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Thousands Flock to Brazil for EBRATS ’09

Attendees hailing from all over Latin America, Europe and beyond descended on the Transamerica Expo Center in São Paulo, Brazil, May 7–9, to attend the 30th anniversary of EBRATS, the country's premier surface finishing exposition and technical conference, organized by the Associação Brasileira de Tratamentos de Superfície (ABTS).

Show traffic at EBRATS was brisk throughout much of the three-day event, thanks in no small measure to the fact that the show is held once every three years. This format, organizers say, not only creates a heightened sense of anticipation among attendees, but it also makes for a more robust technical program. The three-year cycle is also more enticing for exhibitors, who often commit to multiple international shows a year.

“We definitely have more foreign expositors this year, especially companies from Spain, Italy, and Germany,” said Alfredo Levy, first secretary, ABTS. More international companies, he believes, are looking to gain entrée into Brazil due to the country’s growth prospects compared to slowing demand in other areas of the world.

Another key observation: EBRATS’ exhibitor base, according to Levy, has over the years largely remained steady. (A cursory headcount revealed about 80 firms in attendance.) “Companies have not left this show,” he said.

Though heavily weighted toward the electroplating side, there were several exhibitors specializing in organic coating processes. Vendors ranged from specialists in surface treatments, passivates, conversion coatings, and phosphating, to name a few. EBRATS’ diversity from an attendee standpoint was equally apparent. For instance, Levy reports the attendee pool (largely finishers and chemical engineers) are increasingly expanding their repertoire to include a broad swath of finishing capabilities. It’s also worth noting that a number of entities—including ABTS, state colleges, and vocational schools—are extremely proactive in promoting surface finishing curriculums and training programs.

Those familiar with the Brazilian finishing industry say it’s all reflective of the country's dynamic manufacturing environment. Take automotive, for instance. According to Levy, key Tier 1 suppliers are literally racing to keep up with the surging demand for parts production here. This represents somewhat of an anomaly when you look at the dire straits of auto sectors in other parts of the world—the U.S. being the most notable case in point. The same brisk activity applies to the country's venerable airline/aerospace industry. “There's a lot of production going on in this sector,” Levy added.

These revelations come as no surprise to visitors who have extensively studied the Brazilian market. “ Brazil boasts some of the most sophisticated finishing operations I’ve ever seen,” Terrence Copeland, vice president, Enthone Americas, told Metal Finishing. Others, including Michael Siegmund, executive vice president, MacDermid, Inc., and president of the National Association for Surface Finishing, agree wholeheartedly. “My own experience in 10 years of traveling throughout Brazil, visiting surface finishers, has shown me the high quality, high technology and continuing expansion of this industry.”

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