Welcome to this year's biggest plastic trade show: NPE 2024, where plastics face a pivotal challenge: evolving towards sustainability while retaining their unique characteristics.

With innovations in electric vehicles and compostable packaging leading the charge, the future of plastics lies in redefining their durability through advanced manufacturing techniques.

Translucent materials improve lighting effects in exteriors and interiors. They are lightweight, low carbon footprint, and adhere well to PUR coating or IMD film. This one-step process reduces investment costs and supports sustainable design.

From grilles to new thrills

Electric vehicle designs have shifted away from traditional grilles to intelligent panels. These advanced panels serve dual purposes: they enhance the aesthetic appeal of EVs and integrate smart functionalities with cameras and sensors.


New manufacturing techniques, like multi-k injection facilitate these developments which allows for the use of advanced materials with specific properties. Polycarbonate resins, enhanced with specialized coatings, provides high transparency for light and signal transmission along with durability against impacts and UV radiation.

This raises the standards for EV design by blending aesthetics and performance, hinting at the future of automotive applications.

Plug, play, and plastic: the change in EV charging equipment

There is a growing preference for new plastic-based solutions over traditional metal due to their superior design, cost-effectiveness, and positive impact on the environment. These materials, including flame-retardant and high-impact options, enable manufacturers to produce safe and durable EV charging equipment.


The use of thermoplastics in battery packs and charging stations offers multiple benefits, such as reducing costs, lowering weight, and minimizing environmental impact, like renewable polycarbonate resins, derived from bio-feedstock.

Tray chic: Compostable plastics

Speaking of sustainability, a new compostable polymer with bio-based content was presented, suitable for applications like food trays and drinking straws.


Additionally, additive solutions are enhancing the mechanical recycling of plastics, improving the quality of recycled materials for various industries. These developments help achieve sustainability goals by boosting the recyclability and reusability of single use food plastics.


Stable, stackable solutions.

A new technology for making PET containers is replacing traditional HDPE containers. This change reduces container weight by up to 60%, lowers shipping costs, and allows for custom designs perfect for storage.


The "Deep Bottom" system shapes the containers with a special shoulder and base, making them more stable. This process creates a deeper base that fits the shoulder, neck, and handle of another container, resulting in containers that stack securely and save space.

Printed mold masterpieces

Faster process, stronger materials

In product development, speed and agility are essential. The use of 3D printed polyurethane (PU) molds significantly accelerates the prototyping process, allowing molds to be produced overnight and improving overall efficiency.


New types of rigid polyurethane materials are becoming increasingly robust, capable of withstanding high temperatures up to 100°C. They also offer excellent resistance to chemicals and UV light, making them ideal for automotive parts, precise engineering components, and durable covers and brackets. These advancements make polyurethane molds a versatile and reliable choice for high-quality product development.

Dry matte materials for injection molding offer a glimpse into unique texture trends, enhancing product appearance in home appliances, office automation, and electronic device housings without additional complexity or costs.

Printing for thicker walls and higher stiffness

Structural foam is a specialized form of injection molding that utilizes a variety of thermoplastics, including recycled materials, to manufacture rigid products with distinct advantages over standard injection-molded items. 


This process involves mixing a blowing agent—either chemical or physical—into the resin. When injected into the mold, the resin does not completely fill the cavity initially. Instead, the blowing agent expands, pushing the resin to the extremities of the mold. As the part cools, this internal foaming action compensates for shrinkage, reducing defects such as sinks over ribs or in heavy cross-sections. 


This technique enables the creation of components with thicker walls and higher stiffness-to-weight ratios, suitable for a wide range of industrial applications.

Process plastics like metal?

Texturing and engraving in the plastic market have seen significant advancements, thanks to manufacturing processes borrowed from other industries. Chemical etching, for instance, enables the creation of precise designs and patterns on plastics. 


Other techniques like photochemical machining allow for the production of intricate metal components. Infinite new possibilites!


Additionally, methods such as laser cutting, CNC machining, and custom etching serve as vital links between metal and plastic manufacturing processes, facilitating seamless integration and innovation in product development.

Picture perfect plastic presentation

Plastics are crucial in today’s world but face criticism over environmental concerns. The industry must adapt to become more eco-friendly while keeping plastics' durability and versatility.

Sectors like electric vehicles and compostable packaging are making progress towards said goal. The future of plastics depends on new manufacturing and molding technologies to create more sustainable products, balancing practical needs with environmental protection.

The future of plastics lies in reshaping its very essence — by leveraging advancements in manufacturing and molding to forge a more sustainable path for the decades ahead.