Letter from the Chair

To understand something, it is important to be able to define what it is. So, what is plastic decoration and assembly? Equally, or more important, why do we decorate or join plastic parts? As a working definition and in a broad sense, it is the collection of secondary operations we apply to our plastic parts to improve their performance or to meet customer expectations.

One definition of plastic decoration is the application of in-mold and post injection molding (or extrusion) processes to achieve (or impart) aesthetic, performance or functional properties in the finished part. This is maybe not the best definition, but processes include – but, are not limited to – coating, printing, embossing, laser marking, laser ablation, plating, flocking and thermal transfer. Plastic joining and assembly, likewise, have a large and complex collection of processes and methods.

Recent advances have made the world even more complex and the boundary as to what constitutes plastic decoration and joining less clear. Smart materials and in-molded electronics and optics are just two such advances. Femto-second lasers are making in-mold holograms possible on molded parts, and ink-jetting graphics into tools provides a new way to do in-mold decoration. The range of capabilities and complexity are ever increasing.

So, how should you learn about the newest advances or – if you are new to the field – the basics? Webinars and the internet only proved an introduction to many materials and processes. If you need to understand what processes and materials are available and the design standards needed to successfully use them, you will need resources to both inform and provide an ongoing opportunity to network. Fortunately, the purpose of the Society of Plastic Engineers is to provide a forum for that exchange of information and for the introduction of the latest technologies.

In the coming year will be two opportunities to learn and network. The first opportunity will be SPE Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC), May 8-10, 2017, in Anaheim, California. This is the largest annual technical conference in the United States for the plastics industry, with 2,500 attendees, more than 600 paper presentations and an exhibitor floor. The Decorating and Assembly Division again will have a session focused on the latest technologies in plastic decoration and assembly.

The second opportunity will be a more focused technical conference hosted by the Decorating and Assembly Division, June 19-20, 2017. That conference will be two days of papers exclusively on plastic decoration and assembly and will be held at the Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire Resort. We will once again hold a joint conference with the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA). This joint conference will provide an exceptionally broad selection of experts in all fields of plastic decoration and assembly.

This would be a good time to consider writing and presenting a paper if you have a new technology or improvement in a current technology. Participation in either or both conferences will provide a high level of visibility with an audience of those who are interested and working in the field. There will soon be a call for papers, so if you are interested, now is the time to begin to identify topics and start writing. Papers on new and emerging technologies and materials always are welcome. Topics such as problem solving, innovation, and cost reduction also are welcome. Papers are due for ANTEC by Jan. 13, 2017. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Recently SPE has expanded the opportunity to network and to seek help with specific problems. They have created a networking platform, THE CHAIN, specific to the plastics industry. SPE also has made it easier for you to join THE CHAIN if you are not already a member of SPE. Go to the SPE web page: www.4spe.org. If you are a new visitor and would like to register as an SPE e-Member, but do not already have a username and login, you can use the New Visitor Registration to register for the site. SPE e-Members receive instant access to SPE’s THE CHAIN, which is the exclusive online networking platform for the global plastics industry. If you are having issues with login, please call SPE at 203.775.0471.

Learn more at the Society of Plastics Engineers website, www.4spe.org, or by contacting paul.a.uglum@delphi.com.

Paul Uglum
Delphi Electronics and Safety
Chair, SPE Decorating & Assembly Division

2017 SPE TopCon and IMDA Symposium Set For Chicago

The SPE Decorating & Assembly Division will again partner with the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA) to host joint conferences. After a successful combined meeting in 2016, an agreement between both parties has been made to host the 2017 event at the Chicago Marriott Lincolnshire Resort, just outside Chicago, Illinois.

The two-day event will include papers on the latest in plastics decorating and assembly processes, with separate sessions and workshops hosted by IMDA on in-mold decorating and labeling. It also will include a Supplier Trade Fair for attendees of both conferences, with tabletop exhibits from leading suppliers to the industry.

Look for a full schedule and registration information soon on the Plastics Decorating (www.plasticsdecorating.com) and IMDA (www.imdassociation.com) websites. If interested in presenting a paper at the 2017 TopCon or Symposium, contact Jeff Peterson.