In my 28 years of observing injection molding technology, I have been lucky to witness two innovations that deserve to be called revolutionary.

In my 28 years of observing injection molding technology, I have been lucky to witness two innovations that deserve to be called revolutionary. One was the arrival in the 1980s of computerized mold-filling analysis--or simulation, as it is now called. That revolution is already fairly mature. The second upheaval was born about the same time but is only now showing its potential to bring far-reaching change. I am talking about electric machine technology, of course. And there, things are just starting to get interesting.

As you'll see in our cover story, we are witnessing the sudden genesis of numerous species and sub-species of molding machines that make creative and varied uses of electric motors in place of, or in addition to, hydraulic fluid power. I imagine it must be like the late 1950s and '60s, when reciprocating-screw injection technology first crossed over from Germany and set off an explosion of machine innovation. At first, there were only a few suppliers. Then suddenly there was a crowd. At first, molders just had to consider the virtues of screws versus plungers. Then there were a host of new features and design variants to evaluate. That's what is happening to electric and hybrid machines today.

If I close my eyes, I can imagine a steamy, volcanic eon some scores of millions of years ago, when a horde of strange new creatures boiled out of the tropical seas and began crawling, running, and flapping all over the previously unpopulated land. Mother Nature's period of unbridled experimentation with bizarrely horned and fanged and armored beasts yielded many failures. A similar fate will necessarily befall some of the new branches of the injection molding evolutionary tree. Their fossils will someday be discovered in the archives of magazines like this one. But you don't need some "Jurassic Park" miracle of science to learn what that prolific era was like. You're here now at the birth of something new and very big.