Produced by the Plastics Industry Association, NPE2018 will be held May 7 through 11 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. More than 2,000 exhibiting companies and organizations are expected this year, and projected attendance is more than 65,000 from 128 countries with 87 percent having an influence on company purchasing decisions.

NPE is considered the “must attend” event for companies that are associated with plastics in any way. It is the world’s leading plastics trade show and conference where products, tools, equipment and resources are assembled in one venue to fully cover the innovative solutions and emerging technologies that will be involved in the future of plastics.

NPE2018 will include hands-on opportunities to see and buy the latest technology. The show floor will feature leading manufacturers and suppliers and allow attendees to test-run machinery, find new resources and gather information and insights on the latest equipment, products and materials for every phase of plastics production.

Technology zones

The exhibition will have more than 1,100,000 net square feet of innovation and 11 technology zones.

1. 3D/4D printing zone — 4D printing is on the horizon of printing, where time is the fourth dimension and molecular self-assembly is the ultimate goal. See how 3D and 4D printing are revolutionizing product innovation, and learn how to streamline the digital file-to-prototype process.

2. Bottle zone — With more than 80 manufacturers and suppliers, this is the only opportunity in the U.S. to explore the many advances driving bottling manufacturing. This will include quick-drying PET, bioplastics and new barrier technology.

3. Business & finance zone — This will allow attendees to meet with companies that serve the plastics industry in the areas of publishing, education, research, transportation, banking, software development, consulting and more.

4. Flexible vinyl zone — Find out how manufacturers of plastisols (liquids) and solids (pellets, cubes, powders, etc.) can bring newfound durability, resiliency, efficiency and potential recyclability to plastics products.

5. IDSA design center — The IDSA Design Center will feature companies providing design services, design technology and design software for the plastics industry. With design becoming so critical to form, function, image and sustainability, these are the companies to help you navigate the critical stages of product development.

6. Material science zone — This area can play a key role in revolutionizing many of the products consumers are buying, from appliances to electronics. It will showcase innovations in durability, strength, weight, cost-efficiency and more.

7. Medical parts processing zone — This area will feature plastics in medical devices and diagnostics, including plastics materials and plastics processing companies.

8. Moldmaking zone — This will include companies that specialize in high-speed, high-quantity manufacturing that can source parts — mold designers, fabricators, manufacturers and more.

9. Processors zone — From blow molding to extrusion to injection molding, processors use many techniques to transform raw plastic materials into the everyday products used by consumers. This zone will feature manufacturers of plastics products (injection molding, blow molding, thermoforming, extrusion, transfer molding, compression molding, etc.).

10. Re|focus zone — This area will be for recycling professionals who want to learn about revolutionary equipment, reliable supplies and the processors and brand owners who are seeking sustainable solutions for their own business.

11. Thermoforming zone — This area will feature thermoformers or suppliers to this market sector, whether thin- or thick-gauge.

For the education portion of the show, the latest topics in plastics manufacturing will be discussed, such as new and emerging technologies; market trends and new directions; and proven business strategies that are currently working well.

This year’s event will introduce a new Plastics Leadership Summit. The one-day summit seminars will be for C-level executives and senior management to explore critical factors that can impact their companies.

Another new feature this year will be the 3D Printing Workshop, which will examine 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies from a plastics processing perspective. Topics will include short-run production, conformal cooling, end-of-arm tooling, technology options, bridge tooling and material advancements. The workshop will be presented by Additive Manufacturing Media and Plastics Technology.

There will also be a Bottle Zone Technical Forum to explore the latest innovations in the manufacturing of bottles and containers. Topics will include raw materials, additives, and barrier; preform and closure manufacturing; bottle blow molding technologies; bottle filling and inspection technologies; and downstream packaging and recycling technologies. The technical forum will be hosted by PETplanet and the International Society of Beverage Technologists.

The Spanish language conference will focus on key issues specific to the Latin American market, including vehicle lightweighting, recycling and sustainability, and packaging. It will be hosted by B2B Portales.

IHS Markit will provide plastics industry insights about the future of the industry regarding the economy, energy, feedstocks and polymers in this expert-led industry briefing.

The Agricultural Plastics Recycling Conference will bring together plastic recyclers, brokers, farmers, nurseries, agricultural plastic manufacturers and government officials. The challenges and solutions to landfilling and open burning of waste agricultural plastics will be the main topic discussed.

The exhibit hall hours are 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. on Friday.

For more information and to register, visit npe.org.