I am pleased to announce the launch of COMPOSITESWORLD Expo, to be held Sept. 3-5 next year in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Ill., under the auspices of Composites Technology and sister publication High-Performance Composites. Over the last few years, many of you have spoken with me about the need for an event that would bring all the numerous end-use sectors of this global industry together in North America. I couldn’t agree more, and I think this is the right time, too, because a number of favorable factors are converging.
Right now, there is tremendous interest in composite materials from companies that work with other materials. Consider the publicity surrounding Boeing’s new 787. Ten years ago, when I told someone seated next to me on an airplane that I worked on a magazine about composite materials, I almost invariably got a blank stare — end of conversation. Not so these days. My new friend usually starts asking questions or telling me about something they have that’s made with a composite. So, even the general public is aware of composite materials, to say nothing of parts manufacturers. This a good thing!
The price of oil has gone up significantly and will most likely stay high, as Big Oil, government entities and environmentalists battle to some sort of stability. Who knows how that will shake down? In the meantime, every energy company on the planet is rushing to discover, develop and tap alternative energy sources. And every mode of transportation plus anything that moves or must be moved will benefit by weighing less. Some solutions will require the use of composite materials even to be possible. Of greater consequence, public opinion has encouraged government legislation and, in many cases, subsidies for these costly efforts.
Additionally, the price of the materials that composites traditionally compete against, such as steel and aluminum, have gone up significantly and remain volatile. Because China and India will need unprecedented amounts of all types of raw materials, production capacities won’t catch up for at least a decade, so the traditionally higher price of composite materials will be somewhat mitigated.
Last but certainly not least important is the fact that composite materials and processing methods have been improved to the point that manufacturers can deliver a better product, faster, at less expense than in the past, through sophisticated design-for-manufacturing strategies. Looking at the parts on display at a trade show today, compared to those in 1995, the year we began publishing CT, one is impressed at how far the industry has come. Composite parts manufacturers are ready to take on the competition.
We believe the composites industry’s next big step is to teach more people how to design, manufacture and optimize the performance of composite products. Getting the word out will grow our industry. That has been CT’s mission since its inception! As a reader, I hope you agree.
This brings me back to the COMPOSITESWORLD Expo. The timing of this event is great for the industry, and CT and HPC have never been in a better position to make it happen. You may recall that our company was acquired by Gardner Publications at the beginning of this year. At that time, I mentioned that we were working on several exciting new products. You may have guessed, the Expo was one of them. With Gardner’s million-plus readers in the metals and plastics manufacturing industries, we are especially well positioned to widely publicize this event to users of those other materials, who in increasing numbers are interested in knowing about composites. Holding the event near Chicago is key as well. It a world-class city with great travel access — and it’s smack dab in the middle of the North American industrial heartland.
We’re assembling an extremely knowledgeable group of professionals to craft a dual-track conference: A highly technical track geared to industry veterans who need to keep up on the latest design and manufacturing innovations, and a second track to introduce newcomers to the basics. Stay tuned.
Hope you’re having a wonderful summer. We are.