What a year 2020 was, the pandemic has certainly upended things in so many ways. On a business level, the uncertainty and scale of change that the ongoing pandemic has brought has been unprecedented and no doubt we will be feeling the impact for years to come.

Then of course the other potentially seismic ongoing event is Brexit. It’s the elephant in the room that is difficult to address at present and we are adopting a pragmatic wait and see approach.

But in the meantime, like many of our peers in the UK plastic enclosure manufacturing arena, it’s business-as-usual with an unsurprisingly cautious outlook of the near future.

Despite the stall in growth in many sectors during 2020 the plastic enclosure market continues on a steady, albeit slower, growth trajectory.  According to Inkwood Research’s ‘Global Electrical enclosure market’ report they estimate growth of approx.6.79% CAGR between the years 2018 – 2026. (FYI the base year considered for the study is 2017 and the forecast period is 2018-2026).

 

The main trends driving growth and change in plastic enclosures market include:

Industry 4.0 and IoT

In the wake of industry 4.0 and IoT, the UK is increasingly adopting smart wireless devices and industrial automation across all sectors. By rapidly incorporating smart devices and sensors to increase their productivity, the need to build industrial enclosures that will allow wireless and RF signals to pass through its solid body has soared.  Plastic is the preferred choice for these enclosures. It is not only lightweight, impact resistance and cost-effective but also allows wireless and RF signals to pass through easily while being able to withstand high temperatures.

For example, the medical sciences sector’s burgeoning use of technology and electronics is also driving the increased use of plastic. As is the automotive sector’s increasing use of plastic materials as they strive to optimise performance and fuel economy while reducing emissions.

Shortening product life cycles

As product life cycles shorten and 3D printing develops, customer expectations have risen, with rapid prototype turnaround times expected. The flexibility and scope for changes in the production of machined plastic enclosures as opposed to metal or injection moulded enclosure alternatives means that the former can meet these higher expectations of designers and developers. They also are increasingly choosing custom plastic enclosures over other types because with machined plastic enclosures; and there are no expensive, obsolete injection mould tools involved.

 

Increasing plastic prices in 2021

Alongside the economic fallout of the pandemic, and the implications of Brexit is the warning from our suppliers of price increases in 2021. Factors contributing to this, include tightness in supply as demand by China increases, and the East putting a strain on raw material sourcing.

 

Sustainability and the plastic sector

As plastic pollution concerns continue to climb the political agenda and the 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 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 the US $238 billion by 2025. We watch these developments with interest.

 

To Conclude

Here at CDT, our resilient team is looking forward to 2021 and a return to normal. But whatever 2021 brings we remain firmly focused on meeting our customers’ needs first and foremost. If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in this article, please do get in touch.