Change and Optimism in the Air

Recent industry gatherings foretell good tidings for 2011.

A quick peek at a three-week window in the finishing world revealed a lot about the state of the industry, as recent major shows and conferences can attest. 


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 A quick peek at a three-week window in the finishing world revealed a lot about the state of the industry, as recent major shows and conferences can attest.


The North American Industrial Coating Show, FABTECH and the Electroless Nickel Conference were back-to-back-to-back this fall, and came on the heals of the International Anodizing Conference and Exposition just two weeks earlier.
The Aluminum Anodizing Council’s conference in Quebec was called “Advancing to the Next Level,” and featured the latest innovations in advancing the technology, especially in the aerospace and military industries. 
The NAI Coating Show in Indianapolis was well planned. It was accompanied by the announcement that event organizer Steve Houston, the Powder Coating Institute’s executive director since 2008, was resigning after the show to join TCI Powder Coatings as vice president of sales and marketing and business expansion. Industry veteran Ken Kreeger will take over as interim director until a replacement is hired.
“Through Steve’s leadership we have been able to take PCI to a new level in commitment and contribution to the powder coating marketplace,” Kreeger says. “We are extremely appreciative for Steve’s vision and dedication to make PCI the most significant association dedicated to powder coatings in the world.”
We at Products Finishing certainly wish Steve the best, and we look forward to seeing what the new director will do to further the PCI cause.
A week after the NAI show was FABTECH in Atlanta, where a finishing pavilion was featured for the first time at the largest tradeshow in North America for metal forming, fabricating, welding, stamping, tube and pipe equipment and technology. 
More than 22,000 visitors attended the event at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, an increase of 12% from the 2006 Atlanta show.
Filling nearly 371,000 ft² of booth space, the three-day show included 1,138 exhibitors, an increase of 23% from the 2006 show. The event also featured the unveiling of more than 500 new products.
One of the new products introduced was from MetoKote, which unveiled its new small-footprint e-coat system it calls mikroKote, a product it plans to market to component suppliers and metal stampers of small- to medium-size parts.
The 2,000-ft², 13-stage, 350-gal tank system includes wastewater treatment and is customizable to run specific pretreatments, a broad range of e-coat or autophoretic paint, low-cure coatings and multiple colors.
“We deliberately set out to create a coating system that is flexible in its configuration and process technologies,” says Brent Schwartz, MetoKote’s VP of engineering. “It’s for manufacturers who have always wanted to consider an in-house e-coat system but thought they couldn’t afford it, didn’t have room for it, or lacked the in-house expertise to run it.”
The Chemical Coaters Association International helped forge the relationship between the FABTECH folks and the finishing industry as a sponsor of the event along with the manufacturing trade groups.
“Our new partnership with FABTECH benefits our members, the finishing industry and manufacturing in general,” says CCAI president Sherrill Stoenner of Pneu-Mech. “As an exhibitor, I was equally pleased. We got more qualified leads out of this show than all the other shows combined that we’ve participated in during the last three years.”
The EN Conference in Charleston, SC was also well attended. It featured more than two days of presentations and discussions on electroless nickel, and more than one-third of those in attendance said it was their first time coming to the conference.
One of the featured speakers at the conference, Michael Feldstein of Surface Technology Inc., is featured in this month’s cover story on using embedded technology in coatings to identify parts. 
All in all, 2010 wound down with a constant stream of optimism at these gatherings. Let’s hope that 2011 can maintain the momentum.