30th International Colloquium Plastics Technology: a premiere in several respects

The International Colloquium Plastics Technology 2020 marked both an anniversary and a premiere. It was the 30th time that IKV’s wide range of research topics was presented at a colloquium, but it was the first time they were presented in digital form. Instead of networking in the Eurogress in Aachen, the participants met online on four afternoons on a digital platform.

Prof. Rainer Dahlmann (IKV) during his plenary lecture: "Closing loops - chances for a circular economy" | Picture: IKV/Fröls

Prof. Christian Hopmann is being prepared for his opening speech by the technical crew. | Picture: IKV/Fröls

Michael Wiener (DSD - Duales System Holding) during his plenary lecture "Recycling Management - Key Technology of the 21st Century" | Picture: IKV/Fröls

Olaf-Björn Kölle (VW AG) during his plenary lecture "Additive manufacturing in mass production - an assessment" |Picture: IKV/Fröls

Mauritius Schmitz (Scientific Director for Digitisation at IKV) spoke on the topic "Internet of Production - Added Value through Intelligent Systems" | Picture: IKV/Fröls

During his opening speech, Prof. Christian Hopmann made it very clear that this colloquium was a "true premiere", because IKV had never before been in a situation in which it had to prepare two colloquiums within the space of one year. While all the preparations for the live event had been completed at the end of February, the IKV management was forced at the last minute to fix an alternative date for the colloquium in September in view of the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. That this, too, would not be able to proceed as a live event in view of the potential health risks for the participants and the IKV staff could not be foreseen in spring.

Flexibility thanks to digital tools

The preparations for the digital colloquium that began in June pursued the firm principle that it should not simply be a case of accepting the situation as it was, but of regarding it as a challenge – a challenge that offered the opportunity to shape something new and convincing. For this, flexibility and creative drive were needed – and it induced those responsible to dig deep into the toolbox of digitisation. Via a digital platform, the possibility was created for the participants to attend all the presentations that had been planned for the live event. 49 speakers took the microphone in the Eurogress building to present their papers in two specially equipped recording studios. The participants were then given an opportunity in subsequent discussion rounds to offer their comments by chat or through a live connection. The speakers were on hand to answer questions from the plenum and also included them in their final discussions.

Key topics: Circular Economy, Industry 4.0 and Additive Manufacturing

On the first afternoon of the colloquium, Prof. Rainer Dahlmann and Mauritius Schmitz, both Scientific directors at IKV, Michael Wiener from DSD (Duales System Holding GmbH), and Olaf-Björn Kölle from Volkswagen AG took to the stage. Their plenary papers set programmatic areas of focus and were dedicated to today’s key topics: circular economy, Industry 4.0 and additive manufacturing, each tackling them from a different perspective. While the IKV presentations dealt with research activities in the fields of circular economy and Industry 4.0 and also covered the perspective of the Institute, the paper from Michael Wiener looked at the topic of plastics recycling in a global economic and political context. From the production perspective, Olaf-Björn Kölle focused on the different demands made on additively manufactured parts and the resultant potential fields of application.

It was clear from the questions subsequently put to the speakers that the interest in the topics among the participants was considerable. A discussion assistant selected the questions from the chat and set up the digital interaction between the participants and the plenary speakers.

Interaction in the digital space to experience research

Eleven expert lounges were set up to provide for the interaction between the participants and the IKV scientists. Whether a participant wanted to find out more about IKV's activities in the field of circular economy or someone had a technical question about a specific area of research, specialist contact partners were present in the expert lounges over the three afternoons. To maintain the networking concept of the colloquium also in the digital environment, there was a participant chat that enabled people to contact each other quickly and in an uncomplicated manner. The digitised "IKV 360° - research live" version with 72 videos on ongoing research projects from plastics technology also proved to be a big attraction. The videos provided the viewer with information on the content, scope and status of the projects and were also available to the participants to view even outside the colloquium.

31st Colloquium Plastics Technology live again

Even if the feedback on the event confirmed that it was a successful digital colloquium, the organisers are looking forward to being able to hold the next colloquium live again. The dates for the 31st International Colloquium Plastics Technology are 16 and 17 March 2022 in Aachen.