The Future of Technical Foam

Foam Expo North America
Written by Nate Hendley

Attendees of Foam Expo North America will be able to take in presentations, panel discussions, networking opportunities, exhibitions, and a business-to-business (B2B) ‘matchmaking’ service. The largest conference and exhibition of its kind, Foam Expo North America takes place Tuesday, March 24 to Thursday, March 26, 2020, in Halls A, B, and C of the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi, Michigan, near Detroit.

“This is the go-to event for those who sell, manufacture, use, and buy foam materials, production equipment, and foam-based products. If you are working within these manufacturing brackets, Foam Expo North America needs to be in your calendar,” states Conference Producer, Callum Gibson.

The event “is heading into its fourth year, and the focus of the exhibition and conference remains unchanged,” continues Gibson, noting, however, that this year, “will see the addition of a brand-new supply chain event, the Adhesives & Bonding Expo.”

Foam Expo North America “serves all types of foam and raw materials used in the manufacture of foam and foam-related products. The exhibition will profile molded, rigid, and flexible foam solutions, including materials ranging from urethanes to elastomeric materials such as rubber and PVC as well as a range of equipment and machinery manufacturers and foam service providers,” explains conference literature.

And foam’s applications are everywhere. Technical foam products and related technologies are used in the medical, construction, packaging, sports, leisure, automotive, and aerospace industries.

‘Building a brighter future for the foam industry through sustainability and cost efficiency’ is the theme of Foam Expo 2020. “The Foam Expo team has been hard at work researching the latest trends and challenges since our event in 2019. From this, we were able to determine that the most prominent trend for the foam supply chain is preparing for the future. Being able to produce products in a cost-efficient manner is an integral part of a sustainable business model. The conference will, therefore, explore how this can best be achieved and how different models of sustainability can be applied and implemented within the world of foam,” explains Gibson.

To this end, attendees can expect updates and information about sustainability and recycling, lightweighting, thermal management, conductivity, and regulations regarding volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Practical advice about saving money by reducing material and production costs will be offered as well as tips about expanding business.

“In 2019, we welcomed 5,224 attendees, represented by forty-five countries, with a total of 10,563 leads generated across the three days. The show floor was buzzing, as visitors, speakers, and exhibitors alike immersed themselves in the very latest products and technologies, from raw materials to chemicals, fabricating, converting, and recycling,” says Gibson.

Foam Expo 2020 will offer a similarly buzz-worthy line-up of exhibitors and speakers, he says.

“Our floor plan is looking jam-packed and we are expecting a total of 365 top-level industry exhibitors. Whatever your foam manufacturing need or agenda, as a visitor, you will have access to companies spanning across the supply chain, including Huntsman Corporation, Zotefoams, DOW, Sekisui, Armacell, and more,” notes Gibson.

In addition to exhibits, expect stellar presentations from industry experts. “Some of the speakers I am most excited to hear from are Pasquale Rossi, Foam Specialist at Faurecia; Tim Maharrey, the Senior Vice President at FXI; Brent Trenga, Building Technology Director, Kingspan Insulated Panels; and Bruce Greve, GM Global Structural Adhesives Lead, General Motors, amongst many others,” says Gibson.

The format for Foam Expo 2020 “has been adapted to accommodate the addition of the Adhesives and Bonding Expo. We have three stages covering trends and applications, manufacturing, and testing and materials. This gives the audience the chance to explore a whole wealth of new content which will include a materials debate for the automotive sector, a buyer’s guide, and roundtables. These new formats will, of course, be accompanied by panel discussions and keynote presentations on a range of key topics,” he continues.

There will be a plenary panel devoted to the topic ‘Staying Ahead of the Curve: How to Achieve the Balance Between Cost Efficiency and Sustainability’ on the first day. Other day one events include presentations about ‘Understanding the Market: Plotting the Industrialized Future of Biodegradable/Bio-Based Materials and Green Chemistries’ and ‘Extending the Life of Foam Materials.’

