As the year draws to an end, we would like to share our thoughts on the latest trends in the UK plastic enclosure manufacturing market.
But first it is worth noting that more broadly speaking the plastic market continues to evolve at pace with new materials and applications continually being developed. The use of plastic in industries such as packaging, automotive, biotech, building and sports continues to grow as the market develops stronger, more sustainable, less expensive alternatives to existing materials.
This continuing conversion to plastic materials means that the total demand for plastics products is on track to expand by 3.5 percent in 2018 (Plastic News). The main trends driving this growth in terms of plastic enclosures include:
- The Internet of Things (IoT) and smart factories are driving an increase is plastic usage as wireless devices become the norm for numerous applications. And as industry incorporates smart devices and sensors to increase productivity, they need lightweight, cost-effective plastic enclosures that allow wireless and RF signals to pass through easily – hence plastic is the preferred enclosure choice.
- In the medical sciences sector, the burgeoning use of technology and electronics as medical and scientific advances occur are driving an increased use of plastic. Not only of enclosures for medical devices but also in equipment and products such as stents, staples, and polymer drug-eluting implants.
- Another driver is the automotive sector’s increasing use of plastic materials as manufacturers strive to optimise performance and fuel economy, while reducing emissions. For example, innovations in plastic vehicle interiors such as smart surfaces and 3D-printed tooling.
- Lastly, as product life cycles shorten and 3D printing develops, the expectation that prototypes are delivered rapidly is increasing. And because machined plastic enclosures with their flexibility and rapid turnaround times meet these expectations (better than metal or injection moulded enclosure alternatives) designers and developers are increasingly choosing custom plastic enclosures over other types. Also helped by the fact there are no expensive, obsolete injection mould tools with machined plastic.
Increasing Plastic Prices in 2019
Alongside these growth drivers is the warning from our suppliers of across the board price increases in 2019. A number of factors are contributing to this including tightness in supply as demand by China and the East put strain on raw material sourcing.
Sustainability and the Plastic Sector
A key challenge for the plastic sector over the past year have been the mounting concerns over marine plastic litter which have dominated the media and public consciousness. So much so that Collins Dictionary have named ‘single-use’ as the word of the year, saying that use of the term has risen fourfold since 2013.
As plastic pollution climbs the political agenda and a ban on certain ‘single use’ plastic products comes into force in 2021 the plastic industry is stepping up to the challenge of addressing these concerns by increasingly focusing on sustainability.
And this focus on sustainability is not only driving an increased use of bioplastics, such as those derived from flax, soybeans, corn and other materials but also the use of recycled plastics including ocean waste plastics. According to the Coherent Market Insights the global green packaging market will reach USD $238 billion by 2025.
Here at CDT we have seen a strong increase in the use of plastic enclosures for a multitude of applications over the past few years driven mainly by technology advances across a range of sectors.
If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article please do get in touch.