Thermoforming is the process of heating a thermoplastic material so that it can be shaped into a mold. It is then trimmed to create a product that is usable. There are various forms of molding that are available to this industry, including blow molding, injection molding, and rotational molding.
Other forms of plastics processing that are less common may also be included within the thermoforming industry statistics.
The gauge of sheet, or film, helps to determine what products will be manufactured by the industry. Thin-gauge plastics are usually reserved for products like disposable cups, trays, containers, and similar items for the food or medical industries. Thick-gauge plastics may be used for automobile doors, pallets, or even refrigerator liners.
Much of the plastic scrap that is generated from the forming and cutting process can be reprocessed for use again with the same facility or sold to other manufacturers.
Important Thermoforming Industry Statistics
#1. For the 5-year period ending in 2022, the global thermoforming industry is expected to achieve revenues of $47.68 billion. Should this occur, it would represent a CAGR of 5.8% from revenue figures of $33.91 billion in the last reporting period. (Reuters)
#2. In 2016, 8.3 billion pounds of plastics were created by the global thermoforming industry. By 2021, the industry is expected to exceed 10 billion pounds of created plastics for the first time. (BCC Research)
#3. The thermoforming industry is expected to grow at more than twice the rate of the overall plastics manufacturing industry. 57% of manufacturers within the industry associate themselves within the industrial design category. (Ray Plastics)
#4. The overall plastics industry in the United states is responsible for the direct employment of almost 900,000 people. If suppliers are included in the direct employment figures, then almost 1.5 million people are employed in the country. (First American Plastic Molding Enterprise)
#5. Injection molding facilities are located in all 50 states in the U.S. There are more than 16,000 active thermoplastic firms in the United States right now. (First American Plastic Molding Enterprise)
#6. In 2012, the overall plastics industry shipped over $370 billion in goods domestically and in the export markets. To accommodate this level of spending, the industry invests an average of $10 billion per year into new capital equipment. (First American Plastic Molding Enterprise)
#7. For every $10 billion in capital investments the plastics industry receives, it is able to increase plastic consumption rates by up to 6%. (First American Plastic Molding Enterprise)
#8. In the past 25 years, overall manufacturing in the United States has declined by an average of 1.4% each year. During the same period, plastics manufactured in the U.S. has increased by an average of 0.1% each year. China, Canada, and Mexico are the three primary importers of U.S.-based thermoplastic products. (First American Plastic Molding Enterprise)
#9. In 2012, the U.S.-based plastics industry logged a profit surplus of $13.1 billion. In total, about 107 billion pounds of plastics are created every year. Thermoplastics account for about 8% of the total industry production in any given year. (First American Plastic Molding Enterprise)
#10. Figures in the U.K. are similar to what they are in the United States. The commercial plastics industry employs about 170,000 people directly and enjoys an annual sales turnover of GBP23.5 billion. (British Plastics Federation)
#11. More than 6,200 firms are currently engaged in the business of plastics in the United Kingdom. About 5,200 firms are directly defined as being “manufacturers of plastic products.” (British Plastics Federation)
#12. About 3.3 million tons of plastic products are processed in the U.K. each year, with another 1.7 million tons of plastics materials being produced. About GBP7.5 billion in exports is generated by the industry annually. (British Plastics Federation)
#13. In Taiwan, the import value of the overall plastics industry is about $250 million annually. The value of the exports generated by the industry is over $17 billion. That means Taiwan is responsible for more than 6% of the overall global plastics industry. (World’s Top Exports)
#14. In 2014, more than 180,000 tons of used plastics were collected in the Taiwan market to be used as the raw materials for new plastic products. The total value of the products generated through recycling was more than $140 million. (Plastics Technology Online)
#15. By 2020, the global plastics market could be valued at more than $650 billion, assuming emerging markets in Brazil, India, and China continue to be a primary driving factor for growth within the industry. (Grand View Research)
#16. The global market for TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is expected to be valued at $2.84 billion by 2022. In 2016, the total value of the market was $1.93 billion globally. (Statista)
#17. The thermoplastic composites market is forecast to have a value of $41.93 billion by 2022. (Markets and Markets)
Thermoforming Industry Trends and Forecast
The thermoforming industry may be a small component of the overall plastics industry. It may not generate the same levels of revenue that other segments of the plastics industry are creating. At the same time, however, the thermoforming industry is seeing growth levels that are more than double of what the overall industry is able to produce.
Societal and political backlash are the two primary threats to this industry. Plastics manufacturing creates a lot of waste. More than 100,000 marine animals are killed by plastic litter every year globally. Up to 18,000 plastic items may be found in just one square kilometer of ocean space.
Microplastics continue to be a major threat to the world’s oceans as well.
With improved recycling and better disposal practices, the thermoplastics industry can continue to thrive, even in difficult environments. That is because it provides convenient products, affordable manufacturing processes, and numerous lifestyle benefits to virtually everyone.