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Attend These 10 Manufacturing Trade Shows (& Bring in the Right Work)

Here are a few of the best shows for job shops and CNC manufacturers to attend with the goal of attracting business.

Attending major manufacturing trade shows is a great way for machine shops and contract manufacturers to network with businesses and vendors throughout their supply chain. The opportunities you discover at an expo could even lead to long-term relationships that fuel your business for years. Here are a few of the best shows for job shops and CNC manufacturers to attend with the goal of attracting business and generating leads.

The Ten Best Trade Shows For CNC Machine Shops

1. IMTS (International Manufacturing Technology Show)

  • WHEN: September 9th – 14th, 2024
  • WHERE: Chicago, IL
  • WHAT: Held every two years on even years (opposite EMO, which gets the odd years), IMTS is the largest manufacturing technology show in North America.  There were 1,816 exhibitors and 83,307 attendees at the latest show (2022).
  • WHO: The top five industry groups represented include machine shops, contract manufacturers, metalworking machinery companies, aerospace manufacturers, and industrial machinery companies.
  • GOING? REGISTER HERE

2. EMO Hannover

  • WHEN: September 22nd – 27th, 2025
  • WHERE: Hannover, Germany
  • WHAT: This German trade show with metalworking roots has a global draw. 1,839 exhibitors (two thirds of which were from outside Germany) presented at the 2023 edition of the fair. It’s a must-attend for precision tools and machine tools companies.
  • WHO: The main industrial sectors represented at EMO Hannover are machine and system construction, automotive industry and suppliers, precision engineering companies, producers of sheet metal goods, and skilled tradespersons.
  • GOING? Save the date! Registration not yet open.

3. IME West

  • WHEN: February 6th – 8th, 2024
  • WHERE: Anaheim, CA
  • WHAT: The more than 1,500 exhibitors at IME West are spread across five interconnected expos — MD&M, WestPack, ATX West, D&M West, and Pastec West — all at one gigantic trade show. 
  • WHO: Engineers, executives, R&D experts, machine operators, and buyers are all among the manufacturing industry peers you’ll see at the event. Industries will span across medtech, automation, packaging, design & manufacturing, plastics, and others.
  • GOING? REGISTER HERE

4. EASTEC

  • WHEN: Coming in 2025
  • WHERE: West Springfield, MA
  • WHAT: As the largest and most significant manufacturing show in the Northeast, 9,500 industry professionals convene at EASTEC to demonstrate new products and technology, make connections, and advance their careers.
  • WHO: The show attracts companies involved with precision manufacturing equipment, rapid tooling, automation, workholding & machining accessories.
  • GOING? REGISTER HERE

5. WESTEC

  • WHEN: Coming in 2025
  • WHERE: Long Beach, CA
  • WHAT: This California regional event is a counterpart of EASTEC and attracts attendees from diverse industries such as aerospace, industrial machinery, automotive, and fabricated metal. Head here if a West Coast show makes more sense for your company.
  • WHO: Manufacturing technologies including CNC controls, CAD/CAM software, plasma cutting, tooling, cutting, 3D printing, grinding, and more will be represented at the show.
  • GOING? REGISTER HERE

6. FABTECH

  • WHEN: October 15th – 17th, 2024
  • WHERE: Orlando, FL
  • WHAT: FABTECH is billed as North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing event. More than 1,500 world-class suppliers attend the annual expo to discover innovative solutions and find the tools they need to boost productivity and increase profits.
  • WHO: A full quarter of attendees are owners and executives. Almost another quarter are made up of a mix of engineers and designers. The most represented types of companies at the show are job shops and contract manufacturers (42%), followed by OEMs (19%).
  • GOING? Get notified when registration opens.

7. FABTECH Mexico

  • WHEN: May 7th – 9th, 2024
  • WHERE: Monterrey, Mexico
  • WHAT: As a ‘one-stop shop’ venue to meet with world-class suppliers, the Mexican iteration of FABTECH is a great way to compare metal forming, fabricating, and welding equipment in action.
  • WHO: Post-show data shows that 79% of attendees decide, approve, or influence the purchase of machinery and products. The technologies of primary interest include welding machines and equipment, lasers, robotics and automation, bending and forming, cutting, arc welding, and tool and die equipment.
  • GOING? Save the date! Registration coming soon.

