Attending IMTS (The International Manufacturing Technology Show) amazes even long-time visitors with the magnitude of new technologies and enthusiastic vibe of technologists marveling at the advancements for operational excellence in the industry.
The Americas’ largest manufacturing show, IMTS 2018 will occupy more than 1.3 million sq. ft. of exhibit space inside of Chicago’s McCormick Place from 10-15 September 2018. In addition to displays and demonstrations of more than 2,400 exhibitors, the show provides hundreds of conference sessions and technology presentations.
To maximize visitors’ time and experience IMTS groups technologies together into Pavilions. There are 10 Pavilions spread throughout the four buildings of McCormick Place. Visitors use MyShow Planner to make itineraries, schedule meetings and navigate the show floor. In July, the IMTS app (which includes MyShow Planner) will be available for download to your mobile device.
Visitors like Rick Hoffman, founder and CEO of EIMCo, a 150-person manufacturing operation in Farley, Iowa, appreciate that technologies are grouped by Pavilion at IMTS because they can compare options. “I can check out a new technology and then walk a few feet to another booth and see what the competition is doing. All that information is in one area where I can evaluate the options side-by-side,” says Hoffman. “Rather than flying across the country, I walk across an aisle. It saves us valuable time and money.”
The Ten Technology Pavilions
Abrasive Machining/Sawing/Finishing | Additive Manufacturing | Controls & CAD-CAM | EDM | Fabricating & Lasers | Gear Generation | Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental | Metal Cutting | Quality Assurance | Tooling & Workholding Systems
A Walk through the Pavilions with Exhibitors and Visitors
Anticipating a stronger show in 2018, IMTS worked with McCormick Place to expand exhibit space in the East Building. New for IMTS 2018, Level 2 of the East Building is home to the Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental Pavilion, which covers the components essential for safe, efficient and environmentally responsible operation, service and monitoring of machines and facilities. Exhibitors showcase reclaim, reuse and recycle technologies, products for washing, purification, filtration and separation, material handling systems and motion control components, as well as environmental management software and more.
Level 2 will also host exhibitors from the Controls & CAD-CAM Pavilion and as well as HANNOVER MESSE USA co-located shows and events.
Co-locating HANNOVER MESSE USA with IMTS 2018 increases the show’s emphasis on automation, robotics and Industry 4.0, with approximately 550 additional exhibitors occupying 130,000 sq. ft. of floor space. HANNOVER MESSE USA features on Level 2 include a Digital Factory area and exhibitors that focus on industrial surface treatment and finishing (Surface Technology USA), compressed air and vacuum systems (ComVac USA) and industrial subcontracting and lightweight construction (Industrial Supply USA). To present a complete spectrum of technology for industrial automation, IT, power transmission and fluid power technology, HANNOVER MESSE USA will feature its new show Integration, Automation & Drives USA on Level 3 of the East Building.
Level 3 of the East Building , as usual, will showcase the Controls & CAD-CAM, EDM and Quality Assurance Pavilions.
Fred Mason, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Quality Vision International (QVI), says that, “A lot of people don’t realize that IMTS 2018 is an unmatched opportunity to connect with experts and see a wide range of metrology technology. With more than 175 exhibitors in the Quality Assurance Pavilion, it’s actually the year’s biggest North American quality show.”
Mason notes that IMTS isn’t just about product displays, but about exhibitors collaborating with visitors to address their needs. “We encourage customers to bring a part or print so we can start solving their metrology problem right on the show floor,” he says. “Also, with CNC operators often responsible for measuring their own parts, it’s more important than ever for machinists and shop owners to understand how the broad array of automated inspection technologies now available can boost productivity.”
Peter Claus, a CNC Supervisor at HFW Industries in Buffalo, N.Y., is doing exactly that. At IMTS 2014, he brought a group of young machinists, and “for IMTS 2018, this will be the first time I’m bringing our head inspector. We have a focus on new inspection equipment, specifically a programmable CMM.”
South and North Buildings
The Metal Cutting Pavilion occupies all of Level 3 of the South Building, while Level 3 of the North Building houses the Fabrication & Lasers, Gear Generation and Abrasive/Machining/Sawing Pavilions.
