K 2010: The world's leading plastics exhibition opens its doors

Plastics and rubber have revolutionised our everyday existence. In many application areas they are so pervasive that we often ask ourselves how we coped without them. From sports footwear to yachts, toothbrushes to computers, disposable syringes to vehicle bumpers, water pipes to fresh food packaging – plastics are a part of our lives. The sector also makes a major contribution to economic prosperity: in Europe alone, over 1.6 million people in more than 50,000 plastics industry companies generate turnover of about 300 billion euros each year. In Germany, the plastics industry accounts for six percent of domestic industrial production. With sales of over 84 billion euros and about 394,000 employees in 3,700 companies, it is one of the country’s leading economic sectors. The German rubber industry contributes sales worth another 10 billion euros.

K in Düsseldorf is the global plastics sector’s most important meeting place and the undisputed innovation presentation event. Since last week, set-up work has been in progress in all 19 halls of the exhibition centre. Day and night, the stands continue to expand and exhibits are delivered. Begun several months ago, the exhibitors’ preparatory and development work for K 2010 from 27 October to 3 November is now entering the decisive phase. At three-yearly intervals, specialists from around the world gather by the Rhine to present and learn about current and future-oriented technologies in machine construction, raw materials production and plastics and rubber processing.

Positive market development marks K 2010
Never before have the years between two K trade fairs been so trying for the sector. K 2007 was held in the middle of a fantastic boom, which was soon followed by a slump and recession more severe that even the longest serving experts had ever experienced and even considered to be possible. One year ago, hope dawned again, but there was a general expectation that the recovery would be slow and difficult. Now, much faster than anticipated, business is brisk once more. Exporters are working flat out and the domestic market is also picking up.

This positive trend will also influence K 2010 and is reflected in the number of exhibitors. 3,102 of them from 56 countries – only twelve fewer exhibitors than in boom year 2007 – will present their latest developments for all sectors of the industry. A total of 164,125 square metres of exhibition space have been hired - about 60 percent of this by companies from outside Germany. At present, 1,076 German exhibitors have been registered, with a net space of 66,074 square metres (2007:1,131/72,869 sqm).

Exhibitors from Europe and Asia are strongly represented
After Germany, Italy is traditionally the country with the most exhibitors. This year, 413 Italian companies have hired 27,319 square metres on which to present their products. Other strongly represented European countries are Austria (8,118 square metres), Switzerland (6,094 square metres), France (5,016 square metres) and the Netherlands (4,200 square metres). 110 companies from the USA will be present, and have hired about 4,386 square metres of exhibition space, which is slightly more than at K 2007. Countries whose companies are taking considerably more exhibition space than at K 2007 include China (6,633 square metres), India (4,543 square metres) and Turkey (2,821 square metres). Taiwan, with about 5,300 square metres, has just as strong a presence as in 2007. This year there are exhibitors from a number of countries that are new to K, including Chile, Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam.

The manufacturers of plastics processing machinery and equipment traditionally form the biggest group of exhibitors at K, and this year 1,911 companies (K 2007: 1,897) will occupy halls 1 to 4 and 9 to 17, accounting for about two-thirds of the total exhibition area. 635 suppliers of raw materials (K 2007: 611) and 371 producers of semi-finished products and technical parts (K 2007: 463) are exhibiting in halls 5 to 8b. The exhibitors include all world market leaders, but also numerous newcomers. This is yet another reason why K this year is of very special interest. The companies have prepared a large number of innovations, which will be premièred on 27 October. To make these innovations easier to find, we have worked together with experts from the sector to develop a tool that enables each visitor to create his own individual plan for his stay at the trade fair. Based on a number of key themes that will have a decisive impact on market trends over the next few years, the corresponding exhibits can be easily identified at www.k-online.de with the help of this search matrix.

Innovations forum for developers and designers
The exhibitors’ innovations are not only of great interest to the makers of plastics and rubber products. Industrial end users appreciate K and visit it to acquire new ideas for their sector and their products. The trade fair is an information platform for developers, designers and manufacturing experts from numerous industrial sectors, including the automotive industry, medical technology, electrical engineering and electronics, logistics and the consumer goods industry.

For more than 50 years, for all these application areas, K has summed up what has been achieved and provided a vision of what can be achieved in future. This year there is even a special platform for taking a look into the future: the special review “Visions in Polymers”. On the basis of examples from different areas of life, speakers will explain which development trends can be discerned, and what innovative applications are under consideration in the industry. Special emphasis will be placed on the themes of energy efficiency and resource conservation. These are areas in which a big future is predicted for plastics as materials for creative ideas. Although today it may appear inconceivable, in a few years it could be possible to glue a thin solar cell film onto small appliances and vehicles, making them independent of power points and petrol pumps. Or to illuminate large rooms or buildings with light-emitting wallpaper. Or to keep water sterile with antibiotic tanks and pipes, and thus prevent diseases.

