Three Approaches to Discovering New Technology at a Trade Show

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Exhibitor technology is at the heart of any industrial trade show, and at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), there’s a lot to see. Here are a few ways visitors can discover new technology on the show floor.


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Manufacturers can find exhibitor technology at IMTS 2018, the largest manufacturing trade show in North America.

Whether in search of a specific piece of technology or on the path to discovery, manufacturers can find exhibitor technology at IMTS, the largest display of manufacturing solutions in North America.


The number one reason people attend trade shows is to find new products and technology. And exhibitors at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) are notorious for drawing large crowds by displaying new products, equipment and services. This year is no different. Companies from around the globe are gearing up for IMTS 2018, bringing the latest in manufacturing technology from September 10 – 15, 2018 to McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.

Every two years, attendees come ready to gain access to information on best practices and new solutions in the industry. With over 2,000 exhibiting companies, IMTS 2018 is the host to North America’s largest showcase of manufacturing technology covering top industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical and more.

Here are a few different approaches straight from IMTS visitors, all aiming to get the most out of what exhibitors have to offer.

The Search for the Right Solution

Some visitors come with a goal in mind, set out to observe and compare a particular piece of technology. Contract parts manufacturer MetalQuest Unlimited Inc. has traveled from its shop in Hebron, Nebraska, to every IMTS show since 1996. In 2014, the 70-person shop had an opportunity with a new customer to make a family of 25 parts. Anticipating higher changeover and part handling, MetalQuest president Scott Harms attended IMTS that year seeking a machining solution that could handle multiple operations.

Scott Harms, president, MetalQuest Unlimited Inc.
Scott Harms, President
MetalQuest Unlimited Inc.

“We told the customer we needed to attend IMTS and look over options before giving them our estimate,” Harms says. “We shopped down the show aisles and talked with experts from several companies before we made a decision.” As a result, Harms and his team were able to collect diverse information specific to the technology they were looking for.

MetalQuest assembled an automated cell that makes parts quickly and cost effectively; it is comprised of two Okuma 2SP CNC lathes with dual gantries, four FANUC robots and an Okuma vertical machining center. With this system, the company ultimately won the business and now uses a single operator to make 50,000 to 70,000 of these parts every month.

The Path to Discovery

For Scott Volk, vice president of MetalQuest Unlimited Inc., exhibitor technology is a means of discovery. “We aren’t just looking for solutions we need immediately,” Volk says. “We come to IMTS to learn about what we can do in the future. So, when a customer comes to us with a problem someday, we can take what we've learned at the show and apply it to find a solution.”

MetalQuest is a contract manufacturer of parts for the firearms, oilfield and hydraulics industries with a reputation for tackling complex challenges, so innovation and creative solutions are at the heart of what Volk looks for at the show.


Many IMTS visitors walk the show floor solely for the purpose of being exposed to new technology and may stumble upon a new method or process they weren’t expecting.

“For my first IMTS, I was a sponge, soaking up as much as I could, as quickly as possible,” says Mark Tario, CNC programming and problem-solving specialist at Accurate Gauge & Mfg. “It was awe inspiring, and I didn’t know where to go first,” he says.

Mark Tario, CNC programming and problem solving specialist, Accurate Gauge & Mfg.
Mark Tario, CNC Programming & Problem
Solving Specialist, Accurate Gauge & Mfg.

This year, the company’s teams are focusing on the topics that matter most such as metal cutting, tooling and workholding, quality assurance as well as abrasive machining, sawing and finishing.

For Tario, IMTS is the most efficient way to get comprehensive information on new technology all in one place. “You may come out of IMTS with something completely different from what you expected, but it’ll solve your challenge,” he says. “I always want to see if somebody’s come up with a better mouse trap than I can.”

Seeing is Believing

Others come strictly to see it in action. IMTS uniquely provides visitors with the advantage of seeing equipment up close, with many exhibitors demonstrating solutions that can potentially impact a shop’s unique needs. For those shopping for capital equipment, research plays a major role in the purchasing process, and live demos offer the info that simply cannot be found anywhere else.

“We always come to IMTS before we make an equipment purchase,” says Roger Pyle, president of Banister Tool Inc. “Any sales person can bring a brochure into your shop and show you a machine. But at IMTS I get a visual, hands-on experience.”


With a 24,000-square-foot facility and 37 employees, Banister Tool specializes in the manufacture of implant parts and components for surgical devices, such as titanium bone screws and PEEK (polyether ether ketone) spinal replacement disks.

At IMTS, Pyle and the Bannister Tool team look forward to meeting with exhibitors such as PD Browne South in order to get knowledge about the latest technologies out there. “There’s nothing like seeing many kinds of equipment operating and talking with experts in person,” he says. After IMTS 2014 and 2016, Banister purchased a Tongtai five-axis mill, four-axis mill and lathe from PD Browne South.

“I’ve purchased demo units off the show floor because I could see it running and knew it would do the job for us,” he says.“I just told them, ‘As soon as you get it disconnected, get it to our shop.’"

Map Out Your Discovery

1.3 million square feet of exhibit space can be a lot to tackle, so it’s important to plan ahead. Get the most out of what exhibitors have to offer by segmenting what you need to see, what you want to see, and always leave a little room for discovery. IMTS Pavilions help further break down exhibitor technology by specific interests and processes. These include:

  • Abrasive Machining/Sawing/Finishing
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Controls & CAD/CAM
  • EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining)
  • Fabricating & Lasers
  • Gear Generation
  • Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental
  • Metal Cutting
  • Quality Assurance
  • Tooling & Workholding Systems
IMTS covers manufacturing topics such as surface finishing, 3D printing, CAD/CAM, EDM machining, fabricating and lasers, gear generation, part cleaning, metal cutting, cutting tools and workholding systems and more.

Visitors can also organize their trip with MyShow Planner, a free mobile app that houses all the logistics and scheduling you need directly from your mobile device or computer. This trade-show tool maps your entire trip and organizes your itinerary and appointments in one place.

Whether it’s goal-oriented or a means of discovery, trade shows like IMTS are designed to introduce manufacturers and job shops to the emerging technology and trends that will ultimately help them cut costs and produce more efficiently. It’s where visitors can not only solve existing challenges but set themselves up for future growth.

Now is the time to register and start thinking ahead. To learn more about IMTS and ways to discover new technology, click here.