The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) says nearly 3000 people attended its COMPOSITES 2011 trade show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, last week.

Visitor numbers may have been down as a result of snow storms across the US in the week, which led to the cancellation of many flights (including one of mine!), but the atmosphere at the show was definitely more optimistic than at last year's event in Las Vegas.

More companies were exhibiting than last year and the number of entries into the ACMA’s Awards for Composites Excellence (ACE) was also up. Industry analysts predict growth for the US composites market this year.

Motivational speakers

This year's keynote speaker, Stanley McChrystal, former commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, met with a standing ovation. McChrystal, who is now teaching at Yale, spoke about leadership and the importance of enabling the right people in an organisation (those with the most relevant knowledge) to make decisions.

At a second general session 'technology forecaster' Daniel Burrus, founder and CEO of Burrus Research and author of the book Technotrends, encouraged attendees to help shape the future. Burrus stressed the importance of focusing on 'the visible future' – trends you are certain will happen – such as the increasing use of smart phones.

Styrene issue

Although European studies have shown that styrene exposure is not likely to cause cancer in humans, the ACMA reports that the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Toxicology Program (NTP) has proposed listing styrene as a 'reasonably anticipated' carcinogen. This would require suppliers to put cancer warning labels on drums of styrene-containing materials. 

During the show the ACMA was asking US companies to sign a petition asking the HHS to carry out an independent review of styrene science.

2012

Next year's trade show, COMPOSITES 2012, will be held to be held in Las Vegas on 21-23 February. 2012 also sees the launch of a new US show, JEC Americas, by the Paris-based JEC Group, reaction to which appeared to be mixed.