The thermoformed plastics
market size is anticipated to reach USD 45.9 billion by 2024. The major factors bolstering the market growth include is growth in healthcare & pharmaceuticals and food & agriculture packaging industries and increase in manufacturing activities. The surging popularity of retail shopping as well as increasing consumer spending for processed as well as packed goods are leading to surge in demand for thermoforming plastic. Other factors such as changing demographics as well as lifestyles have shifted the market toward e-retailing channels & convenient packaging. And, this in turn is set to drive the demand for thermoforming plastics.
Although thermoforming plastic finds its application in a wide range of industries such as electrical & electronics, consumer goods & appliances, healthcare & pharmaceutical, automotive packaging & structures, and construction, the food & agriculture packaging industry dominated the thermoforming plastic market in terms of value. And this growth is mainly attributed to the huge demand for packaged as well as branded products. The reason why thermoforming is preferred in the food & agriculture packaging industry is due to the better protection that it offers during transportation of goods.
Technological advancements transforming the sector
A key trend that is gaining immense traction in the transforming plastic market includes the Technological advancements. Major companies that are operating in the transforming plastic sector are focused on building new technological solutions in order to strengthen their position in the market. For example, GEA,
a Germany-based food company, last year, launched PowerPak SKIN.50, based on the high-capacity SKIN thermoforming packaging technology, which renders high-capacity packing of up to 100mm high & protrudes up to 50mm above the packing tray level. And, it can also perform vacuum & modified atmosphere packaging on the same machine.
As per a new report from the Plastics News research department, automation, sustainability, in-mold labeling, as well as improved technology are few of the drivers of change in the thermoforming industry.
Some of the emerging trends in the thermoformed packaging sector comprise inventory control optimization, thermoforming, robotics integration, extrusion, & assembly equipment upgrades, enhanced tools in packaging design & graphics, lightweight packaging, as well as sustainability issues.
Jeff Mengel – the national practice leader for plastics and the food processing/packaging industries the Plante & Moran’s. Talking about the present trends that are facing processors serving the thermoformed packaging market and pointing out to automation Jeff states that, “I know it sounds like a broken record, but advances in automation remains a primary trend.”
Since various developments such as machinery & tooling continue to evolve with new control systems, automation in the form of robotic stacking systems have allowed thermoforms to be highly efficient while enhancing process repeatability.
Owing to speed of production & lower tooling costs the thermoforming process would replace injection molding in several applications in packaging. According to Julie McAlindon, the senior vice president of DSS for PolyOne Corp., there is a rise in the conversion of injection-molded packaging to thermoformed components. And this would decrease lead times as well as tooling costs so that clients can get to market faster with reduced risk & investment.
In-mold labeling has evolved over the past years & it is now becoming even more common for the higher end of the thermoforming spectrum. Therefore, owing to the technology advancements, companies are ensuring that the standards are being developed so that systems integration is easier.
Light weighting & sustainability gaining ground
As several consumers look forward to “green” products, a key issue for processors serving the thermoformed packaging industry is sustainability. Furthermore, light weighting & downgauging are the emerging trends as weight reduction has impacted beyond the part itself and hence there is an increased focus on sustainability through thin-walling & the use of recycled or bio-based materials.
Some of the top 3 businesses in the thermoforming machines field include Brown Machine Group, Gabler Thermoform, & Creative Plastic International. While Gabler Thermoform has solidified its financial foundation under the Possehl Group’s wing & made its long-term investments in the developing sustainability & innovation, the product range of Gabler comprises a complete array of high-end machines. The company renders its portfolio to customers around the globe in the highest possible quality at the most competitive prices.
The business is committed to developing & rendering sustainable as well as creative turnkey solutions which can help in optimizing profitability, consistency, as well as efficiency.
The road ahead
As thermoformers look to the future, they look forward for seeking new ways in order to keep costs down while manufacturing several parts with increasingly complex designs as well as tight tolerances. However, processors should have an open mind & look to apply the process creatively in new & challenging projects as well.