The Next Milestone Year

The arrival of AM already ensures that IMTS this year will be significant.


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Peter Eelman, vice president of AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, recently contributed a history of IMTS that I think you’ll enjoy reading. From that article, here are some landmark years for the show:

1927: The first IMTS is held, then called the National Machine Tool Builders’ Exposition.

1929: Early demonstrations of carbide tools.

1935: The first show after a six-year hiatus due to the economy. The show was called “the largest single-industry exposition ever held anywhere.”

1947: Introduction of Cimcool synthetic cutting fluid. The pink fluid stood out in a show in which all machines were still required to be gray.

1955: Monarch Machine Tool demonstrates numerical control. Five years later, 5 percent of the machines at the show would be NC.

1960: Bendix displays the first coordinate measuring machine available in North America.

1970: International exhibitors appear at the show for the first time. Also, the two-year cycle for the show begins.

1988: The first Haas machining center appears.

1990: The show’s name changes to the International Manufacturing Technology Show.

2008: MTConnect debuts. Various exhibitors’ machines deliver data from the show floor.

And then there is 2016. When the list of landmark IMTS years is updated, this year will take its place among them. That prediction is safe given what we already know. This year, the show will debut a new pavilion devoted to a manufacturing technology now advancing toward widespread acceptance—additive manufacturing. September’s show might prove noteworthy for various reasons, but one of them will be this: 2016 will stand as the year that AM found its home at IMTS.

2014 was a precursor. At the show that year, a prominent attraction was the 3D-printed car. There was also a half-day AM workshop, and a major AM equipment maker, EOS, held its user conference at the show.

But this year, additive manufacturing will in no way feel like a guest or a novelty; it will be an undeniable part of the event. The new Additive Manufacturing Pavilion is expected to have 19 exhibitors, many of them showing at IMTS for the first time. Various machine tool exhibitors in the Metal Cutting Pavilion will also promote AM technology. Meanwhile, EOS’ North American User Day will return. What was formerly a brief workshop will now become the Additive Manufacturing Conference, running during two days of the show.

Indeed, IMTS is now a major event for additive manufacturing, and that fact says even more about AM than it does about the show. Until now, shows highlighting additive have tended to be 3D printing events. 3D printing users across all sectors were drawn to them. But with IMTS, here is a very different context, as well as an audience that is both bigger and more focused. In Chicago next month, attendees will see AM not as a variation on 3D printing, but instead as a promising new option for making industrial parts.

Read more of Mr. Eelman's history of IMTS.