I know something about plastics shows. I ran a booth at one — built it, staffed it with a helper, took it down. I’ve been a guest speaker at a few events, and attended 16 — jawohl, sechzehn! — K shows in Düsseldorf, Germany, starting way back in 1963, even before today’s big fairground was built. It was and still is the world's really Big Plastics Show.
But big shows are less important in today's electronic world, where people can learn, network, and buy and sell online. Although many of us grew up in a time when personal contacts were critical, young people don't need to rely on them as much.
I got good at that, too. If I want to talk to a company, I’ll go to its website, then find it on LinkedIn, sidestep all the job-finding stuff, and see the list of people with titles and backgrounds. If you’re a member of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), its directory has emails. Then, when I call, e-write, or meet, I am better prepared.
What you're missing by not going to the K is simply the experience of being there: Its diversity — the whole world is there, minus a few Russians this year — and its size — 19 halls — all with food and a few with more than one level, and the covered passages between them, some with a moving belt to carry you along. You go home knowing you've been there. Seen one. Done it. It's almost like having children, which changes your world even after the nest is empty again (20 years for me).
It should also instill pride in our plastics industry — the products we make, and our skill and efficiency in making them. This may help us understand and explain plastics to the outside world, which sees them as pollutants and may even talk about a "plastics-free" lifestyle.
As for us non-goers, we can be proud and science-responsible, too, and save a lot of money and time, and get done the things we wouldn't have had time for had we gone. We don't lose much technically if we invest time in reading show reports — you can keep up with PlasticsToday’s live coverage on the K 2022 news page — and mining the K 2022 directory, which is online.
Click on Search for Products, then put in a search term. I put in extruders and got around 400 names, which is reasonable as some are specialized and many will be from other countries. The info on the page usually will be enough: Home office, phone, maybe email, and usually website.
Change the term and you’ll get a different list of exhibitors. It will take time to do this well, but a lot less than being there. Also, you’ll see hall numbers and sometimes the stand size. Most big makers of extrusion equipment will be in hall 16. Auxiliary equipment and products can be anywhere. The small exhibits against the walls won't have big machines running, but may be worth “seeing,” too. Mining the directory takes time, but usually it's well spent and much less tiring than the Big Walk.
How big is that walk? Many years ago, when I considered myself an outdoor hiker, I used a pedometer which showed I covered 45 kilometers in eight days. That’s about 30 miles. Not much for a hiker, but enough to send me at show’s end to the hot tub and pool then in the central building. Not now.
Then there’s the health issue. I am old enough to fear infection, even vaxed and boosted. I’m also old enough not to be afraid of fear. No airports, no confinement in planes and hotels with frisky-risky unknowns (the unmasked, untested), and no big crowds at the show.
So, if you’re there, you’ve done it. If not, you know what to do. As for the fall, we older folk worry about the fear of falling. But all of us can look at the colored leaves, which as they dry and decompose, put back into the air the carbon dioxide they took out when they were formed in the spring.