It's not just a cliché from the organizers — NPE 2015 is more than just a trade show. It's a trade show, networking fest and four conferences, all rolled up together.
This year's show will offer the widest selection of educational opportunities NPE has ever had, according to organizers the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc.
“Our conferment programs alone will make NPE 2015 unique among plastics trade shows in providing a robust educational experience,” said Gene Sanders, vice president of trade shows and conferences for SPI, in a news release. “There will be hundreds of individual presentations, discussions and seminars, with a range of content enabling attendees from every sector of the plastics value chain — processors, suppliers, designers, toolmakers, OEMs and brand owners — to find something of real interest and value.”
Free to all NPE attendees, SPI is partnering with global market analysts IHS Chemical for a breakfast discussion on the North American manufacturing renaissance at 7:30 a.m. on March 24 in the West Hall. Industry experts, including SPI President and CEO Bill Carteaux and IHS executives, will provide key market insights on the economy, energy, feedstocks and polymers.
The featured speaker will be Cindi Marsiglio, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s vice president of U.S. manufacturing, who will discuss the retail giant's commitment to source an additional $250 billion in American-made goods over 10 years.
Se habla Español?
With more than 6,000 NPE attendees expected from Latin America alone, it's no surprise that organizers are, for the fourth time, partnering with Tecnologia del Plastico and El Empaque + Conversión magazines to offer the Spanish-language seminar, “Tendencias, Oportunidades y Tecnologías en el Negocio de los Plásticos.”
Specifically targeting the Latin American plastics markets, the two-day conference will run March 24-25, covering new technologies and market growth for plastics in the automotive, medical and pharmaceutical markets; sustainability issues, including recycling and bioplastics advancements; and innovations in rigid and flexible packaging.
Business of Plastics
SPI is also offering its Business of Plastics conference at NPE, aimed at taking the exhibit floor experience one step further by
Running March 23-25, the conference will tackle a wide range of topics important for anyone looking to grow their plastics business, from product development and advanced manufacturing to sustainability to tackling regulatory concerns and cyber security woes. The program also includes a half-day 3-D printing track on March 24.
The business side of the industry doesn't have much to do without the right engineers. The Society of Plastics Engineers is once again bringing the world's largest plastics technical conference, Antec, to NPE. Running March 23-25, Antec Orlando 2015 will focus on two of the most fast-growing and challenging trends in plastics: nanotechnology and 3-D printing.
The conference's first keynote speaker is Michael A. Meador, a NASA specialist in nanotechnology who is currently on loan to serve as the director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, National Science and Technology Council, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. His Monday address is titled The Role of Nanotechnology in Current and Future Space Missions.
Bringing special focus to the burgeoning world of 3-D printing, with a March 24 plenary address is Heinz Gaub, managing director of technology and engineering for Arburg Inc., focused on using standard granules in additive manufacturing. Guab's 11:30 a.m. address will be followed by an afternoon of presentations and panel discussions focused on materials development for 3-D printing and an additive manufacturing “Super Session” on March 25 in the afternoon.
For the student set, Antec is holding The Plastics Race, a six-hour plastics treasure hunt across the show floor that ends in $12,000 in prizes for three, four-member student teams in neon-green T-shirts — and hopefully connects the next generation of plastics engineers with soon-to-be-hiring firms and the plastics industry at large.
In addition to traditional conference sessions, SPE is presenting new, all-digital “poster sessions” in the South Hall of the Orange County Convention Center.
And it wouldn't be a conference without honoring members. SPE will kick off the week presenting its annual leadership awards at a luncheon on March 22, including the Honored Service Member, Fellow of the Society, and group Pinnacle Awards for outstanding member group involvement.
SPE's top four award winners will be honored at the Plastics Hall of Fame Reception and Ceremony in the Linda W. Chapin Theatre at the Orange County Convention Center Sunday evening. This year's recipients are:
• Sarah Morgan, University of Southern Mississippi, receiving the Fred Schwab Education Award.
• Charles Sholtis, president and CEO, Plastic Molding Technology Inc., receiving the Business Management Award.
• Suresh Shah receiving the Research/Engineering Technology Award.
• Richard Spontak, North Carolina State University, receiving the International Award.
And while the engineers and scientists keep things humming on the technical side, it's the designers that make sure plastics products look good and keep form following function. For the first time, the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) is bringing its southern region design conference to NPE 2015.
“Home Cooking: Designing, Manufacturing and Sourcing in the USA,” will be held March 26-27 in Orlando, offering design professionals, students, educators and business professionals a chance for firsthand discussions on how design is key in the creation of end-user products in the plastics industry and its vertical markets.
To help bridge the engineering-design gap, SPI and IDSA are teaming up with plastics industry veteran Bob Grace for two free panel discussions on March 26. “Bridging the Communication Gap: How to ‘Talk Designer,'” moderated by Grace himself, will bring together engineers, designers — and even some designers who are also engineers — to look at how better communication can eliminate major issues in the development, manufacture and launch of new products.
“Designing the Future: How Materials Can Change the World,” moderated by consultant and plastics industry veteran Gaylon White, will look at how materials development and selection impacts the environment and how the market push for sustainable and green products is changing the way forward for product engineering and design.