by Jeff Peterson, editor-in-chief, Plastics Decorating

The SPE Decorating & Coatings Division, in partnership with the In-Mold Decorating Association (IMDA), recently held its Topical Conference and IMDA Symposium, September 16-17 in Edina, Minnesota. The two-day, in-person event was very successful, with nearly 100 attendees and 18 exhibitors. “We were not sure of how successful an in-person event would be with the continued pandemic concerns and travel restrictions,” commented IMDA Managing Director Dianna Brodine. “But we knew the industry needed to get together, and we were pleasantly surprised by the participation and positive feedback from attendees.”

The event combined new technology presentations from the in-mold decorating and in-mold labeling sector along with secondary decorating processes. With a high degree of medical molding and decorating in Minnesota and the surrounding region, several presentations concentrated in this area. This included an opening presentation from Len Czuba, Czuba Enterprises, entitled “The Significance of Color as a Functional Property of Medical Devices,” followed by a presentation by Chris DeMell, ITW IDS, titled “Navigating the Complexities for Successful Decoration of Medical Components.”

After an opening General Session, there were breakout tracks for both IMD/IML and Decorating/Coatings. The IMD/IML track included several interesting presentations that covered subjects including vision inspection solutions for IML, IMD/IML design considerations for durable products, and functional inks for In-Mold Electronics (IME) – a growing area in in-mold decorating.

“We were very pleased with the range of topics that were covered for both decorating/coatings and IMD/IML,” stated TopCon Program Chair Paul Uglum, Uglum Consulting. “There was a great deal of interaction and networking that attendees had been missing for nearly two years.”  

One new addition to the schedule was panel discussions. There were three separate panels that were comprised of experts in the chosen subject matter. There was a panel that discussed automation and robotics for IMD/IML (see article based on this panel discussion on page 16), a panel on the sustainability/recyclability of decorated plastics and a panel on the growing use of tactile/textured surfaces on plastics.

In addition to the presentations, the event included a Supplier Trade Fair where attendees could network and visit with leading suppliers to the industry. The Supplier Trade Fair included the following companies:

  • 3DT
  • AkzoNobel
  • Arburg
  • CDigital
  • Cool Clean Technologies
  • Diversified Printing Techniques
  • FOBA Laser Marking
  • GEW (EC) Limited
  • Heraeus Noblelight
  • Kurz Transfer Products
  • Marabu North America
  • Profile Plastics
  • Sussex IM
  • Schwerdtle
  • Tributek
  • Weber Packaging Solutions
  • WipFli
  • Yupo Synthetic Paper

After programming on the first day, the day concluded with a Networking Reception where attendees could visit with exhibitors while enjoying a drink and appetizers. The evening ended with the recognition of the 2021 IMDA Awards – acknowledging technical and design achievements in in-mold decorating, in-mold labeling and in-mold electronics.

“I sure enjoyed the 2021 IMDA Symposium, a valuable two days of focused and pertinent learning, and networking with industry leaders. I was impressed by the collaborative nature of the sessions, shared ideas and lessons presented by knowledgeable experts. It was a very positive experience, and I’m looking forward to next year!” commented Todd LaMore, sales director at Serigraph.

The 2022 SPE Decorating & Coatings Division TopCon and IMDA Symposium has been tentatively scheduled for September 28-29, 2022, in Ypsilanti, Michigan.