K 2022 Meets Highest Expectations

Innovation driver for the global plastics and rubber industry

Large number of concrete solutions, machinery and products for the transformation to a circular economy

The joy of the plastics and rubber industry to finally be able to exchange ideas in person on a global level again after three years characterized the K 2022 trade fair in Düsseldorf, Germany. The 3,037 exhibitors reported extremely good leads and a marked willingness of the trade visitors to invest, promising new customer relationships and numerous business deals, some of them spontaneous.

“K in Düsseldorf has once again fulfilled highest expectations. It continues to be the most international, complete and innovative trade fair of the global plastics and rubber industry”, said Erhard Wienkamp, Managing Director of Messe Düsseldorf. “The trade fair has impressively demonstrated just how valuable face-to-face networking, chance meetings and physical brand and product experiences are. We are very satisfied to see that K 2022 succeeded in sending out strong signals as an innovation driver of the industry and that our exhibitors did business with a high number of international customers with strong decision-making authority.”A total of 176,000 trade visitors from all continents travelled to K 2022. At over 70%, the proportion of international attendees at K 2022 remained at a consistently high level.

Ulrich Reifenhäuser, Chairman of the K 2022 Exhibitor Advisory Board,  is also very pleased about the show: “After hardly any trade fairs could take place worldwide also on a national level over the past three years, K 2022 was all the more eagerly anticipated as the world’s No. 1 trade fair of the plastics and rubber industry and succeeded in providing fresh impetus in all sectors of our industry. The many, in part, unexpected concrete contract negotiations held at the trade fair speak for themselves!”

The current unpredictability and uncertainty of events makes for a tense situation in the sector overall, but this did not dampen the exhibitors’ commitment and visitors’ interest, quite  the opposite: “Especially now in turbulent times and where the plastics industry is undergoing transformation towards the circular economy, K 2022 was the ideal place to jointly and actively chart the course for the future,” stated Ulrich Reifenhäuser.

The trade visitors were especially inspired by the wealth of new technology developments presented by raw materials producers, machinery manufacturers and plastics processors for the realization of the circular economy, resource conservation and climate protection. Ulrich Reifenhäuser commented: “It can be clearly felt that all companies have embraced the need to take on social responsibility and think about plastics in a sustainable way from the beginning of the process chain. The variety of solutions, machinery and products for transformation towards a circular economy presented at K 2022 was incredible.”

The trade visitors at this year’s K came from 157 nations. In addition to Germany, European countries strongly represented included the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey, France, Belgium, Poland and Spain. With 42% of the visitors coming from overseas, the international reach of K was as strong as usual. While less visitors from the East Asian region were at K 2022 compared to three years ago due to the currently more difficult conditions in those countries as a result of quarantine regulations, many visitors from the U.S., Brazil and India attended K 2022.

According to a survey, about two thirds of all visitors were primarily interested in machinery and plant construction. 57% (5% more than at K 2019) were interested in raw and auxiliary materials, with recyclates and bioplastics being particularly popular. For 28%, semi-finished products and technical parts made of plastics and rubber were the main reason for coming to the show (multiple answers possible). Over 70% of all visitors were from top and middle management.

Visitors gave K 2022 top marks for the completeness of the ranges and the presentation of the entire supply chain. 98% of all professionals stated they had fully achieved the goals associated with their visit.

During the eight trade fair days it became evident that this year’s K was right on target with its selection of hot topics: circular economy, climate protection and digitalization. In terms of investment intentions, machinery and equipment for processing and recycling stood out at 43%. The focus was particularly on sustainability, but also on circular economy and energy/resource efficiency in production. Around 40% of decision-makers said they are dealing with the topic of decarbonization.

K 2022 again featured  two U.S. Pavilions with 35 exhibitors, organized by Messe Düsseldorf North America (MDNA) and co-sponsored by PLASTICS, The Plastics Industry Association.  Overall, 105 U.S. companies showcased their products at K.

The K specials, which also focused on the three hot topics, were also very well received. The official special show, ‘Plastics Shape the Future’, addressed the economic, social and ecological challenges and potential solutions around the K key themes during high-caliber discussions and lectures and was well attended throughout. The Circular Economy Forum, where the VDMA (German Engineering Federation) and 13 of its member companies impressively demonstrated the importance of technology in the implementation of the circular economy in the plastics industry was also popular with the international audience.

Also much discussed at this year’s K was the global production language, OPC UA. This standard allows the processing parameters of the machinery and equipment involved to be coordinated more precisely and in a more targeted manner. This, in turn, is considered an important prerequisite for optimized circular management. 40 companies from eight countries participated in an OPC UA demonstration project at the trade show.

At the Science Campus, both exhibitors and visitors were provided with a concentrated overview of scientific activities and findings in the plastics and rubber sector. Numerous universities, institutes and funding organizations offered opportunities for direct dialogue.

Many trainees and students took advantage of the Plastics Training Initiative’s (KAI) offer to get information about career opportunities in the plastics industry.

The next K will be held in Düsseldorf, Germany from October 8 – 15, 2025. For further information on visiting or exhibiting at  K 2025, contact Messe Düsseldorf North America; Telephone: (312) 781-5180; E-mail: info@mdna.com; Visit www.k-online.com and www.mdna.com; Follow us on twitter at http://twitter.com/mdnachicago

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