Hannover/Stuttgart. By 2 p.m. on Wednesday, it was already clear that SurfaceTechnology GERMANY had made the cut. The Stuttgart-based event was only half over, but most exhibitors already voiced a great deal of satisfaction, with many of them expressing downright enthusiasm over the large number of successful customer interactions. In the end, slightly more than 6,000 trade visitors attended SurfaceTechnology GERMANY over the three days of the event. The international trade fair for surface technology had been eagerly awaited: With a new name and all in green, the former O&S had set out to become even more international. And the plan succeeded, with 25% of the approx. 300 exhibitors as well as the 6,000+ trade visitors coming from abroad.

"This was a successful premiere," reported Olaf Daebler, Global Director of SurfaceTechnology at Deutsche Messe, continuing: "The fact that we were able to launch the event with a record amount of display space was an ideal prerequisite. The great response from our visitors has now made things complete: SurfaceTechnology GERMANY not only maintained the strong performance of its O&S predecessor, but also enhanced it in terms of internationality, user industries and market significance." With a record 8,286 square meters of occupied display space, SurfaceTechnology GERMANY was already reflecting the good mood in the coating technology industry even before the gates opened. And the concomitant near-filling of Stuttgart’s largest exhibition hall, Hall 1, was also positively received.

High-caliber business leads and excellent talks

An important area of SurfaceTechnology GERMANY is traditionally the group pavilion of the Central Association of Surface Technology (ZVO). With its 77 companies, the pavilion once again provided an impressive presentation of electroplating technology. "The exhibitors at our pavilion have predominantly rated the experience as ‘good’ to ‘excellent’," said Christoph Matheis, CEO of ZVO. "The quality of contacts and discussions with numerous OEMs and TIER1 suppliers was high right from the start. And on the second day of the fair, the anticipated flow of visitors also set in: Almost all of our exhibitors’ stands were highly frequented. The international makeup of the visiting professionals turned out highly positive, with 50% of them coming from abroad – many from outside Europe."

Dr. Martin Riester, Head of the Surface Technology Department at the German Engineering Federation (VDMA), also has positive things to say about the show: "Our industry is doing very well. This was clearly noticeable at the fair. We had lots of interesting technical discussions with customers who were looking for the right surface technology solutions. Here we were able to point out a number of suitable approaches. The event’s location in Hall 1 and the new name ‘SurfaceTechnology GERMANY’ sent exactly the right signal to strengthen Stuttgart as a location for surface technology," he remarked. VDMA member companies showcased resource-efficient surface treatment solutions for a wide variety of user industries at the Stuttgart-based event – and SurfaceTechnology GERMANY was successful in drawing the corresponding broad-based user audience.

Heaviest foreign attendance from Austria and Italy

Based on the official visitor survey, most visitors came from the metalworking and metal processing industries, closely followed by automotive, mechanical and plant engineering, electronics and plastics. Users from the aerospace, medical technology, semiconductor, precision and precision engineering industries also used the trade fair to find out about the latest solutions, products and services from the surface treatment industry. Three-quarters of the international visitors to SurfaceTechnology GERMANY came from Europe, with 17% from South, East and Central Asia. The top visitor nations in 2018 were Austria and Italy, followed by Switzerland, China, Spain and the Czech Republic. More than two thirds of international visitors visited the fair for the first time. Among the foreign exhibitors, Italy led by a wide margin. "For us it was our tenth time at the fair and the experience was quite positive," says Natascia Santolin of Galvo Service from Padua. "This applies not only to the number and quality of contacts, but also to the fine organization before and during the fair."

The percentage of trade professionals attending SurfaceTechnology GERMANY was again very high, at 98%. In addition, visitors were characterized by a high percentage of decision-makers: 86% stated that they play a role in their companies’ buying decisions. Significantly more than one in two were of managerial status, with top managers accounting for 31%. When asked what the aim of their visit to the fair was, most answered: the search for new products, getting a market overview and finding the right suppliers. Almost a third of them were also looking for best-fit solutions for their companies. The share of visitors coming to the fair with firm investment plans was equally high, while an additional 47% were at least considering making new investments.

High level of interest in SurfaceTechnology Forum and Speakers Corner

The SurfaceTechnology Forum also packed the galleries – especially on Wednesday at the fair. This event served as a key hub for knowledge transfer and industry networking. In 42 lectures lasting 20 minutes each, top-notch speakers informed their specialist audience about the latest surface technology trends. For topics like REACh or new electroplating processes, the 100-seat forum was packed. Another forum highlight consisted of the presentation of the Stuttgart innovations prize "Oberfläche 2018" by Fraunhofer IPA. The 2018 winner was plasotec GmbH, whose engineers developed a process for the contact-free polishing of metallic surfaces. The newly created Speakers Corner proved to be a clear improvement over the past: There, in direct proximity to the forum, listeners were able to engage in further dialogue with forum speakers.

The exhibitors participating in the "Surface Technology Process Chain" pavilion were also satisfied with their success. This special display presented a comprehensive cross-section of the industry, providing insights into the different areas involving surface-technical machining of parts. "Our exhibits were the main drawing card in getting visitors out to our stand," said Herbert Kaeszmann, organizer of the WoTech pavilion. "The companies that appeared here intend to return next time around."

The range of categories covered at SurfaceTechnology GERMANY reflected the entire spectrum of surface technology, including electroplating, blasting technology, thermal spraying, industrial plasma and laser surface technology, coating materials, surface treatment, environmental protection, supply technology, services, pretreatment, cleaning, measuring, testing and analysis equipment. The next SurfaceTechnology GERMANY will be staged in Stuttgart from 16 to 18 June 2020.

