Investing for Nesting - Top 3 Trends for White Goods

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the amount of time that people are spending at home which has seen a steep rise in home investment as people seek to improve where they live, work and entertain themselves.

The globally emerging “stay at home” trend has provided new opportunities for the white goods industry as consumers continue to make their homes smarter, more comfortable and more functional.

According to Data Bridge's forecast, from 2021 to 2028 the global white goods market will continue to grow at an annual rate of 7.75%. (White goods are home appliances that help people simplify their daily life such as refrigerators, freezers, washing machines, dishwashers, and air conditioners).

White goods manufactures are constantly searching for solutions that support product design flexibility and cost-saving, with plastic considered the best alternative to metal. As a result, moulds to support white goods production are anticipated to increase accordingly.

Here are three major trends that provide opportunities and challenges to white goods moulders and mould makers.

1. Smart Living Requires White Goods to be Smarter

As an integral part of smart homes and boosted by faster data transmission speed and AI learning technology, white goods will continue to evolve.

Smart appliances can connect to a growing number of other IoT devices within their home network, allowing users to monitor and control them from anywhere via mobile applications.

Example: Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge

The Samsung Family Hub Smart Fridge allows consumers to access information on the integrated 21" LED touchscreen such as news, weather forecast and personal notes, while also managing all connected devices such as camera’s, door locks and window sensors. The Family hub also features 3 built-in cameras to monitor food storage and freshness from the user's mobile.

With the increasing frequency of electronic parts in white goods, product safety and reliability are essential to consumers. In order to improve fire resistance, flame retardant additives are commonly infused into plastic parts that encase the circuitry and electronics, such as washing machine shells and refrigerator back panels.

However, from the perspective of the injection moulding process, flame retardant additives introduce corrosion risk to hot runners which can lead to defective parts and unplanned downtime. To reduce this risk hot runners need to incorporate anti-corrosive components.

2. Sustainable Products

Two-thirds of global consumers are willing to pay a premium for more sustainable products, according to Electrolux 2020 annual report. After COVID-19 spread, consumers are paying even greater attention to the circular economy and sustainability with younger consumers especially likely to choose healthier and greener products.

To cater to consumer’s needs, many big brands are actively exploring sustainable solutions, including the adoption of recycled and biodegradable plastic to make products easier to recycle at the end of the product life span. For example, in 2018, Electrolux developed a prototype refrigerator in which all plastic parts are made of sugarcane-based bioplastics. When compared with virgin plastics, the carbon emissions from bio-plastics are reduced by 80%.

The increasing usage of recycled and bio-plastic applications bring challenges to the injection moulding process. These types of polymers are generally more difficult to process compared to virgin polymers. For example, PLA is more shear sensitive than normal polystyrene-type plastics. As the process window is narrower, it requires the hot runner system to provide the most accurate control and balanced thermal profile.

3. Consumers are Looking for Cost-effective Products

After the outbreak of the pandemic, the global supply chain has been greatly disrupted. As a result, many raw materials have been increasing in price. As the white goods market is highly competitive, manufacturers are extremely sensitive to raw material price fluctuation. Hot runner moulds are adapted more commonly to save the raw material cost. In addition, moulders choose a more flexible layout of hot runners which not only supports diverse product design but also helps to reduce the cost.

Family moulds are more commonly used in white goods applications to save tooling costs and initial capital expenses. These types of hot runners are expected to have a flexible layout and precise filling control as parts produced from family moulds include variances in sizes, wall thickness and part weight.