Chicago. For people who build things, the annual FABTECH show here is the place to see and be seen every fall—and based on the crowds, manufacturing in alive and well: North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event hosted more than 1,700 exhibiting companies and some 45,000 attendees from 120 countries to celebrate the “industrial evolution” at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
With more than 750,000 square feet of exhibit space, FABTECH provided attendees with access to the industry’s leading companies, latest innovations and insight into current and future trends. The four-day expo included the most extensive education programming in its history, according to organizers, as well as a stacked lineup of expert-led panels and keynote presentations.
The expo also put on special events, sparking further discussions about topics such as workplace collaboration, innovation and creativity. Highlights included a new keynote format, “FABx Tech Talks” given by visionary leaders, the unveiling of the Albert Paley-Jesse James metal sculpture project and the popular annual Industry Night event, held at Soldier Field.
Mark Hoper, FABTECH co-manager and FMA SVP of Expositions and Media called it one of the most successful events in the show’s history.
“Perhaps it was the celebratory nature of the Industrial Evolution theme, but every person who participated in the show had a palpable level of enthusiasm that radiated across the show floor,” Hoper said. “Participants discovered new potential collaboration partners to continue manufacturing’s evolution in addition to learning innovative methods to improve their individual business performance.”
The advanced processes driving manufacturing’s continued transformation were on display at the event this year. Hundreds of live product demonstrations showcased the most innovative new technologies, giving attendees an unparalleled glimpse into the industry’s future. The new 3D/Additive Manufacturing Pavilion and Theater welcomed thousands of interested industry professionals for tech tours, presentations, panels and more.
Several of FABTECH’s most attended education tracks also covered advanced technologies, such as automation/smart manufacturing and robotics. Conventional tracks like stamping and lasers also incorporated how these new technologies can be implemented to improve traditional operations. The workforce development track delved into the effect the industry’s transformation would have on ensuring companies are able to hire the right talent.
And while not all of the show was geared to the needs of trailer and truck-body builders, Trailer/Body Builders made the rounds of many exhibitors who are critical to the transportation equipment markets, with several that featured trailer and truck body products in their exhibits. Here’s our annual roundup: