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.
“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.
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.
“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 mmsonline.com/mfgcareers (requires Flash).
Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications (left) and Sun Xitian, Chairman of CCPIT Machinery made a formal announcement at IMTS yesterday that CCIPT Machinery will be the exclusive IMTS sales agent in China.
AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology has appointed the China Council for the Promotion of International Trade (CCPIT) Machinery Sub-Council as the exclusive sales agent of IMTS to Chinese companies beginning on October 14, 2015, for IMTS 2016.
CCPIT Machinery is a trade body of the Chinese government founded in 1988, which promotes China’s foreign trade and international economic and commercial business interests between China and other countries around the world.
The arrangement will consolidate the displays from Chinese companies into one area at IMTS and create one point of contact for them, simplifying the trade show process.
“CCPIT Machinery has been a strong supporter of IMTS for many years. They have the experience and understanding to help Chinese companies produce first-class exhibits,” said Peter Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications at AMT at yesterday’s formal press conference. “Our exhibitors from China for the 2016 show will receive a special benefit. An IMTS Exhibitor Workshop will be held in China in early 2016, which will be the first time Chinese exhibiting companies will receive that level of support.”
“We are extremely pleased to be named the official partner of IMTS. As one of the most prestigious shows in the world, we are dedicated to providing our Chinese companies with an outstanding opportunity to bring their products to the global market,” said Sun Xitian, Chairman of CCPIT Machinery.