Technical meetings (Symposiums/Conferences/Congresses) are analogous to the human arterial system. They provide communication among various individual members of the coatings community and larger technology-focused groups regardless of geographical location. A healthy exchange of new ideas, proven technology and data is what keeps our collective group of coating scientists alive, innovative and healthy.

That being said, I was a bit apprehensive when traveling to the 36th Annual Waterborne Symposium. Having attended this event for well over 25 years, I have seen some ups and downs, but historically this meeting has provided sound new technology to the coatings community and has been well attended. Despite the economic gloom pervasive in the media, I was not disappointed.

Attendees from a broad spectrum of raw material suppliers, coatings manufacturers and academia numbered over 150. Twenty eight technical conference papers focused on sustainable coatings technology while maintaining the theme of waterborne, high-solids and powder. Complimenting the technical program was a two-day technical showcase and 27 poster presentations.

The Shelby F. Thames Best Paper Award was received by Formulaction, Inc. for their paper entitled Optical Film Formation Analysis; the Outstanding Paper Award was received by Dow Coating Solutions for their paper entitled High Throughput Methods for Developing Waterborne Coating Formulations. It would be a difficult task to select award papers as all were excellent. It was so uplifting to see the attendee response and the positive attitudes of those present; Waterborne was like it always was – good technical exchanges, networking and no sense of gloom.

The RadTech uv.eb WEST 2009 Conference was also successful and is indicative of industry’s commitment to future growth and leadership. Emerging applications such as photovoltaics drew a standing-room-only crowd. Here too attendees were energized and enthusiastic.

Other meetings as well are showing positive signs. CHINACOAT, held in late 2008, was a continuing success with support from the domestic and international communities. The World of Concrete 2009 was down a little from prior years but still had over 65,000 registered professionals. Interlakokraska 2009 also drew large crowds as they presented the latest developments in the global paint industry and advanced raw materials and equipment. Over 200 companies representing 21 countries exhibited and included the large raw material market leaders. And the European Coatings Show and Congress is looking very positive as well.

Schedules for upcoming events cross my desk on a weekly basis and indicate quality meetings and programs are in our future – they are the lifeblood of this industry.