and beverages packaging applications include cosmetics and toiletries, pharmaceutical, and household chemicals. Increasing demand for electronic appliances such as laptops and cellular phones particularly in UK, Germany, France, and Germany is poised to drive the demand for injection moulded plastics for consumables and electronics applications.

Sustained automobile production in Germany, UK, and Italy is likely to boost regional demand over the forecast period.