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Additional evidence of the contraction of the U.K. injection molding industry is reported in the most recent database update of molders in the country prepared by market analysts at Applied Market Information (AMI; Bristol, England). Since AMI last surveyed the industry three years ago, there has been a 14% drop in the number of companies carrying out injection molding. The trend for OEM and proprietary product manufacturers in the U.K. to relocate their manufacturing to Eastern Europe or Asia has continued during the period.
AMI points to recent examples including appliance maker Hoover-Candy, the Gillette Group, and sports and leisure equipment producer Addis, which have all discontinued molding operations in the country and transferred these to the Far East or elsewhere in Europe.
According to AMI, this has not only resulted in a reduction in captive molding but also a drop in contract molding. Significant closures in the automotive sector, particularly the loss of Rover, have also impacted many contract molders. Combined with high resin and energy costs, many smaller molders have been forced out of business, says the report. Others for whom injection molding was only a peripheral part of the business have sold off equipment and now sub-contract this work.
The U.K. molding industry is estimated by AMI to consume about 750,000 tonnes of plastics annually, with polypropylene making up nearly 50% of this amount. Largest end use market for British injection molding is packaging which takes 36% of the total. Traditionally the U.K. has had a relatively large sector serving the telectronics and electrical good industries but the amount of plastic processed has slipped to 11%. In 1997, electronics goods took 15% of the U.K. total plastics processed.—[email protected]