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Design in Plastics 2017


  • SPE launched Design in Plastics 2016 last year at RISD in Providence
  • Engineers, designers, molders, educators & brand owners participated
  • The next Design in Plastics takes place Nov. 6-8, 2017, at CCS in Detroit
DETROIT (Sept. 28, 2017) — The Society of Plastics Engineers' first Design in Plastics conference – held in June 2016 at the Rhode Island School of Design — attracted just over 100 participants from up and down the supply chain. The focus was on promoting inter-disciplinary collaboration, with the aim of improving product design and development. The inaugural event was very well received, as evidenced by the following comments from some who attended.


“The 2016 Design in Plastics Conference, brought together cross-functional representatives to the stage and audience, at one venue, to present and collaborate. Unlike most conferences that focus attention on one or two disciplines or topics, which narrows the conversation and ultimately the takeaways, Design in Plastics is a rich environment to discuss, share and bring to life CPG (consumer packaged goods) processes, capabilities and cross-functional awareness all to one table.”
  – David Dombrowski, IDSA, Dir. - Industrial Design & Innovation, Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
“The Design in Plastics Conference at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence brought together a distinguished group of people from inside and outside the plastics industry. The conference stood out as being full of fresh new ideas and interesting presentations.”
  – Stephen B. Wilcox, Ph.D., FIDSA, Principal, Design Science
The first Design in Plastics Conference did a great job in meeting its primary objective: blending professionals in the fields of product design and marketing, with professionals from the technical world of plastics, manufacturing, and R&D. Incorporated into the conference were authors of new technical books targeted for the design community, designers showcasing molded parts that were awarded patents and recognition from the plastics industry, and well-coordinated presentations from both sides of the fence. Well-known IDSA “legends” were also at hand, joining with plastics subject experts to discuss consumer trends, new manufacturing processes plus new ideas for collaboration and for the future of product development.
– David Kusuma, Ph.D., FIDSA, VP – Research & Product Innovation, Tupperware Brands
“The Design in Plastics conference was a great opportunity to share insights and ideas across a very broad view of use cases from toys to the medical devices. Designers, engineers, veterans of the industry and newcomers networked at a series of events around Providence. It was an informative conference but also fun.”
– Aidan Petrie, Chief Innovation Officer - Emeritus, Ximedica
“The 2016 Design in Plastics conference was – for lack of a better word – refreshing. There are lots of design conferences out there, and lots of technical conferences as well, but none that put the design and technical folks together, discussing real issues, like this one did.”
– Eric R. Larson, Owner & Chief Engineer, Art of Mass Production
“Design in Plastics is an informative, open and dynamic program. The speakers address relevant topics that are profoundly interesting and extremely enjoyable, while emphasizing the impact and importance of design in today’s marketplace. I left Design in Plastics 2016 with a new perspective and appreciation for product design as well as many new industry contacts.”  
– Tori Watson, Market Engagement & Communications Lead, Techmer PM
“As a 40-year veteran industrial designer, my attendance and participation in the ‘Design in Plastics’ conference was valuable on many fronts. The varied and relevant content was outstanding. Top practitioners in their field, shared valuable insights and working knowledge. The presentations, as well as the one-on-one dialogue, created a rich and memorable learning experience. It helped me to expand my awareness with advances in material, process and applications as well as in making new friends in the industry.” 
– Augusto Picozza, Industrial Design, Newell Brands
“The DIP 2017 was the perfect size — big enough to interesting but small enough to feel like you really got to know some of the other attendees. The content was sharp and there was not a session where you didn’t go looking for one of the speakers too find out a little more.”
– Geoff Germon, CEO, Talon Technology Pty. Ltd. & Adjunct Prof., Univ. of Canberra (Australia)
“The inaugural Design in Plastics at RISD last year provided an excellent platform for interaction among a diverse group of industry officials from up and down the supply chain. As an educator, I found the candid discussions about business, industrial design, technology and communication to be stimulating, informative and right on the mark. We need more of these types of forums to advance the cause of product development and inter-disciplinary collaboration. Well done, SPE!”
– Robert Malloy, Professor & Chair - Plastics Engineering Dept., University of Massachusetts Lowell, and 2012 inductee, Plastics Hall of Fame


Design in Plastics 2017 will take place Nov. 6-8 in midtown Detroit, at the College for Creative Studies, ranked as the #3 design school in the U.S.
Keynote speakers include Gregory Haye, general manager of Local Motors Inc., and the tag-team of Raymond “Corky” Clinton of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center and Made In Space Inc. co-founder Michael Snyder.
Topics will include augmented and virtual reality, biomimicry, 3D printing, future of mobility, innovation management and design thinking, start-up advice, education trends, intellectual property protection, sustainability, and in-space manufacturing – all in the context of improved communication and teamwork. See the full agenda.
“Our mission is to create a dialogue across multiple disciplines offering valuable insights that are equally relevant to all participants – regardless of the processes run, materials used or end markets served,” said Robert Grace, conference chair and program organizer. “It is through better understanding and communication that we get better end products.”
Conference registration costs $395 for SPE members, $595 for non-members, and just $195 for educators and students.
Supporting partners include Covestro LLC, BASF, IDSA and SpecialChem.


Robert Grace, Conference Chair
rgrace@4spe.org | +1 330.289.9488


The Society of Plastics Engineers(SPE), is the world’s leading technical society for the global plastics industry. Founded 75 years ago in Detroit, it has more than 22,500 members in 84 countries.
This is the second Design in Plastics conference. SPE hosted the successful inaugural event in June 2016 at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, R.I.