CHICAGO — North America's largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event came to Chicago this week, bringing more than 4,000 attendees and 1,700 exhibiting companies to McCormick Place.

FABTECH 2017 also featured the largest lineup of exhibitors, speakers and educational sessions in the show's 35-year-history.

Focusing on the Future

The five FABTECH co-sponsors include the American Welding Society (AWS), the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA), the Precision Metalforming Association (PMA), the Chemical Coaters Association International (CCAI) and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME). On November 9, they unveiled a new logo and brand identity for the FABTECH series of events. The logo has a more modern look and feel that also matches the theme of this year's event, "Industrial Evolution."

“While we usher in a new visual identity, FABTECH remains committed to delivering a high-quality, innovative event experience,” Mark Hoper, FABTECH show co-manager and FMA senior vice president of media and expositions, said in a statement. “The show will continue to meet the demands of the industry and showcase not only what’s new, but what’s next.”

Investing in AM

Embodying both "new" and "next," the centrally-located 3D/Additive Manufacturing Pavilion made its FABTECH debut with more than 25 exhibitors, including 3D Systems, Creaform, Fabrisonic, Proto Labs, Renishaw and more. Experts at the booths and the dedicated Additive Manufacturing Theater offered daily presentations, panel discussions and networking opportunities for attendees interested in learning more about the technology. 

"The 3D/Additive Manufacturing Pavilion came about based on the overwhelming attendee interest in the technology in recent years,” Hoper said. “Additive Manufacturing has become a part of the manufacturing industry as a whole, so it makes sense to add it to FABTECH. We are excited about expanding our reach into this advancing industry.”

Embracing Industry 4.0

Many of the exhibitors at FABTECH have been in business for a century or more, proving that even 200-year-old industries like welding still have room to grow and innovate.

A few examples:

  • Founded in 1887, Osborn is the world’s largest solution provider of surface treatment and finishing tools for hundreds of commercial and consumer applications. Recently, Osborn announced the development of a full range of high-performance polishing compounds for the medical industry. Available to achieve a variety of finishes on stainless steel, titanium, precious and non-ferrous metals, as well as plastic and acrylic surfaces, all compounds are animal fat free and free of animal tissue.
  • Yaskawa, the world's largest manufacturer of AC motor drives and motion control products, brought its huge and impressive industrial robots onto the show floor. Founded in 1915, the global company has been one of the first to embrace collaborative robots, or cobots, and continues to partner with industry leaders in vision technology.
  • Suhner Group, founded in 1914, also has harnessed the power of robotic technology with the ROBOTsander, a highly efficient time-saving surface treatment solution for automotive, aerospace and appliance industries. 

For more industry insights from FABTECH 2017, listen to our podcast: We discussed metal 3D printing with Mark Norfolk, president and CEO of Fabrisonic, and the future of manufacturing with Jeannine Kunz, vice president of Tooling U-SME.