MoldMaking Technology Editorial Advisory Board members attended and exhibited at last month's NPE event, so I asked them to share what they learned. Here are some of their thoughts:
"A solid feeling of optimism and eagerness for manufacturing. Business is very good for most and great for some. We had many conversations with companies that service the custom side of the injection molding industry. Interest was high in expanding their internal capabilities with new manufacturing technologies. I was pleased to engage in several conversations with tool shop owners who have been adding sampling services and are receiving customer requests for multishot tooling."
"Our largest customer base is the OEM and brand owner, and most had decision makers and influencers at the event, so we had many extended and productive meetings. There are product revisions and new products coming from a variety of markets. Business isn’t exploding, but it is growing carefully and steadily."
"Of the new prospects we met, many discussions included their need for supply partners with adaptive/ flexible capacity and the ability to provide more than the finished mold. A premium is placed on supply partners who offer extended integrated services. These are opportunities for tool shops to add value to the injection mold sale. For example, fixtures for post molding events (decorating, assembly, etc.) and end of arm tooling."
"I was very impressed with the major equipment suppliers, such as Krauss Maffei, Arburg, Milicron and Husky. They all came to show off and they showed well."
"I was interested in induction heating and steam cycling of molds (specifically at the Matsui booth). This is not new, but it is pretty cool and gets you thinking about the possibilities."
"Arburg's Freeformer machine was interesting, but still has a ways to go before it's practical."
"A lot of talk on the auxiliary end with regards to replacing hot oil units with high pressure water units."
"The aggression of the Chinese exhibitors was surprising. They were on a mission to get leads and interact."
"The equipment units are becoming expensive because they include so much automation and robots in the cost of the base units. This prevents new companies from entering into the marketplace because the equipment is priced out of the start-ups price range."