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It's Manufacturing's Turn in the Spotlight


By James D. Sawyer
Senior Editor 

The Great Recession was not kind to manufacturing, but the industry has bounced back in fine fashion. It grew a phenomenal 91% from 2009 to 2010 and an impressive 66% from 2010 to 2011. Thus far this year manufacturing has grown 20%—beating forecasts.

So, with things looking so bright for so many people in manufacturing, why would anyone take time away from managing this success to attend the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS 2012) at Chicago’s McCormick Place, September 10–15?

One reason would be, according to Doug Woods, president of AMT—The Association for Manufacturing Technology, to look "for those things that will help me make it through the next recession."

While things are going well currently, there are many uncertainties that manufacturing is facing now and more loom beyond the horizon: the shortage of skilled workers, cutbacks in defense spending, tax cuts, tax increases, interest rates, the specter of inflation and, of course, the upcoming election, which may impact policy and procedure in yet unknown ways. IMTS

When he was a business owner in Rochester, NY, Woods says, "I went [to IMTS] because I was trying to figure out for my business how to do things that I couldn’t do before, that I can do more efficiently. It’s hard to find a time or a place that has the scope of information and demonstrations where you can compare machines, technologies and techniques side by side. Here is a place where not just the salesmen, but the engineers and the technicians and even the CEOs are there to ask all the questions you want and get all the information you need."

Considering that IMTS 2012 will showcase better than 1500 exhibitors in an area of 1.1 million ft2 (102,300 m2) it is little wonder that the show is expected to draw upwards of 82,000 attendees—or that these attendees will be able to come away with the information they need.

When IMTS, the largest display and demonstration of manufacturing technology in the Western Hemisphere, returns to McCormick Place for its 29th iteration, one of the things attendees will notice is that the lineup of pavilions has changed. In 2010 there were 9 pavilion;, for 2012 there will be 11:

Metal Forming & Fabricating/Laser
The Alternative Manufacturing Processes pavilion has a new name. Waterjet and laser-based machining technology as well as welding, metal treating and marking equipment are here.

Abrasive Machining/Sawing/Finishing
This traditional pavilion houses the technologies appropriate for applications that require high tolerance and precision surface finish. Here may be found all varieties of grinding technology, as well as sawing and cutoff machines and a variety of finishing technologies, such as lapping, balancing, honing and polishing machines.

Controls & CAD/CAM
Custom automation and the latest software will be shown—everything needed to achieve the maximum efficiency from a machine tool and optimize plant operations and cost efficiency.

Electrical Discharge machining (EDM) is a proven, reliable, high-accuracy technology for those in the tool-and-die industry, and especially those that specialize in one-off or specialty components. Everything from CNC wire EDM equipment to die sinking machines will be on display.

Emerging Technology Center
The Emerging Technology Center is a hybrid pavilion featuring innovative products made with emerging processes and equipment, such as Local Motors’ Rally Fighter car. Also to be found are some well-known entities such as Objet Inc., 3D Systems, Renishaw Inc., the Ex One Company, LLC, MTConnect, as well as societies, trade groups and government agencies.

Gear Generation
Gear manufacturing equipment—such as gear cutting, forming and finishing, as well as broaching, shaping and slotting machines will be found here.

Machine Components/
Products on display will range from parts needed to service and monitor a plant’s machines to the components necessary for safe and environmentally responsible operations.

Metal Cutting
Here is where attendees will find innovations in metalcutting equipment, machining centers, turning centers, drilling systems, boring machines, milling machines and more.

Quality Assurance
This pavilion houses the metrology equipment and systems to keep processes on track and ensure the quality of a plant’s output. Also on display will be equipment that will check the accuracy of your machines.

Tooling and Workholding Systems
The latest technology will minimize setup and machining time. Good tooling can give new capability to older equipment. State-of-the-art workholding systems will be featured.

IANA—Industrial Automation North America at IMTS
This is the newest pavilion at IMTS. International show organizer Deutsche Messe, producer of Hanover Messe, will showcase exhibitors featuring all areas of industrial automation.


Show Conferences

IANA is also aligned with three conferences at IMTS. The Global Automation & Manufacturing Summit is a two-day senior-level conference, September 12 and 13. Key topics include: enterprise asset management, process optimization, energy management and sustainability manufacturing. Additionally, case studies on how plants have automated for profitability, improved performance of existing assets and reducing maintenance costs will be presented. The Motion, Drives & Automation Conference September 10 and 11 will have two conference tracks—1) Motion Control in Automation, and 2) Hydraulics and Pneumatics in Automation—for engineers and individuals tasked with improving performance, productivity, life, efficiency, and environmental footprint of manufacturing equipment and industrial automation systems. Finally, the International Society of Automation (ISA) is bringing a multitude of one-day training and educational workshops to IMTS September 13 and 14. Among the 10 sessions are topics such as Improving Manufacturing through Automation: Opportunity Identification and Project Justification; Overview of Measurement and Control Fundamentals; and Implementing Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) Using the ANSI/ISA95 Standards.The Rally Fighter

IMTS’ own conference runs from September 10 through the 14 and will explore innovative as well as traditional technologies, business development and optimization, plus workforce efficiency and productivity. Special emphasis is placed on maintaining focus on short- and long-term goals during a tough economic environment. The program will focus on five tracks featuring a wide range of industry-specific sessions:

  • Materials
  •  Manufacturing Technology
  •  Alternative Manufacturing Processes
  •  Quality/Metrology
  •  Plant Operations

A complete list of conference
sessions is available at


Students, STEM and Skills

The Student Skills Center (previously known as the Student Summit) offers a place to meet employers, STEM education organizers, and representatives of successful career-technical training programs to talk one-on-one about skills, technology, and careers. Exhibitors are ready to work with students and educators to ensure that young people receive the tools and attention needed to realize the future goals of the manufacturing industry. Field trips to the center are encouraged for students in middle school, high school and even college.

Exhibits inside the Center will include hands-on activities, videos, demonstrations and simulations, as well as interactive, engaging activities resulting in small prizes for correct answers. As in 2008 and 2010, the Student Skills Center will feature a daily raffle for various exhibitor-provided prizes, career profiles, and a resume drop box.

Upon arrival to the Student Skills Center, visitors will be welcomed by a Skills Center Greeter who will personally guide attendees to the check-in location and ultimately to the Orientation Theater. Here a 10–15 minute program will provide an overview of what to expect at the Center and at IMTS and where to go, and show a brief video connecting advanced manufacturing, STEM education, and everyday life.

This free, week-long event is an opportunity for students, educators, school administrators and guidance counselors to gain a glimpse into the world’s most cutting-edge technology for the purpose of reinforcing a nationwide increase of STEM education at the secondary and post-secondary level.


Basic Information

The cost of attending IMTS is $30 per person through August 10 and $50 per person from August 11 through September 15. For groups of five or more who register at the same time the cost is $15 per person through August 10 and $30 per person August 11 through September 15.

Conference registration runs from $195 per person to $695 per person, depending on the conference. It includes exhibit hall admittance for all six days of the show. For more information, visit

Visitor hotel information is available at Staying within the official hotel block is the only way to ensure your housing preferences. Staying within the block also gives you access to the free daily shuttle bus service to and from McCormick Place. ME


This article was first published in the July 2012 edition of Manufacturing Engineering magazine.  Click here for PDF







Published Date : 7/1/2012

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