For the fifth time, Grafe Group invited around 70 experts from the plastics industry and experts from research and design to participate in the Mitteldeutscher Kunststoffdialog (Central German Plastics Dialogue) conference at its premises in Blankenheim, Germany from May 14 to 15, 2013. The event was run under the slogans “Design meets function” and “Colour makes art”.
Matthias Grafe, General Manager of Grafe Group and an avowed “design freak”, reminded his audience in his opening speech that “you must not forget functionality amidst all the design effort”. Markus Benzler, Key Account Manager of Grafe Group guided the experts through the colourful conference programme. The first day of the conference was dedicated to “Design”, the second to “Colour” and “Function”.
Developments in biopolymers
The first presentation given at the conference focused on new developments in biopolymers and their use, for instance, in refrigerators. Dipl-Ing Helmut Nägele, General Manager of Tecnaro presented various examples demonstrating applications of biopolymers, such as dome loudspeakers, heels, watches, urns or toys and explained the advantages of biopolymers. He regards himself as a material designer whose designs are, as he himself emphasised, based on plastics which originate from 100% renewable resources (lignin and natural fibres) and which can help to reduce the CO2 footprint. He believes that biopolymers are on a par with currently available plastics, such as ABS, PS or POs, and forecasts a continuing trend in the use of biopolymers. He predicts that production will double next year.
Secondly Hans-Christian Lierow and Torben Biehl, both Lufthansa Technik, reported on the development of ground-level emergency exit marks in aeroplanes. Four years ago, Lufthansa Technik in cooperation with Grafe substituted the coloured filterfilm by a solid-coloured polycarbonate (PC) profile. Now the “GuideU” fluorescent strips function on a photoluminescent basis which are charged by means of the cabin light within only 15 to 30min between flights. This strip enables passengers to find the emergency exit without the previously required electric system. This not only saves maintenance costs but also allows various designs and colours. The company holds, by its own account, a 90% market share. It also produces these strips for other airlines. Plastics will be publishing a more detailed report on this innovation in the upcoming issue 7+8/2013.
“We designers should provide the right environment for plastics”
In the final session of the day, designer Efrat Friedland of Designaffairs explained the importance of finding the right material for a product. She then presented three ways to integrate materials in the design process: firstly find a source of inspiration by examining the characteristics of materials, secondly investigate how it will fit within the design process and finally, how it will behave during the design process.
Company tour and colouristics workshop
This creative presentation was followed by a company tour with Grafe staff and a colouristics workshop. In an interesting experiment with colours, conference participants were invited to try their hand at devising a recipe to get as close as possible to a colour which had been prepared beforehand. The idea was both to discover and to experience a different perspective on colours. The three best results were awarded a prize during the evening event.
All eyes on colour
On the second day of the conference the focus was on colour and function. Peter Kämpf of F&E Stabilo International reported on new ideas in colouring with the company’s well-known pens and highlighters. Julia Canzler from the design department at Grafe Group presented the 2014 colour preview by means of the adventures of super hero “Colorakel”. Filip Roscam, of Merck Pigments, presented the latest trends in colours, or to be more precise, five themes of eight colours: “Bright”, “Flash”, “Move me”, “Hibernate” and “Reflection”. Claus-Peter Schweim, Konica Minolta Sensing Europe, gave a presentation on global digital colour data communication.
Dipl-Ing Christoph Riethmöller of the Institute of Textile Technology and Process Engineering (ITV) Denkendorf opened the final session by reconsidering future application possibilities for photometric products. Designer Marta Depta of Purapur presented the conclusions of her studies on the cultural dynamics of colours in an interdisciplinary context. She explored questions such as the role model played by colours in the perception of products and asked how dynamic is the meaning of colours today. She went on to explain how different cultures have different role models and how our understanding and perception of colours have changed over the millennia. Marta Depta concluded her presentation by giving a forecast of what we can learn from these various factors to help us understand our current colour culture. Dr Carlos Caro, Export Manager at Grafe Group, closed the conference with a forecast on “Plastics of tomorrow”. He highlighted, for instance, persistent plastics (“Glow in the dark”) or reduced heat absorption by dark dyed plastics (“Cool Black”).