The last time Fabtech visited Chicago, it coincided with tornadoes and severe thunderstorms that pummeled Illinois the day before the show opened.

Two years later, the weather was much better — as was the attendance at the Nov. 9-12, 2015, sheet metal products trade show at McCormick Place convention center.  The event brought 1,700 exhibitors and close to 44,000 attendees from 90 countries to the city.

It made organizers very happy.

“This year’s show was incredible,” said show co-manager Mark Hoper. “It’s difficult to fully express our gratitude to all those who made Fabtech a success — the city of Chicago, our loyal exhibitors and the thousands of attendees that not only made the week special, but who continue to drive and move our industries forward. Between the variety of events and education programs, to our diverse and expansive show floor, attendees walked away with more knowledge, expertise and industry connections than ever before.”  

The official attendance count was 43,836, over 3,000 more than the show attracted in 2013. Exhibitors took up 730,000 square feet of floor space — 80,000 more than two years ago.

Officials with sheet metal forming machinery company LVD Strippit said it was a good event for their company.

“We have been one of the longest participants in Fabtech and it’s always been a very important venue to show our latest technology to the market place,” said company spokesman John Quigley. “In North America, it is the most important trade show of the year.”


Champions and politicians

Special sessions at Fabtech included a Nov. 9 presentation on 3-D printing, a speech by retired NASCAR champion Russell “Rusty” Wallace Jr., a networking event for women involved in manufacturing and a presentation on computer system security risks.

Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania U.S. senator Rick Santorum made an appearance Nov. 10, touring the trade show floor and speaking about the importance of American manufacturing.

John Catalano, another show manager, said the number of educational sessions offered at Fabtech is unique.

“One way Fabtech stands apart from other trade shows is that we are much more than just a large exhibit floor,” Catalano said. “This is a place where some of the best minds in manufacturing come to share their perspectives. The individuals who present and participate in our programs have incredibly diverse backgrounds — and when they share their wide-ranging experiences, it’s extremely beneficial to our attendees.”

The next Fabtech is scheduled for Nov. 16-18 in Las Vegas.