The past month has been a blur of trade shows, exhibitions and events as trade-show silly season hits plastics. Despite the whirlwind, the overriding positivity from two of Europe’s flagship fairs indicates that the industry will exit 2014 on a strong footing that looks set to continue into the New Year.
After a three-year build up and much industry interest, Interplas did not fail to deliver as the UK’s leading plastics industry exhibition, with organisers reporting a 10 percent growth in attendees against the figures from the show’s last outing in 2011. The positivity in Hall 4 of the NEC, Birmingham, was apparent, with a number of companies reporting new projects, high-level research and development activity and forward-thinking innovations and collaborations that represent the buoyancy of the UK plastics industry.
Busy aisles seen at Interplas UK from 30th September - 2nd October 2014
International attendance at Interplas also increased in 2014, with visitors from 56 countries travelling to the event, underlining the importance of the UK plastics sector on the world stage. The surge in manufacturing activity was not least felt by the industry’s major injection moulding machinery manufacturers, who virtually all reported that the country had proved “a positive surprise” in terms of machine sales, projects and collaborations, when I spoke to representatives during Fakuma, one of Germany’s largest plastic industry exhibitions, held just over a week after Interplas finished.
Reports from Fakuma were equally positive, with the show’s organisers indicating that visitor numbers for the 2014 edition had been “record breaking”, with the sold-out show floor providing “a marketplace for innovative solutions covering all aspects of injection moulding, thermoforming and extrusion,” and a “trend barometer” for the industry. These trends included integrated functions, such as automation and decoration, for improved energy and resource efficiency; increased use of 3D printing; metal replacement and composite material developments.
The upbeat reports from these two shows alone signify that the appetite for plastics is only getting stronger as markets strengthen and economies recover, which should pave the way for some equally successful events in the coming year.