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IMTS 2018 Showcases New Manufacturing Technology Trends

To stay current with technology and peer into the future of manufacturing, take a look at our preview of IMTS—The International Manufacturing Technology Show, to be held at McCormick Place in Chicago from Sept. 10 through Sept. 15. In the following pages, ME provides in-depth examinations of each pavilion at IMTS, as well as previews of the products you will be able to see displayed at exhibitors’ booths.

Adding it Up at IMTS 2018

Additive manufacturing (AM) pioneer Charles Hull introduced the first commercial 3D printer, the SLA-1, in 1987. Jaws dropped, machinists wondered about their next career, pundits said it spelled the death of traditional manufacturing. None of that happened, thankfully; in fact, some said 3D printing was a bunch of hype, good for little more than investment casting patterns and proof of concept prototypes.

IMTS Tooling, Workholding Suppliers Target Growing Applications

You don’t have to be an engineer to appreciate the solutions for the tooling or workholding challenges that shops will bring to exhibitors when attending IMTS 2018. One thing is certain you’ll never have a better time to find suppliers of advanced tooling and workholding technology under one venue like McCormick Place.

Medical Machining Shifts Into High Gear—With a Laser Assist

Constant refinement of medical machining from tooling design to finished product requires not only the ability to handle a broad range of plastic and metal materials but also to achieve predictable results—particularly in the face of strict regulations.

Optical Metrology in Three Dimensions

Basic trends in modern manufacturing are driving growth in 3D optical metrology. “One is the highly complex and high-tech material that manufacturers are using today. For example, in the aerospace turbine blade market, they simply cannot touch the part like they used to—the surface finish of the material is too readily affected by any kind of contact metrology."

Micro Cutting Tool Options Expand as Applications Increase

Solid-carbide micro cutting tools about the diameter of human hair or smaller—some producing parts visible only under a microscope—are making a huge impact on manufacturing highly advanced electronics, automotive and aerospace fuel injection systems, and medical instruments and implants.

Innovations Enable Faster Beam Delivery, On-the-Fly Welding

For ABB, robotic welding comes down to a never-ending process of ensuring parts are suitable for laser joining and developing the appropriate processes. To that end, ABB is refining a recent innovation to improve beam delivery speeds and has developed software for on-the-fly welding in tandem with Trumpf’s Intelligent Programmable Focusing Optic (IPFO).

Better Balanced Toolholders Lead to Best Machining Results

K&G Manufacturing (Faribault, MN) has learned a thing or two about precision machining in the 80 years it has been in business. One lesson the company learned long ago is that balanced toolholders are a key to customer satisfaction and achieving the best possible machining results.

Shop Roots Out Long Set Up Times with Advanced Automation

Erik Anderson, president and CEO of Basin Precision Machining LLC, has determined that setups are the root of all evil when it comes to manufacturing productivity. They cause part variations, downtime, and high-percentage scrap rates.

Big, Heavy, Awkward Parts Need Workholding, Too

If you’ve ever seen industrial wind turbine components on the back of a flatbed truck rolling down the highway, you have a good idea of what a large, heavy, difficult-to-handle workpiece is. For example, with a single blade on the GE 1.5 mW turbine being almost as long as a football field, the entire blade assembly weighs about the same as 36 small cars.