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Ten trends and developments in plastics technology

6August 2019

The topic of plastic has been in the news a lot lately. The visible pollution of our rivers and seas receives widespread attention in all media. However, these reports tend to overlook the positive contributions that plastic makes, e.g. with regard to energy, mobility, healthcare and the safety of our facilities. In this article, we present an overview of the ten main trends and technological developments in the sector, as selected by exhibitors at K, the world's largest trade show for plastic and rubber.

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1. Circular economy

The circular economy requires a lot of attention. This creates a wealth of opportunities and possibilities for the plastics industry. In the near future, various machine manufacturers will present a wide range of technological solutions for the collection, sorting and processing of waste.
 

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2. Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 is revolutionising our production methods, e.g. through the integration of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other technological developments at the heart of production processes and production systems. Companies are developing control modules, apps and service packages to accelerate the lead-up to production, provide better support to machine operators and make production processes more flexible.

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3. Digitisation

Digitisation is developing rapidly, which creates more opportunities for mould technology, the information from processing conditions and temperature control. Developments in the field of IT result in better integration of the process flow and more transparency during production.
 

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4. Sustainability

Our modern society calls for the responsible and restricted use of finite resources. By taking materials, production and specifications into account during the design phase of a product, we can improve the efficiency of the production process.
 

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5. Flexibility

There is a strong demand for practical solutions that reduce lead times, such as systems for rapid removal, adapter solutions and systems that can automatically detect the installed mould. More flexible production processes will ultimately lead to increased sustainability and reduced energy usage during the production of plastic products.
 

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6. Lightweight components

Another way to reduce energy usage is to use lightweight materials. Companies are developing special injection-moulding techniques for the large-scale production of lightweight components.
 

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7. Zero waste

To reduce the volume of waste that ends up in our natural environment, many plastics manufacturers strive towards zero-waste production. Production processes can be optimised with the help of newly developed digital tools. These make it possible to detect faults in products during the injection-moulding process itself. In-line measurements and analysis systems are designed to realise a higher degree of quality assurance.

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8. Biological basis

To meet the high expectations with regard to sustainability, matrices of thermoplastics, thermosets and polyurethane with a biological basis will be combined with synthetic or natural fibres.
 

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9. Automation

3D printing is becoming an increasingly attractive option because of the high component production rate and the improved manageability of the production process. Furthermore, 3D printing allows for the rapid production of small batches of plastic products without the use of a mould. This reduces the costs of the production process.
 

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10. Support

In recent years, more and more new options for the operation of plastic production machinery have been introduced. Systems provide experts with in-depth insights, background information, details and material data and support them with their optimisation efforts. This allows even untrained employees to easily operate the machinery.
 

Would you like to know more about these trends?

Contact Rompa Group’s marketing and sales team by calling +31 135942020.