It was Fabtech 2002, held at the International Exposition Center. More than 13,000 attendees and hundreds of exhibitors packed the convention hall for what sponsors say is the largest annual metal forming and fabricating event in North America.
The event, jointly sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association, is alternately held in Chicago and Cleveland. This was Fabtech's first trip to Cleveland since 2000, and in some ways, it returned a different show. Attendance in 2000, at the high-water-mark for the U.S. economy was 18,321, with 697 exhibitors covering more than 267,000 sq. ft. of floor space. This year, with the U.S. in a recession and the nation facing the possibility of war, the number of exhibitors was 597, taking up close to 197,000 sq. ft. on the show floor.