Q&A “We have had a great and very successful start”
When Florian Niethammer and Florian Schmitz started organising Moulding Expo for the first time, they did it with the idea in mind to do it with the industry, for the industry. Two years later, it seems like they have arrived in the sector: 700 exhibitors are proof of that.
Organising, planning and implementing a trade fair is a huge endeavor. It does get more extensive if the trade fair is organised for the first time. Florian Schmitz and Florian Niethammer, project managers at Messe Stuttgart, talk about the experience they made in 2015, the things they have learned, and their goals for this year's Moulding Expo.
Full steam ahead, as they say, into the second Moulding Expo. What positive developments in terms of exhibitors are particularly worthy of note?
Schmitz: We are growing with quality! We are therefore pleased to see how our Moulding Expo has developed. Putting a trade fair by the industry for the industry on its feet – this is where we originated. The market has now received the idea so well that we are on the ideal path to becoming the leading European trade fair for machine tools and model and mould making. Currently, more surface area has already been occupied than in 2015 and the list of exhibitors, currently with over 750 companies, really stands out. Not only German companies, but companies from almost all European nations are among the exhibitors, as are companies from the USA, Canada and the rest of the world. The second Moulding Expo is not only larger but also more international.
What new aspects/presentations in comparison to the premiere event can be experienced this time?
Niethammer: The events and programme points that go alongside the events in the halls must first fulfil two criteria: Firstly, they must strengthen the most important network in tool, model and mould construction and provide our exhibitors and visitors with the opportunity to meet each other. And secondly, we want to bring potential customers to our exhibitors. Therefore, it was again important to us that purchasers from industry and contractors from the tool, model and moulding industry could converse with each other. The German Association for Materials Management, Purchasing and Logistics (BME) – also a partner of the Moulding Expo – has organised this year’s buyers’ forum in once again, but this time directly with us on site at the ICS Conference Centre. Therefore, the participants of the forum, including numerous decision-makers from important, large businesses, have the opportunity to meet the exhibitors of the Moulding Expo directly. The ISTMA Lounge, which will make its debut in Hall 4, is also set to function as a key magnet and meeting point. ISTMA Europe, as the European association of tool and mould makers, will host the 6th European Tooling Forum in this setting. Current market and technology trends and the presentation of best-practice examples take centre stage here and provide the representatives of the international construction markets with the opportunity to learn from each other. At the same time, the lounge is the ideal platform for all those who want to expand their international network.
Are there new exhibitors that impressed you after the first Moulding Expo?
Schmitz: We definitely feel that many companies that were at the 2015 Moulding Expo for the first time thought that the fair was good and are now also here for the second one. In particular, the proportion of toolmakers, model and mould makers has increased again. It is currently about 50% of the exhibiting companies. That speaks for itself. For the first time, there will also be a sponsored joint stand of the BMWi for young innovative companies from Germany. We will also be able to host joint stands with new exhibitors from Slovenia, Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands for the first time.
What support is provided by professional associations, by which ones and in what form?
Niethammer: The success of the Moulding Expo has many fathers. In addition to the strong commitment of our German partner associations BVMF, VDMA, VDW and VDWF, who have been with us from the beginning, the close co-operation with ISTMA has also given us tailwind in the past year. In the World Federation, there are at least 19 associations and over 8,000 companies from all over the world. We have represented the Moulding Expo in the most important European toolmaking hubs and have succeeded in inspiring many regional associations and their companies.
Is there is something that you have managed to achieve that you and your team are particularly proud of?
Schmitz: In the last few weeks the thing that we hardly dared to dream of happened: We broke the 700-exhibitor mark and thus occupy one hall more than we did in 2015. We are obviously very happy about this and it also makes us a little proud. It is much more important to us, however, that we really feel that we have arrived in the industry, and are regarded as a reliable partner of the industry. Working in such an environment is a lot of fun!
What are the organisers of other similar events saying about the successful newcomer? Or do they not say much?
Niethammer: From the beginning, we were committed to creating the Moulding Expo according to the principle “with the industry, for the industry” and to make tool, model and mould making the central focus of the trade fair concept. We will maintain our commitment to this and do not want to hear how other trade fair organisers rate the Moulding Expo. It is much more important for us to implement the points that arise in advisory board meetings systematically and sustainably, even with a view to future events.
Which objectives have not yet been achieved for the second event, but are being pursued?
