According to GLOBAL TRADE ALTAS statistics, the boom of the rubber and plastics industry has rebounded due to the growth of the aerospace and automotive industries and the market demand for consumer goods. With the economic growth of Asian countries, the Asia-Pacific region has become the largest and fastest-growing region in the world's plastic and rubber industry. About 40% of plastic and rubber machinery is manufactured in Asia. The fourth industrial revolution combines machinery and information and communication, both of which are the most advantageous industries in Taiwan. Taiwan's plastic and rubber machinery industry combines these two advantages and applies smart manufacturing new business models to strengthen competitive advantages and seek to create niche points. New business opportunities have brought Taiwan's plastics and rubber machinery industry to a new peak.
Taiwan's Rubber and Plastics Industry Develops Innovative Business Opportunities
The international trend of Industry 4.0 recreates the development of the rubber and plastics industry. Germany is the most important production and export country for rubber and plastics machinery manufacturing. Although the European rubber and plastics machinery market is mature, Asia will still be a global manufacturing production base in the future. With the relatively fast local economy growth rate, the demand for rubber and plastics machinery increases, it is estimated that Asia will be the focus of the market.
Rubber and plastic machinery are one of the four major machinery industries in Taiwan. About 98% of Taiwan's rubber and plastic machinery manufacturers are small and medium-sized enterprises, and 90% of these enterprises are concentrated in Tainan, Taichung, Hsinchu and other regions; the main export markets are still in Asia, including mainland China, Southeast Asia and Japan and other countries, it is the world's top six exporters of rubber and plastic machinery, with an export value of 1.17 billion US dollars in 2018.
In the past 40 years in Taiwan, the government has built upstream chemical plants and encouraged the development of the private middle and downstream basic raw material industries in order to form a close industrial chain and drive the vigorous development of downstream plastics, rubber, chemical fiber, and chemical industries. From the perspective of the automobile industry, the average rubber and plastic materials used in the tires and interior of each car are 200 kg.
Rising awareness of environmental protection, development of rubber and plastics towards green energy in response to the rise in global crude oil prices, the cost of materials has increased, and the rise of global awareness of environmental protection has led rubber and plastics manufacturers to introduce green design, energy-saving processes, use and recycling of biomass materials.
With the rise of global awareness of environmental protection, the improvement of process efficiency and pollution reduction of plastic products has become an important issue for the rubber and plastics industry. Under the influence of the new crown epidemic, due to the lack of work and the reduction of personnel contact, mechanical automation and cloud services have become the new normal in the industry. Taiwan Rubber Plastic machinery manufacturers take precautionary measures to introduce the Industrial Internet of Things and environmental protection processes as soon as possible, creating new opportunities for relevant global players to "shape".
Taiwan's rubber and plastic machinery is an export-oriented industry. After years of development, the injection molding industry has also realized that it has changed with the times under the wave of Industry 4.0. The research and development process technology meets the requirements of less waste, low energy consumption, improved manufacturing efficiency and the quality of recycled raw materials, such as identification and analysis technology of biomass materials, preparation, processing and application of biomass composite materials and environmental protection additives, and the second generation of non-food products. Raw material (plant fiber) modification, processing and application technology, as well as energy saving technology and green energy (wind energy, solar energy) technology, etc., to create new business opportunities.
Development Trend of New Plastic and Rubber Materials
In the past ten years, the international plastic processing and material technology has been innovating in many application fields. Five important technical aspects can be roughly summarized, namely: Green - environmental protection, Recycle – recycling and reuse, Advance – advanced innovation, Smart – intelligent design, Safe – safety and sustainability. These technological development concepts are independent but interrelated, creating many high-value products, and even deeply affecting our future lifestyle and quality.
