Upcoming Events

SPE Decorating & Assembly TopCon and IMDA Symposium, June 18-20
Lincolnshire, Illinois,

PACK EXPO Las Vegas, Sept. 25-27
Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada,

SGIA, Oct. 10-12
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, Louisiana,

Letter from the Chair

It’s hard to predict the future. It also is hard to know the best plastic decoration process to achieve the outstanding appearance and performance your customers have come to expect. In the next few months, you will have the opportunity to learn about and compare the leading technologies for plastic decoration. Last year was exciting because of all the advances in the tools and technologies of plastic decoration and assembly. The capabilities and complexity of the tool set for plastic decoration and assembly are growing dramatically, but, so also are the stresses – the aggressive environment – that decorated parts must survive.

It’s hard to predict the future, but history gives us some important clues as to what will drive upcoming warranty and should drive the material and process choices we must make. A number of years ago, hand sanitizers became popular. These were seen as a way to reduce flu and colds. As a result of their increased use, coatings failures increased and compounders improved their materials to meet the new stress. That was followed by an increase in sunscreen use and then the introduction of biodiesel fuels (fatty acid methyl esters) in Europe. Each change was driven by the people’s reasonable behavior in response to a change in our world (concern about sun damage to skin or the desire for renewable energy) and each resulted in field problems, followed by technology advances.

So, what is next? Recent articles outline the increase in birth defects caused by mosquito-borne Zika virus. The mosquito that carries Zika has been identified in 129 California cities, and there are documented cases of mosquito transmission in Texas and Florida. Lyme disease, a tick-borne disease, is expected to be increasingly prevalent in the Midwest and Northeast this year. The expected response will be increased use of insecticides – including the use of those that are increasingly aggressive, with 100 percent DEET, and many new ones that are untested for their impact on coatings or plastic. Materials such as IR3535, 2-Undecanone or catnip oil now are commercially available. The decoration industry’s response should be preemptive. What coatings and finishes are very chemically resistant? Now is a good time to learn the answer or answers.

A multitude of conferences are available, but most of them have a fairly narrow focus on one technology or group of technologies. While these are very useful for you to develop skill and contacts in a specific batch of plastic decoration or joining, they tend not to provide the knowledge you need to select the best technique among all of those available. With more options, it becomes all the more important to know what is available and the advantages and limits to each technology.

Two opportunities await this summer. The first opportunity will be the SPE Annual Technical Conference (ANTEC), in Anaheim, California, May 8 through 10. 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 second is TopCon (Topical Conference), presented by the Decorating and Assembly Division, which focuses on the technology and application of the latest global innovations and trends. It is of interest and applicable to all companies performing decorating and assembly processes in their manufacturing environments, such as automotive, packaging, electronic/communication, medical and consumer goods industries, as well as others.

The conference dates are June 19 and 20. The TopCon will be two days of papers exclusively on plastic decoration and assembly and will be held at the Marriott Lincolnshire in the Chicago area. We will once again be holding a joint conference with the In-Mold Decoration Association (see a detailed program on pages 6-7). This joint conference will provide an exceptionally broad selection of experts in all fields of plastic decoration and assembly, as well as papers on a broad range of innovative technologies and focused workshops on both plastic decoration and assembly processes. It will be one of the best opportunities this year to learn about and compare the technologies available to you.

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