Injecting moulding: innovations to gain competitive edge in the market

Leading home-grown injection moulding machinery makers are increasingly becoming techno-savvy as they aim to raise their capacity to meet the rising demand for made-in-India machines. From being a mere mechanical pile of churning out moulded plastic products, the injection moulding machinery industry today has become a major contributor in the process of converting plastics to complex and complicated parts and assemblies. This move up the value chain has become possible as customers have begun to voice more demands in terms of changes in cost, quality and service. The shift in the Indian injection moulding industry where plastic processors have gone from ‘quality is secondary’ to ‘quality is everything’ has been possible due to social, economic, regulatory and technological factors.

At this juncture, it would be safe to say that injection moulded products in India have attained the omnipresent status. “Segments that use injection moulding technology include fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), household products, engineering, automotive, electrical/electronic and many other sectors. In fact, it touches nearly all facets of life. For instance, from a toothbrush to a razor to all caps on all bottles and also nearly all housings on electronics, are injection moulded. By and large all these sectors are growing in consumption and the trend is towards better quality and sustainability. Moreover, additional opportunities are abound in multi-colour and multicomponent injection moulding. This implies that a lot of opportunities are set to come to the injection moulding machinery sector in the coming years,” says Vagish Dixit, Managing Director, ALPLA India Pvt Ltd, which provides plastic bottles and caps to the FMCG segment. From a rigid packaging perspective, Dixit highlights trend in the arena of bi-injection caps with turn-table, core-back and cube platforms. He believes that Indian machine manufactures can support the first two as of now. But thin walled containers (with and without inmould decoration) are also an area of opportunity for manufacturers, since currently the machines for this application come mostly from Europe.

Developing markets will provide the best growth opportunities for suppliers of plastics processing equipment through 2017. Central and South American sales will climb the most rapidly, led by the large and fast-rising Brazilian market, followed by the Africa/Mideast region, led by Turkey. China is currently by far the largest national equipment market, accounting for 29% of all 2012 sales, and it will continue to dominate global demand in 2017. India will be the fastest-growing national market, however, expanding over 12% pa. Rising personal incomes in these developing countries, leading to greater demand for plastic products, will be the primary driver of sales advances. The Asia/Pacific region will record the strongest plastics processing machinery shipment gains through 2017, led by China, which will account for 59% of total regional output. Not only will locally headquartered suppliers step up production, but many foreign multinationals will construct new or expand existing plants in Asia to reduce manufacturing and shipping costs and be closer to fast-growing customer bases there. Asia/Pacific industry output will also rise the most in dollar terms, as regional production expands from its already sizable base to account for half of worldwide equipment output in 2017.

For injection moulding machinery manufacturers, right now is the golden era as optimistic images of growth are being painted by all. “Around 35% of all polymers are converted using injection moulding. The injection moulding industry is driven by speed, productivity, reliability, energy conservation and automation. The machines are expected to provide faster production with lesser rejections,” opines Shirish V Divgi, Managing Director, Ferromatik Milacron India Ltd - one of the leading manufacturers of plastics injection moulding machines in the country. Elaborating further on the trends in this industry, Anil George, Co-Founder & Director, AutoDynamic Engineering Pvt Ltd, says, “Injection moulding along with extrusion has now captured the industry because of elimination of a complete step in manufacturing of a plastic part. The process involves an extrusion process which directly feeds the material to the injection moulding machine for manufacturing the part. This is called the injection moulding compounder.” George adds, “Another recent trend involves technologies that optimise material cost. This can be in terms of optimised product design using the latest Computer-Aided Design (CAD) technologies, material advancements like use of light-weighting fillers, processes like foaming, gas, etc. to reduce the material consumption.”

Following the latest customer demands, Windsor Machines Ltd, another leading manufacturer and exporter of plastics processing machinery, has been able to incorporate cutting-edge technology so as to increase reliability and performance of its machines. “The company, after its acquisition of Italtech (a European pioneer in injection moulding machinery), offers the 4th and 5th generation of two platen machines. The latest generation ‘KL series’ machines have patented technologies providing the most advanced two platen technology in the world. The tie bars are perfectly aligned, shorter in length and need no guiding in moving platen, eliminating need of lubrication. Thus making the machine clean. The machines will be offered in the VDP version and Servo version. With latter system, the energy consumption can be reduced by 50% to 70% as compared to a conventional hydraulic system,” stated Nitin Chowdhary, Deputy CEO, Windsor Machines Ltd.

In Plastivision India 2013, organised by The All India Plastics Manufacturers’ Association (AIPMA) in December, it was observed that machinery manufacturers displayed many advancements in all-electric injection moulding machines, thermal heating system for barrel heating in place of conventional heaters and further improvements in servo systems. In the views of C P Bhartia, Managing Director, Jagdamba Polymer Pvt Ltd, which recently won the First National Award for Lean Manufacturing Techniques, by the Govt. of India, the outlook for injection moulding industry is extremely positive. Sharing a processor’s perspective, he adds, “We are set to reach polymer processing of about 2 million tonne by 2020 from the present 1 million tonne. This is expected to make India the second largest processor after China in the world. So be it a machinery manufacturer or a plastics processor, now is the time we take technology very seriously so that we fire our engines and march ahead with full force.”

(Source Courtsey: Business Standard B2B Connect)

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