Plastics / Resins

3 Key Custom Injection Molding Trends Emerging In 2024

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Recent market analysis shows that demand in plastics injection molding has bounced back to pre-pandemic activity levels. While some of the uptick is attributed to rapid e-commerce growth and the need for plastic packaging solutions, standard and custom injection molding applications in other sectors are also key contributors.

By volume, global use of injection-molded applications is expected to grow year-over-year in several major industries. Let’s take a closer look at the prevalent 2024 trends behind the continued global growth in the plastics injection molding market.

1. Sustainability practices and possibilities

Across the world, manufacturers have collectively earmarked 2025 as a watershed year for sustainability. As deadlines for completing and implementing various sustainability initiatives draw closer, so too is the continued focus on bio-based and recycled plastics.

In addition to being derived from renewable sources (corn, sugarcane, algae, etc.) and/or removed from waste streams, bio-based and recycled materials can significantly reduce carbon footprint and dependency on fossil fuels compared to conventional plastics.

As more sustainable materials solutions are introduced into the global market, manufacturers are also seeing certain improved mechanical properties such as increased strength, durability, and heat resistance.

These innovations could lead to new, more sustainable solutions. For instance, could the automotive industry shift gears in the coming years and use these materials in electric vehicles (EVs) for battery and engine components?

2. Smart technology

Automation, robotics, and digitalization aren’t new trends in injection molding, but their prevalence is driving change.

Turning over certain activities such as part removal and assembly to advanced collaborative robots (“cobots”) helps their human counterparts work more efficiently by reclaiming time otherwise allocated to repetitive tasks and also reducing cycle times.

What’s more, when automation and robotics are paired with intelligent digital technologies to capture real-time results and analytics. Using sensor monitors, artificial intelligence (AI), digital twin and simulation software, etc., injection molders can help manufacturers achieve next-gen results in quality assurance, part consistency, and production speed while nearly eliminating human error.

Solutions once thought futuristic for manufacturing are making a mainstream difference. While all industries benefit from “smart” injection molding solutions, some construction, industrial, and consumer goods applications may best leverage these advancements to keep pace with the demands of exploding global populations.

3. Materials and parts customization

Custom injection molding has gotten big and small. Trends toward micro-injection molding have gained popularity in 2024. This isn’t a surprise given the higher demand for smaller, precision components driven by steady growth in the electronics sector, principally in China, India, and Japan.

Similarly, the size, complexity, and weight of injection-molded applications in other industries have given rise to the need for materials customization.

Plastics reinforced with carbon, glass, and graphite give automotive manufacturers options in metal-to-plastic conversion and lightweighting for conventional vehicles and EVs. The medical industry is also leveraging reinforced plastics for a myriad of devices since the custom materials offer design versatility, durability, and enhanced sterilization properties.

This year’s trends in custom injection molding set the stage for strategies manufacturers can adopt to confidently move into the future. Remaining responsive to trends is important, but manufacturers must not lose sight of how their supplier network also influences outcomes.

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