I am pleased to announce the launch of COMPOSITESWORLD Expo, to be held Sept. 3-5 next year in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, under the auspices of High-Performance Composites and sister publication Composites Technology. Over the last few years, many of you have spoken with me about the need for an event that would bring all the various end-use sectors of this global industry together in North America. I couldnÂ’’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 BoeingÂ’s new 787. Ten years ago, when I told someone seated next to me on an airplane that I worked on a magazine about composites, I almost invariably got a blank stare. Today, my new friend usually starts asking questions or telling me about something he or she owns thatÂ’s made with a composite. So, even the general public is becoming aware of composites, to say nothing of parts manufacturers. This is a good thing!
Since the price of oil has gone up significantly and will likely stay high, as Big Oil, government entities and environmentalists battle to some sort of stability, energy companies worldwide are rushing to discover, develop and tap alternative energy sources. And every mode of transportation plus anything else that moves or must be moved will benefit by weighing less. Some solutions will be impossible without the use of composite materials. Of even greater consequence, public opinion has encouraged government legislation and, in many cases, subsidies to fund these costly efforts.
Additionally, the price of the materials with which composites traditionally compete, such as steel and aluminum, have gone up significantly and remain volatile. Because the emerging economies of China and India will need unprecedented amounts of all types of raw materials, production capacities wonÂ’’t catch up for at least a decade. So the traditionally higher price of composite materials will be somewhat mitigated.
Last but not least, composite materials and processing methods have been improved to the point that manufacturers can deliver a better product faster and at less expense than in the past. Looking at the parts on display at a trade show today compared to those in 1993, the year we began publishing HPC, one is impressed at how far the industry has come. Composite parts manufacturers are ready to take on the competition!
We believe the composite industryÂ’s next big job is to educate more people about how to design and manufacture with composites. Getting the word out will grow our industry. That has been the mission of High Performance Composites since its inception and it also defines our vision for COMPOSITESWORLD Expo. WeÂ’re assembling an extremely knowledgeable group of professionals to craft a dual-track conference: A highly technical track geared for industry veterans and a second track for newcomers.
HPC and CT have never been in a better position to see the vision through. When our company was acquired by Gardner Publications earlier this year, we gained access to GardnerÂ’s 350,000-plus readers in metals and plastics manufacturing, enabling us to 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. Not only is Chicago a world-class city with great travel access, but itÂ’s smack dab in the middle of the North American industrial heartland.