Everyone in the plastics industry used to talk about how there were too many trade shows. But with the improving economy and an explosion of interest in new technology, there's definitely a need these days for good events where people can network — in person — and kick the tires on the latest equipment, materials, tooling and services.
I started thinking about the trade show landscape because I'm up to my neck right now preparing for the Fakuma show in Germany. We started covering Fakuma a number of years ago. We used to love the show because all the top European machinery officials attended, and it was a great place to pick up news and gossip.
The time of year was perfect, too. Many exhibitors were able to talk about their annual results, and their plans and expectations for the coming year.
The location, in Friedrichshafen, on Lake Constance in southern Germany, didn't hurt, either. But back then it was a pretty regional show, with few visitors from North America.
Now that's changed, to the point where we're doing English-language show dailies at Fakuma this year, working with our colleagues from PRW and European Plastics News. And Fakuma is about more than machinery and tooling now, too. The number of materials companies at the show is most impressive.
So in the old days of plastics trade shows, there were the Big Three — NPE, K in Europe, and IPF in Japan — that were each held every three years. Then each country had its own regional show or shows, many held annually.
As the plastics industry has become more international — a fact that our readers know too well — many of these regional shows have become important events for us to cover. So now we regularly report on events in Mexico, Canada, China, Taiwan, South Korea, Brazil, Argentina, India, Vietnam and the ASEAN region.