The Manufacturing Alliance NPE2018: The Wrap Up Show

Christina Fuges, Cyndi Kustush and Barbara Schulz of MoldMaking Technology take a look back with The Manufacturing Alliance at the technology and trends they saw during their five days at NPE2018.


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Plastics is a massive industry, which was quite evident with the size of NPE2018. It was its largest show to date, making it a difficult show to experience and cover at the same time. However, the MMT Team did its best to walk the miles of aisles to see and report on the latest technology and trends.

Here are three trends:

  1. Mold monitoring and process control. Numerous companies are improving their methods of monitoring molds and the molding process using sensors, monitors, software and the cloud to collect, analyze and share data, which ties directly to Industry 4.0.
  2. Additive manufacturing. Many molders and mold builders were walking the 3D/4D Printing Zone truly interested in these technologies. It seems as though something has clicked in their minds, allowing them to see AM as an avenue to new business opportunities (accepting lower-volume work) and a method to help customers save time and money (via 3D-printed conformal-cooled inserts).
  3. Conformal cooling. Numerous shops are buying technology to produce conformal-cooled inserts (vacuum brazing and 3D printing). The news on the street is there is a lot business out there for conformal-cooled inserts, if provided by shops with the tooling expertise to get it done right. On top of that, with conformal cooling really taking off, solutions for long unforeseen challenges were showcased, including systems for not only cleaning clogged water lines, but monitoring them so that it doesn’t happen at all.