From phone voice mail systems to vacuum cleaners, robots are now an essential part of our lives. It’s the same with plastic injection molding; increasingly, plastic injection molding companies are “employing” robots to remove finished parts and feed secondaries for quality inspection. Robots can also collect parts, fill boxes, load inserts or actually produce durable plastic goods.
Growth in several traditional plastics market sectors will continue to improve from the global recession. A recovering automotive market will give a shot to the arm for plastic injection molding companies. Plastic packaging for containers, cups, cutlery, medical parts will also help the industry.
Plastic injection molding companies know it’s critical to get as many quality parts off of each molding machine as possible. This requires maximum up time, quick change overs, and the ability for the robot to perform such secondary functions as quality inspection.
In order to balance just-in-time manufacturing versus inventory warehousing (with its added costs), even proprietary (vertically integrated) injection molding processors will often run shorter production runs and thus have more frequent mold changes throughout the week.
Many injection molders have begun their kaizen journey with its emphasis on waste reduction and improved efficiency. This is especially true with micro- or nano- medical molding, as tiny parts molded with very expensive bio- and bio-adsorb resins are continuing to make tremendous strides. Smaller than a car, a micro-molding machine can produce tiny parts for insulin pumps or hearing aids with details only seen under a microscope. This is a brand new world for the plastic injection molding industry.