IMTS 2014: Digital technology takes centre stage
- September 14, 2014
The digital world was front and centre at the recent International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS), held September 8-13 at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL.
Close to 115,000 people, close to the third largest attendance in IMTS' history, attended the 2015 trade show and conference. The large attendance was evident in the aisles, where, literally, in some buildings (e.g. South Building for machine tools) people walked elbow-to-elbow.
Perhaps no surprise to many, digital technology, from 3D manufacturing to machine tool communication technologies, was a big focus for many of the 1,500-plus exhibitors.
The most significant change in manufacturing in the past five years has been the acceleration of smarter machining technologies, encompassing automation, engineering design, controls and software.
Companies such as Makino highlighted its automation and engineering services, while DMG MORI, Mazak and Okuma showcased HMI's, advanced CNC control platforms and online digital applications (e.g. DMG MORI's CELOS, Mazak's new Mazatrol Smooth Technology, and Okuma's App Store, offering the first downloadable CNC machine tool apps).
3D manufacturing in action
There was much to see at IMTS 2014 but a highlight for many attendees was the additive manufacturing centre outside the North Building where the world's first 3D-printed car was printed and assembled in 44 hours, ready to drive. The vehicle, called the Strati, was created by a team lead by Local Motors. The vehicle was printed in one piece using direct digital manufacturing (DDM), the first time this method was used to produce a car. The 3D-printed car was a collaborative effort that included Local Motors, Cincinnati Inc., and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest US science and energy lab within the US government's Department of Energy.