Even in our vastly internet-dominated world, nothing has quite replicated the impact of a face-to-face discussion with vendors and fellow engineers. Electronics manufacturing trade shows are valued for their inherent ability to establish a relationship and answer questions in ways you simply cannot achieve via email or over the phone.
Electronic contract manufacturers use these shows to break ground with engineers and purchasers in a variety of fields. Let’s take a look at some of the best electronics manufacturing expos out there for you to start meeting great new partners and vendors in the next year or two:
13 Great Electronics Manufacturing Trade Shows
Here are the trade shows we recommend, in no particular order. There are, of course, other good ones out there -- just make sure the right audience for your needs will be there!
- Date: March 18 and 19, 2020
- Location: Cincinnati
- Focus: Advanced design & manufacturing
The AmCon trade show has been doing business since 1987. The show promises solutions for design and production problems in electronics manufacturing, 3D printing, robotics, engineering, prototyping, assembly, design, and more.
Other AmCon shows are scheduled for March 4-5 in Phoenix; March 31 to April 1 in Orlando, Fla.; April 28-29 in Seattle; and May 12-13 in Wichita, Kan.
- Date: March 1-5, 2020
- Location: Chicago
- Focus: Medical & science
Founded in 1950, The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, commonly referred to as Pittcon, is an annual conference focused on medical and laboratory science. Consistently the largest gathering in the world in these fields, Pittcon is an excellent chance for those in the medical field who need ISO 13485 manufacturers.
The 2019 version saw an impressive 12,541 total attendees from 94 different countries. The were able to choose from more than 2,000 technical presentations.
The show is typically rotated among five cities (New Orleans, Orlando, Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia) every year.
3. Design 2 Part
- Date: March 25-26, 2020
- Location: Atlanta
- Focus: New suppliers for parts and manufacturing services
If you use electronic contract manufacturing often, you may be familiar with Design 2 Part. D2P is an exhibition company that focuses on contract manufacturing across the U.S.
Attend a D2P show and you’ll likely find several electronic contract manufacturers (ECMs), metal fabrication and plastics exhibitors. Smaller than most trade shows on this list, D2P exhibitions aren’t going to bring in vendors from all over the country, but they do provide a great in-road for local prospects looking for ECM services in their own backyard.
D2P is also planning spring 2020 shows for Feb. 26-27 in Grapevine, Texas; April 15-16 in Uncasville, Conn.; May 6-7 in Schaumburg, Ill.; May 20-21 in Nashville, Tenn.; and June 10-11 in Santa Clara, Calif.
- Date: Nov. 18-20, 2020
- Location: Las Vegas
- Focus: Metal fabrication and production
FABTECH is North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event. This massive show, which anticipated 48,000 visitors in 2019, provides a convenient "one-stop shop" where you can meet with world-class suppliers, see the latest industry products and developments, and find the tools to improve productivity.
The show has so much to offer, it's nearly impossible to see the entire thing in one visit!
5. AUVSI Xponential
- Date: May 5-7, 2020
- Location: Boston
- Focus: Transportation (autonomous)
The AUVSI Xponential trade show is the world's largest event for unmanned and autonomous systems, so you know you'll find the latest developments here.
This event features more than 8,500 users, tech experts, and policy makers in energy, defense, transportation, and construction. This is the place to learn where AI, 5G, and edge computing is taking us.
6. MINExpo INTERNATIONAL
- Date: Sept. 28-30, 2020
- Location: Las Vegas
- Focus: Mining
The world’s largest mining event, the MINExpo INTERNATIONAL trade show covers the entire mining industry --exploration, mine development, open pit, underground mining, processing, safety, environmental improvement, and so on. MINExpo brings together the latest cutting-edge equipment, innovations, services, and technologies, with long-term growth of the industry and its partners in mind.
The event will return to Las Vegas in 2024.
