WESTEC-Driving Collaboration, Spurring Innovation and Delivering New Technology to Market


SME’s WESTEC is the premier manufacturing conference on the west coast. The West Coast of the U.S. is recognized as a hotbed of opportunity with California recognized as the eight-largest economy in the world and the largest manufacturing section in the U.S. The three-day conference will showcase leading companies, new technologies and products that will impact the manufacturing industry now and in the future.

Los Angeles Convention Center
Los Angeles, California USA
September 15-17, 2015

We caught up with Debbie Holton, SME’s Director of Events and Industry Strategy, and Janine Saperson, event manager, to learn about WESTEC in an exclusive AMazing® Q&A conversation.


AMazing®: Thank you for your participation. At this year’s RAPID event, California, sponsored by SME, there was a strong sense of excitement and optimism about advanced manufacturing. Do you anticipate this same level of interest and enthusiasm carrying over to WESTEC, particularly as it relates to the development of new products, processes and/or new ways of doing things?

Debbie Holton: Yes, we anticipate the same level of interest and enthusiasm at WESTEC. The West Coast region is critical to the overall strength of U.S. manufacturing and as we continue to see growth in key areas such as medical device manufacturing, additive manufacturing, and aerospace, WESTEC will continue to serve as a trusted resource for these manufacturers.

AMazing®: How many industry representatives are expected to attend WESTEC? Which industry segments are represented? How can attendees effectively plan their time at WESTEC?

Janine Saperson: We expect 10,000 to 12,000 manufacturing professionals to attend WESTEC 2015. These manufacturers represent medical, aerospace, automotive, transportation, consumer products, defense, industrial and commercial machinery, energy, and electronics and more. To effectively plan their time, we encourage all WESTEC attendees to download the event app at westeconline.com/app to bookmark exhibitors, keynotes, education, and networking receptions offered complimentary with registration, as well as connect with other app users.

AMazing®: As we understand SME’s Medical Manufacturing Innovations Series (MMI) will be featured for the first time. What resources will be available to businesses at MMI that are interested in implementing medical additive manufacturing or improving existing operations? 

Debbie Holton: WESTEC attendees will hear about the latest technologies and developments from leading experts who serve the medical device and biomedical manufacturing industry via a keynote presentation, education sessions, and through interactive exhibits on the show floor. See technology hands on with MMI designated exhibitors.

AMazing®: Further to the Medical Manufacturing Innovation Series, will there be any special sessions to help businesses with commercialization of medical additive technologies?

Debbie Holton: Within the education sessions, there will be a number of experts explaining processes for commercialization. There are many exhibitors on the show floor who have experience in the commercialization of products from research, assessment and patenting to licensing and revenue information. A number of additive manufacturing companies including Autodesk, Stratasys, EnvisionTEC and Renishaw will be exhibiting innovative solutions applicable to medical manufacturing.

AM_SME_BannerAMazing®: There are a number of complimentary show floor education discussions that will be presented in the WESTEC Theater on the show floor. What can attendees hope to learn at the discussions?

Janine Saperson: Attendees will hear how Hollywood is using 3D scanning and printing to create movies like Iron Man, Pacific Rim and the Hunger Games, to name a few and how Medtronic used reverse engineering with a ‘skunkworks’ project to develop medical devices. Tax credits are a topic of interest and there are sessions explaining how to maximize savings; westeconline.com has the full schedule.

AMazing®: How important are research presentations like Medtronic’s keynote address titled ‘Is a Skunkworks Project Worthwhile?’, particularly for an industry that is rapidly evolving like additive manufacturing?

Debbie Holton: Research presentations help to stretch the imagination of our WESTEC audience. “Skunkworks’ is an aerospace term for the R&D area of a company – and with additive manufacturing technology still developing and maturing, pushing the limits of the technology is critical.

The Skunkworks innovative approach promotes thinking differently and this is how we will realize the full potential of technologies like additive manufacturing. We are eager to have Mr. de la Concha share Medtronic’s experience with these types of projects with our WESTEC audience.

AMazing®: The adoption of additive manufacturing in industries from film making to aerospace is quite extraordinary. How has interest in additive manufacturing evolved at WESTEC over the years?

