Machine builders rate Plastec West, the first US plastics trade fair since the beginning of 2020, positively

Gorman estimated Plastec’s attendance at about half that of a typical Anaheim show. Plastec West and the associated trade shows – Medical Design & Manufacturing West, WestPack, D&M West and Automation Technology Expo – are collectively referred to as Advanced Manufacturing West by Informa plc. The parallel annual shows regularly attract around 20,000 visitors and 1,900 exhibitors to the Anaheim Convention Center.

Without the NPE, engineering companies have struggled to reach customers. Some, including ancillary equipment supplier Conair Group of Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania, hosted successful virtual events.

“Our new product development cycle doesn’t just end because they cancel the show,” said Sam Rajkovich, Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Conair.

Conair’s virtual event drew 1,500 people. “Not quite NPE, but still pretty good,” said Rajkovich. “And what’s interesting is that they were there for Conair. They were there to see us.

“I don’t know if it will be an annual event, but it was important for us to show our customers all the things we are working on. We couldn’t think of a better way.”

Plastec West does not have the infrastructure to handle many work machines like NPE, but Conair has equipment on display. As with previous Anaheim shows, the company worked with partners on a medical-themed cell.

This year, Conair teamed up with the extruder manufacturer Davis-Standard LLC and the non-contact measurement company Zumbach Electronics Corp. partnered to create polypropylene medical swab components.

“We did a lot of tubing in the past shows,” said Rajkovich. Swabs used in COVID tests were a great way to demonstrate a product that will be in high demand in 2021.

“We are very busy, which is challenging due to global component shortages and supply chain issues,” he said. “It put pressure on our team; it’s a daily challenge for us. But it’s a good problem. We get up every day to meet our customers’ needs and understand the pressures they are facing.”

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