7. Advanced Design & Manufacturing Expo
- Date: June 9-11, 2020
- Location: New York City
- Focus: Design & manufacturing
ADM shows offer a rare diversity to its attendees. In one expo, you will find a show floor divided among several markets, including
Show sizes vary depending on the location, but exhibitions are held yearly in critical marketplaces like Cleveland, New York, and Boston.
Each event has conferences, keynote speakers and even classes revolving around current market trends and technology.
8. Railway Interchange
- Date: Sept. 26-29, 2021
- Location: Indianapolis
- Focus: Transportation
Held every two years, Railway Interchange is the largest railway exhibition in North America.
These shows feature showcases from members of:
- Railway Supply Institute
- Railway Engineering Maintenance Suppliers Association
- Railway Systems Suppliers
If you are a member of these organizations, you’ll get a booth space discount, too.
If you are involved in the rail and transportation industry, Railway Interchange is a must-attend. Its usually held in Minneapolis or Indianapolis, providing a central location for several large railway markets to attend and see what vendors have to offer.
9. APTA Expo
- Date: Oct. 12-14, 2020
- Location: Anaheim, Calif.
- Focus: Transportation
APTA is the premier public transportation showcase in the country.
Held just once every three years, APTA is always a terrific location to witness the rapid innovation in the industry. Some of the categories on display at this gigantic show are:
Show officials expect over 15,000 attendees in 2020.
10. SMTA International
- Sept. 27-Oct. 1, 2020
- Location: Rosemont, Ill.
- Focus: Electronics manufacturing
The Surface Mount Technology Association is something your vendor could already be affiliated with. But did you know that SMTA puts on an expo once a year just outside Chicago?
SMTA International isn’t huge, but it offers its attendees the chance to see state-of-the-art SMT equipment like:
- Inspection machines
- Testing equipment
- Component placers
While most shows focus on finding new customers, this show is a good opportunity for your company to find suppliers and check out the innovative technology that electronics manufacturers are using. Consider sending a purchasing or engineering team to scout some of the opportunities that will be on display, including over 170 booths with live equipment.
11. Defense Manufacturing Conference
- Date: Dec. 2-5, 2019
- Location: Phoenix
Two of the largest electronics markets in the U.S. are defense and aerospace.
DMC is a small, but effective, showcase sponsored by companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and CTG. This year, DMC is expecting over 1,750 participants and 160 exhibitors, making it one of the biggest defense manufacturing expos in the country. If you are seeking companies with ITAR registration and AS9100D aerospace certification, there should be plenty of opportunities.
In addition to the expo, a Diminishing Resources and Material Shortages conference will be held. Given the current state of the components industry, this is another reason to book your flight.
12. Semicon West
- Date: July 21-23, 2020
- Location: San Francisco
- Focus: Electronics supply chain
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Semicon West is one of the premier annual electronics expos. Known for its showcase of innovative, groundbreaking technologies, Semicon is a great place to learn about the latest developments in fields like:
- Smart manufacturing
- Wearable technologies
- Much more
In addition to the 500-plus exhibitors, Semicon features over 100 hours of programming, making it a fantastic opportunity for engineers of all fields to come together.
This three-day event drew 19,623 visitors and 530 exhibitors to the Moscone Center in 2018.
- Date: March 9-12, 2020
- Location: Atlanta
- Focus: Supply chain
Manufacturing, supply chain, and transportation operations continue to accelerate, so the future of industry depends on forward-thinking decisions. The MODEX trade show helps you see what’s coming, and take advantage of it to power your supply chain going forward.
MODEX allows you to connect with 900 leading providers of supply chain solutions and see in-person how their equipment and technology can future-proof your supply chain. Some of the industry's best minds will lead 100+ education sessions this year.
Best of all, there's no cost to attend the exhibits and conference sessions.
Education & Maybe a New Contract Manufacturer
There are so many chances out there to find out what an electronic manufacturing services provider can do for your product. Try to get to at least one trade show each year so your designs and processes don’t go stale!
(Editor's note: This article was originally published in June 2018 and was recently updated to reflect 2020 events.)