October 2012 marked the 60th anniversary of plastics trade fair giant, the K show. On 11 October 1952, the first K show opened its gates in Düsseldorf. The German plastics industry was deep in post-war reconstruction, and the age of mass plastics production had only just dawned. Here, the organisers of the show, Messe Düsseldorf, look back at the history of the K show, from its early beginnings to its modern day status as an industry giant.
"Plastics are substitute materials that have no intrinsic value and are used in areas where traditional materials can be omitted." This image of plastics typifies the widely held view of broad sections of the population at the beginning of the 1950s.
The German plastics industry was deep in post-war reconstruction, and the age of mass plastics production had only just dawned. "Image building" in the positive sense was the goal to which the young industry and its various branches had committed themselves. In 1952, companies and associations, together with the then Nordwestdeutsche Ausstellungsgesellschaft (NOWEA), today's Messe Düsseldorf GmbH, therefore decided to initiate an event that would demonstrate the potential and versatility of polymer materials.
K Düsseldorf was born – and now looks back on 60 years of success. With the irresistible rise of plastics and their conquest of virtually all spheres of modern life and innovative technologies, K has evolved into the number one show in its sector and into the international marketplace for plastics and rubber.
At its premiere in 1952, the event attracted 270 exhibiting companies, all of them from Germany's fledgling Federal Republic. They occupied about 14,000 square metres of net exhibition space, and 165,000 visitors marvelled even in those days at the products from industry's chemical labs and at the varied and practical examples of their applications.
From 1952 to 1959, K Düsseldorf was purely a showcase for German industry. Any interested visitor, layperson or expert, had the opportunity to gain his or her own impression of the diversity and innovative potential of polymer materials. The main attraction for the public arriving in throngs was the colourful consumer goods of the plastics processing industry. The main focus of interest was on things that made everyday life brighter and easier. This era targeted the "modern housewife" and introduced her to such novelties of the post-war period as "washable sponge bags" and sheer nylon stockings. The more specialised the plastics industry became – it was not only the standard polymers, but also high-tech plastics for special applications in electronics, medicine, automotive engineering and aerospace that attracted attention – the more the "viewing public" at K Düsseldorf declined. A radical step was taken in 1963, when K became exclusively a trade fair with an international outlook for experts from the plastics and rubber industry and the user markets.
Today, the world of plastics and rubber is looking forward with anticipation to K 2013, which is taking place in Düsseldorf from 16 to 23 October 2013. Messe Düsseldorf is expecting over 3,000 exhibitors from over 50 countries, which will be exhibiting raw materials and auxiliaries, semi-finished products, technical parts and reinforced plastics, and machinery and equipment for the plastics and rubber industry. Machinery and equipment will be claiming the lion's share of space. Experts from vehicle manufacture, packaging, electrical engineering and electronics, communication, building construction, medical technology and aerospace have the unique opportunity to find out about the current state of plastics and rubber applications and spot future trends.
No less international than the industry are the fair's visitors. K 2010 attracted 222,000 trade visitors from over 100 nations, with over 50 percent coming from outside Germany. A good quarter of visitors came from outside Europe, with some 30,000 travelling to Düsseldorf from Asia alone. Almost 10,000 specialists came from Central and South America, with some 7,500 from Africa and 6,500 from the USA and Canada.
In the 60 years of its existence, K has lost nothing of its function and fascination. On the contrary: as products, systems and processes have become more complex and the need to explain them has grown, so has the need for direct communication between suppliers and buyers. K 2013 will take place from 16-23 October.