8. WIMTS (Wisconsin Manufacturing & Technology Show)

  • WHEN: October 2025
  • WHERE: West Allis, WI
  • WHAT: WIMTS was established in 1989 and is now one of the premier metalworking and manufacturing tool shows in the Midwest, with nearly 3,500 in attendance at the latest edition. No longer simply a machine tool show, it’s grown into a great opportunity for education, collaboration, innovation, and talent searches.
  • WHO: Exhibitors and attending companies span additive manufacturing, robotics, machining centers, welding, tooling, fabricating equipment, and many more technologies.
  • GOING? Save the date! Registration not yet open for 2025.

9. Advanced Engineering

  • WHEN: October 30th – 31st, 2024
  • WHERE: Birmingham, England
  • WHAT: This is the UK’s largest annual trade show featuring 400+ exhibitors, over 9,000 attendees, and a wide range of engineering and manufacturing professionals. Job shops can attend to source new suppliers, network with industry leaders, and learn about the latest developments in technology and manufacturing processes. The post 2022 event report showed that 96% of exhibitors recommended the event and 85% planned to return.
  • WHO: The show sees visitors from manufacturing sectors including Aerospace, Automotive, Composites, Construction, Defence & Security, Energy, Marine, Medical, Rail, Space, Sports & Leisure and more.
  • GOING? REGISTER HERE

10. HANNOVER MESSE

  • WHEN: April 22nd – 26th, 2024
  • WHERE: Hannover, Germany
  • WHAT: 1,870+ speakers, 4,000 exhibitors, and 130,000 on-site attendees gather at HANNOVER MESSE, one of the largest industrial trade shows in the world. A full 40% of attendees come to the Germany-hosted show from abroad. 
  • WHO: At a show this large, expect diverse topics and specializations — machine learning, carbon neutral production, and more — to be represented. The 2023 show opened with a keynote from the Chancellor of Germany himself, Olaf Scholz.
  • GOING? SAVE THE DATE

Got Leads From the Show? Separate the Good From the Bad

Many machine shops and contract manufacturers exhibit at or otherwise attend these shows to make connections and drum up new business. While trade shows can be an excellent supplement to the sales process in manufacturing industry businesses, helping you to network and collect leads, it’s also important to separate and prioritize good, profitable incoming business over work that would be less-than-ideal for your shop. Take a look at the leads you’ve generated from your event, and evaluate each opportunity against the traits on this chart:

The Right Kind of Work

  • Is profitable (work’s judged on profitability, not revenue)
  • Does not overburden the shop’s capacity, time, or resources
  • Is doable with the equipment and expertise you already have
  • Fits a pre-established process from earlier work you’ve completed
  • Continues a good pre-existing relationship
  • Has potential to reoccur

The Wrong Kind of Work

  • Won’t make you much money (even if it produces a lot of revenue)
  • Might cause a cash flow issue
  • Takes too long to realistically meet expected lead times
  • Ties up resources you will need for other jobs
  • Urgently requires new equipment, training, or experimentation
  • Is wholly unlike any previous work you’ve done
  • Risks souring relationships with known, good, repeat customers

It’s okay to bend these guidelines when circumstances call for it (cash flow, keeping payroll running, etc.), but those should be the exceptions — not the rule. 

Profits are about more than growth and expansion. If it becomes routine to bring in work that’s barely above break-even for your margins, it’s difficult to continue re-investing in your shop’s technology, maintenance, and the continued training/upskilling of staff. Try to keep the right kind of work at the top of your priority list and limit the number of poor-fit opportunities you bring in.

Evaluating job opportunities is always easiest with a system that allows for seamless connectivity from order to invoice to payment. Consider the capabilities of your current manufacturing sales cycle and process for managing work. If it’s challenging to keep visibility into your profitability, it may be time to re-evaluate your technology and explore new solutions.

Greg Finnegan

Growth Lead