An Overview & Future Development Trend of the Chinese Plastic Injection Molding Industry

Recent years, plastic injection industry have a huge change in the environment of consumption upgrade. product requirements are getting an increase. In the past, large-scale production of precision-less plastic industry, now also need to rely on the mold industry to improve the accuracy of product demand.

The production of plastic products starts with the design and development of plastic molds, which are a basic tool for manufacturing of plastic products. As a result, the mold precision has a direct influence on the structural integrity and dimensional accuracy of the end plastic products.

The production of all plastic products has to go through the several steps that include design & making of plastic molds, injection molding, and surface finishing, among which the precision mold features a complex structure and therefore imposes high requirements for surface quality and technical standards.

Since it is a technology-intensive as well as capital-intensive product, many technologies need to be involved in its production process, including high-speed machining, super-finishing, rapid prototyping, automatic control, processing and applications of polymeric materials, etc., covering the areas of machinery, metal materials, polymeric materials, electronics & electrics and automatic control, imposing high comprehensive requirements on technologies.

 

1.Overview of the Plastic Industry

Plastics are malleable (seldom non-malleable) materials that are consisting of synthetic or natural high molecular compounds. They are produced under certain temperature and pressure conditions, assisted with additives of plasticizer, filler, lubricant, injection agent and more.

 

Plastics are widely used in modern society thanks to its lightweight, high plasticity, low production cost and diversified functions. Currently, as one of the four basic materials that support the development of modern society (the other three are steel, wood, and cement), the high molecular compound material has become a new material that is indispensable to human life.

Its application covers the many areas of information, energy, industry, agriculture, and transportation, etc. In recent years, the plastic manufacturing industry of China has witnessed a rapid development with an ever-increasing scale – it is now one of the essential parts of the Chinese economy.

 

  • In 2013, production of Chinese plastic products totaled 61.886,6 million tons, representing a year-on-year increase of 8.02%;
  • As of December 2014, the number of above-scale plastic manufacturing enterprises reached 14,062;
  • Prime operating revenue hit 2,039.239 billion CNY, representing a year-on-year increase of 8.92%;
  • Total profit reached 118.286 billion CNY, a year-on-year increase of 4.24%;
  • Export delivery value reached 226.066 billion CNY, a year-on-year increase of 2.82%.

Therefore, it is obvious that the production scale of the Chinese plastic manufacturing industry is being continuously expanded and production is increasing year by year, though year-on-year increase rate slows down a little bit over the past two years.

 

If viewed from the different segments of the plastic manufacturing industry, the most widely used plastic products are plastic pipes & fittings, plastic wires, and plastic weaving products, followed by plastic films and plastic packaging containers, while household plastic products and plastic parts rank third.

Among them, the prime operating revenue and export delivery value of plastic parts has reflected a rising trend over the past five years. The increase rate was particularly high during the 2010-2011 period, with prime operating revenue increasing from 237.282 billion CNY to 709.559 billion CNY,

representing an increase of nearly 200%, while export delivery value increased from 63.579 billion CNY to 191.426 billion CNY;

from 2012 to 2014, though increase rate slowed down slightly, the prime operating revenue was still on the rise, which hit 939.413 billion CNY as of 2014.

 

2. Overview of Mold Manufacturing Industry

As an intermediate product used for the production of the end product, molds are basic processing equipment that is machined by using a wide range of materials, such as plastic, rubber, metal, powder, glass, and FRP, etc.

Mold processing is one of the most important ways of material molding. Compared with machining, its benefits include fewer process steps, higher material utilization ratio, less energy consumption, ease of production, higher profitability and more. Thus, it is widely used in the manufacturing of automobile, energy, machinery, electronics, information, aviation, as well as household commodities. According to statistics, 75% parts of the rough processing industry and 50% parts of the precision processing industry are molded, while 80% parts of the home appliance industry and over 70% parts of the ME industry are also mold-processed.

