Gearing up for this year’s International Manufacturing and Technology Show (IMTS), I was reminded of show-and-tell when we were in grade school. Everyone would bring in their new toy and show off the cool features. While the 2016 IMTS seems like a more serious version of show-and-tell for a company’s sales and marketing departments, for me, it’s all about the new toys and features. There is a lot to cover, but I am not alone. My Machine Design colleagues Nancy Friedrich and Carlos Gonzalez are on the show floor with me.
Many companies will be presenting interesting demonstrations to try to get people into booths. AutoDesk is featuring a machinist turned artist, while other companies are hosting an Indy 500 winner, 3D printed cars, and more. I am looking forward to visiting with companies such as Igus, Harting, and Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. I will also be meeting with Hewlett-Packard, AMK, Rittal, and more to see their newest and best products.
However, it’s not all fun and games. Companies spend a lot of money to show off their abilities. Manufacturing is important for economy and job creation, and expos can account for a large amount of relationships and deals that represent a company’s work and profit. So while you are looking at our galleries and news from the show, keep in mind where these products and services fit into the manufacturing process, and if you might benefit from any of them.
Once I arrived at the show, I spotted Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) just at the opening of McCormick Place’s North Hall. They were showing off a couple 3D-printed cars and a mobile laboratory. One printed vehicle was the 1952 Willy’s M38 Jeep. Using the original jeep, ORNL researchers were able to print directly from a CAD model. Another flat-black jeep was printed with a mobile lab. The lab collects power from photovoltaics on the roof. This is used to run state-of-the-art kitchen facilities in the laboratory, and wirelessly charge the jeep. In addition, the jeep works with the building as a micro-smart grid.
Continuing through the show to the Machine Design booth (NC-129), I saw just about every automated robotic arm I ever knew existed and some new ones. While I can’t wait to explore this massive show, I know these few days I have will not be enough.