Sneak Peek at Molding 2016

By: Tony Deligio 24. November 2015

Over two-and-a-half days next March, experts from across the injection molding supply chain will gather in New Orleans offerings insights into the latest trends and technologies in this dynamic industry. Molders, material suppliers, equipment manufacturers and more will be there.


Primary tracks at Molding 2016 (March 29-31; Westin New Orleans Canal Place) currently include:


Establishing/Monitoring/Maintaining Robust Processing

Adding Value Via Automation, Assembly and Packaging

Material Drying/Handling



Emerging Technologies


In addition to those, special breakout sessions are in the works specifically for automotive and medical injection molding. In the automotive track, presenters will address liquid color advances, effective automation, the potential for mid-sized all-electrics, preventative purging, and lightweighting batteries via molded conductive plastics, among other issues.


On the medical side, presentations will cover running Tritan in multicavity hot runner molds; using ERP software to maintain documentation and certifications; whitewall medical molding; and more.


Machine manufacturers (Arburg, Engel, Husky, Milacron, Wittmann Battenfeld, Sumitomo (SHI) Demag) will be on hand, as well as auxiliary suppliers (Conair, Novatec, UnaDyn) and material companies (Eastman Chemical, Covestro, Momentive, PolyOne). Plenty of established molders will be there (Extreme Molding, Henkel, Makuta Technics, Noble Plastics, Nypro, Tessy Plastics) as well as a newer player in Proto Labs.


Specific topics currently include:


Injection molding design of experiments

Lights out injection molding

LSR Molding

Industry 4.0

Smart packaging

Digital manufacturing

Recycled resin

Automation (collaborative, value added, automation in automotive)

Inspection (3D and predictive)

Induction heating of tools

Multi-component molding

Measuring melt temperature in real time

Automatic temperature control

Predictive maintenance

Liquid color

Process development

LED lighting Applications


Columnists from Plastics Technology magazine are also on tap, including:


Pete Stoughton

Randy Kerkstra

Suhas Kulkarni

Robert Gattshall


Save the date and wait for more updates as we get closer to Molding 2016!

Molding 2015 Conference and Exhibit

“Winning With the Lifecycle Approach”

By: Tony Deligio 17. November 2015

In existence for 155 years, including 47 in plastics, Milacron has seen its business model (along with the industry it serves) change dramatically over the years. Most recently, those changes have included a $285 million initial public offering on June 24. Earlier this month in two investor presentations and a conference call with Plastics Technology, company executives laid out Milacron’s current interests and how those have changed in recent years, with more evolution to come.


The big takeaway? Formerly synonymous with “machinery”, the new Milacron will emphasize much more than primary processing equipment and be more present in its customers’ day-to-day business.


“We’re winning because our approach is lifecycle,” President and CEO Tom Goeke told analysts in the company’s Nov. 6 third quarter earnings call. “When a customer buys a machine, we’re there until they need to purchase a new one.” Comparing the company to a service-oriented car dealer, Goeke said Milacron’s renewed emphasis on aftermarket parts/service and what it calls consumables (think wear components), not only benefits customers by keeping their machines running with the latest kit, but makes sense financially, giving the supplier more sales opportunities.


In a Nov. 9 Baird 2015 Industrial Conference presentation, Milacron said 61% of its sales come from those consumable products—a “high margin recurring revenue stream.” Consumables here include aftermarket, fluids, and melt delivery/control systems, with the remaining 39% of revenue attributable to “equipment systems.”


In that same presentation, Milacron noted that while an injection molding machine can have a replacement cycle ranging to 15 to 25 years, items like hot runners, mold bases and other components can require new investments every one to five years due to wholly new projects or wear on existing tools.


On the existing equipment front, the company sited large installed bases of machines (40,000) and hot runner systems (140,000) as potential sources of ongoing aftermarket business. Looking forward, Milacron forecast 7.1% CAGR in processing equipment, with the total to rise from $25.3 billion in 2014 to $31.1 billion in 2017. Business here would be fueled by upgrades in emerging regions and replacement of aging fleets in developed markets. The global hot runner market was pegged to grow at 8% CAGR, rising from $2.1 billion in 2014 to $2.6 billion in 2017.


In the earnings call, executives referenced several bright spots, including an expanded hot runner plant in India and a “very successful” Fakuma, where the company presented as “one Milacron” for the first time in Europe, with close to 1000 leads booked at the Friedrichshafen event.


On the technology side, testing continues on its coinjection molded answer to tin cans for food packaging, the Klear Kan, with collaboration ongoing with select prospects, up to and including focus groups with consumers.  


The company noted that it has sold three of its new PET preform systems, which launched at NPE, with the first being shipped and two more being manufactured. In automotive, Milacron executives talked up interest in a four-component machine for applications like taillights, which require multiple materials/colors.


On a geographic basis, the executives did describe a slow down in Asia in general, and China in particular. Overall the region was a wash with increased business in Singapore, Vietnam and South Korea largely offsetting contraction in China.


In North America, Milacron has seen what the executives called a general slow down, with strength in automotive, appliance, housewares, and custom molding ongoing, but weakness in construction. North America still constitutes a slim majority of Milacron’s business (52% of revenue), with Asia (22%) and Europe (21%) accounting for next biggest chunks. By end market, automotive (23%) and packaging (21%), dominate.


