Westec 2005 — Outlook is bright for machine tools

Westec 2005 aims to show manufacturers ways to lower production costs, raise product quality, and better compete in tough world markets.

The show is expected to attract more than 1,000 companies from 150 categories representing 2,500 international product lines. In all, some 7 million pounds of the latest production machinery and equipment will be on display, including machining centers, milling and boring machines, tooling and accessories, and controls. Also exhibited will be CAD/CAM software, micromanufacturing and rapidprototyping equipment, as well as information on lean manufacturing and automated assembly.

Four pavilions off the show floor will include: the Aerospace and Defense Technology Pavilion which highlights composites and advanced materials; the Design & Engineering and Lean Enterprise & Quality Pavilion; the Job Shop & Outsourcing Pavilion that links potential buyers with California job shops; and the Software Pavilion which showcases design-engineering, shop-management, and costestimating software. A Technology Theater will be the site of several free 30-min presentations given daily by exhibitors.

The outlook for makers of machine tools looks bright, suggests a recent study of preregistered Westec attendees. "About 65% have raised equipment budgets and 76% saw an increase in their business," says SME Director of Expositions, Gary Mikola.

Attracting young people to manufacturing is key to sustaining the momentum. About 77.5 million baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, will leave the workforce in the next few years, but only 46 million Gen X'ers will enter, leaving a gap of over 30 million workers.

In an effort to improve the perception of manufacturing as a career, Westec will again offer three student events: The 19 th Annual Westec Manufacturing Challenge engineering competition lets college students engineer and manufacture products for judging by manufacturing professionals. The Westec 2005 Educator Summit invites select high-school teachers, counselors, career advisors, and administrators to learn about the potential for careers in manufacturing and manufacturing-related education. And, SME, in partnership with the Century Club, the Small Manufacturers Institute, and the Coalition for Manufacturing Careers, will host 600 high-school students for the Student Summit & VIP Student Tour.

No show would be complete without giveaways. This year the Westec Monster Garage will feature eight vehicles built by Jesse James and crew from the Discovery Channel hit, Monster Garage. Vehicles will be placed throughout the show floor and a Monster Garage Trivia Contest will award cool signature gear to winners hourly.

Attendees prior to the show may want to visit the EXPOtential Connection Lounge. The Web-based tool lets manufacturers establish buyer-seller relationships, explore partnerships, and plan meetings. Show goers receive a personalized Web portal, which matches them with other participants based on their interests. It gives personalized recommendations about the markets, technologies, products, companies, and people at the event that are a "must see" for them. For more information, log onto www.sme.org/exposales. And for more information about the Westec 2005 Conference and Exposition in general, visit the show Web site: www.sme.org/Westec. Westec 2005 is one of the 200 largest trade shows in North America and is expected to draw 20,000 people.