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AWFS turns up the heat on a simmering industry

A common conversation starter at AWFS is to ask, “How’s the show going for you?” This year’s answer was generally quite positive, which says a lot about the health of the economy and the high expectations that were apparently met.

The 2017 AWFS, as our headline proclaims on Page 8, was “one to remember,” based on the fair’s impressive size, quality of exhibitors and positive feedback from attendees.

Before I get into specifics, allow me to vent my one gripe. It was unbearably hot inside the Las Vegas Convention Center the day before opening day, when service technicians and exhibitors make final preparations for their displays. The temperature reached 120 degrees F, which led to a lot of sweating and swearing. The reason was obvious. The outside doors were open to move in equipment, letting in the heat from Las Vegas in July. Perhaps the air conditioning was off or in a losing battle. It would be really cool if the AWFS could do something about that.

With that off my chest, I congratulate the AWFS for producing a first-rate show. It was bigger than usual (693 exhibitors) and well organized. The logistics must be mind-boggling, so kudos to everyone involved.

We’ve got extensive post-show coverage, beginning on Page 8. Here are some of my observations:

The Shaper Origin, a hand-held CNC router from Shaper Tools (Page 26), was the belle of the ball. There was a great deal of interest in a portable CNC that doesn’t need to be programmed and makes a perfect cut without jigs or templates.

You couldn’t walk down an aisle without seeing a reference to Lockdowel fasteners. Several manufacturers were hawking production-ready machines for the company’s hidden fasteners. Several major software providers also have signed on as partners.

Tricoya MDF panels (page 24), boasting a 50-year warranty for above-ground exterior applications, rate as one of the most intriguing new products.

You couldn’t throw a Lockdowel without hitting a booth that exhibited prefinished panels and laser cutting equipment. We’ve got extensive coverage on both product categories, beginning on Pages 43 and 48.

Software shoppers were in heaven at AWFS. All brands were well represented by professional staff, eager to demonstrate their manufacturing, design and business management tools.

I had an unusually good time in the hardware section. It can be hard to get excited about hinges, for example, but the innovation is pretty astounding. Accuride had a number of heavy-duty slides, while Rev-A-Shelf seems to always have a clever storage solution. Salice presented full functionality in its compact Air Hinge. King Slide introduced a safety drawer system and there was an abundance of sliding door hardware.

There was a mountain of new machinery and “Industry 4.0” technology, the major theme of the show. This will take months to review and properly share with our audience, so stay tuned and keep reading.

I had the pleasure of meeting many long-term subscribers at the Woodshop News booth. Thank you for the kind words and praise that we’ve been doing something right for the past 31 years. It certainly puts a pep in my step and motivates our entire staff to do their very best.

This article originally appeared in the September 2017 issue.

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