As the mold industry is helpful for driving the development of other related industries, it is often dubbed the profit amplifier.

injection molding market

image: injection molding market

Though the mold industry of China had an early start, it was kept as an affiliate of downstream production-oriented enterprises, which restricted the development of molding enterprises, and molds were not listed in the ME product catalog until the year of 1987. At that time, there were approx.

6,000 mold factories in China, which yielded a total production value of 3 billion CNY. After more than two decades of development, the Chinese mold industry has made a remarkable progress. As of 2013, the number of mold companies had reached 30,000, with a total output value of approx. 220 billion CNY and an annual export value of nearly 5 billion CNY.

Currently, the largest markets of Chinese molding lie in the following industries of automobile, IT, home appliance & office equipment, machinery and building materials. Along with the rapid growth of national economy and improvement of people’s income level, there is a growing demand for automobiles, consumer electronics, and home appliances, allowing these industries to embrace a speedy development phase in recent years. This constitutes one of the most important reasons for the rapid development of China’s mold industry.

The following diagram shows the 2007 – 2013 mold production value of China. We can see that the production value of China’s mold industry has witnessed a rapid growth in recent years, increasing from 87 billion CNY in 2007 to 210.6 billion CNY in 2013, with an increased rate much higher than the overall level of the world mold industry.

 

3. Development Trend of the Mold & Plastic Industry

Along with the gradual industrial transformation and upgrade, as well as the increasing proportion of high-end products and continuous improvement of basic supporting services, there’s still much value in plastic production. Though it is witnessing a slower increase rate of production, the output value is still increasing at a relatively fast pace.

We can tell that the plastic processing industry still shows a sign of rising. As one of the indicators to measure the development level of a country’s plastic industry, the ratio between plastic and metal is only 30:70 in China, falling far behind the world average (50:50) and the developed countries like Germany (63:37) and America (70:30). Hence, with technological advancement and consumption upgrade, the plastic industry of China will maintain a steady development pace.

 

The mold industry which forms a basic industry in the national economy, is specifically involved in machinery, automobile, optical industry, electronics, chemistry, metallurgy, building materials and more industries, representing a very wide and comprehensive scope of application. China’s industry is developing rapidly, among which, the development of automotive manufacturing, IT and the medical device offers a great development opportunity for the entire mold industry.

 

Currently, China is experiencing an industrial restructuring, with national objectives for emerging industries planned as: by the year of 2020, the increased value of strategic emerging industries is aimed to account for about 15% of GDP. To achieve this 15% target, among all the seven strategic emerging industries, as the pillar of national economy, the high-end equipment manufacturing industry will be vigorously developed, so the mold industry which is dubbed “the mother of modern industry”, will definitely benefit from the development of high-end equipment manufacturing.

injectionmolding company

International Mold Supply Chain Further Leans Towards China Mold Companies

When compared to the past, the technological level of the Chinese mold industry has been greatly improved, but the proportions of high, medium and low-end molds produced by Chinese manufacturers are extremely imbalanced, which severely hampers the development of the Chinese mold industry.

Over the past few years, tremendous changes have taken place in the industrial structure as well as the system of the Chinese mold industry, which are mainly represented by: medium- & high-level molds, large sizes, precision, complexity and long lifecycle, but the self-sufficiency rate of medium- & high-end molds falls below 60%, due to the fact that China has an enormous demand for medium- and low-level molds. It is easy to see the irrationality lying in this situation.

The industry has pointed out that the proportions of high, medium and low-level molds produced by Chinese manufacturers are extremely imbalanced, which severely hampers the development of the Chinese mold industry. The pace of restructuring needs to be quickened urgently with emphasis on the development of the high-end market segment, so as to keep pace with the international market.

How to keep pace with the international market? The mold industry in China needs to speed up restructuring, while at the same time making efforts to improve technological level.

It is mainly reflected in the following aspects: i. Restraints, such as mold steel; ii. The level of standardization needs further improvement; iii. Top-level mold talents need to be cultivated desperately; iv. Quicken the pace of mold product restructuring; v. Increase investment to enhance innovation capability; vi. Promote consolidation and restructuring among mold enterprises; vii. Further, deepen the exploration of the overseas market.

