If Frank M. Rinderknecht gets his way, you will soon drive a car using a joystick instead of a steering wheel. His concept car, the Rinspeed can be seen in the TICONA stand,with composite body panels, and a beautiful modern interior that looks like something is missing: the steering wheel.
If you visit the Plastics Europe stand, you will see a carbon fiber composites automobile: The X-Bow (Read: Cross-Bow) by the motorcycle manufacturer KTM. The X-Bow has 2 liter Audi 240 Horsepower Turbocharged engine and complete composite body. The car weighs only 790 kg and achieves 0-60MPH in only 3.9 seconds. 500 units have been sold worldwide. The price starts with a base of €62,000. The one in the exhibit will sell for €100,000.
Today, almost everyone in the plastics industry is familiar with “The K.” The K-show, a plastics materials, processing equipment show and plastics related exhibition is the largest show of its kind. Every three years since 1952, engineers, chemists, business people, students, professors and lay people, converge daily into Duesseldorf, Germany, by the tens of thousands during a week-long non-stop plastics extravaganza. From the beginning, the K-show was an well-attended event. In 1952 165,000 people walked through several plastic fantastic halls. The building that housed the first K, is today’s K-Museum, a museum dedicated to plastics. This week, over quarter of a million people will come to the K2010, to see new machines, new materials, new books, or simply to Schlep home tons of plastics products, from buckets, to chairs, and litter boxes to toilet seats, that are given away at the end of long lines of plastics fanatics.
However, many of us don’t know that “K” stands for Kunststoffe and Kautschuk. Kunststoffe, the German word for plastics, virtually means artificial material. Kautschuk, on the other hand is what Germans call rubber, and is an adaptation of the word Cahuchu, what Amazon indians called the rubber tree. Cahuchu, which means weeping tree, is the root of the German word for rubber, as well as the French caoutschouc, the Spanish caucho, and many more. However, English speakers stuck to rubber, a word that praises one of the first applications of cahuchu; namely rubbing pencil marks off a piece of paper. At the beginning of the 20th century, the American plastics industry did propose the name Synthoid for moldable chemically produced masses. As we can see, today there is no S-Show. As we would imagine without the backing of a major expo and an entire journal, the word just dwindled away. And so, as Americans and the rest of the world decided to call plastics all these organic materials that could easily be shaped into colorful products, Germans opted to use their own word, Kunststoffe.
Kunststoffe was first used on January 1, 1911, when the first issue of the journal Kunststoffe, founded in 1910, came out in Munich, Germany. It was the beginning of a long history of the only journal that presents, continuously, the developments, inventions and advancements in the plastics field. The first issue, as many that followed, was edited by Dr. Richard Escales, who explained to the reader that this was a journal that covered issues related to the manufacturing and applications of chemically produced materials. It further explained that of special interest to the editors and readers were artificial silk and other synthetic fibers, vulcanized and reclaimed or recycled rubber, synthetic rubber, celluloid, synthetic leather such as linoleum, synthetic resins, casein products and others. Dr. Richard Escales was an experienced writer. He was also the founder of a journal for the explosives industry, a journal for fibers and fibrous plants, a journal for precious metals and ores, and a journal dedicated to German-Mexican technical relations. The Mexican government made him their honorary technical correspondent in 1923. When Dr. Escales died in 1924, at age 61, he had written 11 books, many papers and was the chief editor in 5 technical journals. But most of all he is remembered for coining the word Kunststoffe.
As German as the publication Kunststoffe may sound, from the beginning, Richard Escales chose to make it an international publication. Even in the first issue the list of contributing editors included several Americans, among them Leo Baekeland, the father of today’s plastics industry, as well as Austrian, British and French chemists and engineers. Ninety years after its first issue, the journal Kunststoffe is also a bilingual publication, in German and English, under the name Plast Europe. Due to its continuity and its content it is regarded throughout the world as the archival journal for plastics related issues. Anyone doing a literature search on any plastics related topic would find in the 100 years of Kunststoffe volumes a wealth of information unequaled by any other journal. While Kunststoffe does not claim to be a journal for theoreticians, it does present an in-depth view of the development of the plastics industry during a 100 year span.
However, in the German language and culture, there is yet another word for Kunststoffe, Plastik. Plastik often carries the negative connotation of cheap and weak materials, and is sometimes used to reflect the prejudice towards plastics that is often found throughout the world. What the Germans do have, is the benefit of a second word. And so, when praising plastics, the indispensable material that saves lives, or the material that has given us the comforts we can no longer live without, a German simply says: Kunststoffe.
K Show 2010 will be held October 27 through November 4 in Dusseldorf, Germany. Hanser will be there in full force. Visit us in Hall 15 B 60 and the North Entrance.
See you at K!
October 20, 2011–Hanser Publications announces the launch of their new website at www.hanserpublications.com. The new site design provides online visitors with dramatic improvements in navigation, appearance, and accessibility. Over the next few months, we will introduce new features on the site. Your comments and suggestions for strengthening our communications are encouraged and welcome!