Posted by: Derek Korn 17. September 2014

IMTS 2014: The Draw was the Technology

See video of Mark Albert, Pete Zelinski and me sharing impressions about this year’s big show.​

In this blog post, Pete Zelinski describes some of his impressions about last week’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). Some of these points are mentioned in this live IMTS wrap-up interview that he, Mark Albert and I were part of. Along those lines, here are a few of my show takeaways:

  • The draw was the technology. This year, exhibitors didn’t employ as many “gimmicks”—non-manufacturing-technology attention grabbers to attract attendees to their booths (racecars, celebrities, etc.). It seems exhibitors instead chose to leverage their new technology to entice visitors to stop in. You know, the stuff they need to make their operation more productive and the reason why they’re there in the first place. Given how busy booths were across the board, I’d say the concept worked. In fact, we applied a similar approach to our company’s IMTS booth design where we highlighted our strengths…the original content, data and manufacturing information we provide.
  • Five-axis equipment. 44 percent of the shops in this year’s Top Shops benchmarking group perform five-axis positioning or full-five-axis contouring work. Five-axis machines as well as indexing equipment to enable five-axis machining were evident throughout the show. And while contouring is the more alluring of the two five-axis operations, many shops find positioning workpieces in five axes to access nearly every side of a part in one fixturing exceedingly advantageous.
  • Machine looks. Equipment OEMs continue to develop more stylish machine tools. It costs more to make enclosures with rounded features instead of sharp corners. However, it’s appropriate that the advanced technology inside machines be wrapped in a more modern look. These certainly are not your father’s machine tools in terms of form or function.
  • Automotive. The automotive industry is hot these days, and this means a healthy amount of gear production. Technology for gear production was on hand in the show’s gear pavilion as well as McCormick’s South Hall, which featured multitasking machining centers that could also perform gear machining.
  • Automation (again). Pete mentioned the wealth of robots at the show. He’s right; you couldn’t swing a cat without hitting one. But there was also an increased presence of collaborative robots, robots designed to work alongside humans sans protective safety fences. These types of robots have the potential to change what a shopfloor looks like and how shopfloor processes are developed, and it will be interesting to see the degree to which industry accepts this alternate automation option moving forward.

Posted by: Peter Zelinski 16. September 2014

Impressions of IMTS 2014

The editorial staff of Modern Machine Shop just returned from a busy week at the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show, the largest manufacturing trade show in North America. Here are some quick, initial impressions of what made this year’s IMTS distinctive:

1. Attendance. The big story at IMTS this year was the number of people who came. Registered attendees numbered 114,147, up 14 percent from the previous show.

2. Additive Manufacturing. Attendees were hungry for information about additive manufacturing, specifically how additive manufacturing could be applied to part production. Exhibits of hybrid machine tools (machines combining additive manufacturing and CNC machining) were frequently mobbed, as were the booths of established additive manufacturing companies who are relatively new exhibitors to this show. An additive manufacturing workshop that took place in one of the largest conference spaces at the show was filled to capacity, and the Q&A portion of the program (which I moderated) had to be cut off after it went long. It turns out that the choice on the part of the show organizers to spotlight a 3D printed car at the show this year was particularly fitting.

3. Automation. I wish I had a count of the number of robots at the show this year. Articulating arms were in motion everywhere. Machine tool builders throughout the show made a point of demonstrating their ability to integrate with robots. Meanwhile, robot makers promoted their ease of integrating with machine tools. Even exhibitors related to cutting tools and workholding demonstrated robots in roles such as tool management and machine setup. If there is one thing that IMTS exhibitors as a whole seem to perceive, it is that IMTS attendees are aiming to achieve more integrated and less labor-dependent processes.

4. Oil and Gas Industry. Historically, the industries targeted at IMTS include automotive, aerospace and medical. Now, another industry segment has risen to take its place alongside these: the oil and gas sector. The strength of U.S. energy production has affected the shape and capabilities of manufacturing equipment, with exhibitors throughout the show offering large-bore turning machines and large-table machining centers, as well as workholding appropriate to this equipment.

5. Youth. The Student Summit, the area of IMTS dedicated to children high school age and younger, was a resounding success. I have not yet seen numbers on how many young people attended the show, but when I visited the Student Summit, I found it swarming with busloads of enthusiastic kids. Various IMTS exhibitors invested to create additional, youth-oriented exhibits for this special area of the show. Given the number of exhibitors participating in this way—and given the care, color and interest they put into their exhibits—the Student Summit has now grown in scope and significance to become like an additional pavilion of the show.

