Posted on May 13th, 2019 | By ViVi, WayKen Project Manager
China is the absolute leader in the plastic injection molding industry. Chinese mold tooling is coveted by manufacturers all around the globe for its high quality and competitive prices. Following continuous growth that started in 2014, China Injection molding has taken up to 36% of the global market in that industry. It seems as if the growth rate has slowed down in 2018 but the Chinese have an ace up their sleeve. This ace is called the Belt and Road Initiative.
What is Belt and Road Initiative? (BRI)
Why BRI is necessary
The BRI was first voiced by the Chinese Chairman Xi Jing Ping in 2013. His administration understood a major factor that hindered the further economic growth of the Chinese industrial giant. Infrastructure, or, rather, lack thereof. China is a large country with many naval ports that have successfully served as the trade arteries for the eastern part of the country. However, trade routes there are limited and globalization offers more opportunities to ship Injection mold components and custom molds to the faraway countries. Those opportunities haven't been used until now due to the fact that the infrastructure has been lacking. Western China has it a little bit worse. Russia stands a long stretch of land that needs to be covered if the western China companies want to export goods to Europe by land. Russian infrastructure needs a lot of improving to suit the volumes of Chinese export. Same can be said for Kazakhstan and other countries bordering the western region of China. So, What's the solution?
How it's going to be done
Since those countries don't seem to develop their infrastructure at a pace suitable for China, it has decided to invest in the roads, ports, and storages of those countries itself. So, China is making a lot of banks that loan trillions to the developing countries of Asia and South Africa. What's in it for China? A well-established infrastructure and a free-trade agreement that stems from the investments, China is ready to put into other countries will boost the economic growth and the Chinese economy will probably reach the USA. And China will restore the legendary "Silk Road", which is immeasurably cool.
The Structure Of The Injection Molding Market In China Now
Modern mold manufacturing and custom injection molding market in China is highly competitive. There are a lot of small and medium-sized machine shops who have equal working conditions and have to lower the prices and production time while increasing quality to stay in the game. That's why the market has been developing up to 6% a year up until 2018, the turnaround time was growing shorter while injection molding tolerances were getting tighter. This, cheaper labor and cheaper plastic injection molding supplies makes Chinese custom molds and custom molded plastics a great option for businesses all over the world but the shipping is still an issue.
Prototype Injecting Molding - A Process Invented by China
In addition to small shops, Chinese manufacturers are the pioneers of rapid injection mold manufacturing. This is a considerably innovative process that allows the prototyping and injection molding shops to manufacture rapid injection molds as well as small volume injection molding to take a week instead of a month. How is it done? Well, the Chinese have played with conventional injection mold tooling and manufacturing process structure to make it as flexible as possible.
They've swapped the costly durable injection molds with cheaper aluminum molds that can be machined faster and last just enough to produce the required prototype or a small batch of them. In addition, conventional injection molding processes are highly automated, which is great for mass production but resetting them for smaller volumes is a pain. That's why the Chinese have turned down the automation and that has allowed them to decrease lead time as well. All of that decreases plastic injection molding cost and time and makes the process a good substitute to 3-printing in terms of rapid prototyping.
How China Injection Mold Makers And The World Will Profit From The BRI
Statistics suggest that almost 66% of all the parts manufactured globally are made by injection molding. This is a staggering number. However, it should be noted that the current industrial development of counties around the globe is different. Chinese efforts are aimed at industrially developing countries. They are only starting to produce custom molded products themselves or ordering custom molded components for their products from China. Free trade and good infrastructure will make prices cheaper and shipping faster for those developing companies. And Chinese injection molding manufacturers will prosper as well.
Not only does China export custom molds and custom molded components but injection molding tools and injection moulding materials. It has exported the most injection molding machines in the world since 2014. Cheaper supplies and tooling will boost the industries of South Africa, South, and Eastern Asia and so on.
Even the highly developed countries in Europe can gain something from the BRI. The cost of their labor and rent is much higher than in China. The only thing that keeps people from moving their manufacturing volumes to China is expensive and long shipping. But with this problem gone, the businesses can order even more high-quality parts and save money by employing Chinese companies for the job.
Now, the Chinese manufacturers will prosper from the initiative as well. Well, that's the original plot of the Chinese government, isn't it? Firstly, the land roads will boost the industry of the western regions that are somewhat isolated from the main trade routes right now. In addition, Chinese companies will gain access to the markets that comprise a staggering third of the world GDP. And they can compete with the local companies for the injection molding markets all over the world. We know that the Chinese can compete like no one when it comes to manufacturing, industrial efficiency and prices.