The triennial K show in Dusseldorf, Germany is a must-exhibit event for suppliers of equipment and raw materials (see this month's feature coverage). But what about processors? Sprinkled among the 17 halls, often overshadowed by the billion-dollar machinery and material suppliers surrounding them, were no small number of processors. In a survey of show visitors by the show organizer, 18% of attendees identified themselves as manufacturers of plastic goods—more than 500 out of 3200 total exhibitors. Splitting time between prospecting for new business at their booths and roaming the halls for new technology, these shops described the visit as practically mandatory.
A first-time exhibitor at K was Nicolas Tirole, technical manager for micromolder isa France (Villers le Lac), part of the isaswiss Group. The company’s micromolding capabilities grew out of its work in the watch industry, from which Tirole said isa is interested in diversifying.
Groupe JBT, a French-based medical molder with additional shops in Tunisia and Mexico, was at K to promote its business while looking to expand capacity. Two technical teams from the company scouted the show halls for a new injection molding machine.
For other processors exhibiting at K, the show was an opportunity to raise their public profile. Turkish molder/moldmaker Besok Kalip ve Plastik sought more attention by running a 150-ton Arburg Allrounder injection molding machine in its booth. Rather than shoot a promotional giveaway, it opted for a technical part to showcase its molding and moldmaking skills. The company molded an irrigation dripper that replaces a 2 g part with a 0.2 g PE component. The dripper ran a 3-sec cycle in a 64-cavity tool featuring a Mold-Masters hot-runner valve-gate system.
MGS Mfg. Group, a molder, moldmaker, and equipment supplier in Germantown, Wis., marked its fourth K as an exhibitor and its first in an independent booth rather than in the U.S. pavilion. In 2011, the company opened a plant in Ireland, and now it’s working to boost its European business from that foothold. At the show, MGS commercialized servo-driven versions of its Universal Multishot System, which it had built as one-offs for select customers, said John Berg, marketing director. The bolt-on injection units allow molders to add color, barrier, coinjection, in mold assembly and more to a standard injection machine. At K, MGS also introduced a new thinner rotary platen, targeting all-electric machines with a thinner profile and reduced shut-height.
Processors that don’t exhibit at the show can find it just as valuable to window-shop tomorrow’s technologies. Custom molder EVCO Plastics, DeForest, Wis., has been attending the show since the 1980s and sent eight staffers this time to see the latest injection molding technology. Colleen Conway, director of business development, remembered when president Dale Evans brought back in-mold-labeled cups from the show 30 years ago. Today, IML technology is a core competency at EVCO.
Prior to the show, EVCO ordered a 2500-ton Engel press. At the show, staffers previewed their new press at Engel’s booth, examining its new controller interface, for example. EVCO officials said key technology takeaways from K 2013 included anti-counterfeiting materials, carbon-fiber composites, additive manufacturing, and continued improvements in high-speed molding. EVCO also researched advances in quick-mold-change systems, on which it’s very keen. (For more on EVCO see this month's On-Site feature.)