May 19, 2009
Robert J. Martino
As the Obama Administration today announced a groundbreaking policy for vehicle fuel economy, NPE2009 exhibitors and conference presenters were preparing to demonstrate how plastics will show the way for automotive manufacturers to meet the tough new standards, it was announced today by SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association. SPI produces the triennial NPE international plastics exposition, which next takes place on June 22-26 at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
“Plastics will play a prominent role in creating the vehicles of the future, not only because they are lighter than metal and glass, but also because their inherently greater design freedom makes it possible for manufacturers to create new values for car buyers,” said William R. Carteaux, president and CEO of SPI. “Because of plastics, tomorrow’s automobiles will be more exciting to look at and to drive, even as they meet the President’s proposed rules by delivering more miles per gallon and generating fewer greenhouse gas emissions.”
Carteaux cited two examples of fuel-saving technologies to be highlighted at NPE2009: Nanocomposites make it possible to reduce vehicle weight by reducing the thickness or material content of a component without sacrificing performance. This is possible because certain types of nanocomposite have significantly greater strength and stiffness than the same plastics in unmodified form. And new systems for producing windows and even windshields out of plastics promise considerable weight reduction in comparison with conventional glass.
NPE2009: Many Hundreds of Exhibits, More than 1,000 Conference Presentations
NPE2009 will be far broader in scope than previous NPEs, noted Gene Sanders, SPI’s senior vice president in charge of trade shows. “NPE has always been an international plastics trade show, but this year it will be that and much more,” Sanders said. “SPI has created the world’s largest concentration of plastics expositions and conferences, including many events providing innovations and solutions for component designers, toolmakers, manufacturers, OEM specifiers, and other automotive professionals.”
The SPI trade show at NPE2009 will include hundreds of exhibiting companies displaying new and established plastics technologies that can be used in the production of automotive components and assemblies. In addition, NPE2009 will include seven conferences and expositions co-located with SPI’s trade show, the first International Plastics Design Competition (IPDC), and a number of multi-exhibitor pavilions focusing on specialized technological sectors. The presentations scheduled for the co-located conferences total more than 1,000.
Three themes dominating this array of events are of special interest to the automotive industry:
● Economy. New processing and material technologies will enable component manufacturers to cut costs or increase productivity through parts consolidation, energy efficiency, light-weighting, reductions in machine downtime, lower reject rates, and other improvements.
● Innovation. New molding techniques incorporating advanced polymers make it possible to replace window glass with lightweight, shatter-resistant plastics whose greater design freedom makes possible dramatically new vehicle styling. One source of such technology at NPE2009 will be exhibitor Sabic Innovative Plastics, whose subsidiary Exatec, LLC develops polycarbonate glazing systems for the automotive industry (see photo attached).
● Sustainability. One of the key goals of automotive sustainability programs is to shift from oil- and natural gas-derived fuels and raw materials to resources that are renewable. Bioplastics will be plentiful at NPE2009, highlighted by dozens of exhibitors and conference presenters. Also evident will be products that play a role in alternative energy vehicles—cars partially or wholly powered by electricity from lithium-ion batteries, and whose internal structures include polymer films and other plastic components.
Founded in 1937, SPI: The Plastics Industry Trade Association promotes growth in the $427 billion U.S. plastics industry. Representing nearly one million American workers in the third largest U.S. manufacturing industry, SPI delivers legislative and regulatory advocacy, market research, industry promotion and the fostering of business relationships and zero waste strategies. SPI also owns and produces the international NPE trade show. All profits from NPE are reinvested into SPI’s industry services. Find SPI online at www.plasticsindustry.org and www.inthehopper.org.
"From resin suppliers and equipment makers to processors and brand owners, SPI is proud to represent all facets of the U.S. plastics industry," said William R. Carteaux, president and CEO, SPI. "Our most recent economic reports show that the plastics industry as a whole is resilient, and has come through the recession significantly better than other U.S. manufacturing sectors."