Letter from the Chair

Save the date: It’s time to plan for the opportunities to learn in 2017. 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. 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 useful for you to develop skills and contacts in a specific batch of plastic decoration or joining techniques, they tend not to provide the knowledge you need to select the best method among all of those available.

Recent advances have made the world even more complex and the boundary as to what constitutes plastic decoration and joining less clear. Smart materials, in-molded electronics and optics are just two such advances. Recent advances include self-healing conductive ink traces that do not require additional outside sources of energy to repair when damaged. Even long-established processes, such as pad printing, are finding new uses in combination with other technologies to create intricate textures.

So, the real question for an engineer looking at the secondary process needed to add value to the product being designed is how choose the best solution to achieve the desired outcome. With more options, it becomes all the more important to know what is available and the advantages and limits of each technology.

The purpose of the SPE Decorating & Assembly Division is to provide and promote education and science in the field of plastics decorating and assembly. We accomplish this through our conferences and our support of students, both through donations of equipment to universities and through scholarships. The board recently voted to donate $12,000 for scholarships in memory of Jordan Rotheiser, a longtime board member and published expert in the field of plastics joining.

In the coming year, there will be two opportunities to learn and network. The first opportunity will be SPE’s 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 SPE Decorating and Assembly Division, which highlights the technology and application of the latest global innovations and trends. It is of interest and applicable to any company doing decorating and assembly processes in their manufacturing environments, such as automotive, packaging, electronic/communication, medical and consumer goods industries, as well as others. The event will be June 19 and 20 in the Chicago area. See the box on this page for more information.

Participation in either or both conferences will provide attendees with a high level of visibility with an audience of those who are interested and working in the field.

The 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 industry participants to join THE CHAIN if you not already a member of SPE. Go to the SPE webpage, www.4spe.org. New visitors who would like to register as an SPE e-Member, but do not already have a username and login, can use the New Visitor Registration area to register for the site. SPE e-Members receive instant access to SPE’s THE CHAIN – the exclusive online networking platform for the global plastics industry. If you are having issues with login, please call SPE at 203.775.0471.

You can 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

TopCon Comes to the Windy City

SPE’s Decorating & Assembly Division will be holding its TopCon on June 19 and 20 in Lincolnshire, Illinois. The conference will feature two days of papers exclusively on plastics decoration and assembly and will be held at the Lincolnshire Marriott Resort in the Chicago area.

The conference is once again co-located with the In-Mold Decoration Association (IMDA) Symposium. This joint conference will provide an exceptionally broad selection of experts in all fields of plastic decoration and assembly. Papers on a broad range of innovative technologies will be presented, and focused workshops will be held on both plastic decoration and assembly processes.

For more information and specific programming details, visit www.plasticsdecorating.com/topcon/2017.