September 2012: Ever been to the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago?
What a place! Right on the Chicago lakefront of Lake Michigan just south of downtown. It is over now until 2014 but make plans to attend if you are looking for ideas to increase productivity. Formerly known as the International Machine Tool Show, IMTS happens every even numbered year. There were thousands of machinery and equipment companies in 4 huge buildings that took more than one day to see even if you walked fast. Some of the companies had booths that were 2 stories high with a functioning 2nd floor. The exhibitors pay many thousands, sometimes millions to display and demonstrate their machines at the weeklong IMTS show.
The Asian manufacturers came on very strong with a huge number of CNC machining centers. Mazak, Okuma and Makino were right in front but the largest booth at the whole show was DMG-Mori Seiki. Representatives of European manufacturers are still strong but now outnumbered. The Republic-Lagun booth is notable because the huge $2.3 million Zayer CNC bridge mill machining center they exhibited in their booth was as large as our office. That is a serious machine. The American CNC machining centers and turning centers were represented by Haas and Fryer, but their booths are smaller than past years. Fadal is no longer.
One of our favorite companies, JET, had a huge booth with many different machines, and not just the usual manual drills, saws and lathes. This year their booth also included a JET CNC Lathe, a JET CNC Milling machine and an JET automatic feed bandsaw with automatic cut. JET has come a long way with their product line.
It was also interesting that several companies exhibited fabrication machinery at the show though the show is normally for machines and tools that specialize in chip removal, EDM and precision measuring. A perfect example is Edwards Ironworker Company. Edwards displayed 6 working Ironworker machines, a hydraulic pipe bender and a hydraulic press with brake press tooling in it. They actually allowed people to punch holes, shear plate, notch angle iron, bend pipe and flat bar for a real hands-on demonstration of their machines. Not many exhibitors allow a hands-on experience for the show attendees. Edwards must be confident of their machine capabilites and safety.
One company also had to be different, Fowler. Fowler had a helicopter in their booth. Imagine that! Several companies had a race car or exotic motorcycle in their booths but the helicopter was a real show stopper. So was the huge IMTS hot air balloon tied up outside the main entrance of the show. If you want to see what you missed you can see photos and videos on the IMTS website. The IMTS will happen again in September 2014. We will be there. Mark your calendar.
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