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COMPOSITES 2012 Showcases Innovation

Close to 3,400 attendees flocked to COMPOSITES 2012, produced by the American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) in Las Vegas on February 21-23. The three-day event, the most diverse trade show of its kind in North America, drew more than 200 U.S. and international exhibitors representing 40-plus market segments. It also saluted achievements in design, manufacturing and market growth with the presentation of the prestigious ACE (Awards for Composites Excellence) and Pinnacle Awards.

“COMPOSITES 2012 did more than simply build on past achievements,” says ACMA President Lori Luchak of Miles Fiberglass & Composites. “It offered a springboard into the future. The composites industry, like so many others, has faced a lot of challenges in recent years. But the mood at COMPOSITES 2012 was optimistic and energized. The emphasis was on opportunities—new products, new processes, new markets. We are seeing more and more interest in high-performance, sustainability and infrastructure improvement. Our industry is poised to play a key role in all those areas going forward.”

The COMPOSITES 2012 Exhibit Hall—which Luchak describes as an “incredible venue for learning and doing business”—opened on Wednesday, February 22. Exhibitors offered a diverse array of basic and cutting-edge materials, processes and equipment. While attendees valued the chance to find the products and services their businesses require to excel in traditional markets and expand into emerging ones, exhibitors appreciated being able to talk, face-to-face, with current and potential customers.

“The COMPOSITES show is valuable for many reasons,” says Timothy C. Price, vice president of The R.J. Marshall Company and general manager of Alpine Milled Glass. “It’s a great platform to introduce new products and highlight existing products to customers, distributors and suppliers. It provides us with crucial feedback and qualified leads.”

Pat Shannon, sales manager for North America and South America at ITW WindGroup, echoes that sentiment. “COMPOSITES gives the ITW WindGroup the opportunity to get caught up on industry trends, whether raw materials or process related,” he comments. “It keeps us up-to-date on competitive activity and gives us an opportunity to meet with customers in a more relaxed setting.”

According to Luchak, networking and education were two of the most vitally exciting components of the COMPOSITES 2012 experience. “People who joined us in Las Vegas this year had one-stop access to industry leaders and decision makers as well as suppliers, distributors and manufacturers,” she notes. “And thanks to the nearly 100 education sessions and technical paper presentations, attendees could learn about the very latest in research and development and find out what’s coming next. They also had a series of opportunities to connect with ACMA and understand all the work it does on behalf of the industry.”

Luchak believes the keynote address delivered by NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace on Tuesday, February 21, resonated with attendees. Wallace offered firsthand observations about how the use of composites materials has made NASCAR vehicles safer, stronger and more durable. He also urged members of the composites industry to “band together to spread the word that composites are better than steel, aluminum and other materials.”

The 2012 ACE and Pinnacle Awards—as well as ACMA Member and Technical Paper Awards—were presented at the popular Awards Luncheon on Wednesday, February 22. The Best of Show Award was given to the Cervelo R5ca High Performance Carbon Bicycle Frame from Cervelo Cycles, Inc. of Toronto, Canada. Cited as Best Overall Technical Paper as well as Best in the Design & Engineering track was A Novel Approach to Manufacturing Foam-Filled Honeycomb Sandwich Structures, presented by Matthew Lowry, Director of Research and Development for M.C. Gill Corporation.

As ACMA’s current president, Luchak selected Leon Garoufalis, president of Composites One, to receive the annual President’s Award. Richard Higgins, president of HK Research, received the ACMA Lifetime Achievement Award.

COMPOSITES 2013 will be held in January 29-31, 2013, in Orlando, Florida.

“As successful as COMPOSITES 2012 was,” says Luchak, “we’re looking forward to COMPOSITES 2013 being even better.”

For more information, visit: www.acmashow.org

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