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This year’s plastic injection molding trends look to continue several of the big initiatives from 2019 in some exciting ways. As companies consistently strive to improve in all aspects of their businesses, increased efficiency and reduced downtime remain two of the most important benefits.

Moving into 2020, we see a lot of improved technology, software and even thought processes that will help companies achieve their goals. Here are five plastic injection molding trends to look for in 2020:

1. Bio-Plastics and Environmentally Friendly Additives

Companies in every industry—but particularly plastics—are always trying to reduce the environmental impact of products and operations. This year, we expect to see a lot more bio-resins made from renewable resources (plant and vegetable extracts like corn or sugarcane) that are far safer for disposal and also more energy-efficiency in manufacturing.

Much of this trend is being driven by packaging. As companies look to reduce their environmental footprints, they’re seeking better packaging solutions, which is helping drive the increase in bio-resin use.

In a related trend, we’re seeing a push toward making conventional thermoplastics biodegradable. Adding metal compounds to the plastic leads to oxidation, breaking down the plastic and allowing microorganisms to do the rest. Environmentally friendly additives to traditional plastics along with bio-plastics are going to have an impact on the industry as a whole and, of course, on the environment.

2. Automation

When we talk about the automation and plastic injection molding trends for 2020, we’re specifically referencing software. Improved software and technology, which will only continue to advance, will allow manufacturers to save time, reduce waste and increase throughput.

Being able to analyze designs and plastic flow through molds will mean parts can get into production quicker as the time required for the testing and refinement phases is drastically cut.

Programming is being simplified, maintenance is becoming more efficient, cycles are getting faster and downtime is being significantly reduced. With better, more thorough control of the entire process, software automation is going to improve production throughout the industry.

3. Reinforced Plastic Materials

One of the big trends in 2019 is going to continue through 2020 and beyond as the automotive and aerospace industries seek the just-as-strong-but-not-as-expensive solutions that are also gaining traction in the medical industry and with the military due to the proven durability of the materials.

Plastics reinforced with metal, glass, carbon and graphite substitute for what used to be metal parts. The weight of the reinforced plastics is similar if not less, there is no decline in strength or function, and the cost savings can be huge.

4. Lightweight Materials

As reinforced plastics are already replacing exotic materials with parts that are of comparable or lighter weight, there’s an increased demand in less weight in general. In cars, particularly electric and hybrid models, less weight means better gas mileage or longer battery life, so developing lightweight injection molding products continues to be in high demand.

In other industries, the benefits may be less obvious but are still notable. Lightweight medical uses like joint replacements and stents will dramatically benefit patients, but even the improvements in tools and equipment can increase the efficiency (and costs) in healthcare

5. Sustainability

In any type of manufacturing, sustainability remains important and efforts to improve persist. In injection molding, in addition to bio-resins and eco-friendly additives, efforts will continue to reduce waste and enhance recycling.

We’re going to see a larger focus on using as many recyclable materials as possible—likely with goals of 100%—throughout the injection molding industry. Since plastics have always been under additional scrutiny, we can expect even more motivation from manufacturers looking to improve their environmental footprints.

Nanoplas products are designed to reduce your costs through cutting downtime and increasing efficiency. With many of the latest plastic injection molding trends based on precisely those goals, our products will help you further embrace whichever trends you choose to focus on this year and beyond.