THE SHORT LIST: 5 Observations on West Coast Trade Expos

Disneyland is not the only venue making magic this week in Anaheim. The city’s mammoth convention center is hosting six “co-located” expos — ATX West, Electronics West, MD&M West, Pacific Design & Manufacturing, PLASTEC West and WestPack, which is attracting a global collection of product designers, engineers, software developers, inventors and entrepreneurs.

A banner outside the Anaheim Convention Center.

Here’s what is being discussed in nearby convention-center hotel lobbies after day one of the show on Tuesday. The event continues through Thursday.

The number of people, products, exhibitors and ideas at this show is staggering. UBM producers and managers of the event, estimate that attendance for the show will range from 25,000 to 30,000 attendees. It is considered the largest medtech and design & manufacturing event in the nation.

Glimpses into the future could be found throughout the exhibit hall, in keynote presentations, at interactive demonstrations and even in an innovation tour, which attendees needed to sign up for in advance. The tour featured a behind-the-scenes look at seven selected exhibitors or innovators, led by a “field expert,” with tour topics covering industry trends. The tour included a visit to Proto Labs’ booth to hear about our interactive quoting system.

Proto Labs’ technical specialist, Tony Holtz, explains the company’s interactive quoting system.

This theme was less explicit but still readily present in conversations conventioneers had about subjects such as patents, prototypes, venture capital sources, risk management and market access.

Day one was jammed with seminars, training sessions and other presentations. Topics were diverse: trends shaping medtech strategy, the wave of the future in biomaterials, integration of industrial IoT into the human workforce, retrofitting the traditional factory, selecting the right prototyping method and exploring the digital manufacturing revolution.

The exhibition hall played host to a large number of teachers and other educators, including a group of area middle school science teachers navigating the crowded show floor. The teachers were there thanks to Science@OC, a local, Orange County, nonprofit organization that works to inspire middle school students’ interest in science, math and tech-related (STEM) subjects.

Middle school science teachers from Orange County learned more about digital manufacturing.

Convention goers from Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis and other cold-weather cities were especially giddy in the Anaheim sunshine, and could be overheard comparing snow amounts and frosty temperatures while standing under palm trees outside the convention center.

The Short List is a regular compilation of quick tips, trends and timely topics of interest.


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