5 Observations on West Coast Trade Expos

Posted On April 4, 2017 By Angelo Gentile
Convention center banner
A banner outside the Anaheim Convention Center.

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.

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.

Protolabs at trade show
Protolabs’ technical specialist, Tony Holtz, explains the company’s interactive quoting system.

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 Protolabs’ booth to hear about our 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.

Teachers at Protolabs booth
Middle school science teachers from Orange County learned more about digital manufacturing.

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 [email protected], a local, Orange County, nonprofit organization that works to inspire middle school students’ interest in science, math and tech-related (STEM) subjects.