Hannover/Stuttgart. "This was a successful re-start. Exhibitors and attendees were extremely satisfied with the run of the event," remarked a delighted Hendrik Engelking, Global Director of Surface Technology at Deutsche Messe. "Under the circumstances, attendance levels were good, especially when you take into account the high quality of our visitors," he noted.

After Germany, the largest visitor attendance was from Italy, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria, India, the Netherlands, France and Slovenia. For the first time, the event recorded a 100% share of trade visitors. With every third visitor stemming from top management and every fourth visitor from department manager level. Nearly every third visitor came to SurfaceTechnology GERMANY with highly specific investment plans. As to the aim of their visit, the majority said they came to locate new products, get an overview of the market and generate new suppliers and business leads. After a compulsory break of two years, there was a strong desire to cultivate existing contacts. Further education and expanding one’s knowledge base was also a frequently mentioned goal. A third of visitors were also looking for concrete solutions for their own companies.

According to the survey, most visitors to the trade show came from the metalworking and processing industries, closely followed by the automotive, mechanical and plant engineering, electronics and plastics industries. Users from the aerospace, medical technology, semiconductor and precision engineering sectors also took advantage of the tradeshow to find out about solutions, products and services from the surface treatment industry.

High-quality leads and conversations

An important area of SurfaceTechnology GERMANY is traditionally the joint stand of the German Surface Technology Association (ZVO). Featuring approximately 60 companies, the joint appearance once again provided an impressive presentation of electroplating technology. "Business contacts, whether old or new, are based on trust – the basic prerequisite of which involves face-to-face contact. This was finally possible again here in Stuttgart after a four-year break due to the pandemic. The broad spectrum of visitors at SurfaceTechnology GERMANY allowed exhibitors to generate numerous leads and conduct conversations for which they would need several weeks within a conventional sales framework. So, it was a pleasure to see how seamlessly SurfaceTechnology GERMANY followed on from the last event in 2018, and how visitors embraced the new start amid disrupted supply chains, skyrocketing energy prices, inflation and climate change," reported Christoph Matheis, general manager of ZVO. "Our co-exhibitors had a consistently positive first take and were every bit as pleased with the quality of attendees and their discussions with them as they were four years ago, even though the number of visitors felt like less than in 2018. ZVO is optimistic that SurfaceTechnology GERMANY 2024 will once again come up to the same level of exhibitor and visitor numbers as in the pre-Corona era."

Dr. Martin Riester, Consultant Air Handling Technology/Surface Technology at VDMA, was similarly satisfied with the run of the event. "After a Corona-related break in 2020, SurfaceTechnology GERMANY got off to a successful restart. Deutsche Messe has staged an attractive international event in spite of the tough economic climate. Exhibitors and trade visitors benefited from the wide range of surface technology offerings. On this basis, we are very positive about the future trajectory of the event and are greatly looking forward to SurfaceTechnology GERMANY 2024."

Exhibitors at the "Process Chain Surface Technologies" joint stand also experienced a successful event. The focus here was on a diverse range of surface properties and coatings, highlighting the benefits in a wide variety of applications. A second focus was on digitizing electroplating in the context of Industry 4.0, with the concomitant positive impact on energy and resource conservation and the maintenance of a safe workplace environment. "The quality of the discussions here has been described as consistently positive by the co-exhibitors. On the one hand, the combination of a presentation at the forum and stand space at the joint stand led to numerous, very promising contacts. It was also striking that the contacts for the new technologies in the environment of Industry 4.0 were almost predominantly made by international visitors to the trade fair," said Herbert Kaeszmann, organizer of the WOTech joint stand.

High level of interest in Expert Forum

As a central hub for knowledge transfer and networking, the SurfaceTechnology GERMANY Expert Forum was consistently well attended on all days of the event. Featuring an extensive program of 48 presentations, the Expert Forum offered an insight into the current world of surface technology. There was a great deal of interest in the use of laser technologies, as well as in options for creating functional surfaces through the use of PVD processes as well as the broad field of technologies grouped under the heading of alternative coating processes. Above all, however, the Expert Forum revealed that coating companies are increasingly focusing on the opportunities offered by data processing – under such abbreviations as AR, VR or AI – in daily practice, thus improving the efficiency of their processes. Finally, the shift in the automotive industry towards e-mobility is playing a key role for a large percentage of coating companies.

The highlights of the Expert Forum also included the presentation of the Stuttgart Innovation Award »DIE OBERFLÄCHE« by Fraunhofer IPA. The 2022 prize winner is the company DÜRR Systems for their "Overspray-free paint application with EcoPaintJet Pro". "With great staying power and together with partners from the paint and automotive industries, this company has brought the idea of completely overspray-free wet painting to fruition, potentially creating a disruptive innovation," enthused juror Michael Hilt, managing director of the Forschungsgesellschaft für Pigmente und Lacke e.V.

As a networking hub for speakers and attendees, the Speakers’ Corner proved its worth, attracting a sizable audience. For the first time, the Expert Forum was also streamed live on the event website.

Exhibitors were highly satisfied with the event:

Peter Mack and Markus Schlagwein, Sager + Mack GmbH & Co. KG

"The anticipation of the trade fair after 4 years was great. It is all the more gratifying that our expectations were consistently met. It was a positive trade fair with good organization by Deutsche Messe. We were happy to meet acquaintances from the surface technology sector as well as new contacts, and we were able to have very good conversations at our booth. It was a pity that both the exhibitor evening and the small booth parties could not take place, but we are all the more looking forward to Surface Technology 2024."

Dr. Christoph Stecher, acs Coating Systems GmbH

"We at acs Coating Systems are very satisfied with the outcome of the tradeshow. Our wear-resistant non-stick coatings produced many promising new leads. Especially our new PTFE/PFAS-free coatings (no Teflon) generated a great deal of interest."

The next SurfaceTechnology GERMANY runs from 4 to 6 June 2024 in Stuttgart.