Exhibitor remarks:

Georg Harnau, Head of Marketing, Walther Trowal GmbH & Co. KG:
"For us, the fair was a big success in two respects. On the one hand, we spoke with many new interested parties. On the other, we presented two different product categories for the first time at a trade fair: Vibratory finishing technology and small parts coating. And the interest was equally high in both categories. The percentage of potential new customers ran at around 60%. Many of the interested parties came from the surrounding region, but we also had quite a few international ones. For some of our sales colleagues, it’s definitely worth learning Italian."

Frank Breidenbach, Key Account Manager for Global Sales, Dörken MKS-Systeme GmbH & Co. KG:
"For us, SurfaceTechnology GERMANY is primarily a networking event. That is why, for the first time, we didn’t focus on products, but instead offered our customers seminars on the subject of corrosion and corrosion protection. Overall, our Corrosion College was very well received, but it is still new and therefore needs a bit of development."

Thomas Haberfellner, Head of Domestic Service and Sales, Schlötter:
"Our conclusion is: two thumbs up! We had a lot of visitors at the stand, and a lot of good discussions. Wednesday, in particular, was a whirlwind day for us. We had visits from existing customers, new customers and suppliers here. At least a third of our visitors came from abroad – for example, from Austria, Switzerland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Russia, Japan, Sweden and the UK. The file in which we enter all the important leads is filling up well. The renamed SurfaceTechnology GERMANY is and will remain our go-to exhibition."

Petra Schlachter, Public Relations, Harter GmbH:
"We had two fantastic days on Tuesday and Wednesday. The mix of customers and new leads was excellent. We were pleasantly surprised at the large number of trade visitors from non-German-speaking countries. Many came from Southeast Asia, in some cases with very specific concerns. This may be a consequence of rebranding the show as 'SurfaceTechnology GERMANY'’."

Jochen Fezer, Business Unit Director, TIB Chemicals AG:
"Surface technology is a small world, and that’s why you have to be here. This trade fair is a family gathering for the surface treatment network. Here you can meet the known players, but there are also many new customer leads here as well. Overall we experienced good visitor traffic ."

Björn Laskowski, Sales Director, Auer Strahltechnik:
"For us, the show went better than expected. We feel much more at home exhibiting under the new name, SurfaceTechnology GERMANY. Here we were able to meet up with leads and existing customers from the automotive and plant engineering sectors who are strongly represented here in southern Germany."

Andreas Mühle, General Manager, Coventya GmbH:
"The move to Hall 1 worked out well. Visitor-wise, things started off a bit sluggish, but day two was definitely very good. An important aspect of this event involves networking. The industry comes together here. From our point of view, the percentage of international visitors has gone up slightly. We had many discussions with Italians, but also with Asian customers from India and China."

Benjamin Diener, Sales Director, SurTec Deutschland GmbH:
"This was an excellent fair for us, with numerous talks with customers. We were represented here by a staff of 11 people and everybody was busy all the time. Our industry is not all that big, so this fair is always a bit like a class reunion. However, the added value also adds up. Here we are able to hold highly promising talks with our customers and really get down to detail on projects we are pursuing."

Paul van Ham, Managing Partner, Hender Pompen BV:
"SurfaceTechnology GERMANY is the world's most important technology fair for the surface treatment sector. That's why we brought our global sales staff here. Overall, we notice that our customers are looking for exactly the kind of things we have to offer: a robust and reliable product that also saves energy. Sustainability is a key concern."

Frank Munk, General Manager, Munk GmbH:
"This trade fair definitely exceeded our expectations. Here at the location surface technology is really lived. Therefore, there is nowhere else such a high quality of conversations. The visitors show great interest in information and plan future orders. I took a critical look at the name change to SurfaceTechnology GERMANY before, but now my appraisal is positive: The new name has obviously attracted even more new customers from abroad, for example from India, China, Taiwan and even Mexico."

Sandra Theis, Senior Sales Executive, KraftPowercon Sweden AB:
"In my opinion, SurfaceTechnology in Stuttgart is the most important trade fair in the field of surface technology. As always, the quality of visitors in 2018 was good. The somewhat lower visitor traffic we experienced might have something to do with the fact that parts2clean no longer takes place in parallel, or that the industry is simply doing so well at the moment that there was no time to attend the fair."

Matthias Böhland, Product Marketing Microscopy, Keyence Deutschland GmbH:
"The last O&S was already good, and we were also very satisfied with HANNOVER MESSE – so our expectations for SurfaceTechnology GERMANY were correspondingly high. But our expectations have been met. We were able to conduct discussions with our customers here with a high number of hits. Quality and quantity were very good. We noticed that interest in research and development and quality analysis of surfaces was very high."

Ludger Fuchs, Geschäftsleiter Deutschland, NOF Metal Coatings Europe S.A.:
"The new name is good for the show. Now even visitors to the co-located shows can grasp what it’s all about. In the future, it will be exciting to see how the 'Surface' brand will work to attract additional technologies and visitor groups, apart from the regular customers."

Günter Kayan, Prokurist, Forplan AG:
"We are very satisfied with every aspect of the event. We had excellent discussions with a large number of visitors. We were able to impress our customer base with a new plant, and also succeeded in attracting new business. Overall, our appearance here met with strong interest."