Looking back at three days of unprecedented foam industry activity

The first annual Foam Expo drew to a close earlier this month after welcoming thousands of industry players to the three-day exhibition and conference.

More than 4,000 delegates from across the entire industry spectrum arrived in Novi, Michigan, to take part in North America’s only free-to-attend exhibition for the foam sector, where industry-leading organizations headlined the expo and conference sessions. Attendees traveled from around the globe, arriving from destinations in Asia, Europe, South and Central America, Africa, and Australia; a journey that 98% of attendees said they would take again for future Foam Expos.

Day one set the tone for the three-day event, opening its doors to more than 2,500 attendees and reaching capacity at the conference sessions, which featured a strong line-up of industry heavyweights from companies including Toyota, Ford, and Rogers Corporation discussing the latest foam application developments and making industry announcements. Ford’s Mark Polster made one such announcement, revealing that China and Korea are preparing to enforce new Vehicle Interior Air Quality emissions regulations, which will have far-reaching implications for the foam industry. Speaking after the conference, Polster said, “From a foam perspective, there were the right people in the audience and there was a lot of interest in the number of questions after. The panellists too made the conference worthwhile.” Another conference speaker, Zotefoams’ Ewald Heersema, commented that speaking at the conference was a positive, worthwhile experience. “The audience was very receptive and having the opportunity to speak about topics and markets that we are engaged in is very beneficial for Foam Expo,” he said.

The show floor was thrumming with activity over the course of the expo, with hundreds of new equipment lines, materials, and foam products on display alongside the live, interactive demonstrations taking place. The team from SELEE Corporation drew attention with their new carbon foam material, and crowds gathered at the Netzsch Instruments booth for the live demonstration of the new Netzsch HFM 446 Heat Flow Meter.

Day two also attracted high visitor numbers, with the conference sessions proving particularly popular. Conference speakers from 3M and Woodbridge Corporation captivated their audiences as they addressed a range of issues, including how to reduce weight in automotive seating while retaining comfort. On the show floor, Manufacturers Supplies Company showcased the features and benefits of the ATOM Flashcut Dieless Knife Cutting System, while Polyurethane Machinery Corporation performed a live demonstration of their far-reaching spray system, which reduces job time and improves safety. As the day came to a close, attendees gathered at Amcor’s networking reception, where the company’s CEO Joseph Rapp said, “I’m really happy to be here at Foam Expo, we've had the opportunity to see hundreds of our customers and people that I've worked with over the last 30 years. At Amcor we've been in the foam business for over 25 years now, and this gave us a lot of opportunity to meet new prospective customers and generate leads.”

The evening drinks receptions offered visitors the chance to forge new connections with industry peers, as well as current and potential suppliers, buyers, and clients. Attendees from companies including Encapsys, Marian Inc, and Lear Corporation commented that they’d made great new contacts, while Chemours’ Ernest Wysong said that Foam Expo had “exceeded my expectations”.

With three days of industry activity wrapping up, the response to Foam Expo 2017 was overwhelmingly positive. Patcham USA’s CEO Nishith Patel said the show was “definitely one of our best investments”, while Phil Foster, president and CEO of Fostek Corporation, said, “The show has been beyond our expectations; we’ve met people that we couldn’t have met in any other way. We’ve made contacts with OEMs, engineers we’ve been dying to make contact with for a very long time and today we accomplished three or four of them. It’s a great show.”

Many attendees were already looking ahead to the 2018 Foam Expo. “We’re very thrilled with the turnout of the show. It’s a good show because it’s specific to converting, which is what we like. We have already reserved the exact same booth for next year,” said Dan Goellner, Vice President of Manufacturers Supplies Company. President of Custom Foam Systems Bob Germann agreed: “We’ve been in the foam business for 43 years and we’re thrilled with the traffic, with the connections, and everything that’s gone on here. We’ve signed up for next year already.”

Following the huge success of Foam Expo 2017, attention is turning towards the 2018 show. Visit the event website and be among the first to register your interest in Foam Expo 2018.

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Register for your expo pass for free access to the exhibition and the conference on the design and manufacturing of flexible and rigid foams for technical applications.

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