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NPE in the zone: Technology zones will run the gamut at show

Tue, Apr 17, 2018

The more than 65,000 plastics professionals attending NPE2018 will find more than 1.1 million square feet of exhibit space and 11 sector- and process-specific technology zones ranging from 3-D printing to thermoforming. More than 2,000 companies will be exhibiting.

This year’s exposition, produced by the Plastics Industry Association (PLASTICS), will debut a new Medical Parts Processing Zone in the South Hall. The new zone will focus on plastic materials, processes and technology advances for medical and diagnostic devices in the growing health-care field. Medical device manufacturing revenue is expected to grow 3 percent annually through 2023 due in part to an aging population and technological advances, according to NPE organizers. Those devices frequently are made entirely or in large part from plastic.

“Breakthroughs in the use of plastics will drive future medical care efficiencies and bring life-saving advances to hospitals globally,” Glenn Anderson, NPE2018 executive committee chairman, said in a press release.

This year's medical parts processing zone will focus in large part on technology invovled in manufacturing plastic medical parts in clean rooms.

“With new innovations ranging from antimicrobial components, implantable devices and prostheses to barrier technologies, time-release pill casings and medical tooling, plastics manufacturers are working to save lives every day,” said Susan Krys, VP of marketing and trade shows at PLASTICS. “Attendees will have the opportunity to explore revolutionary new materials and additives and discover advances in automation, prototyping, injection molding, coatings and more to capture their share of this booming industry segment.”

Other zones this year are:

The Bottle Zone will feature more than 80 manufacturers and suppliers specializing in the bottling industry./NPE2018 photo

Bottle Zone: This second new zone will feature more than 80 manufacturers and suppliers specializing in the bottling industry. It will offer participants the opportunity to explore advances in bottling manufacturing, including quick-drying PET, bioplastics and new barrier technology.

3D/4D Printing Zone: 3-D printing typically refers to a process in which a computer working with a digital file and a printer extrude a 3-D plastic part. 3-D printing is often used to produce prototypes or small quantities of parts.

The Strati, a 3-D printed car/NPE2018 photo

"3-Printing continues to impact how we think about and manufacture products, but 4-D printing is the next horizon, where time is the fourth dimensiton and molecular self-assembly is the ultimate goal," Krys said, referring to 4-D printed products that can change over time or, in some cases, repair themselves. "In the 3D/4D Zone, attendees will learn to streamline the digital file-toprototype process to make better use of their time and money."

Business and Finance Zone: This zone will feature companies involved with publishing, education, research, transportation, banking, software development and consulting.

Flexible Vinyl Zone: Manufacturers of plastisols, a liquid form of vinyl, and solid forms of vinyl will discuss how manufacturers can bring greater durability, resiliency, efficiency and even recyclability to their products.

IDSA Design Center: This zone will feature companies providing design services, design technology and design software for the plastics industry.

Material Science Zone: This zone will showcase innovations in durability, strength, weight and cost-efficiency for consumer products ranging from appliances to electronics.

Mold-making Zone: Mold designers, fabricators and manufacturers will be together in a single location.

Processors Zone: Manufacturers of plastic products, whether they use injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming, extrusion, transfer molding, compression molding or other technologies, will meet here to discuss techniques for transforming raw plastic into everyday consumer products.

Re|focus Zone: The Re|focus Zone will explore how plastics manufacturers can incorporate sustainable practices into plastics manufacturing. Fifty-six exhibitors will offer information about the latest trends and processes in green manufacturing. The exhibits will showcase equipment, materials and technology solutions.

Thermoforming Zone: This area will feature thermoformers and suppliers to this market sector.

Another addition this year will be the Manufacturers Association for Plastic Processors Pavilion. Attendees can visit the MAPP Pavilion and find resources and information to help them compete for business in a world market and understand today’s best practices. There will be networking opportunities with MAPP members and sponsors.

Details and registration information are available at www.npe.org.

Bruce Geiselman, senior staff reporter