In the wake of pandemics and travel bans, visitors still turned out for the annual exhibition.

Heading into IPC Apex Expo the first week of February, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The overall market appears to be slowing somewhat. Many EMS companies have reported lower sales for the past quarter. US presidential elections often seem to dampen electronics orders, at least until November, even though a review of the overall GDP disputes any such letup. And fears of the coronavirus in China have clearly spooked the industry, as some firms have reduced or banned employee travel for the time being.

But once the show started, many of those concerns abated. Floor traffic was up and down through the first two days, before grinding to a near halt per usual on the third and final day of the show. Exhibitors took note, reporting mixed reviews of the attendance. But when it was busy, it was really busy. It’s hard to say whether the postponement of overseas shows such as Nepcon China and the International Electronic Circuits (Shanghai) Exhibition (better known as the CPCA Show) boosted attendance an ocean away in San Diego, but it probably didn’t hurt. (As of this writing, IPC has not released official attendance figures.)

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