The special review uses multimedia, with film sequences, text and selected exhibits, to explain what contributions are made by plastics today and what opportunities will open up in future. There will also be daily panel discussions, in which scientists and experienced users from industry examine future-oriented questions.

Focus on young people
On Sunday 31 October, the theme of the special review is “Young people meet ...”. The aim is to talk with young people about aspects of the environment and the future, as well as familiarising them with the available career paths in the plastics industry. Experts from the sector will inform them about training options and opportunities, discuss sustainable production and analyse the job market and training situations they can expect to encounter.

The special review is being organised by the German Plastics Association under the auspices of PlasticsEurope Deutschland e.V. and Messe Düsseldorf.

Besides the special review, K 2010 also offers young people and young adults more opportunities for learning about this highly interesting sector and the variety of associated jobs and openings:

kai – a plastics training initiative – is one such opportunity. kai shows trainees, schoolchildren and students the wide variety of openings and promising vocational prospects that the plastics industry can offer. Associations, organisations and training institutions support the initiative. Each day at K 2010 there are guided tours, stage shows, panel discussions, experiments, and individual advice sessions. The complete program can be viewed on the K 2010 website: www.k-online.de.

In addition, the VDI [Verein Deutscher Ingenieure – Association of German Engineers] will hold a school pupils forum on Sunday, 31 October. This is aimed at young people at secondary level II (grades 11 – 13, the top three grades in the German schooling system) and will show all facets of the plastics sector, using a stage show, experiments and live action. The objective of the event is to awaken interest in skilled trades and engineering jobs and to raise awareness of career opportunities for young engineers. Anyone who is interested can obtain information and register at www.vdi.de/schuelerforum.

More on this topic can be found on the K 2010 Internet site. For example, there is the training exchange "ZACK", a free database for finding training placements (an initiative of KunststoffWeb, KI and GKV). There is also information about opportunities offered by companies in the plastics industry for producing degree dissertations and for obtaining internships (also in cooperation with KunststoffWeb).

Schoolchildren and students who want to gain an impression of the sector may become acquainted with their future field of work thanks to the favourably priced admission ticket (15 euros, including travel to the fair and back on the VRR and VRS public transport networks).

Plastics and art
Two special exhibitions deserve mention. During K 2010, a travelling exhibition of the German Plastics Museum can be viewed in entrance area North of the exhibition centre, under the title “Unter Strom. Kunststoffe und Elektrizität. Vom Bakelitschalter zum Blackberry” [Electrifying. Plastics and electricity. From Bakelite switch to Blackberry]. And in Cologne the work of the Japanese-German artist Suchan Kinoshita is currently on display at the Museum Ludwig. The artist and the museum will receive the art award of the board of trustees of the plastics industry this year.

Busy times for the exhibition centre, the city and the region
The coming days will be exciting for the employees of Messe Düsseldorf, its service partners and the exhibiting companies. There is a lot of work to be carried out before the first day of K 2010 on 27 October, requiring a high level of logistical and technical expertise. On the final day of preparation alone, some 5,000 vehicles and 20,000 people will be scurrying between the halls. The heavy lorries will have left the site by then – about 3,000 lorries, including 31 heavy goods vehicles, will have delivered the exhibitors’ machinery and materials. To ensure that traffic flows smoothly on and around the site, up to 100 employees will be busy directing and monitoring traffic.

Naturally, a world trade fair such as K 2010 has an impact far beyond the exhibition centre itself. More than 200,000 visitors from all continents are expected, and they and the 30,000 employees of the exhibitors ensure busy times throughout Düsseldorf and the region. Most affected are hotels and restaurants, airports and railway stations, buses, trains, taxis and shops. 23 hotel ships on the Rhine will provide additional overnight accommodation. Most hotel beds and private quarters are fully booked, and not only in Düsseldorf itself. Accommodation for K visitors has been snapped up in the surrounding area and in neighbouring towns in the Ruhr region, from Leverkusen to Cologne and as far as the Aachen region, Bergisches Land and the Lower Rhine towards the Dutch border.

To reduce overcrowding on the roads, we have strongly advised exhibitors and visitors to use buses and trains. Moreover, all admission tickets, exhibitor passes, admission ticket vouchers and press cards are good for free travel on the VRR and VRS public transport networks. We estimate that about 25 percent of exhibitors and approximately 40 percent of visitors will use local public transport.

The shops in Düsseldorf are also prepared for our international guests, and will be open in the city centre on the afternoon of Sunday 31 October from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m.

It’s K time! We at Messe Düsseldorf are ready for the challenges of K 2010 and look forward to meeting our guests from all around the world. We are convinced that your time with us will be successful and enjoyable.