IMTS is the Big Daddy of metalworking trade shows in North America. The biennial show is sponsored by AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology and is held at McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois. IMTS 2008, the 27th show edition, will display the wares of more than 1,500 manufacturing equipment makers spread across 1.2 million square feet of exhibition space. The show is expected to attract more than 91,000 visitors from 119 countries. If one of these visitors is you, then heed my advice: wear comfortable shoes and clothes. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover.
Trade shows—like trade publications such as ours—are revealing sources of technologies you might not have known were available. They also serve as an excellent vehicle for connecting with industry experts and equipment suppliers as you progress through the new-equipment purchasing cycle.
We create this special pre-IMTS issue to assist you in planning for the huge show so you make the most efficient use of your time there. This article highlights some essential IMTS information as well as some of the special goings-on at the show. At the heart of this August issue is the beefy IMTS new-product section. Beginning on page 118, this categorized section offers a glimpse of numerous new metalworking products and technologies you’ll find on display.
It’s no simple task to collect, sort and edit the vast amount of new-product information contained in this issue and archived on www.mmsonline.com. However, the benefit of this exercise is that the new equipment that the manufacturers choose to display at the show mirrors metalworking industry trends we’re following. So while at IMTS, keep your eyes peeled for:
- Big equipment—A number of builders will have large-machining capabilities on display for applications in oil, nuclear and wind power. You’ll also see lots of large-scale turning equipment such as oil country lathes and VTLs.
- Non-metal machining—Shops are machining more than just metals these days. Look for machines and cutting tools designed to mill and drill abrasive composite materials and also plastics for medical components.
- Multi-function machines—As in recent IMTS editions, a number of turn/mill machine platforms will be on display. However, you’ll also notice equipment that combines other processes, too, such as grinding with hard turning and waterjet with EDM.
- Simplified CAM programming—A noticeable number of CAD/CAM vendors have revised their user interfaces to allow simpler, quicker programming. Many have also made strides to streamline the programming of simultaneous five-axis machining operations.
Essential Show Info
Veterans of this big show will notice two significant changes this year. First, the show begins the Monday after Labor Day and runs for 6 days (September 8 through 13). Second, this will be the first IMTS to use McCormick Place’s new West Hall. The West Hall is where you can find suppliers of cutting tools and workholding devices (previously found in the lower level of the East Hall).
Our booth will greet you at the entrance of the West Hall. Gardner Publications, publisher of Modern Machine Shop, will have a new location at Booth No. F-2001. Stop by to check out the magazine’s new look that starts with the September issue. You can also see the redesigned MMSOnline Web site and subscribe to the MMS Extra newsletter. You’ll notice a few other surprises at the booth, too.
The show will occupy all buildings of the McCormick Place complex: Hall A in the South building, Hall B in the North building, Hall F in the West building and Hall D in the East building. Show hours for the East building are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The other three halls open at 10 a.m. and close at 6 p.m.
The most comprehensive amount of show information is found at www.imts.com. There you’ll find a complete database of exhibitors, online registration, planning tools and travel information. Be sure to sign up to receive the IMTS e-newsletter, too. These e-newsletter editions provide updates about events at this year’s show and highlight various new products you should see.
Mapping Your Show
This year’s IMTS again features equipment Pavilions that help guide attendees to the technologies and products that most interest them. IMTS 2008 includes pavilions for:
- Abrasive Machining, Sawing and Finishing—North Building, Hall B
- Controls and CAD/CAM—East Building, Hall D
- EDM—East Building, Hall D
- Gear Generation—North Building, Hall B
- Machine Components, Cleaning and Environmental—East Building, Hall D
- Metalcutting—South Building, Hall A
- Metal Forming and Fabricating/Lasers—North Building, Hall B
- Quality Assurance—East Building, Hall D
- Tooling and Workholding Systems—West Building, Hall F
Another way to map your show visit is to use the helpful myMap utility at the show Web site. This free utility allows you to create a personalized floor plan itinerary that locates the companies you feel are “must-sees” at the show. Simply click on “myMap” at www.imts.com and search and select the companies you’d like to visit.
When you are finished, the myMap utility will automatically generate show floor plans that highlight the locations of all of the booths you have chosen. The user-friendly interface combined with the integrated agenda planner makes show planning simple. You can search by company name or product category, find where a company’s booth is located and then add the company to your agenda. This reduces wandering time and lets you hit the companies you want to see in the most efficient way possible.
That’s not to say that some wandering isn’t helpful. You never know what you might happen to find at a show of this magnitude, so leave a window of time open for a bit of wandering if you can.
MTConnect At The ETC
The show’s Emerging Technology Center (ETC) will feature a demonstration of MTConnect, a new open-communication protocol standard for passing data between devices, equipment and higher-level applications. Nearly 30 companies are participating in the development of MTConnect, which is sponsored by AMT. Recently, 14 of these companies formed the MTConnect Technical Advisory Group. This group is creating the XML-based (Extensible Markup Language) open standard for advanced manufacturing data communications. (To find out more about MTConnect, visit www.mtconnect.org.)
The ETC, located in Booth No. B-1000 in the North Hall, will also have university and research labs exhibiting R&D efforts in science-based manufacturing and innovative process developments.
The new Innovation Center, located in the East Hall, will highlight a specific industry topic each day of the show. The Center will feature live presentations from industry representatives twice a day in its theater-style setting.
Here’s the line-up:
- Monday, September 8—Automotive Day
- Tuesday, September 9—Quality Control Day
- Wednesday, September 10—Aerospace/Aeronautics Day
- Thursday, September 11—Power Generation/Green Day
- Friday, September 12—Medical Day
- Saturday, September 13—Job Shop Day
Help At The Show
A number of computer information kiosks scattered throughout the show halls will help you find your way through the facility. In addition, anyone who creates a myMap prior to the show will be able to access their myMap at those kiosks. Another helpful guide is the IMTS 2008 Directory of Exhibits, published for AMT by Gardner Publications, Inc., the publisher of this magazine. The DOE is available free of charge to IMTS attendees at the various registration areas. The directory includes a listing of exhibitors by pavilion, an alphabetical listing of exhibitors, a product directory, floor plans of all of the halls and answers to just about any questions you may have about the show.
In addition to the DOE, be sure to stop at one of the many stands throughout McCormick Place and pick up the official IMTS newspaper, the ShowDaily. The ShowDaily covers significant IMTS happenings and is written by the staff of Modern Machine Shop and its sister publications, Automotive Design & Production, Production Machining and Moldmaking Technology. There will be three Show Daily issues published during the show.
Daily broadcasts from the IMTSTV Studio in the West building (Booth No. F-2451) will also keep both exhibitors and attendees informed about various events throughout the show.