Micro injection molding is a molding process which requires a specific molding machine with high injection pressure and speed, precise shot control, and ultra fine resolution for molding small sized tools and parts. This technique is used for the development of small or micro products that require precise specifications. Micro injection molding is usually done for the parts that are designed with weight less than a milligram and size less than 1 mm. Use of this technique is not limited to only small parts but may be used for large products which require micro sized features such as thickness, diameter hole, etc. Silicone is the major raw material used for micro molding, owing to its physical and chemical properties. However, silicone is costly and impacts the profitability of molders. In order to reduce manufacturing cost, polymers came into existence in the 90s. Polymer based micro molded products find applications in almost all of the application areas where silicones are being used. Polymers are further classified as thermosets, thermoplastics and elastomers out of which thermoplastics are majorly used for various applications in end-use industries. In the medical industry, micro injection molding is conducted to manufacture parts such as sensors, implants, tubes, catheter tips, micro optics and others. Molded products are slowly replacing machined components that have been used traditionally in the industry. The growing trend of small devices coupled with increasing number of minimally invasive surgeries per day has been boosting the demand for micro sized parts from medical device manufacturers. The key advantage of micro injection molding over micromachining is cost savings. Micro injection molding takes a fraction of time to mold the components and utilizes low cost raw materials compared to machining and results in high cost savings. Leading applications of micro molding are medical and healthcare applications, drive systems and controls, telecom fiber optics, automotive industry.
The global market for microinjection polymer molding is expected to reach US$897.3 mln by 2020; as per Grand View Research, Inc. Growing demand for small sized components mainly from the medical industry is expected to be a key driving factor for the market. Microinjection molding is used to manufacture highly valued micro medical components such as sensors, implants, tubes, catheter tips and micro optics among some other components; the growing demand for these has had a positive impact on the market. The report further observes that shift in trend towards adoption of micro molding over micromachining, owing to its cost efficiency and development of micro optics and micro fluidics technologies, particularly in North America and Europe is also expected to play a major role in the market growth. Medical and healthcare emerged as the leading application markets for microinjection molding and accounted for just over one-third of the total market in 2012. Along with being the largest market, these are also expected to be the fastest growing market for microinjection molding at an estimated CAGR of 15.2% from 2013 to 2020. Growing demand for small sized components on account of increasing number of minimally invasive surgeries is expected to drive the market over the next six years. Automotive industry trailed medical and healthcare industry in the overall demand for microinjection polymer molding. The global market for microinjection polymer molding in automotive industry is expected to exceed US$200 mln by 2020.
North America emerged as the leading market for microinjection polymer molding, accounting for more than 40% of the total market in 2012. Rapid technological advancement, mainly in the U.S. has been a key factor for market development. In addition, increasing healthcare expenditure is also expected to fuel the demand for microinjection molding market. North American micro molders gained the advantage of moving early into a high growth market eyeing a sustainable future. Rapid development of various micro technologies including microoptics and microfluidics mainly in Western Europe is expected to drive the market for microinjection polymer molding in Europe. Germany holds a major chunk in the European market for microinjection molding on account of increasing medical expenditure and country’s lead position in automobile manufacturing. European market for micro injection molding is expected to grow at a CAGR of 13.8% from 2013 to 2020. Asia Pacific is still a large untapped market and hold immense opportunities in the years to come. Asia Pacific is expected to grow at a CAGR of 14.9% from 2013 to 2020. However, lack of awareness regarding the benefits offered using micro molded polymers mainly in under developed countries of Middle East, Africa, Latin America and South Asia is expected to hinder the market growth over the forecast period. Production of microinjection molded polymers is concentrated mainly in Europe and North America. Some of the major companies operating in the global market include Accu-Mold LLC, ALC Precision, American Precision Products, Makuta Technics, Micromolding Solution Inc., Precimold Incorporation, Rapidwerks, Stack Plastics Inc., Stamm AG and Sovrin Plastics among some other companies.
Global thermoplastic micro molding demand from drive systems and control is expected to reach over US$89 mln by 2019, as per Research and Markets. Medical and healthcare applications dominated thermoplastics micro molding market and accounted for 35% of the total market in 2012. The rapid development of micro fluidics technology mainly in North America and Europe is expected to drive the market for micro molding in medical and healthcare over the forecast period. Micro molding is used for manufacturing micro connectors in telecom fiber optics. Telecom fiber optics application is expected to exceed US$95 mln by 2019. Micro molding is used for manufacturing micro switches, connectors and airbag sensors in the automotive industry. It is expected to grow at an estimated CAGR of nearly 14% from 2013 to 2019.