Trend Watch: Versatility on Display

At NPE2018, look for injection molding exhibitors to showcase their versatility, including new advancements in add-on injection units, foam injection molding, machine design and more.


Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

Versatility has been a continuing theme in injection molding for more than a decade. This year, expect to see multi-material molding and integrated multi-process cells taking center stage.

In addition, desires to eliminate costs of assembly or secondary operations has led to trends such as molding parts with multiple colors, hard and soft-touch components, and combinations of thermoplastic and thermoset—liquid silicone rubber (LSR) or liquid urethane coatings. On a related note, also look for displays dedicated to in-mold decorating or labeling, as well as rotating “cube” stack molds for integrating the process of combining materials and in-mold assembly operations.

Add-on Injection Units
A popular replacement for a multi-barrel injection machine is a standard machine temporarily converted with auxiliary add-on injection units that sit on the floor beside the clamp or mount vertically on a platen. Advancements in these units are continuing to expand, now including all-electric versions and the ability to add LSR capability to a standard machine.

Foam Injection Molding
ew developments in foam injection molding focus on adding versatility by allowing for physical foam molding on a standard machine with little or no modification.

Machine Design Strategy
Finally, one more way machine builders will likely be displaying their versatility this year is simply through the strategy of their basic machine design. Look for presses that are now based on the concept of modularity to enable a range of customization while still remaining affordable, as well as more efficient clamp designs that do more with a smaller footprint. Two-platen presses for saving space can now be found at all size ranges, and innovations in the specs of toggle clamps are expected to be forthcoming.