A guide to the best manufacturing trade shows to visit in 2018

There are some great benefits to be had from attending manufacturing trade shows. Not just for your business - but for yourself too. It’s a chance to learn something new and be inspired. They can also be a lot of fun. From a business perspective, trade shows are a great way to meet with potential suppliers and to keep up with industry trends. The investment is sure to pay off in one way or another.

Technological development in manufacturing is moving at a rapid pace, so it’s even more essential than ever that you keep up with new advancements in the field. UK manufacturing growth is booming, and Industry 4.0 is bringing exciting new trends like digital twinning and sparking a move towards smart factories.

Trade shows provide a valuable opportunity for meeting a number of contract electronics manufacturers (CEMs), all in one place. And the neutral setting makes it an even playing field. You can talk to CEMs about your outsourcing needs, and they can explain how their skills and capabilities can help you.

By meeting potential partners face-to-face you’ll also get an initial sense of whether a provider is the right “fit” for your business. Fit is a vital ingredient for a long and successful partnership. With this in mind, it’s important you consider what your perfect CEM provider looks like before attending any show.

A number of events are held around the globe each year dedicated to electronics, engineering, and outsourcing. There are lots in the UK and some big ones in Europe, as well as further afield. Unfortunately, attending all of them is likely to be unfeasible, especially those on the other side of the world. So knowing which would be of most benefit to you and your business is important.

A key consideration is which CEMs are exhibiting at a specific event, as not all will be present at every single one. So if there are particular CEMs you want to meet with, it’s worth bearing this in mind when you are deciding which ones to attend.

To help you prioritise, we’ve put together a list of the top 6 trade shows across the UK and Europe, that we think are worth adding to your wish list.

1. Southern & Northern Manufacturing & Electronics, UK

A large number of CEM providers are typically in attendance at the Southern event, along with some of the UK’s top engineering firms and component distributors. 8,245 visitors attended the event in 2017. To see the official show review click here.

The Northern event is typically smaller but has ramped up in recent years. If you’re based in the North of England it’s sure to be worth a visit.

Where?: Southern - Farnborough / Northern - Event City, Manchester

When?: Southern - 6th - 8th February 2018 / Northern - September (dates TBC)

Official show website: Southern - http://www.industrysouth.co.uk/ / Northern - http://www.industrynorth.co.uk/


Held every two years, this event from the Manufacturing Technologies Association (MTA) deals specifically with engineering based manufacturing. It brings together new innovations and latest developments from the manufacturing technologies.

In 2016 the event attracted 25,627 visitors. To see the exhibitor list for 2018 click here, and for latest exhibitor news click here.

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: 9th - 13th April 2018

Official show website: http://www.machexhibition.com/about-mach-2018

3. Subcon, UK

With over 40 years under its belt, Subcon is hailed as the UK’s premier manufacturing supply chain show dedicated to subcontract and outsourced engineering services. It brings together new and future trends in manufacturing excellence and material innovation, along with key recommendations for businesses.

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: 5th - 7th June 2018

Official show website: http://www.subconshow.co.uk/

4. What’s New in Electronics, UK

What’s New in Electronics is the UK’s only dedicated electronics exhibition. Previously ‘National Electronics Week’, it was rebranded in 2017. The event provides an opportunity to network with key industry players, see the latest products and services in the electronics industry, and join live debates. Hundreds of companies ranging from components, design, production and contract manufacturing will be in attendance.

In 2018 the event will move from the spring to September to run alongside the Sensors & Instrumentation event for test, measurement, and control, and the Mirco Nano Mems high precision manufacturing event. Though separate events they’ll all be held in the same hall on the same dates.

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: 25th - 26th September 2018

Official show website: http://wnie.co.uk/

5. Advanced Engineering, UK

The Advanced Manufacturing show is the UK’s largest annual gathering of engineering professionals. The event provides an opportunity to meet with engineering professionals from OEMs, Tier 1 manufacturers and other visitors from major industrial engineering groups.

The event has typically been split into a number of co-located ‘zones’: Aero-Engineering, Composites Engineering, Automotive Engineering, Performance Metals Engineering, and new for 2018 - Connected Manufacturing.

Where?: The NEC, Birmingham, UK

When?: 31 October - 1 November 

Official show website: http://www.easyfairs.com/advanced-engineering-2018/advanced-engineering-2018

6. Electronica, Germany

Electronica is the world’s leading trade fair for electronic components, systems, and applications. It showcases the latest technologies, trends, products, and solutions across the electronics industry, and has been running every other year since 1964. If you can get there - it’s sure to be worth it.

The last event was held in 2016 and attracted a staggering 73,451 visitors from 84 countries. For video highlights of the 2016 event click here.

Where?: Messe München, Munich

When?: 13th - 16th November 2018

Official show website: http://electronica.de/

There are also a number of more “specialist” trade shows focusing on a specific market or industry that are worth checking out if of interest or relevance to your business.


