International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS)

This week, the 2008 International Manufacturing Technology Show took over McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois, USA. IMTS is a biannual trade show for the manufacturing industry, and it is massive. Nearly 100,000 visitors descended on the Windy City to walk the convention center floors and see the latest in manufacturing technology. I flew to Chicago on Wednesday and it seemed as if everyone on my Southwest Airlines flight was headed to the same place. Before hitting the show, I took a train/cab combo to visit Montana Metal Products in Des Plaines. MMP is a precision fabricating and machining company that is run by a friend. I got a great tour from a 48 year veteran of MMP. He knows the place even better than the owner! It was a fruitful visit and I learned some best practices that have helped make them successful for many  years.

 

Following my visit, I reversed course, returned to downtown Chicago, and checked into my hotel. Then, it was another cab ride to the south side. Once I reached McCormick Place, one of the largest convention centers in the world, I registered and met up with a couple of my colleagues from Horst Engineering. Art Roti and Jim Bowtruczyk had flown out the day before and they were wrapping up their visit as I was beginning mine. We toured the Abrasive Machining hall together and evaluated centerless grinding equipment.

There are four major buildings at McCormick Place and IMTS was using all of them. I first attended in 2004, but I was still blown away by the size of this year’s convention. I returned to McCormick Place both on Thursday and Friday, spending a good part of both days looking at machining equipment, grinding equipment, software, gauging, and other examples of the latest manufacturing technology. 

I connected with my friends (and editors) from Today’s Machining World magazine and discussed story ideas. In chatting with them, we agreed that the overall atmosphere of the show was positive. Despite having a strong Midwest oriented automotive influence, attendees were still upbeat about the overall manufacturing economy. Automotive may be really weak, but other industries like aerospace, wind turbine, power generation, farm/construction equipment, medical device, commercial construction, and oil/gas drilling are still strong, especially outside the US.

 

All of these industries need precision manufactured products. To make those parts, you need a lot of heavy equipment and tooling. Those are the folks who were selling their stuff in Chicago this week. I’ll be curious to see the post show statistics in order to get a sense from the sellers, who spent huge amounts for their exhibits, employees, and travel; if they are happy with the 2008 IMTS. 

A few other observations:

1) Putting on a trade show of this scale is a massive undertaking. 

2) The food and beverage vendors were gouging the buyers. 

3) Big machines were all the rage this year. Industries like oil/gas require very large components. Those parts need to be made on very large machines. 

4) The automation is really insane. Everyone is auto-loading their machines with the latest generation robots. Also, the cost of automation is coming down quickly. 

5) Inflation has had a big influence on current machine tool and accessory pricing. There really aren’t a lot of deals right now. 

IMTS will be back in 2010.

2 Responses to “International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS)”


  1. 1 swarfblo 16 September 2008 at 12:03 pm

    Good observations Scott. Tons of automation. Huge machines. Even bigger were the booths.

    Good, enthusiastic people, including myself.

    Food was ridiculous prices and awful selection of dreck. But I met a lot of the most interesting people in the eating venues. I think I saw about 5 Starbuckses too. Loved the Haas tables, napkins and cups, not to mention the women.


  1. 1 EASTEC « Life Adventures Trackback on 29 May 2009 at 10:20 pm

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