Canadian Plastics

At the K, Superlatives Really Do Apply

By Michael LeGault   



Before leaving for this year's K Show I thought I had come up with a simple but brilliant plan for uncovering the newest and coolest technology among the thousands of exhibitors: Find those booths whe...

Before leaving for this year’s K Show I thought I had come up with a simple but brilliant plan for uncovering the newest and coolest technology among the thousands of exhibitors: Find those booths where people were crowded around in rapt attention and begin taking notes. Once at the show, the shortcomings of the approach became apparent: There were few of the nearly 3000 exhibitors that weren’t overrun by crowds of curious folk packed around the product displays, and often spilling into the aisles.

At K, this is par for the course. Indeed, the show is a wonder for many North Americans, many of whom have become accustomed to smallish crowds at trade show venues on this side of the pond. One first-time exhibitor told me he had “never seen anything like it”. Other than the constant flow-through of people, he was astonished by people who showed up at the booth bringing lists of equipment specifications and floor plans of their factories.

There are a number of things, other than size, that distinguish the K Show from other trade shows. One, of course, is a distinctive style, lan that is definably European. Business, as important as it is, is seen as a compliment to the more general pursuit of the “good life”. The seriousness with which exhibitors attend to the kitchen portion of their booths attests to this attitude.

Another is the degree to which companies build their new product launches and product cycles around the K Show. This happens with NPE also, and larger companies with resources usually manage to make a splash at both. However there are little splashes and big splashes and the feeling I get after having attended both shows for a number of years is that are simply more BIG splashes at the K, and more smaller companies making some type of splash also.

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Returning from a show such as the K, one expects to be asked “what was the coolest thing you saw?” Luckily I work in print and am not obliged to summarize a six-day event in a 15-second sound byte. There were, in my view, at least several significant achievements and developments at the show.

Materials: This was the big surprise for me, as materials suppliers generally cart out new grades of resin x and resin y. The purSonic soundboard, based on a new type of polyurethane developed by Bayer MaterialScience, represents a technological leap in the consumer electronics market. DuPont and Lanxess introduced significant new product lines. Wacker Silicones brought out an entirely new polymer. (See K Show report in this issue).

Multi-material molding/advanced work cells/in-press finishing: Rotating platens, spin molding, advanced robotic applications and other technologies for improving efficiencies are rapidly expanding, giving injection molders more and more options to drive down costs and compete with off-shore competition. Look for continuing enhancements in all these areas as machine suppliers try to gain the edge in the market place.

Coating technologies for PET bottles: The highest growth type of food packaging for years, PET bottles may experience a growth slowdown unless new coating technology can expand applications. SIG Coroplast has formed a joint venture with Schott AG to market coating modules for use in beverage fill machines. Other companies are working on commercializing coating technologies also.

Auxiliaries: Once something of an after-thought, auxiliary equipment has become the final frontier, in an operational sense, for processors looking to squeeze and maximize the efficiency of their production. Advances in auxiliary equipment interconnectivity are making life easier for shop floor personnel, allowing companies to do more with less manpower, thus improving their productivity.

As you can see, it would be tough to summarize this show in a 15-second sound byte.

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