2016 brought us another round of the International Manufacturing and Technology Show in Chicago, Illinois. Every two years, the IMTS show brings together the big names in manufacturing, predominately representing the metal cutting industry. It also attracts hundreds of thousands of business owners, machinists, distributors, and media to see the newest technology in manufacturing. Needless to say, while few of these technologies are relevant to small to medium size manufacturers, they are exciting to see, touch, and learn from. A few highlights included:
Carbon – Carbon is a 3D printing manufacturer that does things a bit differently. Carbon printers build the model using imaging and curing with light as opposed to “building” layer by layer. This allows the product to have a consistent framework as opposed to “layers” of plastic piled on top of each other. What’s most fascinating is when produced, the product essentially rises out of liquid in front of your eyes (at a slow pace). Watch more here.
Local Motors – Still making 3D printed cars but also trying to solve larger world problems (driverless cars, traffic gridlock, etc)
3-Axis Who? – One thing is certain, machine tool builders are no longer interested in selling you a 3-axis mill or lathe. With the idea of productivity and speed at the forefront of manufacturing, nearly all the machines on display could do more with less human interaction. Between intricate CADCAM programming, multi-axis machining, and advanced automation, with the right work and equipment, you can do WAY more with LESS! Specific examples included the Hermle machine tools, Universal Robots, and old favorites like FANUC (Watch this FANUC robot move a Corvette! I saw this live at IMTS!)
IMTS 2016 was a great time once again. Is there a lot of repetitive booths that you walk by quickly with little interest? Yes. Is there always new things to see and touch that you never expected possible? Yes. Is it worth going again in two years if the only reason is to enjoy the city of Chicago? Yes.
The most exciting reason to go to the IMTS show is to see all the new products and ideas that people are designing, improving, and making possible. This is truly a place to see where we are headed as a people via technology and the ambition to makes things better, faster.