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Call for papers for a symposium for lateral thinkers

IKV premiere will throw light on the fundamentals of plastics technology

In an interview with Editor-in-Chief Dr. Karlhorst Klotz, IKV Institute Director Prof. Dr. Christian Hopmann explains the idea behind the new symposium (© IKV Aachen)

The Institute for Plastics Processing (IKV) in Industry and Craft at RWTH Aachen University is planning a premiere for 2020: The "1st International Symposium on Plastics Technology"
( ) is to take place on 10 March 2020 – the day before the traditional IKV Colloquium
( ), which will be held on 11 - 12 March 2020 – and aims to bring together scientists and specialists from all over the world who are involved with the future of plastics.

In the view of Prof. Dr.-Ing. Christian Hopmann, the head of the Institute, the Symposium will offer "an exceptional forum to learn, participate and network with the leading people in the field of plastics technology," and will highlight "the very latest findings in the field of polymer science and technology".

Shortly before the deadline for the Call for papers, we asked Prof. Hopmann a few questions about the special attractions of the new event and its benefits for the delegates:

Kunststoffe: Research at IKV on new processes in plastics technology is, as we know, heavily oriented to concrete applications in industry. With your call to participate in an international symposium, is your aim nevertheless to target mainly scientists oriented to the fundamentals of plastics, and, if so, why?

Hopmann: At IKV we always have our sights on both – knowledge-oriented fundamental research and application-oriented research for industry. Both are closely connected in our Institute's DNA. On such occasions, I like to call up the picture of the innovation pipeline: If no fundamental research flows into the pipe at the front, no innovations will come out at the end. We always need both in order to substantially support our industry. But you are completely right: At our Colloquium, we have always oriented ourselves to the needs of industry, so that basic research is not so visible here. Precisely for this reason, we want to give some space to fundamental research by asking research experts from all over the world to present their projects and discuss them with both science and industry.

Kunststoffe: What benefit does an event such as this – which is perhaps more "academically" oriented – have for an audience from industry ahead of the Colloquium?

Hopmann: We research people are quite rightly called on to climb down from our ivory tower, to make our projects understandable and to participate in public discussion. That is precisely what we want to do with this event. Anyone who wants to find out what topics are being researched in science, what new findings have been obtained and what the global research picture looks like will certainly welcome the many ideas and suggestions. The success of our industry is, after all, based to a large extent on university research. Technologies that are nowadays standard originated from there. Whether we are talking about internal pressure sensors in moulds, simulation software or process technologies like foam injection moulding, they all originated in university research. In other words, if you want to know what could bring corporate success tomorrow or the day after tomorrow, you can, in a single day at the Symposium, immerse yourself very intensively and efficiently with various facets, approaches and solutions from research.

Kunststoffe: How do you try to ensure that practically-oriented visitors have a chance to follow the specialist presentations?

Hopmann: In our industry, we have a large number of clever minds who are specialists in their field and very often were – or still are – active in research. Anyone who follows research will certainly find their way, and anyone who does not, should start to do so as quickly as possible. It is inevitable that one or other borderline experience will occur. But precisely that is the humus on which innovations flourish. The obvious, easily understandable, quick answer unfortunately only solves the more trivial issues. For something fundamentally new, fundamentally new ways of thinking are needed. Take the example of artificial intelligence: hardly anyone presumably doubts that AI will also play an important role in our industry. Dealing with the specialists in this field also requires a certain amount of effort from us on the research side who are at home in plastics technology. But without it, it would not work and, quite honestly, life would also be boring if everything was always immediately comprehensible.

Kunststoffe: With computer-assisted disciplines such as simulation or artificial intelligence it is nowadays necessary, as you say, to think out of the box. Will papers from these fields feature strongly at the Symposium, and in which of these technologies – which are, after all, regarded rather sceptically by some users – will we be able to expect a direct benefit for everyday work processes?

Hopmann: What we actually experience at the Symposium will be determined by the presentations from the scientists. We as the organisers of the event do not want to set any tight limits. Research needs freedom, and that will also be demonstrated at the Symposium. The idea is simple: Let's invite the clever minds and let them report on what they think is important from their point of view. Why should we, as the organisers, know better than the world's research scientists what the important topics of the future will be?

At the same time, I can assure you that simulation and artificial intelligence will play a role. The direct benefit of these topics for everyday work varies from one company to another, and it is up to these companies to put the research findings to use. We want to present approaches, methods and ideas that work long-term, as is also the case with artificial intelligence. We come across AI everywhere nowadays in our daily lives, but usually without noticing it. In plastics technology, it has considerable potential, as we are now learning with our research projects. It will certainly not be the universal problem-solving method nor will it involve total surveillance. The scepticism you mentioned is based to a considerable extent on ignorance and also on the sometimes exaggerated expectations and underestimated investment. Here, it is worth listening to science and provoking it. It is, after all, important to remember that the scientists also want to hear from the industry about fundamental problems they are facing or expect to face in the future – problems that might be solved by research.

Kunststoffe: What kind of impulses do you expect in classic material technology and process technology?

Hopmann: If, for example, you follow the conference and publications of the PPS – Polymer Processing Society – you will see that the research covers an incredible range of materials and material modifications as well as processing processes. Here, additive manufacturing plays just as much a role as traditional processes, the modification of commodities and also exotic polymers. It is this width and depth of the projects that makes research so diverse. And that is precisely what we want to demonstrate at this event. In our mainstream-dominated world, it is important for me to show variety, present unexpected projects and provide enough space and importance for lateral thinking and otherness – you could also call it "diversity". In that respect, I don't know what we can expect. And that is precisely why I am looking forward like a child full of anticipation to the proposals for papers now arriving here at IKV from all over the world, and then of course to our Symposium in March 2020 in Aachen.

Questions: Dr. Karlhorst Klotz, Chief Editor, Kunststoffe

Additional information
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  • Around the World
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Company profile

Institut für Kunststoffverarbeitung IKV in Industrie und Handwerk an der RWTH Aachen

Seffenter Weg 201
DE 52074 Aachen
Tel.: 0241 80-93806
Fax: 0241 80-92262

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