  • Industry 4.0 Summit

Sector: Industry 4.0, smart factories, advanced manufacturing

Where?: Manchester Central Convention Complex

When?: 28th February - 1st March 2018

Official show website: https://www.industry40summit.com/

  • Future Logistics Expo & Summit

Sector: Digital logistics

Where?: Manchester Central Convention Complex

When?: 28th February - 1st March 2018

Official show website: https://www.futurelogisticssummit.com/

  • Traffex

Sector: Transportation

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: 3rd - 5th April 2018

Official show website: www.traffex.com

  • IoT Tech Expo

Sector: Manufacturing, transport, health, logistics, government, energy and automotive

Where?: Olympia, London

When?: 18th - 19th April 2018

Official show website: https://www.iottechexpo.com/global/

  • Mid-Tech Innovation Expo

Sector: Medical

Where?: Ricoh Arena, Coventry

When?: 25th - 26th April 2018

Official show website: http://www.med-techexpo.com/

  • Infrarail

Sector: Railways

Where?: ExCel, London

When?: 1st - 3rd May 2018

Official show website: http://www.infrarail.com/2018/infrarail/

  • Automechanika

Sector: Automotive

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: 5th - 7th June 2018

Official show website: https://www.automechanika-birmingham.com/

  • Farnborough Air Show

Sector: Aerospace and defence

Where?: Farnborough

When?: 16th - 22nd July 2018

Official show website: https://www.farnboroughairshow.com

  • TCT show

Sector: 3D printing and additive manufacturing

Where?: The NEC, Birmingham

When?: 25th - 27th September 2018

Official show website: http://www.tctshow.com/

  • DSEI

Sector: Defence and security

Where?: Ricoh Arena, Coventry

When?: September 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: https://www.dsei.co.uk/

  • The PPMA Show

Sector: Processing and packaging machinery

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: September 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: http://www.ppmashow.co.uk/

  • Robotics & Automation

Sector: Robotics, automation, and future technologies

Where?: Arena MK, Milton Keynes

When?: October 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: https://www.roboticsandautomation.co.uk/

  • Digitalising Manufacturing Conference

Sector: Digital manufacturing

Where?: The Manufacturing Technology Centre, Ansty Park, Coventry

When?: October 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: http://www.the-mtc.org/conference/digitalising-manufacturing-2017 

  • Maintec

Sector: Maintenance engineering

Where?: NEC, Birmingham

When?: 6th - 7th November 2018

Official show website: http://www.maintec.co.uk/maintec-home

  • Lux Live

Sector: Lighting

Where?: Excel, London

When?: November 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: http://luxlive.co.uk/

  • Highways UK

Sector: Transportation

Where?: ExCel, London

When?: November 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: www.highways-uk.com

  • The Manufacturing Management Show

Sector: Management

Where?: Ricoh Arena, Coventry

When?: November 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: http://www.manufacturingmanagementshow.co.uk/


  • Internet of Manufacturing

Sector: Industrial automation

Where?: The Grant Westin, Munich, Germany

When?: 6th - 8th February 2018

Official show website: https://iom-de.internetofbusiness.com/

  • Industrie Paris

Sector: Industry

Where?: Paris Nord Villepinte

When?: 27th - 30th March 2018

Official show website: www.industrie-expo.com

  • Metal Show

Sector: Metalworking

Where?: Romexpo, Bucharest, Romania

When?: May 2018 (dates TBC)

Official show website: https://www.metalshow.ro/en/

  • Vision

Sector: Machine vision systems

Where?: Messe Stuttgart, Stuttgart, Germany

When?: 6th - 8th November 2018

Official show website: http://www.messe-stuttgart.de/en/vision/

Of course, finding the right CEM partner takes more than just attending a trade show or two. However, they are a great way to compliment your existing research. On the day you’re sure to collect lots of brochures and leaflets from suppliers to take away and digest, and review alongside your other literature.

Whichever event, or events, you decide to attend, make sure you take the time to plan your day so you get the most out of it. Look at the exhibitor list and identify key suppliers you want to connect with on the day. You may even want to contact them in advance to set up an appointment to meet with them so you don’t miss out. Keep an eye on news and updates by visiting the official show websites and following event pages on social media. 

In the UK, we recommend that if you can only get to one event that you make Southern Manufacturing & Electronics a priority. It’s widely tipped as the top UK industry event to attend. And if you can get there, Electronica in Munich will definitely be worth the trip.

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Written by Jessica Plank

Based in Switzerland, Jessica holds a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and has day-to-day responsibility for strategic marketing tactics including blog management, social media marketing, e-mail marketing, and European event management. Jessica’s dedication to maintaining a strong online presence has significantly contributed to the success of ESCATEC's marketing initiatives since she joined the team in 2021.