The downstream suppliers, especially the automotive industry, have a high degree of dependence on importation when the key and core molds are concerned. As a result, a host of key and core injection molded parts that OEM products need are also supplied by these world-renowned mold enterprises.

internation supply chain

image:international supply chain (click to view the full image)

In recent years, Chinese mold companies have continuously improved mold technologies and products. Therefore, some plastic molds and injection molded parts start to be distributed internationally, have successfully made it to the supply chain system of some high-end industries and even replaced some imported products, dependence on importation is thus eliminated. However, it is undeniable that, the companies that have got into the international high-end market are few in number.

In the Chinese mold industry, along with the improvement of technological level and gradual increase of product lines, some international OEM industries are now further leaning towards Chinese companies, which presents not only an opportunity but also a challenge. It is believed that by 2015, the mold self-sufficiency rate in the Chinese market will reach 85%, among which the self-sufficiency rate of high-end molds will witness a remarkable increase.

According to experts, in addition to continuous improvement of productivity, the Chinese mold industry needs to pay more attention to internal restructuring, as well as technological advancement. The focus is mainly on realization of a more specialized enterprise structure; a product structure that is oriented towards higher end molds; improvement towards the import & export structure; molding analysis & structural improvement of medium- & high-end automotive panels; application of multifunctional composite mold, combined machining technology and laser technology in design and manufacturing of molds; as well as the development orientation towards high-speed cutting, ultra-precision processing, polishing technology and informationization, etc.

With the thorough transformation of the machine tool industry, the Chinese mold industry is experiencing technological innovation and product upgrade, while also proactively exploring the international market. In the competition with international competitors, the Chinese mold industry is making the most of its strengths, in an attempt to secure a place in the international market. So, what advantages does Chinese mold industry have over the international mold industry?

Advantage

  1. Strong national policy support should not be ignored;
  2. Gradual improvement of infrastructure creates possibilities for the ever increasing market demand;
  3. Transfer of world mold industry center to China, as well as the wide application of e-commerce, will create extraordinary business opportunities for the Chinese mold industry;
  4. Compared with European and American countries, the low labor and material costs will make China the center of attention under the current circumstances that there’s an urgent need to bring down cost in the international market.

A Competitive Mold Maker

A Competitive Mold Maker

In recent years, the Chinese mold industry has witnessed rapid growth. Along with the development of experience, introduction of cutting-edge technologies, as well as the hiring of well-trained specialists from all around the world, both the design and manufacturing of injection molds in China have been improving substantially. Nevertheless, as with any other industries, the Chinese mold industry is faced with great challenges in its development course. As affected by the past recession, Chinese economy is experiencing many problems and issues, including not only the automotive industry, but also many other industries, among which, the mold industry is one of the most affected, though everything is getting better as the economy is recovering.

In addition to that, the labor cost in China is also keeping rising in recent years – another factor that affects the healthy growth of the mold industry. According to the latest statistics, the cost of molds produced in some developed countries like America and Japan is not much higher than the ones made in China. This presents another challenge to all Chinese mold manufacturers.

And though the overall competition has been as tough as always, today’s competition from both within and outside China is exceptionally fierce. These are just some examples of the many huge challenges mold makers in China have to face. Most of them are trying to figure out what to do until things change for the better. But who knows what the future holds for them? So, what do they need to do to respond to the challenges and thrive?

Keep in mind that times have changed, and what was working in the past may not be working for now. This is an opportunity for you, because you can make use of the changes to provide the creative tension that keeps you moving ahead. New ways of doing business may be explored during the relatively tough times. Undoubtedly, each mold maker may have its own unique problems and issues, but here’s what you may want to do now to help drive healthy business development:

Take Full Advantage of Market Competition

Speedy execution is the key to taking advantage of new markets.  Businesses in the mold-making sector that make timely efforts to respond to the emerging situations will be the most competitive ones. It will be particularly true if business growth speeds up and a company finds it hard to meet demands with the current capacity. Far-sighted mold makers will be moving forward aggressively with regards to emerging markets, new development sectors and product opportunities through strategic collaboration on a global basis.

