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Plastics in Spotlight at Virtual Engineering Week

Image: Tierney/Adobe Stock online education
Experts in material selection, product design, engineering, and manufacturing share insights at the five-day virtual event.

You probably know there won’t be a PLASTEC/MD&M West show in Anaheim, CA, in February 2021, COVID oblige. At this point in time — and rarely has that tired old phrase been so packed with meaning — the next live PLASTEC West event is scheduled for August. So, now what? Well, Informa Markets – Engineering, which organizes that event and produces PlasticsToday, is holding Virtual Engineering Week starting on Nov. 30 and stretching through Dec. 4, 2020.

Informavirtual engineering week logo

Virtual Engineering Week is a cornucopia of educational sessions for the global design, engineering, and manufacturing communities led by experts in medical technology, 3D printing, smart manufacturing, packaging, sustainability and, yes, plastics processing. If you’re like me, you can’t wait for a return to normalcy, which, in the business-to-business world involves attending live trade shows and conferences. But, truth be told, the breadth of expertise and knowledge-sharing available to engineers and manufacturers during this virtual event is pretty amazing, and you won’t have to pack your suit, stand in line at the TSA checkpoint, squeeze into the middle seat of the plane, or wrangle with hotel reception about your reservation. Heck, you can show up in your sweats, and no one will be the wiser. Silver linings, folks.

The full five-day schedule can be viewed on the Virtual Engineering Week website, but here is a selection of sessions of particular interest to the PlasticsToday community. In the days ahead, we will do a deeper dive into some of these sessions via interviews with the speakers. Bookmark the Virtual Engineering Week page on PlasticsToday and check back often. In the meantime, register to attend this free event by clicking here.

The skinny on plastic micro molding

Developments in micro molding will be addressed at a couple of sessions on Nov. 30 by Aaron Johnson of Accumold. In particular, he will present several case studies illustrating how micro injection molding is enabling the production of ever-smaller and lighter components in cost-effective ways.

A little bit later on opening day, Gus Breiland of Protolabs will share some simple strategies for reducing injection molding costs, including design modifications that don’t break the bank and how to leverage free design services to improve moldability.

Consider those sessions as an aperitif before diving into a full course of plastics-related presentations scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 3. The day begins at 8 a.m. with a welcome and “fireside chat” in the company of Patrick Farrey from the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) followed by SPE’s Conor Carlin, who will deliver the keynote for the day. His theme revolves around altering decisions for plastics consumption in a circular economy.

The focus narrows to circularity in healthcare plastics later that morning during a discussion moderated by Peylina Chu from the Healthcare Plastics Recycling Council (HPRC) with the participation of Nick Packet of Dupont and Bob Render from Ravago. Eighty-five percent of hospital waste is non-hazardous, according to the HPRC, yet most of it ends up going to landfills or being incinerated. The session will explore ways to improve the recyclability of healthcare plastics and integrating post-consumer and post-industrial recycled content in healthcare applications.

It’s a given that medical devices must be safe and effective. Should sustainability fit into that mandate? A panel of experts from the medical device industry will debate that proposition and suggest ways forward at a Thursday morning session moderated by Len Czuba. The panelists are Vipul Davé (Johnson & Johnson), Frank Pokrop (Quidel Corp.), and Randy Barko (Ximedica).

Plastics selection for 3D printing

Other plastics-centric sessions on Dec. 3 include insights on material selection for medical device projects from Asmita Khanolkar (Cambridge Pharma) at 10 a.m. and Michael Paloian (Integrated Design Systems) at 10:30 a.m. At noon, you can learn how to leverage custom compounds to achieve successful device designs from Karl Hoppe and Bob Williams of RTP Co.

3D-printing also has the spotlight in a number of sessions on Dec. 3, notably tips on selecting a 3D-printing material shared by Matt Lewis of Protolabs (2 p.m.) and combining injection molding and 3D printing to produce complex shapes presented by Carsten Jarfelt (Addifab) at 1:30 p.m.

But wait, there’s more. Much more, in fact.

If you’re involved in medical device design and manufacturing, you will find plenty of food for thought during Medtech Mornings, held on all five days of the virtual event. Topics range from next-gen technologies in wearable and implantable devices to innovations in medical device packaging. Incidentally, general advances in packaging, flexible and otherwise, will be addressed at several sessions, as will robotics and smart manufacturing.

You can find out more about all of these sessions and view the complete schedule at the Virtual Engineering Week website

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