Pick a metric, any metric, and the 2018 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS 2018) topped them all.

Exhibitors? 2,563, up 6.5% from 2016’s record number.

Floor space filled with equipment? 1.42 million square feet, up nearly 8,400ft2 from 2000’s record.

Students attending to see the latest technology and possibly impress an employer? 23,000, up 35% from 2016’s record.

Crowd size? At 129,415 visitors, 2018 blasted past the 121,764-person record set in 1998 when Bill Clinton was halfway through his second term in the White House, the biggest technology story was the coming Y2K bug, and telecommunications providers were still a year away from adding the Internet to mobile phones. The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 weren’t major show themes that year.

Connectivity technologies were on display in nearly every booth at McCormick Place in September as cutting tool providers, machine tool makers, workholding providers, metrology companies, and software providers pitched technologies to track and control manufacturing, removing waste and cost from processes.

“Connectivity, the digital transformation of manufacturing, automation, additive manufacturing, and a strong economy drove record numbers at IMTS 2018,” says Peter R. Eelman, vice president of Exhibitions and Business Development at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the organization that owns and produces IMTS. “Digitization collided with a robust manufacturing industry to create our most dynamic show ever.”

Though not a scientific measure of success, many exhibitors reported record crowds at their booths, saying they gathered more sales leads and more interest in near-term equipment sales than at previous shows.

Need an even less empirical gage on demand for information on manufacturing technology? Every morning of the show, security guards had to prevent people from entering the South Hall early.

GIE Media Manufacturing Group

The publishing company behind Aerospace Manufacturing & Design, Today’s Medical Developments, and Today’s Motor Vehicles moved from the West Hall to the North Hall for the 2018 show, showcasing Today’s Technology Center booth and its focus on how manufacturing technology impacts final products. Highlights included a 2019 Ram 1500 pickup and a 2018 Jeep Wrangler from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) that demonstrated the growth of aluminum and other lightweight materials in the automotive world, a technology demonstration version of ONE Aviation’s Eclipse 550 light jet that showed the value of friction-stir welding technologies, and a variety of medical implants (and accompanying videos) displayed the capabilities of modern metal-cutting tools and machines.

Miles for Manufacturing

Another IMTS 2018 record – nearly 500 runners participated in Miles for Manufacturing 5k run, eclipsing the fewer than 350 who ran in 2016. Between runner fees and generous sponsorship from many of IMTS’ top exhibitors, the race generated more than $28,000 for STEM-based education programs that promote careers in manufacturing, exceeding the $25,000 goal.

In the men’s division, race winners were:

  • Brian List, 16:54
  • Jose Mari Viniegra, 16:59
  • Matt McMillian, 17:08

In the women’s division, race winners were:

  • Estelle de Verclos, 21:30
  • Laura Gilmour, 22:09
  • Tarah Mendez, 22:42

Full results are available at https://tinyurl.com/ybs5xvyv.

Okuma America Corp. introduced its Genos L3000-E lathe series at IMTS 2018. Though automation, additive manufacturing, and software have gained popularity, the big machine tools continued to draw the most attention at IMTS 2018. https://www.okuma.com

Universal Robots unveiled the e-Series collaborative robot line at the show. Cobots were frequent sights throughout McCormick, displayed in machine tending, pick-and-place, material handling, and packing cells at various booths. https://www.universal-robots.com
Visitors examine specialty cutters from Ingersoll Cutting Tools. Many tool providers focused on application-engineered designs for the show. https://www.ingersoll-imc.com
Mazak engineers demonstrate additive manufacturing on a hybrid machine, depositing metal on a cylinder. Multiple companies debuted additive technologies at IMTS 2018. http://www.mazak.com
Engineers and salespeople prepare for the onrush of visitors at the Mitsui Seiki and Takumi booths in McCormick Place’s South Hall before the hall opened during IMTS 2018. http://www.mitsuiseiki.com; http://www.takumiusa.com