Goeke told Plastics Technology that the company spends around $20 million/year in R&D, and at the Baird event, a long-term goal of generating more than 20% of revenue from new products was stated, laying out the potential for a win-win for Milacron and its customers.


“At the end of the day, our customers are trying to make higher quality parts at a lower price,” Goeke said, “so everything we can do with precision of the part, is a benefit to them.”

Pictured: Milacron's Fakuma booth, image courtesy Milacron

Milacron Fakuma 2015

Injection Molder Shows How Plastics, Sustainability Can Go Together

By: Tony Deligio 4. November 2015

Of late, if a governor, or any legislator, is talking about plastics, it’s more likely than not to be in the context of a ban or fee, but on October 27, custom injection molder Hoffer Plastics was recognized with an Illinois Governor’s Sustainability Award for its eco-minded efforts, joining companies like Abbott Labs, Caterpillar, and Silgan Containers.


Established in 1987, the Illinois Governor's Sustainability Award recognizes private and public Illinois organizations that have implemented outstanding and innovative sustainable techniques or technologies, demonstrating a commitment to sustaining environmental, social and economic health. Per the Awards’ website:


Governor's Sustainability Award winners are an elite group of committed leaders reducing environmental impact and contributing to the growth of a more sustainable Illinois economy. By prioritizing sustainability throughout their operations, programs, technology, products and company culture, they serve as a model within their industry and community.


Approaching Zero Landfill
Hoffer’s efforts towards sustainability are certainly award worthy. Going back to 2007, when the third-generation family-owned company in South Elgin, Ill. published its first Sustainability Report, Hoffer has been committed to greener operations. Among the highlights in its 2015 award-winning submission:


By 2010, after initiating a facility wide 100% recycling program in 2007, less than 1% of the 24 million lbs. of the resin used in manufacturing ended up in landfill.


In 2012, the facility’s old lighting was replaced with high efficiency fluorescent lighting, generating annual savings of approximately 1.7 million kilowatt hours of electricity and 1200 metric tons of carbon dioxide.


In 2014, it implemented a high cycle water treatment program, saving an estimated 1.2 million gallons of water, annually.


Going forward, Hoffer’s sustainability goals for the year 2020 include a 50% reduction in overall water usage and a further 20% reduction in energy consumption per unit of production. 

Hoffer Plastics 2015 Illinois Governor Sustainability Award

Manufacturers Grow, Remain Optimistic Despite Hiring Challenges

By: Tony Deligio 4. November 2015

Manufacturers' Revenue Expectations

Despite ongoing staffing challenges, a survey of more than 750 U.S. manufacturing companies in over 25 different industries was overwhelmingly positive. Conducted by buying consortium Prime Advantage in July, the survey found:


  • 80% of respondents expect to be at or above previous year’s revenues
  • 83% percent anticipate maintaining or increasing revenue performance in 2016.
  • 61% planned on hiring new employees in 2015


The last point, however, also touches on a potential hurdle for manufacturers: finding skilled workers. A lack of qualified workers remained the top threat to manufacturing growth among respondents for the second consecutive year, with 46% citing this concern, down slightly from 53% in 2014.


Tempering Expectations
While having 80% of respondents think 2015 revenue will meet or beat 2014 is quite strong, that figure actually represented the lowest percentage of optimists in this category since 2010, and 27% of respondents were currently performing below forecast for 2015. Of those enjoying revenue growth, new product lines and new customers were credited for the growth.


Additional insights
Some other takeaways from the survey:


  • Capital expenditures: 87% are either meeting or exceeding capital expenditure plans for 2015 and 73% expect current trends to continue throughout the remainder of the year
  • Cost pressures: Raw materials top the list of leading cost pressures, with indirect materials and supplies, as well as component parts pricing, also reflecting significant margin-threatening factors for manufacturers
  • Employment: Of the 61% of members that went into 2015 planning to add new employees, 79% have already fulfilled that mission. No respondents are expecting layoffs and 47% expect to hire on additional employees.

Are You an Injection Molding Expert? Do You Want to Become One?

By: Tony Deligio 8. October 2015

From March 29-31 in New Orleans, the Molding 2016 Conference & Exhibits will gather leaders (and newbies) from across the injection molding supply chain, including molders, OEMs, and machinery, material and tool suppliers. If you’re a molding expert, learn about the very latest advancements in the field. If you’re new to molding, get a firmer handle on this dynamic, advanced manufacturing process.


Molding 2016 is currently accepting paper proposals for the conference; so if you’re an expert in a particular aspect of molding, we encourage you to submit an abstract today. General conference topics will include:


  • Adding Value: Automation, Assembly and Packaging
  • Molding Specialty Materials (LSR, bioplastics, metals/ceramics)
  • Tooling (including components and hot runners)
  • Additive Manufacturing (should molders add additive manufacturing; how will it compete with molding)
  • Market Specific Advances/Trends in Medical, Automotive, Electronics and More
  • Auxiliary Equipment Advances


Save the date, propose a paper and start planning for Molding 2016!  

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