Issue: May 2016


Showcase for the latest in rubber and plastics technology



by James Hilton

Tailored materials, the more efficient use of resources, zero-defect production, generative production methods and digitalization are among the technological trends to be featured at K 2016, the world’s premier fair for the plastics and rubber industry.

Organizers Messe Düsseldorf say they are expecting 3,000 exhibitors to take part in the three-yearly event, which is being held from 19th October to 26th October, 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany. All 19 halls of Düsseldorf’s fairgrounds will be fully occupied by companies from across the globe. The categories include raw materials and auxiliaries, semi-finished products, technical parts, reinforced plastics, and machines and equipment for the plastics and rubber industry.

“Thanks to its unparalleled breadth of offering and the unmatched internationality of exhibitors and visitors, the fair is in a class of its own worldwide. It is the place where key decisions for products and processes and problem-solving are taken, and it points the way forward for the whole industry for the coming years,” says Werner M. Dornscheidt, President and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf. “We are delighted that demand for exhibition space is again extremely buoyant. The companies from the world of plastics and rubber know that they can look forward to an excellent springboard for their business success every three years in Düsseldorf.”

A special expo with the title “Plastics shape the future” is being organized by the German plastics industry under the auspices of Plastics Europe Deutschland e.V. and Messe Düsseldorf. Another highlight of the supporting program at K 2016 will be the Science Campus, a forum for research and teaching. The Science Campus will provide a compact overview of the activities and research findings of university and scientific organizations and helps to intensify dialogue between research and industry. Automotive Industries (AI) asked Petra Cullmann, Global Portfolio Director Plastics and Rubber at Messe Düsseldorf how the growing demand for lightweight vehicles and components has changed the face of the plastics and rubber industry.

Cullmann: Lightweight engineering is widely considered as the key to energy and fuel reduction. There are numerous – virtually infinite – combinations of special production methods particularly for reaction and injection molding techniques that provide solutions for the large-scale production of lightweight components.

AI: How will K 2016 reflect this change?

Cullmann: No other event provides a more comprehensive overview of the many ways in which reinforcing fibers with a matrix polymer material can quickly produce weight-optimized components with maximum process capability than the K 2016 trade fair. Metal-plastics hybrids and every combination of fibers with matrix polymers will be on show. Since the utilization of fiber composite polymers, especially of those with carbon fibers (CFRP), is increasing in the automotive industry, CFRP parts have to be fabricated in mass production-suited technologies. New ideas for these technologies can be expected to be on show at K 2016.

AI: What are some of the automotive applications that will be showcased at K 2016?

Cullmann: K 2016 is the key information platform for developers, designers and production experts from numerous branches of industry. First among them is the automotive industry! I’m sure that, for the automotive industry, the focus will once again be on plastics for lightweight structures, including foams; on functionalized plastics components and surfaces; on fiber composites and their processing and on hybrids.

Another important topic is modification, additivation and functionalization of polymer raw material with the aim of creating tailor-made compounds for specific applications, or with specific  properties. An important objective for tailor-made materials is sufficient chemical resistance and stability against continuous operating and peak temperatures. In addition to an adjustable thermal conductivity, many applications require adjustable electric conductivity or electric resistance. The same applies to rubber-based applications: rubber applications operated in close proximity to combustion engines must withstand increasingly higher continuous operating and peak temperatures as well as aggressive media. Not only electric vehicles require highly efficient tires with improved traction and minimized rolling resistance. Expect to see many examples of these technologies on show.

AI: What are some of the highlights of the K 2016?

Cullmann: The major highlights, of course, will be the innovations of the exhibitors! The manufacturers of plastics and rubber products, as well as their industrial end users, will be able to witness the pinnacle of developments in machine, process and materials technology at K 2016. This multi-faceted offering is being supplemented by a supporting program that promises trade visitors added benefit.

There is, for instance, a special presentation with the title “Plastics shape the future”. It aims to show how polymer materials have shaped the appearance of modern settings – not just in functional terms but also in terms of aesthetics and sustainability. This event deals with economic and ecological aspects, and also addresses problems such as marine litter.

Presentations and an innovative stand design are main issues of this special event in Hall 6, featuring VIP keynotes, introductory presentations, events and discussions. Throughout the entire trade fair, school and university students will also present their ideas on shaping the future so as to provide visitors with food for thought.

Other important topics will also be highlighted during K 2016. Just to mention a few:

A special tribute will be paid to additive manufacturing technologies/3D printing. The www.3dfabprint.com portal presents state-of-the-art technologies as well as visions and exciting best practice cases. A special brochure will provide information on all exhibitors that present solutions from the additive production segment at the show.

The critical debate about pros and cons of biopolymers, their future role and their market potential – of both bio-based as well as biodegradable polymers – will be discussed during the “Bioplastics Business Breakfasts” from 20 until 22 October. The “Design Chain@K” conference will provide insights into practical and technical aspects of innovations in the design chain. And one must not forget about the Science Campus.

AI: What research – industry cooperation will the Science Campus highlight?

Cullmann: The Science Campus will be further intensifying the dialogue between research and industry in an enlarged area and with an increased number of participating scientific organizations. All of them will be presenting pioneering materials and technologies and responding to the central challenges of plastics and rubber technology.

Supplementing the presentations of universities and colleges, institutes and sponsoring organizations, the Science Campus will focus on four key themes defined by the K 2016 Innovation Circle – a panel made up of experts from science and representatives of K’s Exhibitors Council. The key themes are:

  • Innovation drivers of global change focusing on resource efficiency
  • Plastics Industry 4.0
  • New materials, and
  • Lightweight engineering
  • Scientific training in macromolecular chemistry and plastics technology.

AI: How have growing demands for new technologies from the automotive industry impacted the plastics and rubber industry? And how has this impacted your marketing strategy for K 2016?

Cullmann: Many keywords influencing the progresses in the plastics and rubber industry have their origin in the automotive sector – such as modification, additivation and functionalisation of polymer raw materials, resource efficiency, better material efficiency and availability, lightweight engineering and zero-defect production. Raw material producers, machinery and equipment manufacturers as well as processors from all over the world are working hard to improve their products and services to meet the demands of this important sector. About 40% of all exhibitors that present products and services for industrial users at K 2016 offer innovations for this particular industry. Developers, designers and production experts from the automotive companies know this and plan their visit for October this year. Of course we address this important target group in our marketing activities.



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