With the use of UV and EB curing for consumer products on the rise, there had been hope that e|5: UV & EB Technology Expo and Conference 2004, sponsored by RadTech, the association for UV and EB technology, would approach previous levels. Still, in recent years, there has been a noticeable decline in attendance at trade shows, so there was some concern going into the show.
Judging by the initial numbers, that concern was unfounded, as e|5 enjoyed success, both in terms of the technical presentations and registrants examining the offerings on the show floor.
According to official numbers released by RadTech after the expo, there were approximately 2,600 attendees, nearly matching previous records. With 138 exhibitors and more than 150 presentations, RadTech said the e|5 expo in Charlotte also set new records for conference and exhibition participation.
A MARKET REBOUND?
According to those Coatings World spoke with, this year's expo had a similar feeling to RadTech's show in 2000 in Baltimore. And that seems to bode well for the industry. Radiation-curing, like most manufacturing sectors, has been affected by a slow economy, and companies involved in UV and EB are hoping for a return to growth levels closer to those in late 1990s and early 2000s.
"We already exceeded our attendance from two years ago," said Gary Cohen, executive director of RadTech. "There were a lot of walk-ups, especially from local companies for the user sessions," he said.
Paul Elias, Sartomer's business director, said the show exceeded expectations. He also applauded the association's efforts. "RadTech has done an excellent job promoting the conference, making a strong effort to attract new end users and promoting the use of the technology. There are people and companies who haven't been here before," he said.
RadTech's "TechCells" were particularly popular, with attendees checking out everything from UV coatings on new cars to packaging. The TechCells were special areas on the expo floor where attendees could see real-life examples of UV and EB technologies and talk to industry experts.
According to Chris Bradford, marketing manager, water-based coatings worldwide for Elementis Specialties, those coming to the TechCells were interested seeing "what is being done today and are asking where we see the technologies heading tomorrow."
On the show floor itself, exhibitors felt that attendance was up dramatically from previous programs.
"We have had better than expected attendance considering how other trade shows are suffering," said Ed Maguire, vice president and general manager for Energy Sciences. "We've brought in more people than two years ago, which is an exception to what is happening at other shows. The content of this show is much better and we're now reaching management attendees."
Another good sign at the show was attendance by potential end users.
"We've had a lot of our customers visit our booth," said Mike McGovern, Sun Chemical's director of sales and marketing for energy curable products.
TECHNICAL CONFERENCE, AWARD WINNING APPLICATIONS
The technical portion of e|5 was also extremely successful, with attendance figures exceeding expectations.
"I felt it was the best UV/EB University we have ever held," said Mike Idacavage, vice president, R&D for Surface Specialties UCB, who taught at the "Polymer Chemistry for the UV/EB Professional" short course.
"Aside from the strong attendance we had, our attendees asked very sophisticated and challenging questions showing that they were well prepared and are looking for specific information on how to use UV and EB technologies," Idacavage said.
Attendees to the conference sessions were impressed.
"I thought all the presenters were excellent, said Ken Gardner, scientist, ICI Paints North America. However, he said he wished there was more information on EB applications.,"There was a lot on UV but the only drawback is there is not enough information on electron beam," Gardner said.
For the first time, RadTech presented awards honoring emerging applications of UV/EB technology. Winners included Boeing's new paint-on-the-line UV application that avoids removing a large aircraft sub-assembly from the production line. Other winners included Sony, which has developed UV bar code labels enabling parts in hostile locations like motor vehicle engine compartments, and Stuart Dean, which uses UV to renovate hotel vanities and other stone surfaces.
The next e|5 expo will be held in 2006 in Chicago. More info: RadTech International North America, the Association for UV & EB Technology, 6935 Wisconsin Ave., Ste, 207, Chevy Chase, MD 20815; (240) 497-1243; Fax: (240) 209-2337; Web site: www.radtech.org.
David Savastano, Christine Canning Esposito and Kerry Pianoforte.