The Best European Subcontracting Exhibitions to Visit in 2018

The Best European Subcontracting Exhibitions to Visit in 2018

The industrial and manufacturing sectors offer limited opportunities for socializing during everyday business operations. Fortunately, there are plenty of events, from conferences to conventions, that give you and your company a chance to network with a specific part of your industry. While you may already make time in your schedule for general business conventions, don’t forget about more specialized events as well.

Europe’s industrial convention scene caters to the companies hiring a wide range of subcontractors by providing plenty of themed gatherings. 2018 has a full calendar with at least one major international event happening every month of the year. Since you can’t attend industrial subcontracting events, it’s important to rank them by value, size, and scope to determine which are the most valuable to you and your company. Most conferences are growing in 2018 as demand rises across the globe for high-end manufacturing services. These rankings are based on the latest information released over the last few years to compare the features and benefits provided by each European subcontracting event to attendees and exhibitors alike.

We’ve put together this list of the best industrial subcontracting exhibitions from across Europe. No matter where you’re headquartered, there’s sure to be at least one event on this list located near you. Find new subcontractors, advertise your services as a subcontractor, or just learn more about the industry at these events.

European Subcontracting Network can also help you find subcontractors before and after you attend these events. If you can’t make the contacts you want in person, you can always use our in-depth search controls to locate exactly what you need. Let’s start!



Visitors: 35 600 / Exhibitors: 1 360

“The show for industrial subcontracting know-how.”

About the event

One of the biggest European subcontracting events taking place early in the year, Midest, runs from March 27th to the 30th in 2018. While Midest itself has a long history, this year’s event combines four different conferences in an attempt to bring the entire industrial and manufacturing world together under one roof. And the event certainly does a good job of fostering diversity. Last year’s event boasted exhibitors representing nearly 40 different countries and visitors from 68 countries. With over 1,300 exhibitors already registered for the upcoming show, it’s no wonder many people plan their entire conference season around this gathering.

Midest’s main focus is materials and material suppliers. You’ll learn about the latest thermal processing and metalworking advancements, or you can attend informational lectures about plastics and rubber products instead. With three concurrent events all going on in the same conference center in the heart of Paris, there’s plenty of opportunities for contact with the engineering and design subcontractors as well. Throw in free entry for over 36,000 professionals a year and you’ll find that Midest is worth the travel time.



Visitors: 45 800 / Exhibitors: 2 051

“The reference fair for the manufacturing industry.”

About the event

While technically two exhibitions in one, MECSPE is one of the most significant subcontracting shows in the world. This impressive event combines electronics and mechanical engineering. If you're looking for technology and engineering solutions, this subcontracting exhibition is the right one for you.

There will be more than 2,000 exhibitors attending the event in 2018’s edition. Not only will you be able to view demonstrations and speak with the best companies out there, but you'll also be able to take part in dozens of programs and initiatives focused on engineering and electronics.

MECSPE goes above and beyond hands-on demonstrations at each company's booth. Over the course of three days, the event hosts 12 thematic shows that awe and inspire: Electronic Subcontracting, Digital Factory, Machines and Tools, Mechanical Subcontracting, Surface Treatments, Logistics, Metrology and Quality Control, Power Transmissions, Automation and Robotics, Molds for Plastic Materials and Subcontracting, Composites and Technologies, and Additive Manufacturing.


IZB (International Suppliers Fair)

Visitors: 50 000 / Exhibitors: 800

“Connecting car competence.”

About the event

The International Suppliers Fair, or IZB, isn’t just an event themed with the subcontractor and the companies that need them in mind. It has a further specialization by providing opportunities for those in the automotive industry to network across Europe. Since the event doesn’t take place until the 16th to 18th of October 2018, there’s still time to secure a premium exhibitor’s package to represent yourself as a supplier or subcontractor in the automotive and related industries.

The first IZB took place in 2001, and the industrial subcontracting event has grown dramatically in less than two decades. This upcoming fair is expected to attract over 50,000 attendees and 800 exhibitors. Regardless of what role you play in the car manufacturing or aftermarket parts fields, you can benefit from the expertise concentrated in Wolfsburg, Germany this fall. The event this year has a particular focus on digital and electronic components, with a sub-conference focus on digital mobility. If you’re on the cutting edge of technology and in app development or a similar field, you may want to attend even if you’ve never considered yourself part of the automotive industry before.



Visitors: 4 500 / Exhibitors: 400

“The UK’s premier subcontract manufacturing supply chain show.”

About the event

With a 42-year history behind it, few other European conferences are as polished or extensive as Subcon. It is held annually in the NEC in Birmingham. As the UK’s only subcontracting focused event, it’s well attended by both vendors and buyers from over 20 countries. Subcon is actually three events in one, with the Engineer Design & Innovation Show and the Advanced Manufacturing Show taking place at the same time. You can investigate prototyping design information, contact material and service providers, and attend informational classes about growing your business as a subcontractor.

