It’s Big and It’s Back: IMTS 2004

July 26, 2004
Billed as one of the largest industrial trade shows in the world, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) is set to prompt thousands of exhibitors and tens of thousands attendees (some 85,000 in 2002) to make their biennial trek to Chicago's McCormick Place, September 8-15.

Ten Pavilions, No Waiting

Ten industry-specific product pavilions will make it easy for show visitors to go directly to those products and vendors that they want to see most. New this year is the Fluid Power Pavilion, presented in cooperation with the National Fluid Power Assn., and featuring hydraulic motion control solutions for industrial machinery.

Show Hours

Lakeside Center Halls D & E (East): 9:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m.

South Building Hall A & North Building Hall B: 10:00 a.m.--6:00 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 12 Only--All Buildings: 10:00 a.m.--4:00 p.m.

The show's pavilion concept began in 1990 and now includes the majority of the show’s exhibit space. With 152 exhibitors, the Metal Cutting Pavilion occupies the most real estate at the show. Encompassing everything from machining centers and assembly automation to flexible manufacturing systems and lathes this pavilion is sure to draw production and manufacturing systems engineers looking to satiate their pent-up demand for new capital equipment. The Tooling & Workholding Systems Pavilion, with 300 exhibits, features jigs, fixtures, cutting tools of all types and related accessories.

For those hunting the cutting edge, the Metal Forming & Fabricating/Laser Pavilion will host all types of presses as well as laser systems, waterjet machining systems, coil and strip handling equipment, heat treating and more. Other IMTS pavilions include Abrasive Machining/Sawing/Finishing; Controls & CAD-CAM; EDM; Gear Generation; Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental; and Quality Assurance.

Conference Call

While the hardware basks in the limelight, behind most every machine or production system at the show is a machine designer, production engineer or similar expert wanting to share information on how they’ve made it work harder, faster, longer and so on. Those and other topics will be offered for general consumption at the concurrent IMTS 2004 Manufacturing Conference, sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) September 8-10. As always, the conference will feature a variety of manufacturing and engineering topics, addressing the needs of all manufacturers through papers on manufacturing strategies, technology sessions and case studies.

The conference schedule is segmented into four tracks: Lean Manufacturing, Machining and Tooling, Manufacturing Strategies, and—new this year—Technologies That Could Change the Way You Manufacture. That track will begin with a half-day session, When Adopting New Technologies Makes Sense (Cents), focusing on the benefits and risks of adopting technologies.

 It Started in Cleveland

The first National Machine Tool Builders’ Exposition was held September 19-23, 1927, in the Cleveland Auditorium. The show occupied 63,000 sq. ft. and attendance topped 12,000. Many of the machines shown were entirely new and many others embodied 1927's newest technology features.


The show required more power than any single industry exposition ever held anywhere before. A special transformer station erected for the show was rated to handle 5,000 hp and cost $50,000.


The show’s organizers noted, "The show brought vividly to your customers the importance of an industry that could show 428 operating machines, ranging in size from milling machines weighing 100,000 lbs., down to small portable machines like electric drills."


There are a number of subjects that should interest the attending machine control designer including "CNC 5-Axis Compensation Functions to Reduce Programming Time," and "Assessment of Machining Models," September 9 in the 1-4 p.m. slot; and "Successfully Implementing Robotic Automation for Machine Tending," "Justifying Machine Tool Purchases," and "Role of Multi-tasking Machines in Lean Manufacturing," September 10 in the 1-4 p.m. slot.

Harry Dodd, manager of Advanced Machining Technology at Caterpillar’s Technical Center, will deliver the conference keynote, “Challenging Trends in Global Manufacturing and Insights for the Future,” on Thursday, September 9 at 8:00 a.m. With more than 34 years experience with a prominent international machine tool builder and three global manufacturers, Dodd will offer what he views as the more challenging trends in manufacturing today--the ones that are having a dramatic impact on technology providers, machine tool builders, and manufacturers.

Emerging Technology Center to Focus on Future

A multimedia extravaganza featuring the sights and sounds of manufacturing’s future will greet show attendees entering a new exhibit area showcasing companies and organizations that are researching and developing the next generation of manufacturing technologies. The show's partner in this project, GE Fanuc Automation, has moved its entire exhibit into the ETC. Participants include universities, business incubators, think tanks and business/education partnerships.

Exhibits will include robotics; software approaches to configuration and production optimization; equipment monitoring; laser-assisted machining; micro-machining; lean tooling techniques; vibration monitoring; nanotechnology applications, including finishing, cutting, automotive and polishing; automated inspection systems; and ultra-low-power, self-organizing wireless sensor networks.