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Like many of you, I’ve had an occasion or two in the past year or so to reflect on new skills I’ve developed since the global pandemic put the kibosh on social gatherings. My list includes learning about various video conferencing platforms; how to use webcams, microphones, and lights; how to make my at-home office look sort of like a production studio; and how to interview someone on camera and take notes at the same time.

Lots of new experiences to be sure, but again—like many of you—I’m ready now to take a step back to the old normal. So, with that in mind, let me fill you in on an in-person event we at Gardner Business Media have planned for this fall: We’re bringing our three of our successful annual events together under one roof for a real-life, in-person professional gathering, giving injection molders, moldmakers, brand owners, OEMs, extrusion processors of all kinds, compounders, and recyclers—and their suppliers—the opportunity to learn, network and perhaps even evaluate or buy machinery. I’m thinking of us as part trade show, part conference and, under the circumstances of the last 14 months or so, part celebration.

Amerimold 2021, Molding 2021, and Extrusion 2021 will be held September 21-23 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Ill. By then (knock wood), our country will have awakened from its slumber and been fortified to resist the nasty virus that has disrupted the U.S. and the rest of the world. I don’t know about you, but while I’ve come to appreciate virtual events—we’ve had several of our own—I’m ready to go out and actually see stuff, say hello to old friends, meet new ones, and report on new technology. And what better place to do it than the Chicagoland area, the core of our industry.

Here’s a little bit about our three events: Amerimold (see p. 51) is an annual show presented by our sister publication, MoldMaking Technology Magazine (MMT). It is intended for the entire injection molding supply chain: moldmakers, molders, and their suppliers (machine tools, cutting tools, mold components, mold materials, and many others) in the $8 billion mold manufacturing market. Since 1999, Amerimold has connected thousands of the top owners, management, production personnel and engineers involved in the complete lifecycle of the design, manufacture, maintenance and repair of a mold. The upcoming show will be unlike any Amerimold in the event’s 20+ year history. Why? Because it will afford machine builders of injection molding machines, auxiliary equipment, and all types of machine tools the first opportunity in months to bring equipment to a trade show and get face time with customers and prospects. I think there is a thirst for this, and I expect many machine builders will agree. With that in mind, this year’s Amerimold has been extended to 2½ days.

Plastics Processing Conference in Chicago September 2021

Molding 2021 (see p. 31) is an educational conference and exhibit where industry leaders discuss the latest developments in various molding processes, equipment, materials and management techniques, with special emphasis on adding value to your business. During 2½ days in Rosemont, attendees will have access to molding industry thought leaders, learning “Best Practices”—practically oriented talks on specifying or selecting equipment, organizing production, or addressing processing issues, as well as expert know-how on problem solving and troubleshooting. Afternoon sessions will consist of three concurrent breakout sessions that focus on areas of technology such as LSR or robotics, and market areas such as medical or automotive.​ And throughout the event, there will be able time to network with speakers, exhibitors and other attendees on a peer-to-peer basis. Molding 2021 will also launch our first Hot Shots Parts Competition, in which attendees will judge innovative examples of injection molded applications.

At our Extrusion 2021 Conference and exhibit (see p. 49), business owners, plant managers, process engineers and manufacturing personnel will be brought up to speed over 2½ days on technology developments and best practices impacting all types of extrusion operations. ​​​​​Each day will consist of a morning General Session of interest to all extrusion processors, as well as afternoon concurrent sessions that will drill down into specific processes: Film, Sheet, Compounding, and Pipe/Profile/Tubing. The afternoon before our conference (Sept. 20) there will be a half-day symposium organized by TAPPI on Film Processing and Coating in a Circular Economy.

Wait, there’s still more: On the afternoons of Sept. 21 and 22, we will also introduce our first-ever Recycling Conference. Intended for molders and extrusion processors—as well as the recyclers who supply them—our editorial team is putting the finishing touches on this program as I write this.

So be on the lookout for more details on this event, including registration and hotel information. And meet me in Chicago.