“You can find hidden gems anywhere on the show floor,” says Hoffman, who credits a recent IMTS visit with finding an orbital TIG welding solution that reduced welding time from five minutes to less than 60 seconds. When Hoffmann enters the North and South Buildings, he heads to the farthest corner and then walks every aisle to scan exhibits. He found the TIG solution in a small booth at the back of the Fabrication & Lasers Pavilion. In the Metal Cutting Pavilion, he found an auto-loading lathe that reduced failure rate from 0.8 to 0.2 percent, reduced cycle time and earned EIMCo a multi-million-part contract.
“If I didn’t come to IMTS, I’d fall behind. We have to constantly look for the next best thing,” says Hoffman, who has been attending the show since the 1980s. “At IMTS 2018, we will be looking for more high-speed load/unload solutions.”
After evaluating machines, many attendees then head to the West Building to optimize their investment by visiting the Tooling & Workholding Pavilion and now the new Tooling & Workholding Annex. For example, while walking the show floor at IMTS 2016, Geno Lemery discovered special cubic boron nitride (CBN) cutting tools from a previously unknown tooling supplier. Lemery is Director of Facilities for Winsert Inc., a 186-person company in Marinette, Wis., that makes more than 12 million special parts annually from exotic alloys that provide high-temperature, wear and corrosion resistance. He reported finding a cutting tool solution that doubled tool life and reduced costs by 35 percent, saving the company more than $100,000 annually.
Matt Guse, President of MRS Machining, a 47-person machine shop in Augusta, Wis., says that at IMTS 2016, one of his employees learned about “devibe bars,” such as the Silent Tools™ from Sandvik. Their advanced dampening qualities enable machining up to 10X bar diameter, while carbide reinforced adapters are optimized for overhangs up to 14X bar diameter. Extending boring depth capabilities has reduced cycle time, opened machine capacity and enabled MRS Machining to bring in more customers.
“We would've never learned about this solution if we didn't come down to IMTS,” says Guse, noting how visiting the Tooling & Workholding Pavilion is an essential part of his business strategy. “We take complex parts, apply technology and reduce costs. Instead of buying a machine tool, maybe we can use tool holding technology or long-life CBN cutting tools to increase utilization rate.”
The Additive Manufacturing Pavilion has moved to the entrance of the West Building in order to expand space and increase the number of exhibitors to 56 for IMTS 2018. No matter where visitors are in their additive journey, they can find support that takes them through the progressive steps in additive manufacturing: prototype, material options, selecting and optimizing part design, scaling up, production, integration into a facility and ongoing service and upgrades.
“The industry is producing more industrial additive manufacturing solutions than ever before, and it will all be at IMTS this year,” says Glynn Fletcher, President and CCA of EOS North America. “The Additive Manufacturing Pavilion is a must-visit destination for any company serious about getting ahead. Adoption of the technology is growing rapidly, but we’re all still scratching the surface of this technology’s full capabilities.” Fletcher believes that attending IMTS is the best way to get a glimpse of what happens next.
IMTS veterans universally agree on two points: wear comfortable shoes and come to the show with a plan. Mike Haupers, founder of Swiss Precision Machining (SPM), a 138-person shop located in Wheeling, Ill., is a veteran of more than a dozen shows. His team at SPM start planning several months before the show. First, they evaluate their needs and wishes and then confirm a list of “must visit” exhibitors. Using the exhibitor search function, the show floor plan and the MyShow Planner, each of the 25 to 30 SPM personnel attending the show maps out a strategy.
“The MyShow Planner makes your time more valuable because you can spend more time meeting with the people you want to see and not waste time walking all over,” adds Haupers, who also advises to allocate enough time. “Visiting exhibitors always takes longer than you think. You never know when you’re going to encounter a technology that comes out of left field and makes you go ‘wow.’ I always allow flex time.”
Following up on that point, Jack Burley, Vice President of Sales and Engineering, BIG KAISER Precision Tooling, says, “Don’t underestimate the immensity of the show. If you plan on attending IMTS and you've only allocated two days, make sure you allocate three. And if you've allocated three, make sure you allocate four. Whatever time you think it's going to take, it's always going to take more than your original estimate.”