If you're involved in metalcasting, it may have seemed the past month was all about GIFA 2007. If your involved in product development or marketing, perhaps it was the past several months, or even the past year. That's how influential is the quadrennial expo and congress of metalcasting technology. It's not really surprising that the organizers recorded an attendance increase of 8% over the 2003 event.
Many of us who write and speak about foundries and diecasters refer to this as the "world" of metalcasting. It has become a handy label to reference everyone and everything that touches foundries and diecasting — people, organizations, products, designs, technologies. The label is used too casually most of the time, but it was true enough for five days in June. Thousands of people, hundreds of organizations, and too many products and technologies to mention, all centered in one place for a brief time.
Obviously, this was a commercial enterprise and everyone approached it with plans to expand their own opportunities. But, that only partly explains the enthusiasm that prevails around GIFA. The excitement is genuine, and personal: in the weeks leading up to the event appointments are made to meet in Dusseldorf. Friends recognize each other in departure lounges, and seatmates become new acquaintances once everyone recognizes they're all headed the same way. On the scene, everyone is a neighbor for just a few days.
Even if it's an exaggeration to refer to "the world" of metalcasting, it is obvious that this is a community with all the personal, professional, social, and commercial connections that a community must have in order to thrive. And, by each of those standards metalcasting is thriving. I've written elsewhere about the new equipment introduced at GIFA and the process improvements presented there for the first time. Such a setting makes it possible to connect these concepts with the people who make them possible.
The best reason to think of metalcasting as a "world" is to keep this idea whole: people, technology, and commerce developing, progressing together.
The final dimension of this world is, of course, time. Today, it is not a perfect world, but it prosperous. The future is bright, because demand for cast products is steady, and because new ideas and capabilities continue to emerge from the effort and enterprise of individuals. Mostly, the future is hopeful because so many people want to be at work in metalcasting.
Times are changing, however. Before GIFA returns in 2011, its prodigy NEWCAST will reconvene designers and producers of cast product in 2009. Ideas evolve more quickly than equipment or processes and, according to the event's planners, visitors and exhibitors at NEWCAST indicate they need to meet more frequently than every four years in order to stay "in sync with the fast pace of innovations occurring in this sector."
As the metalcasting world tracks the actual world, the links between people and interests become tighter, and distances between markets become shorter. We know this effect as globalization — a similar phenomena that spans technical, informational, commercial, and social barriers. As foundries and diecasters grow more sophisticated, they work more directly with their customers, and casting design grows in its commercial importance. That's the future of this world.
Our world has a bright future, but it also has a venerable past. Foundry Management & Technology appreciates the responsibility to uphold our understanding of that past and the individuals who shaped it. One way we do this is through our annual presentation of the FM&T Hall of Honor — a roll call of those who have positively shaped today's metalcasting industry.
We are reviewing nominations of individuals to join the Hall of Honor in 2007. If you wish to nominate someone, please send a comprehensive summary of his or her career achievements, together with your comments in an essay of no more than 500 words, to me at [email protected], no later than July 31, 2007.