Chicago — The global plastics market is rebounding — but it still needs skilled workers and a better image, according to machinery executive Paul Caprio.
“There's been a revival of investment, with automotive leading the way,” said Caprio, president of Krauss-Maffei Corp. of Florence, Ky. Lower energy costs and raw material prices have spurred this growth, he added.
Krauss-Maffei's customers now are looking for excellent surfaces, light weight, improved optics, function integration and renewable raw materials in their parts, according to Caprio. But the market is being challenged to staff its technical work force.
“We can't find people and our customers can't find people,” he said. “We have to get young people into manufacturing. Most of them don't even think about it.”
Image improvement also is needed in the industry. “To anyone who's not associated with plastics, it's a dirty word,” Caprio added.
KraussMaffei Corp.'s parent company, KraussMaffei Group GmbH, is based in Munich and employs 4,000 worldwide — operating several plants in Europe as well as a plant in China and a North American site in Florence — and posted sales of $1.2 billion in 2014. The firm is a leader in the injection molding machinery market and also makes extrusion equipment.