On 11 October 1952, Theodor Heuss (1884-1963), then Federal President of the Federal Republic of Germany, officially opened the first “Plastics Trade Fair and Exhibition”, laying the foundation for the success story now known as the K Trade Fair in Düsseldorf.
The first comprehensive exhibition of its kind in the Federal Republic of Germany, the “Plastics Trade Fair and Exhibition” presented the diverse range of applications for plastics. The event, open to the general public, invited visitors to dive into an exciting new world of synthetic materials. An exhibition entitled „Mr and Mrs Jedermann“ (or Mr and Mrs Everyone) provided information on plastics as used in everyday life. The indestructible plastic bottle was a hit attraction, as was the packable rain poncho. The new refrigerator and furniture made of plastic unleashed a veritable storm of enthusiasm.
The first “Plastics Trade Fair and Exhibition” took place between 11 to 19 October 1952. 270 Companies from across Germany participated in the first K Trade Fair, spread out over what was then nearly 14,000 square meters of net exhibition space, attracting nearly 165,000 visitors over the course of eight days.
Celebrities on the K 1952: Theodor Heuss (3rd from right). The first desk of the Ruhrgebiet made of plastic. (Source: Faszination Kunststoff, Deutsches Kunststoff Museum, Düsseldorf, 1999)
Source: Messe Düsseldorf
What had initially been a trade fair for German exhibitors only became increasingly international with time. Its focus began to shift as well: a steady decline in the number of exhibitors presenting innovations in the field of everyday plastics began as the plastics industry became increasingly specialized and high-tech plastics for special solutions in electronics, medicine, automotive engineering or aerospace began to more attract attention than standard polymers. A clear break with the past came in 1963: K became a purely international trade fair for experts from across the plastics and rubber industries as well as the plastics processing, supply and mechanical engineering industries. By comparison: the most recent K 2016 attracted 3,285 international exhibitors and 230,000 visitors from 160 countries.
The next chapter in the K success story is soon set to begin: on 16 October 2019, Messe Düsseldorf will once again be opening its doors for K 2019, the world's leading trade fair for the international plastics and rubber industry. (Guido Deußing)