[Image above] Conference speaker Don Bray, vice president of technology for Morgan Advanced Materials North America. Bray talked about new material advances to solve persistent problems, such as aerogel oxides for extremely lightweight thermal insulation. Credit: ACerS
It’s the only way to describe the Ceramics Expo that closed yesterday in Cleveland, Ohio. More than 170 vendors displayed everything needed to make ceramic and glass materials—from raw materials to forming/shaping to furnaces/kilns to characterization and all the materials and equipment needed for those functions. Manufacturers of ceramic components were there in good numbers, too.
“The experience has been fantastic. It’s been a great show. It’s really exciting to see all the energy in the ceramics industry. We met some great customers and had a chance to make some new business as well,” says Bob Fidler, vice president of marketing at Netzsch (Burlington, Mass.).
The final head count has yet to be tallied, but early calculations estimate somewhere around 2,400 people walked the aisles.
Smarter Shows, based in the United Kingdom, organized the event with ACerS as a founding partner. Adam Moore, Smarter Shows event director, says in a cleveland.com article that locating the show in Cleveland makes sense: “A lot of the new manufacturing is coming back to old manufacturing heartlands like the Midwest, and Cleveland is in that belt—about a five-hour drive to key areas.”
Good riddance to the “Rust Belt” moniker!
In addition to talking to vendors, attendees took advantage of the two-track conference that had about 40 speakers addressing topics of keen interest to manufacturing, such as sustainability, R&D-to-market, high-temperature manufacturing, properties, quality, etc. The session on additive manufacturing drew a standing-room-only crowd that spilled back into the Expo aisles. Like the Expo itself, the conference was free-to-attend.
Ceramics Expo marks a watershed event for The American Ceramic Society, according to Charlie Spahr, ACerS executive director, speaking at a Wednesday morning breakfast for ACerS Corporate Members.
“Five or so years ago when manufacturers would ask what the Society had to offer them, I had to admit the portfolio was thin,” he said. “Society leaders embraced the challenge, and that portfolio has since grown significantly.”
Besides Ceramics Expo, Spahr says, “We have a new Manufacturing Division, which evolved from the former Whitewares and Materials Division, that will offer programming and content for manufacturers and give them a voice in the industry. Also, the year-old Ceramic and Glass Industry Foundation was established in response to concerns raised by industry about its workforce development needs.”
Out on the Expo floor, business was booming. Exhibitors were so pleased that 70% signed up for a booth next year before the show ended yesterday. Moore described that response as “unprecedented.”
Charlie Birks, sales manager at Keith Company (Los Angeles, Calif.), is one of those returning vendors. “Traffic has been great. I can tell you that the first morning I had more qualified leads than I’ve had in the last three shows I’ve been to.”
“I’m impressed, and ‘good going’ Ceramic Society and Smarter Shows,” Birks adds.
Birks and Fidler have already signed up to return for Ceramics Expo 2016. Moore says the show gained a lot of momentum, and he expects there will be 300 vendors and 3,000–4,000 attendees in 2016. Save the date in your calendar now: April 26–28, 2016.