Schmitz: It is incredibly important to develop the Moulding Expo on a sustainable basis for the long-term with our exhibitors and partners. Our aims are also of a long-term nature. For instance, our internationalisation efforts, with a focus on Europe. Here, we were able to take a big step with the second exhibition. But I am convinced that we will expand our European network further in the coming years.
Are there key exhibition points at the Moulding Expo that show particular growth? If yes, what are these?
Niethammer: The good thing is that we have been able to record growth in all areas, in particular with the toolmakers, model and mould makers. To give you a tangible picture: Since the last fair, we have grown from three to four halls. In Halls 4 and 6, toolmakers, model and mould makers, material suppliers, standard parts manufacturers, sub-contractors and service providers will make presentations. In Halls 3 and 5, you will find manufacturers of machine tools, clamping equipment, software and measuring technology and other important suppliers to the industry.
And to give another concrete example: In addition to the growth of com-panies from model and prototype construction, many important material suppliers to the industry are here for the first time.
Are there any relatively “exotic” exhibits or processes that you could recommend visitors take a closer look at?
Schmitz: There will be some! In the framework of the project "3-2-eat" with Master's students of the Reutlingen University of Applied Sciences and a variety of dedicated project partners from industry, we have fully accompanied the development process of this year's Moulding Expogive-away – plastic cutlery: From the design phase through the tool manufacturing, the hardening of the tool to the laser texturing to sampling. The high-quality, innovative eating implement is injection-moulded live at the fair, but I do not want to say more. All the info and "3-2-eat” is then in Hall 4 at Stand A02.
A further highlight is the "Polyman"; this is a plastic learning part for injection-moulding component design, which has simply not been done in this way before and, on top of that, produced on site. This is also a joint project with incredible commitment on the part of the companies involved. Visitors can find all the information on Polyman in Hall 6 at the VDWF stand.
Are there major problem areas, such as lack of skilled labour, the conservation of resources or other problems in the industry that you wish to help tackle at the fair?
Niethammer: Definitely. One of our major issues is to encourage the promotion of young scientists and the further training of skilled workers. For the tool, model or mould maker, structural change is a
constant challenge. With innovative momentum, the industry is constantly manufacturing new products with increasingly complex technologies. For technicians and engineers, continuous further training is vital in order to meet the steadily growing requirements. During the Moulding Expo, there-fore, the Stuttgart Fair does not just offer a comprehensive overview of the teaching and study on offer, it is also involved directly in the further education of the next generation of industry, and with a unique offer: The Moulding Expo awards a scholarship for an in-service training course of study for project managers (FH) of tool and mould making. From the 2017/18 winter semester, a student can train for two semesters at Schmalkalden College. The Stuttgart Fair bears the cost of around 5,000 euros.
Is there a guide with designated exhibitors of an industry that will make it easier for visitors to find their way?
Schmitz: Yes, in the area for training and further education, which lies particularly close to our heart, as already stated. Themed “Get your future in shape!”, we will be presenting the main occupations of tool, model and mould construction with our partner associations in Hall 4 at Stand B3. School classes will have the opportunity to talk to instructors and trainees. In order to make everything as practical as possible, there will also be guided tours of the exhibition. A "guide" from the industry will snap up one group each and, after a short introduction, will go around the fair with them and show them what the industry has to offer.
What are the medium-growth targets for the Moulding Expo in terms of visitors, exhibitors, exhibition area and the range of topics?
Niethammer: We have had a great and very successful start, expect an equally successful second event, but are currently already looking to the future and rolling our sleeves up to develop the fair further along with our partner organisations, our advisors and exhibitors according to their aims. The Moulding Expo can, should and must develop. We are therefore jointly refining the concept of the exhibition even further to make the Moulding Expo attractive in the years ahead.
Are representatives of the additive manufacturing process involved? If yes, which ones? Because many are of the opinion that these processes are not going to displace the classics but can effectively complement them.
Schmitz: I would emphasise that! Generative methods will sit alongside the classical machining processes such as milling, turning, etc. in the future. People will not be able to, or want to, forego their use in the future when it comes to saving weight, complex geometries or individualised series production. Accordingly, the topic of 3D is in many exhibition areas at the Moulding Expo: From the traditional construction and the structure of close contour, coolable tool inserts and rapid tooling to generative manufacturing of large components made of metal.