Companies such as Delphi and GM have emerged from bankruptcy, but considerable distress remains in the injection molding supply chain for automotive and other industries. A complete plastic injection molding machine operation in Los Fresnos, TX goes on the auction block tomorrow, for example. injection molders in the USA are barely budging 50 percent of capacity - and that’s with a much reduced machine base. Used molding equipment is selling for 50 to 70 percent below 12 months ago.
It’s a two-edged sword for design engineers who specify molded parts. There are bargains galore out there because business remains slow and machine costs have declined. On the other hand, there is a smaller supply base to provide parts when demand improves. Suppliers will be slow to invest in new capacity in the early stages of the recovery.
This is a good time to stick with blue-chip suppliers. Pass on the quick bargains.
At the JEC Europe 2015 composites show in Paris last month, makers of composite materials, software, and process equipment showed off their latest innovations. This year's show saw some announcements related to automotive applications, but many of the improvements came in the world of aerospace.
The DuPont-sponsored Plastics Industry Trends survey shows engineers want improved performance in a broad range of plastics and better recycling technology. These concerns top even processing enhancements that improve productivity.
Plastics leader SABIC recently announced a global initiative to help its customers take advantage of additive manufacturing (AM) and also advance 3D printing (3DP) technologies in several application areas. The company's plans go way beyond materials, and also include design, processing, and part performance.
A theme that was reflected in several ways at NPE 2015 was the use of 3D printing to assist in, or improve on, injection molding, as well as improvements in 3D printing materials and processes that are making better functional prototypes and end-use parts.
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