Most of all, we must be open to searching for innovative new products and technologies that will considerably strengthen our existing product lines and promote business growth.  Try hard to find out what kind of new products and new technologies are available that can help your business grow. It is suggested that you find products from overseas markets, to supplement your existing products or expand your product portfolio. The key is to extensively explore the alternatives. There are mold makers that have already found critical new products and technologies from both within and outside China. If we are not open enough to accept new technologies and products from the outside, we may soon find ourselves in a surviving mode.

Vigorously Develop New Technologies

New technologies are able to help reduce your operational cost, enhance product quality and improve customer experience. New advanced technologies are being created every day. Why not make use of this as the driver and the enabler for your business growth. Place particular focus on customer relationship management irrespective of your company size and scale.

Get the Most Out of Your Business Strategy

Take the changes in market as a good opportunity to re-consider your core business values. This initiative will help you get input from the employees through engaging them on a daily basis. If you can ask them for their extra efforts, you will get the chance to cross-train your team members in various positions. Be sure to let them know that they are playing a critical role in building brand reputation and creating customer loyalty. As time goes, you will gain a competitive edge because the cultural shift allows your team members to be more supportive and look at the big picture with a better understanding.

Sustainment and development of a strong business relationship is a very good starting point to work hard on. Frequently interact with your customers to learn about their business development trend and then find out how you can help them sell more of their products and services. The importance of customer service should never be underestimated, but it always necessitates fortification. As long as you wish to create customer loyalty and sustain a competitive edge, your service level must stand out from the competition by differentiating your approach to sales and marketing. Put innovation at the heart of your strategy, and be willing to take risks. By offering what the customer really needs and wants, you will build a beneficial customer relationship that brings enduring profitability.

Take another look at your overall business strategy, embrace changes, seek for opportunities to expand your services and try to penetrate new markets. This way, you will stand out as a leading Chinese mold manufacturer who is able to determine its own future and potential.

In recent years, the Chinese mold industry has witnessed rapid growth. Along with the development of experience, introduction of cutting-edge technologies, as well as the hiring of well-trained specialists from all around the world, both the design and manufacturing of injection molds in China have been improving substantially. Nevertheless, as with any other industries, the Chinese mold industry is faced with great challenges in its development course. As affected by the past recession, Chinese economy is experiencing many problems and issues, including not only the automotive industry, but also many other industries, among which, the mold industry is one of the most affected, though everything is getting better as the economy is recovering.

In addition to that, the labor cost in China is also keeping rising in recent years – another factor that affects the healthy growth of the mold industry. According to the latest statistics, the cost of molds produced in some developed countries like America and Japan is not much higher than the ones made in China. This presents another challenge to all Chinese mold manufacturers.

And though the overall competition has been as tough as always, today’s competition from both within and outside China is exceptionally fierce. These are just some examples of the many huge challenges mold makers in China have to face. Most of them are trying to figure out what to do until things change for the better. But who knows what the future holds for them? So, what do they need to do to respond to the challenges and thrive?

Keep in mind that times have changed, and what was working in the past may not be working for now. This is an opportunity for you, because you can make use of the changes to provide the creative tension that keeps you moving ahead. New ways of doing business may be explored during the relatively tough times. Undoubtedly, each mold maker may have its own unique problems and issues, but here’s what you may want to do now to help drive healthy business development:

Take Full Advantage of Market Competition

Speedy execution is the key to taking advantage of new markets.  Businesses in the mold-making sector that make timely efforts to respond to the emerging situations will be the most competitive ones. It will be particularly true if business growth speeds up and a company finds it hard to meet demands with the current capacity. Far-sighted mold makers will be moving forward aggressively with regards to emerging markets, new development sectors and product opportunities through strategic collaboration on a global basis.

