Over the course of the past few years, several prominent industry organizations—namely the American Welding Society (AWS), the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, International (FMA), the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), and the Precision Metalforming Association—came up with a great idea: combine and co-locate their respective trade shows and conferences under one roof. As the story goes, the FABTECH International and AWS Welding shows formed alliances in 2005, with PMA’s METALFORM trade show coming on board in 2008. For good measure, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) signed on as show partners. Not to be outdone, the Chemical Coaters Association International (CCAI) upped the ante in 2009 with the addition of the Finishing Technologies Pavilion and Conference (a.k.a “FIN-TECH”).

“The addition of a finishing component to FABTECH was the next logical step in closing the loop that is represented in 90% of job shops,” Mark Hoper, FABTECH show co-manager, told Metal Finishing recently. “The days of small vertical shows are behind us.”

If FABTECH is the blueprint for the future, its track record is impressive. Billed as the longest-running North American event dedicated to showcasing a full spectrum of sheet metal forming and fabricating, finishing, tube and pipe, stamping and welding equipment, the event has brought together more than a half million buyers and sellers from around the world, organizers estimate.

But it’s not about a bigger show just for the sake of “bigness.” What FABTECH offers is world of expansion opportunities—a natural progression in how trade shows are conducted. “Manufacturers today perform multiple processes in their shops, including cutting, deburring, welding, and also finishing,” Hoper explained. “As attendees shop and add more services to their menu, they want to go to a show where they can find all of their needs in one place and at one time.”

Jim Warren, director of education for FMA, a FABTECH co-sponsor, agrees, stating that the show’s expansive format speaks to the larger trend of diversification. “Many shops that previously focused on just one aspect of manufacturing—or served just one industry segment and had to turn jobs away because of their narrow focus—learned that they probably won’t be in business for very long unless they diversify,” he explained. “Diversifying means adding processes to a menu of offerings so manufacturers can meet more customer needs and reach into various industry segments to build their customer base. It is important to have a shop that can do ‘A to Z’ in order to stay competitive in today’s global economic climate.”

In that spirit, FABTECH 2010, set for Nov. 2–4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, offers a veritable alphabet soup of new products, technologies, and educational programs. (CCAI alone has developed more than 48 hours of timely and valuable conference sessions.) Not sold yet? Have a look at the FABTECH 2010 Show Schedule.  I’m sure you will find it quite compelling.