From October 19 to 26, 2022, the world’s largest trade fair for the plastics industry, K 2022, will take place in Düsseldorf, where the industry will come together to present its latest products and innovative processes.
This year, the focus is on one topic in particular – Sustainability. How can circularity work in the plastics sector? Which materials and technologies improve the products’ carbon footprint? These and other questions are being asked of exhibitors at K 2022.
As part of its commitment to the responsible use of the environment and resources for decades and as a UN Global Compact member, Leonhard Kurz will present sustainable solutions at the fair – an In-Mold Decoration process, design, and sustainability merge in home appliances and many other green solutions.
Resource-saving innovations in decoration technology
At the fair, Kurz will demonstrate the sustainable In-Mold Decoration process (IMD), which combines several processes in a single work step. The wafer-thin transfer products are applied dry and emission-free – and the use of recycled materials such as ocean plastic or bio-based materials is also easily possible. At present, finishings with a proportion of bio-based raw materials of around 30% can be implemented, and this trend is on the rise. Kurz has also already succeeded in producing decoration products with CO2 savings of up to 25%, which are in no way inferior to conventional products in terms of design and quality. Components decorated with Kurz products are already 100% recyclable.
Recyclable components for the automotive industry
The desire for more sustainability is already shaping the automotive sector today. Together with advancing eMobility, concepts for CO2 reduction go hand in hand with recyclable components that are manufactured using efficient and resource-conserving processes. Leonhard Kurz will demonstrate how this is possible with various exhibits at the trade fair. From the component for the rear to the emblem for the front or rear of the vehicle and the control panel for the roof-lining, all concepts are produced, refined, and equipped with intelligent functions in a single step using IMD.
This ‘one shot’ process saves resources and energy. In addition, all exhibits are finished with recyclable Kurz thin-film decorations, which do not affect the recyclability of the components in the recycling process. “The innovative and ecologically compatible solutions as well as the attractive designs of the Kurz Group increase sustainability along the entire value chain and give manufacturers and brand owners from the automotive industry clear competitive advantages,” explains Rainer Süßmann, head of Business Area Plastic Decoration at Leonhard Kurz.
Design and sustainability in home appliances
On the one hand, household appliances should be visually appealing and, on the other hand, equipped with state-of-the-art functions. However, today’s consumers also expect the appliances to be manufactured in a resource-conserving manner and sustainably finished. Manufacturers can meet these demands by relying on pioneering solutions from Kurz. These combine a significant reduction in the carbon footprint with the most stringent design expectations.
Leonhard Kurz will be presenting various washing machine components at K 2022, which also use recycled materials. Control panels are manufactured using In-Mold Electronics (IME). “The efficient process combines injection molding, molding, decoration, and integration of smart touch operation in a single step,” explains Nick Wagner, head of business area plastic decoration sales and marketing at Kurz. “This saves energy and resources. At the same time, the innovative, durable finishing takes into account the increasingly important sustainability concept, as the decoration does not affect the recyclability of the components, and recycled materials can be used without any issues.”
Consumer electronics with sustainable added value
In the field of consumer electronics, end consumers are increasingly placing value on environmentally friendly concepts that save energy and resources. Kurz helps manufacturers meet this requirement. The sustainable IMD and IME processes are also used in consumer electronics. Using various design-driven controller prototypes, the trade fair will demonstrate how recyclates can be decorated in a high-quality and appealing way so that it is in no way inferior to new material. Even backlighting and various lighting effects are easily possible, as is the use of partial metallization as a sustainable alternative to electroplating. Kurz product designs thus provide inspiration for the consumer electronics of tomorrow.
The requirements for packaging in the cosmetics industry are high and complex. On the one hand, they have to boast striking designs and stand out from the crowd at first glance, and on the other hand, consumers want sustainable solutions. Visitors to K 2022 will find out how both aspects can be harmoniously combined.
Kurz will demonstrate machine and process technologies for the direct finishing of containers such as tubes and jars. This eliminates the need for labels, saving resources. In addition, the machines demonstrated by Kurz subsidiary Isimat enable the finishing process to be implemented as part of a hybrid solution regardless of how many steps it comprises – thus reducing the total energy requirement. If required by the customer, Isimat equips the machine with LED technology, further reducing energy consumption. After all, Kurz transfer products have no negative impact on recyclability.
Taking sustainability to the next level
Across industries, more and more manufacturers are striving to increase the proportion of recycled materials used in their production. Leonard Kurz is also a pioneer in this field and was the first company in the plastics industry to introduce a PET take-back system in the form of Kurz Recosys.
This means that remnants of the Kurz decoration carrier materials can be recycled and reused as high-quality compound granulate – Recopound – in injection molding. “Recopound is a sustainable and flexible alternative to existing materials with consistent quality,” explains Johannes Romming, project manager of innovation & sustainability at Leonhard Kurz.
“What’s more, the post-industrial recyclate can be decorated just as attractively and elegantly as new material. At K 2022, visitors to the stand of our partner companies Deckerform (Stand B77, Hall 13) and Arburg (Stand A13, Hall 13) can experience this in an exciting live demonstration that we have prepared.”
Circular Economy Forum
As an additional highlight, Kurz is participating in the Circular Economy Forum of the Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e. V. (VDMA). Vdma members such as Leonhard Kurz will present their projects and technologies to enable the recycling of plastics in 10 pavilions in the open-air area of Messe Düsseldorf.
At the joint stand P10, Kurz will be demonstrating how well the use of recycled materials in injection molding works, using the Reconpound in-house recycling granulate as an example. In addition, the thin-film specialist, together with its machine subsidiary Baier, will be demonstrating the finishing of recycled materials live on-site through hot stamping on a Baier Becorun.