What a year! 2016 has come to close and we finally have some time to exhale and look back at what was an eventful and record-breaking year.
K2016 broke all the records: attendees, exhibitors, deal volume and possibly altbier and schweinhaxen consumption. To quote Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the K 2016 Advisory Board, “I have never seen such a vast number of decisive customers willing to buy at a trade fair before! The number and magnitude of deals, some of which were concluded here spontaneously, as well as the many concrete enquiries about new projects by far exceeded our expectations. It was clear from day one that customers wanted to not only find out about new technologies but also purchase them. There is strong investment in all our customer industries and in all regions of the world.”
It’s that time again – Kunststoff und Kautschukindustrie 2016! Perhaps you know this event by its simple acronym instead: “K”. (It’s much easier to remember in English…) With over 200,000 visitors expected again this year, the triennial global event is still #1 in the plastics tradeshow calendar.
The Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE) Thermoforming Division has presented Noel Tessier of CMT Materials, Inc. with its lifetime achievement award. The honoree was selected by the Division’s Executive Committee, and the award was presented to Mr. Tessier on September 27, during SPE’s Thermoforming Awards Dinner in Schaumburg, IL. For the full press release from SPE, please visit the official website here.
AMI, the organizers of the Thin Wall Packaging Conference, chose the city-state of Singapore as the forum for their first foray into South East Asia. As a key member of the Association of South East Asia Nations(ASEAN), Singapore boasts some impressive statistics: #1 investment destination in Asia, #2 most competitive city in the world, and #3 in GDP per capita (IMF data). According to Bloomberg, it’s also the ‘least miserable’ nation in the world, cold comfort for foreign visitors getting used to high prices for food and drink. The former British outpost is now a glittering global financial powerhouse and a hub of trading activity for the region, so it made sense to host a regional conference here. With just under 100 attendees from 25 countries, the maiden event attracted suppliers and processors primarily from Europe and Asia, with only two attendees from North America.
Even though September is the last month of Q3, it often feels like the beginning of Q4. Perhaps this due to the end of summer, people returning to work and children returning to school. Or perhaps it’s because the tradeshow calendar is jam-packed with events, fairs and conferences. We’re making preparations for multiple events on 3 continents over the next few months.
Many industries have been “disrupted” by technology over the years. Many processes have been “optimized” through software. In both cases, buzzwords notwithstanding, the application of new information (or information presented in a novel way) to existing business models has resulted in improved efficiencies. The rolodex? Salesforce CRM. Palm Pilot? Smart phone. Illegible utility bills? Energy dashboards. MS DOS? Windows/Linux/OS, etc. You get the idea.
When we decided to focus on understanding the challenges faced by heavy gauge thermoformers, we thought about a kaleidoscope: turn the lens and see the shapes change. Our industry colleague, Steve Murrill of Profile Plastics, neatly captured the array of variables in thermoforming at the recent European Thermoforming Conference in Spain. When discussing the evolution of thermoforming, one must acknowledge the dilemma posed by the fact that standard part acceptance is driven by statistical process control (SPC) in a closed-loop, injection molding world. Because thermoforming is an open-loop process, the variations in sheet, forming, trim fixture fit, etc., processors are constantly tweaking trim programs at great cost. This leads to the eternal question: how to tighten the process to improve consistency? Better sheet, better forming process control through IT and data analysis and better trim programs will all help, but costs need to be understood and managed so that thermoforming doesn’t lose its competitive edge.
This year marked the 30th edition of Chinaplas, “Asia’s No.1 and the world’s No.2” plastics trade show. The event was back in Shanghai this year (it alternates between Guangzhou in southern China and Shanghai) and with 148,000 visitors over the 4-day period, it was definitely a highlight on the industry calendar. According to the show daily, about 150 countries and regions visited the show with the majority (68%) coming from China. The international pavilions were dominated by the Germans who displayed a wide range of machinery, materials and ancillary equipment. Discussions from the event reveal that German thermoforming machinery suppliers are landing large, multiple machine orders in both China and Taiwan. Not to be outdone, the Italians also secured large orders during the show.
We recently celebrated some company success and in doing so, we took stock of our global market reach. Data visualization is a big thing these days, so we decided to have a crack at it ourselves. The geographic distribution of HTYAC plug assist materials is far and wide, all from our modest home in Massachusetts. Thanks to our long-standard support of the thermoforming industry, strong relationships with toolmakers and thermoformers, and our global network distributors, HYTAC materials are being used on all (?) 6 continents.