Every three years, a giant polymers exhibition is held in Düsseldorf Germany. It’s called the “K”, which is just an easier way of saying the German word for synthetic materials — kunststoffe.
I’ve been to all but one since 1986, and I represented Design News at the show that is ending today.
There were some 220,000 attendees at the K this year, and they came from more than 100 countries around the world. Germany is really the global heart of the plastics industry, but English is the lingua franca at the K. Thus year every event I attended was held in English. In previous years, the great old German companies usually presented in German with simultaneous translations available through headsets.
Attendance was down 9 percent from the boom year of 2007, but this is clearly a rebounding K. All exhibitors I visited said business is back almost to 2008 levels.
When you’re at the K, you wonder why there are so many tensions in the world. Americans mixed easily with Iranians and both sides wondered what all the fuss is about. In fact, most groups seem to get along. Everyone talks about business and technology, loves the local “alt” beer and complains about the German weather (immer “nasskalt“).
Huge groups come from China and India. The three countries with the largest increase in visitors from K 2007 are Egypt, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates.
There were 19 exhibition halls at K 2010 and 3,102 exhibitors. European companies in particular view the K as a place to play all of their technology cards. I have been reporting about K 2010 since June, and more articles will appear in the November and December issues of Design News. I arrange interviews every hour while I’m at the K to make sure I can make as many face-to-face contacts as possible, and learn as much as I can. That means it takes me a while to catch up on the writing. So I’ll continue to file Web stories on what I found interesting. My December feature will highlight new assembly technology. I also want to update my reports on green plastics.
I also had a chance to work with my new UBM Canon colleagues at K 2010, and they are filing great reports at www.plasticstoday.com.
The next K will be held from Oct. 16-23, 2013. Book your rooms early. In the meantime, the next big American show, the National Plastics Exhibition, will be held in Orlando, FL April 1-5, 2012.