As a first-time attendee exploring endless aisles of machine tools at North America’s largest and longest-running manufacturing trade show, I was completely overwhelmed, unlike my editor, Chris Koepfer, who has now been to 14 of this particular show. Although the combination of the size of the show, the large number of attendees it attracted and the creativity of the exhibitors’ booths made the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) 2006 a bit mind-boggling, these characteristics are also what made the show successful.
For the first time in 6 years, attendance reached more than 91,000, which increased 6 percent from IMTS 2004, where 86,232 people attended. The increase in attendance speaks positively for the industry. “The lift in attendance clearly shows that visitors understand the key to the future is productivity, and the interest in upgrading facilities is growing rapidly,” says Peter R. Eelman, AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology vice president of exhibitions. AMT is the show sponsor.
Prior to the show, I was told it is huge, but I didn’t grasp that meaning entirely until I was standing in the Grand Concourse that connects three halls filled with booths housing various-sized machine tools as well as the technology behind them. Looking at my map and reading the signs hanging above me, I couldn’t help but notice the energy of the eclectic crowd that shuffled past me, not to mention the vast amount of people that made up this crowd.
Once in the show’s halls, I was impressed with the quality of the exhibitors’ booths and the efforts made to be original, which went a long way to attract booth traffic for these companies. From live tigers to ice sculptures to models dressed in safari garb, some manufacturers went to great lengths to draw special attention to their exhibits, while doing their best to inform, teach and network with visitors.
Not only were visitors able to talk directly to exhibitors—manufacturers in the metalworking industry—about the new technology they offer, but they also were able to take advantage of several show highlights, including the Emerging Technology Center, NIMS Student Summit (for student attendees) and the BattleBotsIQ. These special exhibits prove that IMTS is not simply another manufacturing show, but an exposition that portrays our industry as one that has made a commitment to its future.
After getting over my initial shock the show left me feeling, I learned a great deal about the industry—its enormous size, its importance on an international level and the technology it has to offer.
The biennial show will decrease the number of operation days for IMTS 2008, as it will run 6 days instead of its traditional 8 days. IMTS 2008 will be held September 8-13, 2008, spilling over into the expanded McCormick Place West that will open in fall 2007.
Although the IMTS show itself has closed for another 2 years, IMTS.com will be up and running continuously, offering the industry information about the show’s past, present and future. For more information about IMTS 2006 and 2008, go to www.imts.com.