Most processors think of NPE as a venue for products and services. But it is also a formidable center of education. Attendees could easily spend four of the show’s five days in classes or conference sessions.
The show organizer, the Society of the Plastics Industry, and another trade group, the Society of Plastics Engineers, have put together a diverse lineup of conferences and classes. The conference schedule assembled by the SPI is free to registered attendees. The SPE seminars, oriented toward training, cost money to attend (search www.4spe.org for prices).
The topics in the free conferences (and the paid seminars) reflect current business concerns and interests. There are, for example, seven sessions planned on global business. Two deal with China — one on sourcing plastics there and the other on doing business in the country. Other topics include a global polyolefins forecast, the outlook for volume polymers, global licensing, a look at international business, and a forecast of the plastics market in 2020.
Business management is always an issue, especially now that processors are under tremendous competitive pressure. Nine topics are planned for a management session, including partnering for success, strategic alliances, supply chain management, creativity and innovation, mergers and acquisition trends, and capital. For those looking to sell their business or pass it on to an heir, there will be a presentation on selling a business and on succession planning.
A session on market trends has seven topics slated. These range from selling value, avoiding commoditization, technology mapping, and process differentiation to how to conduct market research.
The dot-com revolution has tanked, but that doesn’t mean that some of its spawn like e-commerce are dead issues. Three presentations cover this topic in a session.
Processing is always a concern. The injection molding sessions cover 11 topics, with process techniques a major area of coverage. Among papers to be presented are ones on watermelt processing; MuCell foam processing; gas evacuation with thermosets; thinwall molding; and large-part optimization.
Also popular is extrusion; one session will have eight presentations. These cover basic, though essential, topics like profile cooling and sizing, eliminating melt fracture, and controlling gage variation. But they also include wood-flour composites processing and compounding low-density materials.
Among other offerings are two presentations on blow molding and two on rotational molding. Thermoforming will feature in at least four presentations, including one on exotic materials.
Finishing is always a focus of interest. Brimming with topics here is a session entitled “Joining Plastics.” Six presentations cover a range of concerns: vibration welding; spin welding; laser welding; hot-plate welding; large-part welding; and thermal press operations.
Why six topics in welding? The techniques presented are different and cover a range of joining needs. They also fit a trend among processors to broaden fabrication capabilities, especially in downstream operations. This not only makes them more valuable to oems, many of which are looking to consolidate vendors, but means that with such capabilities processors need never turn business away for want of these operations.
In materials, sessions are slated on additives and new resins. Of interest is a separate session on thermoplastic elastomers with three overviews, one each on materials, processing, and applications.
Other activities planned for NPE include an industrial thermoformers conference sponsored by the International Association of Plastics Distributors (iapd.org/events); a global design trends seminar presented by the Industrial Designers Society of America (idsa.org); and the Crossroads Forum, a breakfast meeting that examines the changes and challenges confronting North American processors, sponsored by Injection Molding Magazine (immnet.com).
Finally, on June 26, there will be the traditional Hall of Fame induction dinner at the Chicago Hilton. For tickets, contact Doreen Ricker: [email protected].