6. Young Professionals. This was the first IMTS at which I perceived a clear changing of generations in manufacturing. I’ve often maintained that manufacturing has skipped the so-called Generation X—people currently in their 40s. This was the generation discouraged from so-called “factory work,” so there aren’t many of us (I am an X-er myself) to be found in this field. But at IMTS this year, I saw plenty of engaged manufacturing professionals one generation younger than this. Established manufacturing professionals in their 60s are now being joined by up-and-comers who are in their 20s.

7. Buying Activity. When I talked to exhibitors at the show about the high attendance this year, they often responded with statements along the lines of “Yeah, and they are buying.” Attendees to the show this year came ready or nearly ready to commit to significant purchases. That would be consistent with own forecasting model, which predicts a surge in machine tool purchases next year. As one exhibitor explained to me, there has now been well over a decade of under-investment in U.S. manufacturing capital equipment. Manufacturing activity has been high for long enough, and the forward-looking prospects remain sufficiently strong, that it is now time to undertake major investments.

Posted by: Stephanie Monsanty 15. September 2014

Forecasting the Future at GFMC

“Hindsight is 20/20,” the saying goes—but that doesn’t mean manufacturers have to go into the future blindly. Self-knowledge, benchmarking data and strategic planning are tools available to help prepare for what’s ahead, if not predict it. The 2014 Global Forecasting & Marketing Conference (GFMC) is another such tool. The conference, taking place October 14-16 at the MGM Grand Detroit in Michigan will offer reports on past performance as well as industry outlooks to help attendees plan for future success.

Hosted by AMT—The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the GFMC includes a line-up of presentations by industry experts including Marc Raibert, founder and CTO of Boston Dynamics; Bill Horwarth, president of 5ME; Mike Warner, director of market analysis at Boeing; and Steven R. Kline Jr., director of market intelligence at Gardner Business Media. Networking opportunities will also be available throughout the three-day event. View the full schedule or register

Posted by: Mark Albert 12. September 2014

Off-Centerline Milling, Drilling and Tapping Take Center Stage

The C-axis head provides ±45 degrees rotation, creating a machining range of Y-axis features of ±1,000mm or 3,500mm the VTC table radius, depending on the model. The continuous power 22-kW (29-hp) attachment has a maximum spindle speed of 2200 rpm, and continuous torque of 875 Nm (645 ft-lb), and can be loaded manually or automatically via the machine’s automatic tool changer.

Fives brings off-centerline turning, drilling, milling and tapping capabilities to its Giddings & Lewis vertical turning centers with a new Y-axis attachment that combines a C-axis head with table and X- and Z-axes motions. The attachment, available fully integrated on new VTCs or as a retrofit, enables single-setup processing of flanged parts, pumps, compressors, motor housings, fluid routing parts, intakes and exhausts, among others. The Y-axis attachment is on display in the company’s booth at N-7018.

“The Y-axis attachment is a powerful package, with a wide range of motion,” says Pete Beyer, Director of Product Strategy and Development at Fives Giddings & Lewis. “Its power and torque are equal to our standard, heavy-duty right-angle heads, with no limits in cutting performance relative to speed. This is an affordable way to reduce setups and free up machine time on horizontal machining centers and boring mills that used to be required to produce these same features on turned parts.”

But this attachment probably won’t be the center of attention on Wednesday between 1 and 3 p.m. That’s when John Force and Robert Hight of the NHRA Champion John Force Racing Team will be in the booth to meet and greet visitors and sign autographs. John Force, owner and renowned 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion of the Castrol GTX team, and Robert Hight current NHRA Funny Car points leader and 2009 NHRA Funny Car champion of the Auto Club Team, rely on machining technology from Fives when speed and accuracy count in their racing facilities.

Other displays in the booth feature machines from G&L, Cincinnati, Liné Machines, Forest Liné, Cinetic, Citco and Gardner Abrasives.

Posted by: Emily Probst 12. September 2014

Video: Virtual Field Trip Filmed at IMTS and Broadcast to Schools

“Technology Applied: A Virtual Learning Experience” is a video series aimed at young people that was filmed and produced this week at IMTS, and has already been broadcast to schools across the country that registered to watch this IMTS virtual field trip. The project was conceived by Sandvik Coromant and carried out by the team from The Edge Factor Show. Peter Zelinski of Modern Machine Shop appears in the video to explain some of the technology at IMTS to young people who might use this very technology in their future manufacturing careers. We’ve posted the first episode of this series on a special page devoted to careers in manufacturing­, and we’ll be posted the remaining two episodes of this filmed-at-IMTS series there as well. Watch the first episode at (requires Flash).

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