This event takes place between June 5th and June 7th 2018. The event includes specialty exhibitors and events focused on nearly a dozen different sectors, including oil and gas extraction, material production, security and defense forces, energy creation and delivery, and more. Even the smallest UK and European companies can benefit from attending to network with more experienced colleagues. Since this European subcontracting event is free, there’s nothing to lose and plenty to gain.


ESEF (European Subcontracting and Engineering Fair)

Visitors:  25 000 / Exhibitors: 425

“The supplier of successful solutions.”

About the event

The centrally located European Subcontracting and Engineering Fair only occurs once every two years, and every time tens of thousands of visitors show up to take advantage of the centralized source of learning and contacts within the industry. The last event, held in 2016, accumulated more than 25,000 visitors over the course of the event and included over 400 unique exhibitors. The industrial subcontracting fair has a widespread focus, with an equal amount of attention paid to engineering, production refinement, supplier displays, and outsourcing resources. Whether you need to hire a consultant to negotiate contract terms or want a new metal processing contract, the ESEF gathering is the right place to find it.

The ESEF event is also twice as long as many other European subcontracting events. With its classes, exhibition hall hours, and other events spread out over four days, it provides nearly a week’s worth of education. In 2018, the dates set for the event are March 20th to March 23rd. Entry for visitors is free with pre-registration, so make sure you sign up now while there’s still plenty of time. If you’re interested in exhibiting or presenting instead, get in touch with the organization about their 2020 event.


Scandinavian Subcontracting Exhibitions

Elmia Subcontractor

Visitors: 14 300 / Exhibitors: 1 167

“Northern Europe’s leading subcontracting trade show.”

About the event

The Sweden’s biggest industry event with over 40 years of history, Elmia Subcontractor, attracts about 15000 visitors and 1200 exhibitors not only from Sweden but from about 30 other international countries. The show which takes place once every year is fully dedicated to the opportunities, challenges and the rapid development of manufacturing industry. The event gathers professionals from all subcontracting fields who exchange experience, news, and make new business connections.

One of the unique opportunities Elmia Subcontractor offers is called Subcontractor Connect. This is basically a match-making arena between buyers and suppliers. Both visitors and exhibitors can take advantage of this activity by previously registering and specifying their product of interest. This way, all participants draw the most benefits. As stated by the hosts themselves, a third of these meeting result in actual contracts later.

The huge success and durability of the Scandinavian exhibition is a result exactly from its focus on the manufacturing industry. In 2018 the European subcontracting event will take place from 13th to 16th November and is expected to attract even more visitors than last year.


Alihankinta Subcontracting Fair

Visitors: 17 600 / Exhibitors: 1 000

“Finland’s leading industry trade fair.”

About the event

Alihankinta is an annual subcontracting exhibition in Finland which attracts thousands of visitors, over 17600 from 20 countries in the last edition of the event. This year’s show marks the 30th anniversary of the trade fair and it will focus on the development of productivity in the manufacturing industry. This fall you will also exchange knowledge and ideas with participants of the IFPSM World Summit 2018 - sourcing and procurement professionals.

The Finland’s biggest trade fair will take place from 25th to 27th of September 2018. As a part of the event, AlihankintaHEAT will put a highlight on startup companies, promoting the growth and development of new and agile companies in the industrial field. The vision for bringing new and old companies together is a part of the exhibition’s 2018 theme: innovative ideas and ways for developing productivity.


Plan ahead:


Visitors: 50 000 / Exhibitors: 800

“International trade fair for materials, components and system assembly.”

About the event

Important! The trade fair duo SWISSTECH and PRODEX will no longer be happening in November 2018. The event will take place from 14th to 17th May 2019 at Messe Basel.

SWISSTECH is an event with sheer importance in the subcontracting industry. It’s widely considered the largest and most influential conference of its kind, and its co-event PRODEX covers all the bases of machining and precise measurement for the manufacturing sector.

Taking place May 14th to the 17th in 2019, this double event fills the historical Messe Basel in Basel, Switzerland. Presentations on the challenges of product assembly, electronics manufacturing, and more are planned around networking events and meet and greets for specific types of companies. The 2019 focus will be on 3D printing and its expanding role in prototyping and product manufacturing. The pre-registration price hasn’t been determined yet, but it’s only 25 Swiss Francs at the door to attend the entire weekend and all of the related events.



The world of subcontracting and contract manufacturing and engineering have exploded in the recent years. The market is booming, and more events and exhibitions are popping up all over the world to showcase innovative companies and cutting-edge technologies that will change the face of many business sectors. The European subcontracting market is no different. 2018 will be a year of niche-market exhibitions and grand scale events that host companies that represent many markets.

However, you can still do all the subcontractor networking you need to do without leaving home by leveraging the power of the European Subcontracting Network. We’ve got the search tools and well-developed database to connect you with every kind of specialist, supplier, and provider.