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See You in September—at IMTS!

Alan Rooks
By Alan Rooks Editor in Chief, Manufacturing Engineering

Just in case you hadn’t heard the news, IMTS 2018 starts up in Chicago on Monday, Sept. 10, for a week-long run. As you may have guessed from the heft of this extra-large version of Manufacturing Engineering, we are presenting previews of the IMTS Pavilions, including commentary on technology trends and LOTS of product previews.

My first IMTS was in 2006 and the show has grown dramatically since then, now drawing well over 100,000 visitors. They’ll have a lot to see, according to the writers of our pavilion coverage. For example, in Tooling & Workholding Systems, discussions will focus on how manufacturers can implement Industry 4.0 through new machine monitoring programs; streamline operations with automation; use high-precision chucks for faster changeouts on collets, bushings, and jaws; and run cutting tools designed for new milling strategies made possible by five-axis machine tools.

Speaking of machines, in our Metal Cutting preview you’ll not only learn that new turning, milling, and drilling strategies will be presented as standalone, multi-machine or cellular machining process solutions, but also that disruptive technologies like additive manufacturing and digitalization are changing the machining equation. More data are being collected from machines and from end-use products, and manufacturers are beginning to use this data to transform their understanding of how to minimize machine downtime.

Likewise, if you read our coverage of the Quality Assurance Pavilion, you’ll learn how quality devices are “burrowing their way into the heart of manufacturing—on the shop floor.” Quite simply, in-machine measurement has become an integral element of high-end CNC machining.

Who Will Make it Work?

All that technology is great, but one of the questions is how do we get people to learn about and use it? Of course there will be thousands of people who are already working in manufacturing prowling the halls of McCormick Place, but we need more.

One inspiring story, from SME’s “Humans in Manufacturing” series, tells the story of how Gene Sherman, a political refugee from Ukraine, grew up working in his family’s California machine shop and has now founded Vocademy in Riverside, CA, a facility he calls “an Olympic Training Center version of a makerspace,” where 80% of the experience is focused on hands-on training in over a dozen advanced manufacturing disciplines. You can read about Gene and lots of other “humans” at

We’ll need lots of people like Gene Sherman to spread the word about why manufacturing is a great career. And you can find out about what SME is doing and how you can help at our booth at IMTS. Our initiatives like Tooling U-SME, the SME Education Foundation, and student innovation tours and competitions are helping bridge the skills gap. Come on by and see us in September!

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