Janine Saperson: Additive manufacturing has been featured at WESTEC for over 20 years. From the early days of rapid prototyping to the additively manufactured production parts of today, WESTEC has been part of this exciting journey.

The Additive Manufacturing Resource Center will feature practical applications and expertise for all manufacturers to consider to fully evaluate this exciting technology. Through presentations, interactive exhibits and networking activities, WESTEC connects attendees to the resources needed to stay-in-touch with advancements in this field.

AMazing®: New products and innovation are essential for a thriving industry. How many new products will be unveiled at this year’s WESTEC?

Janine Saperson: We have over 100 new products being introduced at WESTEC this year. Exhibitors choose WESTEC to introduce their products because they appreciate the high level buying audience that WESTEC draws. The new products cover areas of technology i.e. lasers, machining, robotics to quality & inspection, product design, automation and more.

AMazing®: Two networking receptions will be available to attendees: Human Foosball Tournaments and the Job Shop Appreciation Reception. Both receptions sound like fun, particularly the Human Foosball reception. Would you share some information about both events including networking opportunities?

Janine Saperson: Our networking receptions connect attendees with industry experts such as exhibitors and speakers. We have two exciting receptions; everyone is invited to the Happy Hour Reception on Tuesday with a game of Human Foosball. Teams can play by donating $5 to Workshops for Warriors and enjoy a cocktail and snack. Job Shops and Contract manufacturers are invited to join us for a day of new products, education and networking with peers on Wednesday.

AMazing®: Finally, how will WESTEC evolve over the next few years to support the growing needs of advanced manufacturing?

Debbie Holton: Face-to-Face, Hands-on opportunities like WESTEC truly bring the manufacturing community together. As manufacturers strive for global competitiveness, productivity and quality, WESTEC will drive collaboration, spur innovation and deliver new technology to the market.

This concludes our interview. Thank you very much for your participation. We are very grateful for the opportunity to learn about this year’s WESTEC event and continued commitment to advanced manufacturing technology.


Debbie Holton, SME Director of Events and Industry Strategy  (Photo courtesy of SME)

Debbie Holton, SME Director of Events and Industry Strategy (Photo courtesy of SME)

About Debbie Holton
Debbie Holton joined SME in 1990 and currently serves as the Director of Events and Industry Strategy for SME. In her role she leads the team responsible for 20 manufacturing tradeshows and conferences throughout North America including industry leaders like FABTECH, RAPID, EASTEC and CMTS. SME events connect manufacturers with leading technologies and applications and advance business relationships.

Holton collaborates with major manufacturers, suppliers and industry organizations to identify key manufacturing challenges and convene the vast SME network of members and technical experts to develop potential solutions. From 2012 to 2013, Holton served as acting deputy director of technology transition for the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (now America Makes). Holton is on the executive committee for America Makes, as well as a member of the National Defense Industries Association and SAE. – See more at: http://www.sme.org/executive-team/#holton

Janine Saperson, SME Event Manager  (Photo courtesy of SME)

Janine Saperson, SME Event Manager (Photo courtesy of SME)

About Janine Saperson
Janine Saperson joined SME in August 2009 in the Canadian office as event manager for SME in Canada. Recently taking over the role of event manager for WESTEC in Los Angeles, she has over 15 years’ experience in the event industry. Janine is responsible for ensuring that the SME mandate to advance and educate the manufacturing industry is met at every event she produces. Janine is a member of the Canadian Association of Exposition Management (CAEM). Before joining SME, Janine was an event manager for dmg world media.

For nearly 50 years, WESTEC, produced by SME, has been the West Coast’s premier manufacturing event, attracting a broad cross-section of industry decision-makers in Southern California. The event brings together thousands of attendees, exhibitors and industry experts to evaluate and compare cutting-edge manufacturing equipment, advanced technologies, new products and applications. The three-day event influences buying decisions and showcases growth industries, such as aerospace, defense, industrial machinery, medical and more. For more information, please visit westeconline.com.

About SME
connects all those who are passionate about making things that improve our world. As a nonprofit organization, SME has served practitioners, companies, educators, government and communities across the manufacturing spectrum for more than 80 years. Through its strategic areas of events, media, membership, training and development, and the SME Education Foundation, SME is uniquely dedicated to the advancement of manufacturing by addressing both knowledge and skills needed for the industry.

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