I recently attended the 57th annual convention and showcase for the IAPD, also known as the International Association of Plastics Distribution. I was amazed that this event had been taking place for so long (has it been that long since Walter Brooke uttered those famous words to Dustin Hoffman?). Anyway, the activity at this event, both by the IAPD itself and its 390 or so members, really took me by surprise.
I’ve already covered one of the key highlights of the event, which was the IAPD Plastics Application Design Competition (yours truly was asked to a judge). If you haven’t read about the application for telescoping prosthetic arms using polyether ether ketone (PEEK) that was designed by a bunch of grad and undergrad students at the University of Massachusetts, you need to check that out.
The convention was held in Miami Beach (yes, I took one for the team), and it really was a celebration of plastics, the applications it serves (and can potentially serve in the future), a series of educational classes, and a networking opportunity.
There was a lot of talk about the "top 24 markets" for plastics. Some of these were obvious, but some were a bit of a surprise. For example, plastics are a key ingredient (not literally, obviously) in pharmaceuticals. They’re used to manufacture semiconductors, produce lumber and paper, and are big in the architectural industry. That goes along with the ones that came as no surprise, like automotive, plumbing/fluid handling, and recreational use.
While there’s not enough space here to discuss all of the cool things I witnessed, here’s a sampling. Röchling Engineering Plastics was showing its latest material, a high-performance plastic called LubX C, which was developed for applications in the material handling and automation spaces. According to the company, conveying systems that employ this material require less energy than competitive products.
CPI Binani was talking about its Advantage System -- everybody needs an advantage, right? Representatives explained to me how their system provides control for the material engineer, which results in exactly the performance that’s needed for a customer’s application. This is done by taking advantage of tightly controlled gravimetric feeders and closely analyzed measures to ensure that the given part’s component elements are delivered accurately.
Then there was Kydex, which offers a colored translucent sheet that complies with the regulations required by the aviation industry. The company’s FST CTL line, available in eight different colors, was specifically developed to meet all Boeing and Airbus toxicity requirements for aircraft interior components.