Co-located expos and conferences cover the depth of the still-growing industry
Economic woes have turned some once-lively trade shows into ghost towns and led to more than a few cancellations. These worries don’t seem to be on the radar for organizers of NPE2009, the international plastics showcase held every three years. This year, it will be at Chicago’s McCormick Place June 22 through 26.
The show will be colocated with the Society of Plastics Engineers’ Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC), Mold- Making Expo 2009, PET Strategies Plus, the Time Compression Expo, and the National Paint and Coatings Assoc. / Federation of Societies for Coating Technology conference on coating plastic substrates, among other events.
Show officials say the number of booths, around 1,450 covering 893,906 ft2, is up 16% from the last show in 2006. McCormick Place’s North, South, and West halls will be given over to the show. In addition to general NPE booths, the West Hall will hold the Time Compression Expo and 3D Systems World Conference, the Mold Makers’ Expo, and the International Plastics Design Competition.
The design competition will give out separate awards based on the opinion of expert judges and on popular vote. Design categories include agriculture, automotive, consumer electronics, industrial and military, medical and scientific, toys, and transportation. Public voting has already begun at the competition’s Web site; expert judging will begin June 22. The competition will conclude with an awards ceremony June 24.
The West Hall is also being billed as “Technology Central” with booths clustered by technologies including thermoforming, compressed air, fluoropolymers, thermoplastic elastomers, contract processing, and moldmaking as well as new and emerging technologies.
Nine honorees will be inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame during a dinner June 22. The inductees include Robert Barr, a designer of plasticating screws and blow-molding equipment; Paul N. Colby, a feedscrew designer; Trevor Evans, a designer of plastic packaging; Prof. Paolo Galli, a polymer chemist; James Hendry, injection-molding and structural foam machinery inventor; and Dr. Donald Witenhafer, a polymer chemist whose PVC polymerization technique ended vinyl-chloride emissions during resin production.
Off the show floor, the ANTEC technical program, underwritten by Dow Chemical Co., Midland, Mich., encompasses over 750 technical and peer-reviewed presentations in 128 sessions over three days. Topics will include flexible packaging, polymer analysis, thermoplastic materials, composites, and joining.
The Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) hosts its Business of Plastic Conference at the show, including 10 tracks spread over all five show days. Tracks include energy efficiency, resin trends, nanotechnology, and safety.
The three-day Time Compression Expo uses an end-user case-study format to explore cost-cutting, improving productivity, implementing new technologies, and business and management issues. Some participants will also tour local plants.
The MoldMaking Expo Technical Conference covers mold design, machining, materials, and other topics over three days. PET Strategies Plus, sponsored by MSC.Software, offers sessions on June 23 and 24 focusing on the use of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) resins and other packaging materials.
Latin American Plastics, a set of Spanish-language sessions on technical and business topics of interest to plastics producers in the Latin American market, extends over three mornings during the show.
Trends and debuts
Back out among the booths, NPE 2009 attendees can expect to see some continuing trends. For example, bioplastics — polymers derived from corn, tapioca, potatoes, soybeans, castor beans, and other natural resources — will play a larger role in NPE 2009 than in previous years. The materials are gaining ground as consumer trends lean toward products with renewable, fossil-fuel-free provenance. At least 16 booths at the show will display bioplastics products and services.
And Teknor Apex, Pawtucket, R.I., will unveil Terraloy compounds that blend thermoplastic starches with other bioplastics and conventional polymers like polypropylene. The compounds are the first products from its Bioplastics Div. PolyOne, Avon Lake, Ohio, will showcase its BIO color concentrates for biodegradable bioplastic resins. The concentrates are also made using biodegradable materials.
Other companies debuting new products at NPE 2009 include Dynamic Conveyor, Muskegon Mich. The company will introduce its Over/Under and Inline automated box-filling machines which are accurate to 0.3 oz. They will also exhibit a Tumbler Separator that reliably removes parts from injection-molded runners.
Eurotherm, Leesburg, Va., will display compact controls for injection-molding, blow-molding, and extrusion equipment. They include closed-loop process control, touchscreen displays with Ethernet communications and recipe storage, and parison-only control.
Ultrasonic plastics welding is the focus of Herrmann Ultrasonics’, Bartlett, Ill., HiQ evolution equipment. It provides tool-free stack exchanges and uses less energy while generating 1,200 to 1,600 W.
The OMS Group, Milan, Italy, and U.S. distributor Polyurethane Process Industries LLC, Latrobe, Pa., will emphasize energy efficiency at their joint booth. They will display high and low-pressure foam mixing and metering for elastomer parts, insulating panels, and viscoelastic foams that is said to control the foaming process for higher quality foams with little waste.
Products from Wilmington Machinery, Wilmington, N.C., will include the company’s equipment for making pallets out of 100% recycled plastic; a dual-parison, smallbottle, blow molder that makes up to 18,000 bottles/hr; and foam-injection molding machines for parts up to 300 lb and 10 ft long.
For more information on registration, schedule, and exhibitors, visit www.npe.org.