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I marvel at how shop owners and managers are able to pinpoint the type of machine tool that is best-suited for their particular needs given the wealth of choices presented to them. Consider today’s lathes. These machines can be configured to perform much more than straightforward turning work. Versions are available with multiple turrets, multiple spindles, B-axis milling spindles, live tooling, bar feeds, bar pullers, integrated automation and more. Then, there are multi-function Swiss-types with their signature guide bushing to consider. And decisions still need to be made about the type of tooling to use, what workholding methods are most appropriate, how best to program the machines, etc. The choices seem staggering.
On the surface, a huge trade show such as IMTS might not seem terribly helpful, as attendees are presented with more than 1,500 equipment exhibitors and 1.2 million square feet of show floor space to hoof. However, despite its size, IMTS remains one of the best ways to narrow your choices
This is the place to find the latest advanced manufacturing solutions located in one venue. To help ease your search efforts, exhibitors with like equipment are grouped together in specific pavilions, as in previous show editions. This is helpful for directing you to the general type of equipment your shop needs.
In addition, while observing the various machining operations performed live at the show, you’ll notice that machine tool builders and suppliers of tooling, workholding and software products are establishing closer ties through combined demonstrations. (Look for the different company logos affixed to functioning machines.) In this way, they provide potential integrated solutions to specific machining challenges in one, convenient booth location.
That said, not only is the most advanced manufacturing equipment found at one venue, so are the industry’s top experts. They are primed and ready to field any questions you might have about what’s on display or consult on how best to approach a specific manufacturing challenge. Building relationships with equipment suppliers in this way ensures that you make the right purchasing decisions for your situation. Plus, close communication enables suppliers to stay abreast of the needs of today’s manufacturers.
Like this magazine, IMTS is a tool for discovery. You can be introduced to ideas that you otherwise might not have considered. This can lead to “ah-hah” moments enabling you to make well-informed decisions for improving your shop.
Slideshow: Trends and Technology at IMTS 2016
The size and scope of a show like IMTS makes it impossible to cover everything of interest, but here's a taste of the technology and trends we were taking note of this year.