Still More to See at IMTS

With over 2,400 exhibitors on 1.3 million square feet of floor space, IMTS 2018 has the broadest display of technology ever.


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If you can, you might want to stay an extra day at IMTS 2018 because there is simply more to see here than ever before. According to Peter Eelman, AMT’s vice president of exhibitions and business development, this is the first event ever to use every bit of available exhibit space of the massive McCormick Place exposition center. With more than 2,400 exhibitors on 1.3 million square feet of floor space, this year’s show has the broadest display of technology ever. But there’s even more going on with several leading technology displays presented by show organizer AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology.

Every IMTS, AMT presents AMT’s Emerging Technology Center (ETC). The mission of the ETC is to showcase new technologies that are likely to have a big impact on the future of manufacturing. With so much now going on in technology, this year the ETC includes two displays, one on Digital Transformation in the North Building, and the other on Additive Manufacturing technology in the West Building.

There are several major elements of the Digital Transformation display. It includes a feature film with interviews with thought leaders across the digital manufacturing space including technology developers such as Autodesk and Cisco as well as leading early adopter manufacturing companies. Another display hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and four other partners features a smart cell with a CNC vertical machining center and coordinate measuring machine (CMM) tended by a collaborative robot (“cobot”). The display demonstrates both automation and digital connectivity, enabled by MT Connect, a set of royalty-free data-exchange standards first demonstrated at IMTS 2008. Using data from the CMM, the CNC compensates for tool wear by automatically recalculating its offsets in this closed-loop system.

Also featured is the Connected Factory display presented by Cisco. According to Eelman, it graphically presents an easy-to-understand “digital backbone” of what’s required to convert to a digitally connected factory. “This display really helps manufacturers understand how a connected factory works and how they can get started,” he says.

Directly adjacent to the Digital Transformation ETC is the Smart Manufacturing Hub display, a partnership between AMT and SME. With different presentations six to eight times every day, the display is intended to help businesses begin to move smart manufacturing into the mainstream.

Over in the West Building, the Additive Manufacturing ETC’s main topic can hardly be called “emerging” anymore, though there is still much more to come in this rapidly advancing technology. Indeed, Eelman says that additive manufacturing has become “an essential part of the show” and at more than 30,000 square feet, the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion showing exhibitor technology proves it. In the ETC, Oak Ridge National Laboratories is showcasing the “Die in a Day” exhibit. The idea is to design, manufacture and measure a mold or die in a day. While the ETC is the hub, various components of the tool are being printed or machined in other booths throughout the show.

Also featured is America Makes, the national accelerator for additive manufacturing. The display includes the America Makes Digital Storefront that aligns all of the efforts of the America Makes project portfolio, valued at more than $100 million, with more than 700 deliverables. The Digital Storefront also includes member-generated content.

AM Insight is a series of dynamic and interactive dashboards that provide insight into the content of the Digital Storefront. Users can select from a number of easy-to-read reports of the entire portfolio of deliverables. America Makes is giving scheduled presentations of these features each day during IMTS. Representatives are on hand to answer questions and provide live interaction with this powerful tool.

And Oak Ridge has a hologram display that analyzes solid models of to-be-printed parts to identify structural issues that can be corrected before the part goes into production.

Other major IMTS attractions include:

  • MMS Top Shops – Innovations and innovators take center stage in the MMS Top Shops Showcase, presented by Gardner Business Media and IMTS. Through an interactive display, you’ll discover best practices used by the finest metalworking companies.
  • Today’s Technology Center (TTC) – Presented by GIE Media, the TTC features advancements in manufacturing technology being implemented in the aerospace, automotive, medical and energy sectors.
  • Smartforce Student Summit – The Student Summit aims to introduce students and teachers from elementary through post-secondary schools to the exciting, high-tech careers in manufacturing.

There’s no place like IMTS to have access to so much insight on the current state and future of manufacturing technology. It would be wise to take as much time as you can to make the most of this opportunity.