The “Business of Plastics is the theme of the NPE2009 international plastics exposition, being held between June 22nd and 26th at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
Over 75,000 plastics professionals from 120 countries are expected to attend the Society of the Plastics Industry (SPI) – run expo. SPI is partnering with the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) to present a technical conference with unpublished peer-reviewed papers. ANTEC 2009 will be co-located with NPE2009. SPI’s “Business of Plastics” program will complement ANTEC 2009. Also in NPE2009 will be the MoldMaking Expo 2009 trade show and conference, organized by Gardner Publications.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Lynne Harris, Senior VP of Science and Technology at the Society of the Plastics Industry what will be new at NPE2009.
Harris: Since the last NPE in 2006, a completely new management team has emerged. This team has developed many innovations. Some examples:
1) The first International Plastics Design Competition will showcase plastic products from around the world and the full range of end-use markets.
2) The Emerging Technologies Pavilion will include exhibits focusing on sustainability, nanotechnology, bioplastics, and energy.
3) The New Technology Pavilion will have displays of products judged to be truly new at the show by a panel of industry editors.
4) Specialty pavilions dedicated to technologies or industry sectors, including thermoforming, rotomolding, design engineering, elastomers, moldmaking, and compressed air.
5) Innovation Theaters in each exhibit hall will enable exhibitors to make presentations or demonstrate products.
6) SPI’s Business of Plastics educational program will address such topics as marketing, human capital management, finance, environmental issues, regulation, and global economic trends.
AI: What industry issues will be tackled?
Harris: Sustainability will be addressed in all of its aspects, such as energy conservation, alternate energy systems, recycling, plastics based on renewable resources, degradable plastics, reducing carbon footprints, and solid waste source reduction. Another prominent theme will be nanocomposites.
AI: What’s new?
Harris: One of the fastest-growing auto-related material families is that of thermoplastic elastomers (TPEs). There will be exhibits by a number of TPE suppliers, plus a multi-exhibitor pavilion dedicated to elastomer technologies. Look for new formulations for exterior panels, interior assemblies, interior and exterior trim, under hood and under-chassis applications, fuel lines and fuel tanks, and electronics and wiring. Also on exhibit will be new coating and in-mold decorating techniques.
AI: How has the global economic slowdown impacted the plastics industry?
Harris: Like other manufacturing industries, plastics has been affected by the slowdown, as well as the cost of fossil fuels, which serve as both feedstock and energy sources. Policies that lead to increased supplies of oil and natural gas and moderate their costs can help reduce the burden on these manufacturers and their customers. Long-term, development of alternative energy sources can reduce cost pressures, as can development of plastics based on feedstock from renewable sources.