Entering the Anaheim Convention Center last year for my first show was an interesting experience. It was much larger than anticipated, and there was little time between meeting companies. The show was large and it could be a little overwhelming to try to cover it all. For this year’s MD&M show, I don’t expect much to change.
While I am excited to leave Manhattan, it isn’t completely because of the weather. The MD&M show provides an opportunity to meet with many companies face-to-face, not only to obtain press and new product releases, but to see what their focus is. To try and expedite this information to the Machine Design readers, I will continue live tweeting from @jkerns10. Some companies will be tweeting as well, so keep an eye out for #UBMWest.
Tuesday was my first day on this year’s show floor and while I saw many of the same companies as last year, there were a lot of new products and trends—including plenty of collaborative robots. Many companies are seeing the value of having a benchtop robot that can give workers an extra hand. Some companies are using Universal Robot’s technology with handy grippers, while others are getting ready to launch their own collaborative robots. Fanuc is working on a family of robots and unveiled the new CR-7iA collaborative robot at this year’s show. The CR-35iA released last year and is currently available.
Another trend I’m noticing is the big automation companies are displaying highly dynamic and programmable automation lines powered by linear induction. Linear motors offer far fewer moving parts, and this technology offers seemingly limitless possibilities in automated lines.
Where did all the 3D printing companies go? Last year seemed to showcase an endless array of 3D printers, and this year I only noticed a few. The ones I noticed were more for metal and nylon parts. One 3D printer that always has a strong showing at MD&M is Protolabs. They told me things are going well and, despite 3D printing being popular, the company’s injection molding is still a quick and great way to make prototypes and streamline production to manufacturing if that is the end-goal. Protolabs assured me though that both technologies were going strong.
This show was the first time I ran into Futek, a company that knows how to engage with an engineering audience. Showing off its technology by integrating the company’s sensors with Legos, passersby could interact with simple components to sort marbles or operate a crane. Many others were showing off sorting machines and robots arms. Denso brought their baked cookie serving arm again, and while the company’s technology is capable of doing much more, show-goers need to take a minute, stop, and grab a cookie when they see this display.
I am about to run back into the MD&M show to see what Bimba, B&R Automation, Altech, and many others have to show. I’m happy to stay here as long as it takes to get as much information as possible.