Green - environmental protection
The so-called green process covers at least three levels: more efficient production process, more cost-effective design, and more environmentally friendly material application. It represents a commitment to saving resources, using less materials, less energy, and less manpower, and at the same time starting the thinking of Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing. Many applications of biomass materials and technologies for energy saving and carbon reduction came into being, such as: identification and analysis technology of biomass materials; preparation, processing and application of biomass composite materials and environmental protection additives; modification of the second generation of non-food raw materials (plant fibers) , processing and application technology; energy saving technology and green energy (wind energy, solar energy application) technology, etc.
Recycle – recycling and reuse
The concept of circular economy is to introduce the 6R principles of products (Reuse, Recycle, Reduce, Recovery, Repair, Redesign) to enhance the green value of products and prolong the product life cycle. It is no longer just a slogan, nor just to reduce costs, but a way of saving and cherishing blessings, for sustainability, a display of technology, and a creation of value. The concept of circular economy is in the ascendant, the mechanism and technology of recycling and reuse are booming, and the technology and application concept of environmentally friendly and low-carbon new materials (low pollution, low toxicity, low carbon emission) have become the most important part of supporting the circular economy.
Advance – refinement and innovation
More and more chemical material technologies are used in the development of high-end, high-value new materials, and are further integrated into more convenient designs, smarter manufacturing processes, and more advanced green energy technologies. The most typical examples are: high-end elastomers that emphasize recyclability and are widely used in sports and leisure, biomedical technology and even rail vehicles; cutting-edge fiber-reinforced composite materials that emphasize lightweight and energy-saving, from the material technology originally used in aerospace defense, extended to construction, electric vehicles, green energy technology, as well as higher-value industrial components and people's livelihood.
Smart – smart design
Looking around the world, we are surrounded by polymer materials, and people's food, clothing, housing and transportation are inseparable from colorful polymer materials. If the symbol of human social civilization in the 20th century is synthetic materials, the 21st century will be the era of intelligent materials. As the name suggests, the new material design escapes the traditional thinking, cleverly uses various molecular structures or mechanisms, so that seemingly ordinary plastic materials have "wisdom", and the material can respond to various external "stimuli" (such as light, electricity, electricity, etc.). pressure, humidity, acid-base, etc.) to make the corresponding "response".
Through proper design, such materials can memorize, restore or even change the original configuration, and can also produce specific changes in function, such as: viscosity, fluidity, color, magneto-electricity, mechanical strength and even volume. This new generation of plastic materials will bring product designers another imagination space to be creative and break through existing applications.
"Smart" chemical materials are expected to make a significant contribution to the application of plastic and rubber products that are environmentally friendly, low-carbon, and high-value. For example, shape memory polymers that can meet the needs of medical corrections have replaced the traditional thick and non-recyclable materials. gypsum; smart glue that can change its own viscosity in a specific wavelength range, greatly improving the ability of products to be easily disassembled, classified and recycled.
In addition, the high-strength shape memory polymer can be made into the baffles, bumpers, etc. of the car. After the car crashes, the deformed part can be restored to its original shape by heating it with hot air. The purpose of shape memory materials is to increase the value of product applications, such as the induction of blood sugar concentration in medical supplies to regulate insulin release, implantable arterial stents in blood vessels, artificial skin and artificial organs and other medical applications, or can change their shape by themselves. Materials that improve flight and driving efficiency, smart building materials that reduce climate dependence, multi-functional textiles, memory materials and biological passports, etc.
Safe – safe and sustainability
The scope of safety demands at least covers: environmental friendliness, health care, safe use, and even the development of medical equipment development, biomedical technology, emergency assistance, environmental safety, industrial safety, and the development of solutions to food safety issues.
In recent years, the turbulent food safety incidents have affected consumers' confidence in food, and consumers pay more and more attention to food quality and safety. During transportation, storage, transportation and use, due to changes in environment, temperature and humidity, microorganisms multiply, and active ingredients are decomposed or oxidized and deteriorated. The precise application of food containers and packaging materials has undoubtedly become one of the important lines of defense for consumers.