Technology Show USA: Highest Number of Exhibitors at International Manufacturing Technology Show 2016

Editor: Rosemarie Stahl

The final numbers of IMTS 2016 show that the international exhibition for manufacturing technology was a full success. According to the report, the 31st edition of the show was the third largest in number of registrations and exhibit space and it had the highest number of exhibitors.

The third largest International Manufacturing Technology Show reported for 2016 a total of 115,612 registrations. With a total of 2,407 it also attracted the highest number of exhibiting companies.
The third largest International Manufacturing Technology Show reported for 2016 a total of 115,612 registrations. With a total of 2,407 it also attracted the highest number of exhibiting companies.
(Bild: Pixabay)

IMTS 2016, which ran from September 12 – 17 at Chicago’s McCormick Place has published its final numbers: With 115,612 registrations and a total of 1,370,256 square feet exhibition space, it was the third largest show. In addition it had the highest number of exhibiting companies of all times: 2,407.

“IMTS has grown not only in size, but in the overall scope of manufacturing,” said Peter R. Eelman, Vice President – Exhibitions & Business Development at AMT (The Association For Manufacturing Technology), which owns and manages IMTS. “There are more compelling reasons for people to attend. Whether they come to research new technology, evaluate vendors before purchasing, find solutions or connect with the leaders in the manufacturing industry, there is simply no substitute for attending IMTS.”

Digitalisation, additive manufacturing and robotics: the trend technologies at IMTS 2016

According to Tim Shinbara, AMT Vice President – Manufacturing Technology, the most dominant technologies at this year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show were additive manufacturing, robotics automation and an increasing digital thread.

“Four years ago, only one company exhibited a hybrid machine. At IMTS 2016, we had multiple companies demonstrate machines with both additive and subtractive capabilities, meeting the supply side demand for structural metallic components,” said Shinbara. With traditional CNC manufacturers becoming more involved with additive, he believes that they will apply their knowledge of industrial requirements when building hybrid machines.

On the automation side, embedded sensors and processors moved closer to the moment of inertia, enabling split second decision-making that prevents collisions or enables a smooth, fluid and rapid response. “Moving robotic intelligence nearer to the end of the arm enables more collaborative manufacturing where humans and robots can work closely and more safely together,” said Shinbara.

With regard to digitization, numerous companies introduced equipment with Industrial Internet of Things (IIot) capabilities. “We’re seeing an acceleration and acceptance of protocols such at MTConnect. This ‘data dictionary’ enables the creation of a digital thread linking components, processes and analytical tools,” said Shinbara. He foresees that, by IMTS 2018, C-suite business decisions will be made based on real-time data being pulled from the production floor and among facilities.

Popular program at IMTS 2016 featured co-located shows and conferences

The conference sessions at IMTS 2016 collectively attracted 2,296 attendees and offered 159 sessions spanning 151+ hours of programing. “The hottest topic, judging solely by attendance, was Additive Manufacturing. Gardner Business Media’s Additive Manufacturing Conference brought in 475 attendees, while the EOS NAUD registered nearly 600 people,” said Bill Herman, Director - International Exhibitions and Sponsorship, AMT.

The Additive Manufacturing Conference, Sept. 13-14, was highly successful in large part due to the serious growth in industrial part production, particularly in the aerospace market. Adoption curves are more quickly advancing from prototyping to production, as evidenced by Caterpillar’s Additive Manufacturing Product Manager, who discussed the company evolution into additive manufacturing of larger aftermarket components. Autodesk presented its view on the large leaps made in the materials being used in additive manufacturing.

“The five co-located events powered by Hannover Messe at IMTS 2016 were a hit with IMTS visitors,” said Larry Turner, President/CEO of Hannover Fairs USA. “Attendees across all five shows told us they visited our industrial events and conferences to secure digital manufacturing tips, to source Industrial Internet of Things solutions and to meet key companies and thought leaders in the Industrial Automation, Motion Drive, Fluid Technology, Surface Treatment, Air & Vacuum Technology and Industrial Supply sectors.”

All show exhibitors reported that they exceeded their new business lead expectations from qualified buyers looking to source new products and technologies launched at the five shows. “We more than doubled our exhibition space this year and expect to increase our footprint again in two years due to repeat bookings for exhibition space at IMTS 2018,” said Turner.

Technology highlights at IMTS

A highlight of futuristic technology at IMTS was AMT’s Emerging Technology Center (ETC) display. The ETC featured the AMIE (Additive Manufacturing Integrated Energy) project from the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). AMIE featured a 3D-printed house and 3D-printed utility vehicle. Both were made from carbon fiber-reinforced ABS plastic composite material at the DOE’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL using large-scale additive manufacturing.

In addition the 3D printed house and vehicles, the ETC featured the “additive bionic human” with medical implants printed using laser sintering technology from EOS North America, a partner in the exhibit. EOS displayed a cranial implant, tracheal implant, dental implant, leg prosthesis and joints for the ETC.

Another highlight, the IMTS Ride Experience featured the breakthrough technology in “Olli,” a self-driving electric vehicle that deftly navigated through the structural support pillars in C-Hall. Equipped with IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) technology, Olli represents how Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) and 3D printing are fundamentally changing the way manufacturers create products, in turn creating a future where product development timelines are significantly reduced.