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Today the global rotomolding market spans the globe, and in 2022 was valued at US$5 billion, and is still growing at a CAGR of 5.9% according to Transparency International. So what do we know about the history of rotomolding, where it’s come from, and where it’s going? Here at PSI Brand we’re honoured to work alongside so many amazing rotomoulding players around the globe, and in this article we take a look at rotomolding’s origins and take a look at what will drive the industry forward in the future.

It all started with chocolate in the 1800’s

Well, kind of. The origins of rotational molding trace back to 1855 when biaxial rotation and heat were first used, initially for crafting metal artillery shells and hollow vessels. Initially, the focus was on ensuring consistency in wall thickness and density. However, the innovation soon found its way into the confectionery world, where chocolate factories began employing rotomolding techniques to create their signature chocolate eggs. Over time, the method expanded its reach, including applications with plaster-of-Paris in the 1920s.

Doll heads were a turning point in the 50s

In the mid-20th century, as plastics emerged as a revolutionary new material, rotational molding took a significant leap forward.  Doll heads marked the early foray into rotomolded products, paving the way for an even larger range of items such as plastic toys, road cones, marine buoys, and car armrests.

doll rotomould

A rise to prominence in the 60s and 70s

In the decades that followed, rotomoulding surged in popularity, driven by its versatility, cost-effectiveness, and ability to produce complex shapes with minimal waste. Rotomolding begun in earnest for an array of applications, from automotive components and storage tanks to playground equipment and consumer goods.

The advent of polyethylene, a thermoplastic polymer ideally suited for rotational molding really turned things on it’s head. Its inherent properties, including durability, chemical resistance, and recyclability, further propelled rotomolding into the mainstream.

Going global in the 80s

Although initially slow to gain traction due to productivity constraints and limited suitable plastics, the introduction of materials like polycarbonate, polyester, and nylon in the 1980s opened up new horizons for the process.

By now rotomoulding was gaining momentum, spreading as a cost-effective plastic moulding technique in every corner of the globe. From North America to Europe, Asia, and beyond, manufacturers embraced the versatility of rotational molding.

rotomolding internationally
the future

What the future holds

Whilst the above has given us a very brief overview of rotomoulding’s history, we also need to look at it’s future. And no bigger theme seems to ring true than sustainability in the future evolution of rotomoulding. With growing environmental consciousness and regulatory pressures, manufacturers are exploring eco-friendly materials, recycling initiatives, and energy-efficient processes to minimise their environmental footprint.

The advent of digitalisation and Industry 4.0 also brings in a new era of interconnected manufacturing, where data-driven insights and automation optimise efficiency and drive innovation. Rotomoulding, with its baked-in flexibility and adaptability, is poised to thrive, and the future of rotomoulding has never looked brighter!