Speakers on the first day of Afera’s Tape College in Munich (from left to right): Matthias Renka (Organik Kimya), Caroline Sperling (tesa), Anja Schneider (Henkel) and Evert Smit (Lohmann; Afera President)

© Martin Hirschmann

Afera Tape College – Knowledge for a new generation of professionals

Afera, the European Adhesive Tape Association, hosted its 11th Tape College from 12-14 March at Le Méridien in Munich, Germany. At the event, we sat down for an exclusive interview with Evert Smit, Afera President and director scouting at Lohmann GmbH & Co. KG.

Mr Smit, what’s the idea behind the Tape College, and why did you select this format?

Evert Smit: The idea behind the Tape College is two-fold. One is to provide the attendants, who typically are relatively new to our industry with an opportunity to learn what “tapes” are all about, so both the market as well as its technological background – in detail! In other words, to get knowledge from experts in all relevant areas. Basically, all the things that the attendees might encounter in their working life afterwards.

The second part is to get to know these experts and the peers from the entire industry, because we need to have in-person contacts and networking. This personal get-together in one low-key, pleasant and safe setting helps us a lot in our daily business.

In your presentation, you emphasised the importance of getting young people involved in Afera?

E. Smit: To be blunt: Our industry is not perceived as sexy. Be honest about it, it just isn’t. However, we can spread the word about what we are doing. Once these young people feel like a part of the big tape family, they know whom they can talk to. Moreover, they feel “embedded” in the industry, which helps them a lot. In turn, this also helps us to make our industry more successful – futureproof. We want them to feel welcome, learn a lot and get to know the relevant people!

Can you talk about the structure of the programme of the Tape College? What did attendees experience over these three days?

E. Smit: First, we discussed tapes as a whole. We talked about the basics, the adhesives and what is really at the core of our industry. Then we deconstructed tapes into parts. We looked at not just the adhesives, but the carriers. What are their special properties, how are they made, how can we get a feeling for them? How are they coated, how are they laminated together, and how can they be die-cut? Later on, we were looking at the potential users of tapes. Finally, we discussed how one can measure whether the given properties are what someone actually wants or needs: How can I talk to my customer about data? It is indeed the whole process from knowing your basics until testing! Overall, this has been more of a technical Tape College, instead of an event focusing on the business side of things – although in my talk I did show the markets we operate in, including their sizes.

When is the next chance to experience this type of event?

E. Smit: We normally organise our technical learning events in alternate years. One year we have the Tape College, and the next year we have the Technical Seminar which is about new inventions and the latest developments in our field. In 2025, we will offer our 11th Technical Seminar about cutting-edge innovations. And in 2026, we will host the next Tape College. For these events, we have not announced locations yet. However, they will most likely be combined with our annual conference, which is a business meeting, so that there will be two attractive gatherings in one week.

Caption: Speakers on the first day of Afera’s Tape College in Munich (from left to right): Matthias Renka (Organik Kimya), Caroline Sperling (tesa), Anja Schneider (Henkel) and Evert Smit (Lohmann; Afera President)

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