Around the world, efforts are being made to reduce the concentration of pollutants in the air, to ultimately mitigate climate change and decrease the incidence of respiratory diseases. One of the ways to do so is checking the emission from automobiles, by increasing their fuel efficiency and cutting their weight. This is why the traditional iron and steel components of vehicles are being replaced with those made from plastics, specifically those that can be simply melted and forced through an injection into molds, to create the desired shape.
This is why the injection-molded plastics market is expected to generate a revenue of $496.2 billion in 2025, compared to $283.5 billion in 2016; during 2017–2025, the market would display a 6.0% CAGR. With technological enhancements, thermoplastic elastomers are being used in vehicle production, as they fulfil the purpose of having rubber as well plastic, but weigh a lot less than conventional plastic and metal parts. Injection-molded plastics can result in as much as a 40% weight reduction in automobiles, thereby significantly decreasing their fuel consumption.
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As per the On the Road in 2035 report published by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2018, a weight reduction of 100 kg can decrease the fuel consumption of cars by 0.3 liter per 100 km, while the fuel reduction in light trucks can be of around 0.4 liter, for the same distance. Countries such as Japan, China, and India are major automobile production hubs, and they also suffer from high air pollution levels, which is why the governments here have imposed strict carbon emission and fuel economy policies.
Apart from the manufacturing of vehicles, such plastics are also consumed during the manufacturing of roofing, flooring, wall, insulation, windows, and doors, ultimately for building and infrastructure construction. The construction sector in numerous emerging economies, such as China and India, is witnessing robust progress, owing to the rapid urbanization and industrialization and increase in disposable income. However, the largest demand for injection-molded plastics is generated by the packaging sector, where such materials are intended to withstand wear and tear and increase the shelf life of products, especially food products and beverages.
Owing to the expansion of the consumer goods and food and beverage domains in Latin America (LATAM) and Asia-Pacific (APAC), the packaging sector in these regions is prospering. In 2016, rigid and flexible plastics accounted for 37.0% of the total packaging materials consumed across the world. The heavy consumption of polypropylene, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), and polystyrene is significant here, as all of these are injection-moldable. Additionally, with the advent of thin-wall injection-molding, plastics are being used instead of glass, for packing frozen foods, vegetables, bakery products, and ready-to-eat meals.
Historically (2014–2016), APAC consumed such plastics in the highest amount, owing to its productive automotive and construction sectors and growing packaging domain. Further, with governments encouraging investments in the manufacturing domain, the demand for such materials would continue to surge in the region. For instance, as part of the Make in India initiative, the Indian government allows for a 100% foreign direct investment in various domains, which is why, the India would witness the highest injection-molded plastics market CAGR in the region, in the coming years.
Hence, as the demand for residential, civic, and commercial infrastructure rises, as does the focus on making vehicles fuel efficient, the requirement for plastics that can be injected into molds will also surge.
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