Six must-sees at PLASTEC West and MD&M West

The co-located PLASTEC West and MD&M West trade show and conference coming to Anaheim, CA, next week is a massive event. There is so much to see on the show floor and to discover in the conference sessions that you may be paralyzed by the possibilities. Fortunately, you have three days—Feb. 7 to 9—to take it all in. In the meantime, here are six things that, we think, deserve your attention at North America’s largest annual design and manufacturing event.

Jamie HynemanMeet a MythBuster

The former co-host of the popular MythBusters TV show, Jamie Hyneman will deliver a keynote address on Feb. 7. The show went off the air in March 2016, after a 14-year run dispelling a staggering array of myths and, occasionally, validating them. He now spends his time working on personal R&D projects in the same workshop that was used on the MythBusters show. His latest obsession is a robotic firefighting vehicle. Hyneman will discuss life after MythBusters and answer audience questions during the keynote, which is scheduled for noon on Feb. 7. He spoke recently with sister brand Design News; you can read the interview here.

Arbor freeformerThe Freeformer is back

Since it was introduced by Arburg (Lossburg, Germany) at K 2013, the Freeformer has never failed to draw a crowd at a trade show. Designed for industrial-scale additive manufacturing, the system works with inexpensive granulates and is eminently flexible. The two standard discharge units enable processing of parts in different colors, for example, or with combinations of soft and hard tactile qualities. At PLASTEC West, Arburg will showcase the high-volume molding of iPhone cases on an electric Allrounder 520 E, which are then customized using the Freeformer. Arburg is exhibiting at booth 3925.

Who will win the Golden Mousetrap award?

Winners in all 17 categories of the Golden Mousetrap award will be announced at a ceremony on Feb. 7, but the PlasticsToday audience will be most interested in the Materials & Assembly: Engineering Plastics & Composites category. Two companies are vying for the top prize: Boyd Corp. (Modesto, CA) and Uponor (Apple Valley, MN).

Boyd Corp. was named a finalist for its densified Solimide product, a polyimide open-cell foam insulation that is densified to a desired thickness to provide vibration damping and thermal management in small spaces. Applications include consumer electronics, medical devices and mobility products.

Uponor was recognized for its 2 1/2- and 3-inch AquaPex and ProPex fittings that offer installation flexibility and corrosion resistance. They also have no scrap value, eliminating job site theft concerns.

PLASTEC West and MD&M West are co-located with four other shows at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA, on Feb. 7 to 9, 2017, making this the largest annual design and manufacturing event in North America. For more information and to register to attend, go to the PLASTEC West website.

The awards program was created by Design News to acknowledge and recognize U.S. individuals, companies and technologies driving innovation. The reception begins at 5 PM, with the awards ceremony launching at 6 PM, in room 213 at the Anaheim Convention Center. Register here for free admission.

Visit the Fluidic Factory

We first saw the Fluidic Factory at K 2016 in Düsseldorf, Germany, in October, and were delighted to learn that it would make an appearance this year at MD&M West. Developed by Dolomite (Royston, UK), the device is described as the first commercially available 3D printer for sealed microfluidic devices that utilizes cyclic olefin copolymer (COC) from Topas Advanced Polymers (Florence, KY). The Microfluidic Factory will run continuously at the Topas booth (662).

The easy-to-use Fluidic Factory enables rapid prototyping of fluidically-sealed devices such as chips, sensor cartridges, fluid manifolds, valves, connectors and medical devices. Dolomite selected Topas COC as the material of choice for the device because it is the most frequently requested polymer by biologists and has won acceptance in the microfluidics industry, said the company.

Topas COC also takes a star turn at the Sodick booth (4071), where the material will be used to mold microfluidic chips on a Sodick GL30 micro injection molding machine.

Engel's first-of-its-kind manufacturing process

Also direct from K 2016, injection molding machine maker Engel (Schwertberg, Austria) will present the North American debut of a first-of-its-kind manufacturing process at booth 3715. Engel will mold interdental brushes with up to 500 bristles on a cleanroom version of its all-electric e-motion 170/110 T US. The brush is made entirely of plastic, including the fine bristles, which are also injection molded. To learn more about this technology, read “Engel’s brush with greatness to be showcased at PLASTEC West.”

Join an innovation tour

As we stated at the outset of this article, there’s an awful lot to see at this event, and one way to cut through the noise is to join a curated expo walk. Editors from PlasticsToday, Design News and Packaging Digest will lead attendees on a themed tour of select exhibitors who will speak to advances in a number of technologies.

I will be leading a tour dedicated to innovations in medical plastics and associated processing equipment on Feb. 8 at 11 AM. Design News editor Rob Speigel will focus on robotics for smart manufacturing at 1 PM, also on Feb. 8. And Lisa Pierce from Packaging Digest invites attendees to explore developments in packaging automation on Feb. 9 at 1 PM.

The tours are free and they all start at Center Stage.

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