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IUSF & Interfinish History



It is universally agreed that the process of electrodeposition or electroplating was invented in 1839-1840 and immediately created the industrial technology of Metal Finishing. It was successful once the remarkable complexing power of cyanide was appreciated to dissolve noble metals and subsequently, by the use of electrical power, to coat engineering objects. First gold and silver and then copper, zinc and cadmium were the deposited metals. The metal finishing businesses grew and trade associations flourished. However, professional or scientific bodies were slower to develop. In 1909 the American Electroplaters Society (AES) was formed and the Electrodepositors Technical Society (EDTS) was formed in Britain. The purpose of both was to promote the exchange of technical information and to publish both science principles and technical practice. Within a few years several other societies were formed to focus attention because information was being published in general metallurgical and electrochemical journals and there were sufficient people to justify the formation of a separate specialist society in many countries. The move towards inter-country co-operation was beginning when World War 2 intervened in 1939.


After the War was concluded Dr Simon Wernick, who had been the founding assistant secretary and soon secretary-general of the EDTS, decided to resume his international contacts beyond Netherlands and Belgium but largely in Europe. The need for an international conference was clear and the EDTS in Britain proposed to host the first such meeting as a continuation of the three-way meetings of the 1930s.

At the same time he also proposed the formation of an international Union to bring Metal Finishing societies together; the proposal set out some guidelines including:

· Membership of the Union should be open to national societies concerned with technology and not trade

· Each country should be represented by one society (this was later relaxed for large countries) but only two votes per country

· The Council of the Union should organise periodical world congresses and delegate administration to member societies. It will meet at Interfinish Congresses and at other times and places as necessary.

· The Council should normally have one person to represent each country; they will elect a President from the next host nation, a secretary and a treasurer each to serve for four years with one re-election only.

· The fact that there are small medium and large societies shall be recognised by the size of the membership fee.

Membership rapidly grew to over 15 countries. Dr Wernick, as founding secretary, was particularly concerned that membership should cover the whole world and was responsible for gaining a spread of membership particularly in Asia and South America to a number approaching 20.

At the Paris Interfinish in 1988 the terms of the Constitution were discussed at length, some initiatives proposed and Dr Wernick was persuaded to retire as he was well-past normal retiring age. Dr David Gabe (UK) was elected secretary to serve for a term of four years only. (He was later succeeded by Bruce Wilson (Australia) in 1993, Ted Witt (USA) in 1998 and Dr Giovanni Bazzani (Italy) in 2012). The need to place Interfinish events on other continents was strongly supported and thus the 1992 Congress was agreed for Sao Paulo, Brazil. The 1996 Congress was tentatively agreed for Europe and Birmingham, UK was later proposed and agreed.

The part played by Dr Simon Wernick cannot be over emphasised and there is no doubt that his was the driving influence for many years.

A number of international initiatives have been proposed, notably a programme of training, education and certification for metal finishers. This was discussed at length during the period 1994-8, was welcomed by many smaller societies but was found difficult to reconcile with existing long-running programmes in some larger societies particularly the USA, UK and Brazil. Having English as a common language was also a barrier because junior operatives are usually only fluent in their own language.

Having a widely understood name for the profession was of concern for some years – Metal Finishing, Materials Finishing, Surface Engineering etc. While individual societies have changed their name, IUSF has remained a constant title for the worldwide body.


The first three international conferences held in the 1930s only involved three countries – Great Britain, Belgium and the Netherlands. While the word Interfinish may have been used informally neither it nor the word Congress was yet formal. After the end of World War 2 in 1945 Simon Wernick began to make international contacts, primarily in Europe and the USA, and the possibility of an international congress began to be encouraged and eventually it took place in 1954 in London. This was termed the fourth Congress and the word Interfinish was used formally for the first time. The countries involved included Germany, Italy, Switzerland and the USA and with the future expansion in air travel it was anticipated that future Congresses would have much more support.

The series has continued without a break at four year intervals the venues being as follows.

1-3 1934-38 in Great Britain, Netherlands and Belgium

4 1954 London

5 1959 Detroit

6 1964 London

7 1968 Hanover

8 1972 Basel

9 1976 Amsterdam

10 1980 Kyoto

11 1984 Jerusalem

12 1988 Paris

13 1992 Sao Paulo

14 1996 Birmingham, UK

15 2000 Garmisch Partenkirchen

16 2004 Chicago

17 2008 Busan

18 2012 Milan

19 2016 Beijing

20 2020 Nagoya (proposed)

Attendances have increased from the early days but appear to have levelled out at 500-700. However, the spread of countries represented by delegates has increased markedly. The IUSF Council was anxious to recognise outstanding technical development and research and instituted awards at Interfinish congresses for best papers together with a Gold Medal or similar for world class contributions to the profession.


The concept of regional meetings was not considered necessary in the early days when most member countries were in Europe, but when membership the Far East increased the position was quite different. The first Interfinish Congress held in an Asian country at Kyoto in 1980 generated a record attendance of over 600 persons and even an immediate reprint of the conference volume! Consequently, a regional Asia-Pacific Interfinish was proposed by Australia and the first was held in Hobart, Tasmania in 1986 since when they have been held very successfully at four year intervals between world congresses. The venues have been as follows.

1 1986 Hobart

2 1990 Singapore

3 1994 Melbourne

4 1998 Seoul

Similar events have been initiated by Brazil, following the Sao Paulo Interfinish in 1992, for South American countries and in India for SE Asia. For example:

1997 IMFCONG in Mumbai

1997 Latin American Interfinish ‘Ebrats 97’ in Sao Paulo

2015 Euro Interfinish in Milan

The future of the IUSF seems assured as it is serving a vital purpose for a highly active and important sector of manufacturing industry.

Prof. David R. Gabe. Hon. Secretary-General 1989-1993; President 1994-1998.

(Prepared by Mr. Clive Whittington and Dr. David Gabe in May 2016)


-112 Days



September 20, 2016

Submission of Abstract

February 29, 2016

March 31, 2016

Submission of Papers

June 15, 2016