Day two conference highlights include a roundtable talk about ‘Keeping Up to Date with Disruptive Technologies, New Application Areas, and Industry Solutions’ and a presentation about ‘Achieving Light Weighting Through Material Bonding and Composite Structures.’

Noteworthy final day sessions include a discussion about ‘Fulfilling Automotive Requirements Polyurethane vs. Expanded Polypropylene’ and a panel devoted to ‘Fulfilling Foam Application Requirements Through Testing Standardization and Quality Analysis.’

Foam Expo 2020 will also feature two networking receptions – both scheduled for 4 to 5:30 p.m. on March 24 and 25, in the exhibition hall – and a B2B matchmaking service. Anyone who signs up for the matchmaking service will be able to book a one-on-one business meeting with a potential client for free. Meetings will be hosted via an online platform during exhibition hours, to make it as convenient as possible for suppliers and buyers to chat. As a bonus, B2B meetings can be prescheduled in advance through the Foam Expo online portal.

“Foam Expo will host networking receptions in the venue, as well as our premier B2B matchmaking service. The latter will be launched via our app four weeks before the opening of Foam Expo to facilitate exhibitors and attendees to pre-schedule one-on-one business meetings, while also helping participants to plan their time at the show effectively,” explains Gibson.

Previous expositions have attracted high-profile companies such as Ford, Toyota, Apple, Nike, BASF, Siemens, Honeywell and Amazon, and the latest convention continues this trend, featuring some of the biggest names in the industrial foam industry. Major sponsors include the DOW Chemical Company; Sekisui – a global leader in developing high-performance flexible polyolefin substrates; and Chromaflo Technologies Corp. – which supplies pigment dispersions and chemicals.

As mentioned, Foam Expo North America will occur at the same time and place as the Adhesives & Bonding Expo. The latter is a “free-to-attend exhibition and conference which connects bonding technology providers (adhesives, sealants, lamination, and more) with the full range of end-user buyers as well as the entire chemical and equipment supply chain,” explains the Adhesives & Bonding Expo 2020 website.

Foam Expos have generated highly positive reviews. “The show has been beyond our expectations; we’ve met people that we couldn’t have met in any other way. We’ve made contacts with OEMs, engineers we’ve been dying to make contact with for a very long time,” stated Fostek President and Chief Executive Officer Phil Foster, on the exposition website. “It’s a great show.”

“Many thanks again for your fantastic hosting of the Foam Expo show. Looking at the feedback you’ve been getting, clearly, the show was a big success. Your hospitality was excellent as well!” wrote Technical Foam Services Managing Director Duncan Geddes.

In a similar fashion, industry representatives seem downright giddy about Foam Expo 2020.

“This will be the fourth year that JBC is attending the Foam Expo. We’ve always found it to be a great event because it is one of the few shows we go to where we benefit as much from walking the show as we do meeting potential customers and showing off our own products and services… This year, we are really looking forward to seeing what the adhesives and bonding portion of the show has to offer,” state officials from JBC Technologies, a flexible materials converter and die cutter, in an interview posted on the Foam Expo website.

JBC, which will be highlighting custom diecast parts at Foam Expo 2020, was also asked about challenges facing the foam industry.

“One of the biggest challenges affecting the foam industry is the over-specification of material requirements from customers. In many cases, the customer specifies a material that is extremely expensive or is a name brand. This limits the flexibility of converters to offer alternatives that could offer similar or better performance while still potentially reducing cost. It also causes converters to hold similar material from multiple manufacturers to accommodate the customer’s specifications. It’s a huge cost detractor for converters in the current market environment,” replied JBC officials.

Foam Expo North America is being organized by Smarter Shows, an international company that puts together conferences and exhibitions for the engineering and manufacturing sectors. Other events put on by Smarter Shows include Space Tech Expo Europe, Foam Expo Europe, and the Adhesives & Bonding Expo.

“Our exhibitor list is live on our website, so we encourage those that have registered, as well as those that haven’t quite made that step yet to take a look at the amazing companies that will be present and start thinking about who you would like to meet with and build business relations with this March,” states Gibson.

For more information or to register for Foam Expo, please visit



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