Up until World War II, achieving necessary product functionality at the lowest cost was usually done by any means necessary. However, the war-related scarcity of materials and parts compelled General Electric engineers to find material substitutes.
Many of the substitutes reduced project costs and improved overall product performance — and the standard practice of finding cost-effective manufacturing solutions without compromising product functionality or quality was born. Today, we know it as "value analysis" for existing parts or “value engineering" for new parts.
OEMs across many industries can attest to the benefits of plastic injection molding. It’s ideal for consistent, affordable production of a wide range of high-quality complex plastic parts that can withstand about any environment.
That’s reason enough to rank injection molding high on the list of go-to solutions, but there’s more. To better understand how and why manufacturers use the process, let’s take a look at the individual merits of the top 14 benefits of plastic injection molding (listed in no particular order):
Globally, the annual injection-molded plastics market is currently valued at approximately $260 billion, with a projected 5% CAGR over the next five years.1
These substantial numbers validate the continued and increasing reliance on injection-molded solutions for a variety of applications across industries. They also indicate how much the role of a custom injection molder has changed, shifting from general supplier to trusted partner.
Manufacturing processes can be susceptible to inefficiencies. Continuous improvement practices counteract these shortcomings by proactively identifying and eliminating them, thereby improving process and part quality. In turn, quality parts perform better, longer which is a win-win for the injection molder and OEM.
OEMs regularly face an important decision: use a supplier from overseas or partner with a US-based supplier.
Why is this so important? Because if your supplier is somehow incapacitated and deliverables are delayed, your orders go partially or wholly unfulfilled. That has a negative ripple effect on your customers and your reputation. This is evident from Thomas' March Industrial Survey, which saw a reduced desire from US manufacturers to source internationally (43% in February to 34% in March), and increase in those looking to source from North American manufacturers (47% from 43%).
The quality of plastic components is, in part, determined by the injection molder you choose. Properly vetting new, different, or specialized vendors involves qualifying a pool of potential injection molding partners.
As technologies and expectations surrounding complex applications continue to advance, OEMs are seeking deeper and more versatile relationships with custom injection molders. Often, part of the vetting process involves verification that the injection molder holds industry-specific certifications.
In the manufacturing world, “lean” principles reduce inventory and work in process, improve quality, boost productivity, and ultimately lower costs. Lean originated in Japan decades ago and has been readily embraced in manufacturing sectors around the world, especially the automotive industry.
With increasing global competitiveness, lean principles have never been more important for making U.S. companies competitive. One of the most simple yet effective lean tools is value stream mapping, which can be implemented within days and can reap impressive results in a short period of time.
U.S. manufacturing in a variety of industries has gained traction in recent years. Counterbalancing the business uptick many are experiencing, however, is the strain of a workforce in transition.