“The exhibit size and content at CAMX were mind blowing!” says Gary Beck of Global Composites Inc., one of more than 7,100 attendees of the inaugural CAMX – The Composites and Advanced Materials Expo, held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., in October. “The bar is set high for Dallas.” That’s where ACMA and the Society for the Advancement of Material and Process Engineering (SAMPE) will host CAMX 2015. And based on the success of this year’s show, CAMX 2015 is sure to draw thousands of professionals from across the composites and advanced materials industry.

As the industry expands to new markets, uses new manufacturing processes and continues to compete with traditional materials, CAMX’s countless opportunities to learn and network have arrived at a crucial time. “Manufacturing is changing, whether you like it or not,” says attendee Robert Thompson, operations leader at the Mississippi Polymer Institute. “It’s great to hear all of these discussions about our industry in one place.”

Here are five overarching themes carried throughout CAMX 2014, followed by a sneak peak at content from six of the most popular educational sessions:

1. Meeting of the Minds

CAMX is the product of a new collaboration between ACMA and SAMPE, which previously hosted separate conferences. The combined annual conference provides a venue for collaboration between ACMA and SAMPE members.

“For many years, we have attended the ACMA and SAMPE shows,” says Dakota Kieffer of Plastics Unlimited Inc. “CAMX did a great job of combining both shows. It was fantastic to meet with everyone at the same show.” Kieffer says he and other employees from Plastics Unlimited networked with suppliers that will help them improve and expand processes using new materials, which may ultimately help the company lower its costs and gain more customers. They also met several potential new customers, including one that visited the company’s Preston, Iowa, facility just five days after CAMX ended. “It’s one of the best shows we have gone to in many years because of the great opportunity to network with everyone,” adds Kieffer.

2. Digging Deep with Tutorials

Before the exhibit hall opened, CAMX kicked off with a day of pre-conference tutorials. Eleven different three-hour seminars were led by industry experts from esteemed colleges, such as the University of Utah and Brigham Young University, as well as leading composites companies. There were tutorials for both industry newcomers and seasoned veterans.