The global forging industry experienced a first on Nov. 10, 2011, when this publication hosted “FORGExpo 2011: An International Virtual Event,” the forging industry’s first virtual trade exhibition. The event featured a lineup of speakers, exhibitors and social networking options in an online graphic interface at which papers were presented and online Q&A sessions were held in real time.

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Initial entry to FORGExpo 2011 was through the event lobby.

Anyone who pre-registered for the event and followed the prompts to attend the show in real time was treated to a virtual event complete with lobby, auditorium, exhibitor displays, technical papers, line Q&A sessions, a networking lounge and private chat rooms – all from the comfort of their own offices, homes or any other place they chose to open their laptops and log in.

The graphic interface offered the opportunity for attendees to chat with industry suppliers; attend the technical program and hear speakers while simultaneously viewing their Powerpoint slides; collect product and company information in the form of brochures, videos, white papers and chat (live) within exhibitors’ booths, each of which was manned in real time by company personnel. And, as often happens at live exhibitions, prizes were given away.

We at FORGE magazine were also new to such an event and knew not what to expect, but by all accounts the virtual format went off smoothly. The event logged 463 total registrants who, once they logged in, found themselves in a virtual lobby listening to a welcoming audio clip and a brief description of how to navigate the show floor and its features.

Speaker Program

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Attendees could listen to the technical papers and view the presentations in the FORGExpo auditorium.

One keynote speaker and two other presenters made up the technical program for the event. The keynoter was Jon Tirpak, executive director of Forging Defense Manufacturing Consortium (FDMC) and forging portfolio manager for Advanced Technology International (ATI). His presentation, called “Feast or Famine? Will the Global Forging Industry Survive?” examined the forging industry’s history, its current status and key markets, and the competitive challenges it faces in the future.

Carola Sekreter, technical director of the Forging Industry Association (FIA), followed the keynote talk with her paper, “Research Activities Within the North American Forging Industry.” This talk discussed the various research projects coordinated through FIA and the Forging Industry Educational and Research Foundation (FIERF). These projects, usually in partnership with industry and/or academic institutions affiliated with the forging industry, attempt to identify and solve problems encountered in forge shops.

Dr. Chester Van Tyne, “FIERF Named Professor” at the Colorado School of Mines, closed the program with a technical paper that reviewed an actual collaboration between academia and industry. The paper was entitled “Comparison of Forging Processes for 304L Stainless Steel: An Example of an Industry/University Cooperative Research Project.”

During the presentations, attendees were invited to type in questions, which were answered in real time during the show.

On the Expo “Floor”

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Attendees could scroll from booth to booth to visit exhibitors in the exhibit hall.

Upon entering the expo “floor” one is greeted with a graphic that simulates an entry lobby and registration area, complete with a low level of ambient noise. Attendees to the show are given a virtual briefcase, which they can fill with information from the various exhibitor booths they visit. Downloaded pieces of information, called collateral, are placed inside the briefcase, which serves much like the shopping cart seen at some online shopping sites. Collateral information can take the form of product brochures, company brochures, video clips, photographs, technical papers and other media items.

From the entry lobby, attendees could head to the auditorium, where the technical program for the day was presented, as reviewed in the previous section. Also from the lobby, access to the exhibit floor was only a mouse click away. Once there, an attendee could scroll from booth to booth, entering only those that were of interest. Each booth was manned in real time with company personnel who were available for live private chat or to answer questions. Electronic business cards could be exchanged at will. Upon exiting one booth an attendee could then scroll the show floor to enter another. Booths were easily indentifiable by company logos and signage.

Feet tired from walking were not part of the experience at FORGExpo 2011, but those whose mouse wrists were tired from the exhibit floor could head to the networking lounge, where they could chat privately in real time with other attendees and colleagues.


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The networking lounge was where attendees went to "unwind" and have a private or group chat with other colleagues.

FORGExpo 2011 - At a Glance

The following statistics were logged on the actual day of FORGExpo 2011. Archival views through Feb. 10, 2012, are not part of these counts.

Number of Registrants: 463, with an attendance rate of 64%.
Number of Exhibitors: 18 (including the FORGE magazine booth)
Documents Viewed: 1,073
Average Time Spent by Each Attendee: 121 minutes
Countries Represented in Attendance: 31
Most Highly Represented Countries (in descending order): United States, India, Canada, Mexico, China, Brazil, Turkey, Colombia, United Kingdom, Argentina, Chile, Germany, Israel.