The Impact and Importance of 4 Plastics Industry Trends

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How the Russia-Ukraine War Impacts Plastics Shortage Pricing and Progress

In February, 2021, the plastics industry was devastated by a freak winter storm that laid waste to Texas power grids and 80% of U.S. resin production.1 As though the widespread after effects of the natural disaster weren’t enough for the plastics industry to handle, substantial polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) price hikes and a 30% diminishment of production capacity added to the burden.1

In the year since, prices remained volatile and sluggish supply chain logistics kept materials from timely distribution; yet, there seemed to be an undercurrent of optimism in the industry. PP and PE production capacity was on the upswing despite shipping woes. Resin prices were leveling off, if not slightly receding.2 The global resin shortage was presumably reaching a tipping point.

Unfortunately, the optimism was short-lived. Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Its impact waylaid the market’s potential recovery and further complicated ongoing industry challenges.

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Resin Shortage Update: What 2021 May Be Teaching Us About 2022

Viewing 2021 through the lens of the resin shortage, the year went out much like it came in.

Q4 found commodity resins polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene (PE) available in greater quantities at lower prices.1 However, for many manufacturers, custom injection molding partners, and other supply chain vendors, the late-year good news was overshadowed by resin shortage challenges that will likely continue to pervade the plastics industry in 2022.

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How Molder Materials Expertise Benefits Automotive Plastic Components

Automotive plastic components aren’t limited to sleek dashboards, seats, floor mats, and other automotive plastic design details that attract buyers. These features may provide a degree of protection, but a vehicle’s overall safety and performance are largely dictated by often unseen under-the-hood plastic car parts.

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Resin Shortage 2021: Update on What’s Now, New, and Next

As Hurricane Ida unleashed its Category 4 fury on the state of Louisiana, plastics industry professionals kept a wary eye on the storm’s path. The repercussions of Hurricane Laura and Winter Storm Uri upended the resins market, which is still struggling. As the fifth strongest hurricane to ever make landfall in the continental United States1, Ida could have easily wiped out any progress made toward market restoration.

But, for the most part, Ida spared the plastics industry from further devastation. The hurricane veered away from the hub of resin production facilities in western Louisiana and eastern Texas, some of which were just coming back online.

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4 Injection Molding Industry Trends Impacting Consumer Applications

Consumer applications are diverse. Simply having products on the market isn't enough to build a customer base or keep pace with the competition.

Understanding the latest injection molding industry trends and partnering with a custom injection molder to apply them in creating highly differentiated products more readily translates to sustained success. It also gives you greater control over quality, cost, and time to market.

Injection molding industry trends suggest that a number of factors influence applications within the consumer market, such as:

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How To Identify A Molder That Supports Sustainable Injection Molding

From excessive energy consumption and scrap to general resin use, the injection molding process has historically raised some ecological concerns. The alarm is neither surprising nor unique to injection molders or the industries they serve.

However, as some experts project that the earth may be mere decades away from environmental collapse1, there are important choices to be made.

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How The Role of Injection Molders Is Redefined by the Resin Shortage

The resin shortage has injection molders and the larger plastics industry struggling to find balance. The late-February storm that blew into Texas and shut down 80% of U.S. resin production was the catalyst, but only one contributing factor.1

Industry authorities point to several reasons why resin supply and resin cost continue to fluctuate and how the ripple effect impacts suppliers and injection molders. A snapshot of current pricing illustrates the topsy-turvy landscape:

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Top 14 Benefits of Plastic Injection Molding

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):

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Thermoplastic Elastomer (TPE) vs. Liquid Silicone Rubber (LSR)

Confusion about which plastics align with a particular application can cause uncertainty about if and when to use custom injection molding. As a result, OEMs may not take advantage of how plastics benefit product design

“Thermoplastic” and “thermoset” sound similar and both plastics categories offer choices appropriate for complex applications in a range of markets. However, it's the properties and processing behaviors of  the materials within the categories that ultimately reveals the best choice for your injection molding project.

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