Most of all, we must be open to searching for innovative new products and technologies that will considerably strengthen our existing product lines and promote business growth.  Try hard to find out what kind of new products and new technologies are available that can help your business grow. It is suggested that you find products from overseas markets, to supplement your existing products or expand your product portfolio. The key is to extensively explore the alternatives. There are mold makers that have already found critical new products and technologies from both within and outside China. If we are not open enough to accept new technologies and products from the outside, we may soon find ourselves in a surviving mode.

Vigorously Develop New Technologies

New technologies are able to help reduce your operational cost, enhance product quality and improve customer experience. New advanced technologies are being created every day. Why not make use of this as the driver and the enabler for your business growth. Place particular focus on customer relationship management irrespective of your company size and scale.

Get the Most Out of Your Business Strategy

Take the changes in market as a good opportunity to re-consider your core business values. This initiative will help you get input from the employees through engaging them on a daily basis. If you can ask them for their extra efforts, you will get the chance to cross-train your team members in various positions. Be sure to let them know that they are playing a critical role in building brand reputation and creating customer loyalty. As time goes, you will gain a competitive edge because the cultural shift allows your team members to be more supportive and look at the big picture with a better understanding.

Sustainment and development of a strong business relationship is a very good starting point to work hard on. Frequently interact with your customers to learn about their business development trend and then find out how you can help them sell more of their products and services. The importance of customer service should never be underestimated, but it always necessitates fortification. As long as you wish to create customer loyalty and sustain a competitive edge, your service level must stand out from the competition by differentiating your approach to sales and marketing. Put innovation at the heart of your strategy, and be willing to take risks. By offering what the customer really needs and wants, you will build a beneficial customer relationship that brings enduring profitability.

Take another look at your overall business strategy, embrace changes, seek for opportunities to expand your services and try to penetrate new markets. This way, you will stand out as a leading Chinese mold manufacturer who is able to determine its own future and potential.

The injection molding production process

The injection molding process is usually comprised of 6 steps:

  1. The clamping: An injection machine contains 3 parts – the injection mold, the clamp and the injection unit, among which, the clamping unit keeps the mold at a certain pressure, so as to ensure the consistency of the outputs.

A mold is usually made up of 2 parts.

  1. The injection unit: It refers to the part where the plastic pellets are fed into the hopper located at the top end of the injection unit. These pellets will be loaded into the main cylinder, where they are heated at a high temperature until they are melted into liquids. Then, inside the injection unit, a screw will turn and mix the already liquefied plastic. Once this liquid plastic has reached the ideal condition for the product, the injection process will start. The plastic liquid is forced through a running gate, of which the speed and pressure are controlled by a screw or sometimes a ram dependingon what kind of machine you are using.
  2. The dwelling: It represents a pause in the process when certain pressure is applied to guarantee that each of the mold cavities has been filled thoroughly. It is such an important step within the process that if the mold cavities are not filled properly, it will lead to scrap of the units.
  3. The cooling: This process step allows the mold to cool off for a required period of time. If this step is performed too hastily, the units will probably stick together or get deformed when it is taken out of the machine.
  4. Mold opens: The clamping unit will open to separate the mold. The molds which are often the most important individual part during the entire process are used over and over again, and the tooling of them can be very costly.
  5. The ejection: The finished product is ejected from the injection mold machine in the end. Generally speaking, a finished product will continue to be on a production line or be packed and delivered to a production line as a component of a larger product, e.g. the steering wheel of a car.

In daily life, the products that involve the application of injection molding are used every day by each of us. If it were not for injection molding, many cars would not be sold at such an affordable price. However, this process also has some disadvantages. The machines are very costly and therefore involves a lot of capital investment. When designing the parts, we must keep the production process in mind, because the process is not deemed economical for short-run productions.

Nevertheless, the disadvantages are outweighed by the greater benefits, which include the speed at which the parts are produced, the relatively low labor costs and minimal material waste. Even, the finished parts usually require no more finishing.

If you are interested in our service or in need of any technical support, please feel free to let us know. We would be happy to share what we know about plastic injection molding with you and provide the exact economical plastic injection molding solution you are looking for.

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