During the Fakuma trade fair, reporter David Vink spoke with fair organizer Paul Schall about where the Fakuma trade fair stands today — and its future prospects
Q: Fakuma has shown exemplary growth since 1981. What is it that has made the show stand out among other regional trade fairs?
Schall: The south of Germany and the bordering regions in the neighboring countries of Switzerland and Austria have always stood for high technology in metal and plastics, from tools to products. As such, it was only logical and correct to locate Fakuma in the three-country ‘DACH' triangle of Germany [D], Austria [A] and Switzerland triangle [CH] and to focus on injection molding and extrusion. In fact we are the No. 2 [trade show] in Europe when it comes to injection molding and extrusion. The bulk of the market is here, which brings both strong demand and corresponding supply. The increasing acceptance and higher demands placed on plastic products is accompanied by development of new technologies and processes that can succeed worldwide if they can survive in the most demanding market, which is why exhibitors perceive Fakuma as a platform for presentation and business.
Q: It is understandable that Fakuma fairs take place in those years when there is no K fair in Düsseldorf. Can you imagine however running Fakuma as an annual fair?
Schall: Fakuma has been deliberately organized on a yearly basis, because only this rhythm takes into account the industry's real innovation cycles and enormous innovation capacity into account. Fakuma makes a pause however in K years, which the entire industry deserves, so that splitting between events does not occur as with other trade fairs, which finally doesn't help anyone. The arrangement between the K and Fakuma proved itself over the years and has been agreed with members of the industry, so there is no reason to veer away from it.
Q: When you look at this year's fair, what do you think are the most interesting themes and innovations?
Schall: There are always important themes to be considered in the short and long term. Recycling, lightweighting, material efficiency on one hand, high performance production with minimum energy and materials use on the other hand. In addition, new or optimized technologies such as micro-injection molding, precision thermoforming and reproducibly precise extrusion or functional integration in smaller and lighter plastic components. In addition, there are debates of new applications, such as the use of plastics in medical applications and finally there are exhibitors showing their services in the area of industrial and professional 3-D printing with both proven and new materials.
Q: How do you see the present and future development of the number of exhibitors and visitors from abroad?
Schall: To put it quite frankly, as we fully utilize the Friedrichshafen fair center with Fakuma, even including the foyers in the main entrance areas, we currently have no growth possibilities in terms of the number of exhibitors. In fact the opposite is the case, as much to our chagrin, we have to keep a waiting list, which is very disappointing for our potential exhibitors. On the other hand, we place great value on quality growth and don't want to get bigger and bigger at any price. The same is valid regarding the number of trade visitors from near and far, as quality prevails over quantity here too. It is much more important to ensure the quality of the visitors in terms of their decision-making ability, as our exhibitors should not only be able to maintain existing business, but also to establish new contacts.