Love them or hate them, trade shows are one of the best ways to make new connections, market your company, and stay updated on the latest technologies in your industry. One of my main goals when I began my marketing career at The Engineering Resource Center was to increase our brand recognition and find more customers via trade shows. Over the past 2 years, we've found much success in this approach.
Whether you work in the plastics industry or source plastic parts for the products your company develops, here are 3 trade shows worth attending or exhibiting at.
NPE: The World's Largest Plastics Trade Show (May 2021)
NPE, a Plastics Today event, is the holy grail of all plastics industry events. NPE is a week-long trade show that takes place in the US every 3 years. With over 65,000 attendees from all over the world, this is the place to connect with the entire plastics industry.
The expo is held at the beautiful Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida. The show is huge but impeccably managed so you don't have to worry about finding your way around. There are plenty of dazzling booths and new technology to captivate you for the entire week if you choose to attend all 5 days. And it doesn't hurt that it's in a beautiful, warm city packed full of entertainment for your downtime! Whether you decide to exhibit or attend as a visitor, NPE is absolutely worth the travel and marketing costs.
Plastec is another popular PlasticsToday event that covers the entire plastics manufacturing spectrum from 3D printing to injection molding to blow molding and more. Attendees can explore several other manufacturing trade shows on the same floor - MD&M, Advanced Design & Manufacturing, ATX, and Quality Expo. The entire expo is free for qualified attendees and covers key segments such as medical technology, packaging, design engineering, automation/robotics, and quality assurance. There is a Plastec in every region so take your pick: Plastec West (California), Plastec Minneapolis (Minnesota) and Plastec East (New York).
If large trade shows intimidate you, Design-2-Part is a great place to start. Design-2-Part's mission is to connect American manufacturers with the OEM's and product manufacturers that need their services. These services include CNC machining, stampings, castings, sheet metal fabrication, injection molding, prototypes, springs, finishing, packaging, CAD/CAM software, assembly and much more. It's not completely plastics focused, so attendees are able to meet a variety of suppliers to fit their needs for different parts of the products they're developing.
D2P hosts 6 shows in spring and 5 in the fall throughout the country. The show hours are 9:30am-3pm and only last 2 days so it's not too much of an out-of-office commitment. So far we have exhibited in Charlotte, Indianapolis, Schaumburg, Raleigh, St. Louis and Akron. Not every person we met was looking for plastic prototypes, but we have gained several customers from each show. If you exhibit at Design-2-Part and keep your post-show marketing consistent, you will see a return on investment. It's also worth mentioning that the show is free for attendees, so why not check out the next one in your area? Here is the 2019 schedule.
Does your company attend trade shows? Which one is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section below!