A survey conducted by Protolabs with industry professionals visiting the company booth at the recent Moulding Expo trade event in Germany has revealed some key challenges and opportunities facing manufacturers across Europe.
The biennial Moulding Expo event dedicated to injection moulding moulds and tools brings together over 700 exhibitors and thousands of professionals from Europe and the rest of the world.
Protolabs, the globe's leading digital manufacturing source for custom prototypes and low-volume production parts, asked attendees three key questions about innovation and the future of production to gain an expert insight into the injection moulding industry and low-volume production.
When asked how often attendees faced challenges in developing new products, over two-thirds (67%) revealed they often ran into difficulties, while 10% noted having problems frequently and 23%, sometimes.
Dirk Rathsack, Protolabs‘ Vice President of Sales for the EMEA region said: “The result here shows that Moulding Expo visitors need access to a streamlined product development process. With numerous challenges hindering a product’s journey to market, it could be that design engineers are not taking the full advantage of rapid injection moulding technologies.”
Attendees were then asked what the most important factor was in selecting the manufacturing process – material, speed or output quantity? Some 44% said speed was the key issue, while 28% noted material and a further 28% output quantity as main factors respectively.
“This result demonstrates the need for Moulding Expo visitors to get their products to market quickly. With numerous iterations often required in order to bridge a part to full manufacture, rapid injection moulding is a key facilitator of speed-to-market,” Rathsack added.
Lastly, the professionals were asked where they thought the key hub for low-production manufacturing globally was – Europe, Asia or USA? Around 75% said Europe, 25% Asia, while none selected the U.S.
Commenting on this statistic, Rathsack explained that despite the tremendous advancement of the manufacturing sector in Asia, Moulding Expo visitors still highly value Europe as a manufacturing resource. Rathsack: “Perhaps this means European manufacturers are embracing digital manufacturing and customisation more than the other regions?”
This article was first published by ETMM.