As you already know from the cover, this issue of Modern Machine Shop is dedicated to IMTS—The International Manufacturing Technology Show. And as the sheer weight of this publication suggests, this year's exhibition is going to be the largest ever.
We had considerable discussion here on how best to characterize this show. While not technically the final IMTS of the 20th century (which culminates at the end of the year 2000), it nonetheless will seem that way to many of us and, to future generations, it will stand as a milestone that marks an end.
But the end of what? It's likely that historians will someday refer to these years as the point at which the industrial era finally gave way to the information age. Big manufacturing will probably be associated with the 20th century; super-smart computing will be associated with the 21st.
We see it differently and choose to view these times as the beginning of something big. So we offer no apology for jumping the gun a bit and talking about "metalworking technology for the next millenium." The Renaissance that's occurred in American manufacturing over the last decade is still gaining steam in our view. It's a running start, not a fitting end. It's momentum to help launch a second century of great industrial achievements.
More of our future technical and commercial capabilities will be based on information technology, to be sure, but our business—the business of manufacturing—will still be about making things. And there's no reason to think the coming years can't be as prosperous as the best of those behind us.
At least that's how it can be if we as an industry stay focused on remaining as technically advanced as possible. That's why IMTS is so important, and why it's so important for metalworking professionals to attend this show. Yes, there will be lots of hardware to serve your capacity needs right now. But even more important, there will be ideas on display that will shape your future, regardless of whether you're a leading-edge producer or a small shop contemplating your very first CNC machine. The best managers I know think a lot, not just about solving today's problems, but also about how their shop is going to look in five or ten years. And there's no better place to get a glimpse of metalworking's future than IMTS.