Applied Market Information Ltd.‘s latest guide to the injection molding industry in Ireland shows plastics processing as the most important component of the plastics industry in that country. Last year it consumed an estimated 26% of all polymers. Injection molding is now substantially greater, by volume of material used, than either pipe or film extrusion.
As outlined in AMI’s Guide to the Injection Molding Industry in Ireland, the strength of Ireland’s injection molding sector is due the country’s success in attracting foreign investment in advanced manufacturing industries over the past two decades. Since 1980, 40% of American investment in European electronics has come to Ireland, and over 300 overseas electronic companies operate there. Some 80 medical device companies operate in Ireland, including 10 of the world’s top 15 device companies.
Many of these companies have their own molding shops, but there is also a substantial subsupply sector to support these foreign-owned enterprises. Of the 154 companies listed in AMI’s guide, 50% are in-house. Over 60% of all injection molders in Ireland are owned by a foreign parent, with American companies the largest investors, followed by German businesses.
A downturn in demand for IT and computer products in 2001 did have an impact on the injection molding industry with several companies shutting down in 2002. However, the medical devices industry remained a strong sector.
For 2002, AMI estimates that consumption of polymers by the injection molding sector amounted to 63,000 metric tons. After a disappointing 2001, demand rose by 3% over the previous year, in line with the average trends for a five-year period from 1997. AMI forecasts that for the next five years, demand will increase on average by 2% per year, which would result in an injection molding sector of about 70,000 metric tons by 2007.
The main challenge facing the industry is its reliance on foreign-owned OEMs with their global manufacturing capabilities.