Three IMTS 2022 Themes

Aug. 18, 2022
AMT’s Peter Eelman breaks down three themes we can expect to emerge from IMTS this year.
To see other IMTS preview videos, visit our coverage hub or watch this video until the end.

It’s been four years since the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) has been staged in Chicago, and those four years have seen seismic change in manufacturing and the world. As the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) prepares to stage North America’s largest manufacturing show on the shores of Lake Michigan, Machine Design Senior Content Director Bob Vavra spoke with Peter Eelman, chief experience officer at AMT, about the changes in technology and presentation for this year’s event and how the 2022 show will be familiar, yet very different. The interview was edited for length and clarity.

Bob Vavra: So Peter, your four-year vacation is just about over now.

Peter Eelman: I know, and it couldn’t be soon enough. I don’t think I’d call this a vacation, but I can’t wait. As we’re recording this, it’s less than a month from when I’ll be moving my address down to 2301 South Lake Shore Drive, and I can’t wait. And I think a lot of people in the industry can’t wait.

BV: The whole team’s got to be really excited about getting back to the business of IMTS.

PE: We were full into the planning in 2020. It wasn’t like it was an early cancel; we were well down the road. So, it was it was so strange to get all the way into the cycle and then all of a sudden all of those plans went out the window and then we had all that period of uncertainty.

And then we followed that up with kind of starting the whole process over again and sorting out who was in, who was out, who wanted bigger space, who wanted smaller space. You know, there’s a lot of a lot of moving parts over four years and companies getting acquired and are doing different things. So, we kind of started over from scratch.

It’s been exciting because throughout the process, it’s gotten more solid and tactile. You know, you can touch it now. You can feel it. It keeps me busy because even at night—sometimes I don’t want to check my screen because I got to answer 20 other questions or, you know, comment on 20 more postings because people are that excited about IMTS 2022.

BV: Sure. You know, and one of the things I’ve always admired about IMTS and about AMT is, I covered them over the years. Your evolution from a machine tool show to a manufacturing technology show, the partners you’ve created over time…it’s genius because A. that’s the way the industry was headed; and B because you didn’t have to change the “MT” in any of your initials.

PE: Well, that’s right.

BV: It’s really been a great vision in partnership with folks like Hannover Messe, partnerships with a number of the other associations with trade publications across the U.S., and so it’s really exciting to have all those entities come back to Chicago, because I know Chicago’s missed IMTS.

PE: Oh, yeah.

BV: And, I have told people with no hesitations, one of the most useful weeks of my year.

PE: Well, we hope it’s the most useful week of everybody’s year. But it’s also—we’ve said for a long time—one of the things about IMTS is, it really is the ecosystem. It is everyone together in one big mix, you’re learning. You’re not it’s not just a selling show: It’s a learning show, it’s a discovery show, it’s a reunion. It’s all of that and that that’s why I think it holds a unique place in people’s minds. It’s not a singular-purpose event.

And, you know, the people side of this industry is something we’ve been we’ve been emphasizing in our IMTS+ product. The industry has a personality and coming to IMTS, you get to explore that. You get to meet people who are remarkable and this industry spawns remarkable people. And I think IMTS celebrates that.

BV: And so much has changed both in manufacturing and in trade shows since 2018. If you were to sum up the differences for 2022 at IMTS, what would you highlight?

PE: I think a big part of it is preparation on all sides. Visitors prepare more. We noticed that with the amount of folks that are using the “Map Your Show” program to get themselves ready for the show. From a from a visitor perspective, they’re planning and they’re thinking.

From a show’s perspective, there are so many things that—I don’t want to say take for granted—but become normalized. You have the same number of vendors and you know how to work with our Chicago partners to put the show on. But in four years, the cast of characters changes, like it or not. And we’ve had to kind of approach the show unlike we’ve ever approached an IMTS.

I always kid about that. My staff hates me because I make them rip it up after every show and start over to make every show fresh. Well, this time we had everything ripped up, even things we didn’t want to rip up. We’ve had changes in how you do business, how you approach it. But you know what? It’s sometimes healthy.

And as we’re kind of moving into it, we’ve got new methods of moving machinery in. We’ve got new methods of managing things. And I think in the long run, these are all going to benefit us because we’ve had a chance to really sit back, think and really kind of diagnose and examine every piece of the show and see where it where it can be improved. And I think the visitor is going to have a much-improved experience at IMTS 2022.

BV: Let’s look at the show itself. Four years ago you were 3D printing whole cars. And now we’re at a point where 3D printing is really a mature technology and the shift in the industry has gone to digital manufacturing, digital twins, a lot of emphasis of the cloud. How is that going to be reflected in the show, do you think?

PE: Well, really three things. There’s digital manufacturing, which is actually the theme of the show. Digital manufacturing has been around theoretically for quite a while. I mean, you probably wrote your first story about it 25 years ago, but now it’s I think the biggest step is that we used to have these kinds of concepts in our emerging technology center or places like that. Now you’re going to find it everywhere.

I would challenge someone to walk around the show and find a booth where someone isn’t doing some or connecting through some method of digital manufacturing. You wouldn’t be in business without it. It’s become that germane to manufacturing. I think you’ll see a ton of that everywhere.

You mentioned digital twin; that’s in about a third of the press releases we see that are coming out because that’s what people do. That’s more the business. 3D printing…Another one that you didn’t mention, I think is going to be prevalent throughout the show is automation and the use of automation as an ongoing part of your purchase. Buying a standalone machine these days, you may buy it, but you’re also thinking about how you’re automating it, hooking it into your own system. So you’re going to see a ton of that throughout the show.

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