The multiple facets of modern sheet metal manufacturing techniques are
applied throughout a wide spectrum of economy, ranging from the
automotive industry and machine manufacturing to electrical
engineering and electronics. This wide range of applications means
that sheet metal manufacturers produce parts from a few grams up to
1,000 kg and more, from electrotechnical parts up to components
in automotive industry, as well as batch sizes ranging from just
at a few pieces to mass production. Worldwide, around 12,300 companies
employing 600,000 workers produce sheet metal goods worth over 732
billion US dollars (all numbers reflect the situation in 1999). These
are impressive numbers for sheet metal
manufacturing, to which forming processes are central, but also for
cutting and joining technologies with their increasing importance. All
of these processes have developed dynamically in the recent past, and
this trend will no doubt continue. The automotive industry is the main
impetus worldwide for new developments as is seen in its efforts to
optimise lightweight constructions. Basic research at universities has
been instrumental in promoting new developments through a better
understanding of materials and processes. As we are standing at the
very beginning of a new millennium, a new achievement profile for the
sheet metal industry is emerging which will foster a fast and
economical product development process.
By now the conference has moved to a biennal schedule, furthermore the
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium and the University of Palermo, Italy
have joined the group of organizers whereas the University of Twente
has momentarily stopped hosting the conference.
Due to changes in the academic structures of Great Britain the British host
is named Birmingham City University. This is not a change in organisers or
participating institutions, but a change in names alone.
For the time being the University of Ulster has stopped hosting the conference.