The U.S. plastic injection press market is pressing forward in 2016.
What’s driving it?
Well, automotive is certainly fueling some of the growth— the industry’s robust U.S. sales of 16 million to 18 million vehicles has powered the overall injection molding machinery business, but especially plastic injection molding, which produces everything from interior door panels to headlight lenses.
In fact, the headlight market, which requires thick-walled lenses, typically poly-carbonate for LED lights, is a particular “bright spot” for plastic injection molders right now.
Many of the new car factories, and suppliers of their plastic parts, have set up shop in the Southeastern United States and Mexico.
The appliance market has seen growth, too, thanks to re-shoring. That’s right: washing machines, refrigerators and other “white goods,” formerly produced overseas, are starting to roll off assembly lines in the good-old USA more frequently because of more efficient manufacturing processes, better quality control and cheaper (relatively-speaking) labor.
But almost every industry expert says automotive is the real driver; not just for plastic injection molding machinery but complete systems for molding specific high-volume parts for cars and trucks. And even if car manufacturers don’t sell 18 million units this year, like they did in 2015, they are buying new plastic molding technology like multi-component molding, co-injection and the all-electric and hybrid machines that can handle those processes. Robots are also continuing their inexorable march to the assembly line; their manufacturers are gearing up for even higher production in 2016.
But, as healthy as the automotive sector is, some press manufacturers, such as Husky Injection Molding Systems Ltd. is bullish about the plastic packaging and medical sector, too. Those industries have seen dramatic growth over the past few years as well.
Observers point to another trend: proprietary molders, who mold parts for in-house use, are replacing their older machines. Why? It’s becoming harder and harder for manufacturers to source replacement parts for these dinosaurs.