IMTS 2024 Offers Hidden Technology Gems, New Exhibitors
IMTS 2024 – The International Manufacturing Technology Show offers an opportunity to discover unexpected solutions at more than 1,500 booths, including more than 65 first-time exhibitors offering innovative solutions. Examples include haptic feedback to improve remote robot operation and digital training, quality control software that can manage millions of data points, additive manufacturing powders and gases, business services to address labor issues via an app, and many more. IMTS 2024 runs Sept. 9-14 at McCormick Place in Chicago and is held every even-numbered year. IMTS 2022 attracted 86,307 registrants.
“What makes IMTS 2024 extraordinary is that every aisle offers new approaches to improve productivity, lower costs, and solve problems,” says Peter R. Eelman, chief experience officer at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS. “One of the comments I hear every show is, ‘We would have never learned about this solution if we didn’t come to IMTS.’ Solutions range from foundational products to technologies that transform your business operation.”
Matt Gawlik, president of 3D Graphite & Machining in Schaumburg, Illinois, has attended every show since 1992.
“We found a cutting tool that decreased run time by 300%, but my best bang for the buck at IMTS has always been on the technology side. Specifically, solutions in the Software Sector for streamlining all of our processes, from ERP to design to CAM,” Gawlik says. “One thing to check out at IMTS 2024 is APIs (application programming interfaces) and how their utilization allows software solutions to talk to each other. One of the problems right now is that there are so many different things happening at once that it’s hard to collect data and present it in a usable way.”
Benjamin Moses, director of technology at AMT, notes that visitors come to the show to connect with existing suppliers and see new product launches from major brands.
“There are always hidden gems at IMTS,” says Moses. “These often come from startups exhibiting for the first time and established companies trying to reach new markets in the manufacturing sector.” Some of the first-time exhibitors at IMTS 2024 that have caught his eye include the following:
- Haply Robotics (booth #236451) will demonstrate its Inverse3 portable force-feedback controller that replicates the sensory input required when simulating technical tasks (haptics provide physical feedback for digital activities, such as the vibration felt when “pressing” a smartphone button). Remote-controlled robots are well-established for medical applications, and they are now moving into manufacturing applications such as welding and virtual reality training.
- Quality control (QC) software from 1factory (booth #134350) speeds up tasks that include drawing ballooning, QC plan creation, inspection data collection (it can handle more than 1 million data points per month), analysis, and reporting. Customers report that problems can be identified at the machine to make corrections early in the manufacturing process. With the trend to capture and manage data for more features per part, especially for space and defense applications, manufacturers find that they need more powerful quality control software that is also easier to use.
- The founders of Gig and Take (booth #135842) had experienced the challenges factories faced in hiring and retaining talent, which included rigid work schedules. To enable factories to offer flexible, modular, and accessible work schedules, they created a software app that matches workers with shifts. The app adds schedule flexibility for existing workers and unlocks new talent pools, such as those seeking part-time work.
- Sinico Service S.r.l. (booth #338794) started in Italy in 1962, and in 2016, they created Sinico MTM US on the outskirts of Cleveland. Among other CNCs, it specializes in the design and construction of automatic rotary transfer cut-off and end-finishing machines. Products such as its Top 1100 CNC Plus are able to perform operations such as chamfering, facing, drilling, threading, tapping, boring, and more at up to 2,600 pieces per hour.
- Hirebotics LLC (booth #236341) offers an innovative, app-based approach for high-mix, low-volume cobot welding. The company’s Beacon software enables welders and fabricators (not robot programmers) to use a standard smartphone or tablet to create weld paths for a Universal Robots arm. Easy-to-use cobots increase productivity and consistency for repetitive tasks, freeing skilled welders to take on more complex tasks.
- Gimbel Automation’s (booth #236331) CNC Spindle Grippers are robotic components designed to automate the process of loading and unloading parts in a CNC machine using the CNC machine itself as its own robot. By seamlessly attaching directly to the spindle of the machine, these grippers are capable of manipulating workpieces with precision, speed, and efficiency. Adjustable gripper fingers hold numerous sizes of round or square parts without needing custom fingers.
- Software engineers will want to take a look at Copia Automation (booth #236313) and its powerful but easy-to-use programming tools for PLCs. The company’s Git-based version control increases file accessibility and streamlines workflows. Automation professionals spend less time searching for files, reviewing code and code changes, and resolving issues.
- GKN Additive (Forecast 3D) (booth #433118) is a service provider (contract manufacturer) that provides a full spectrum of 3D printing, rapid machining, and quick-turn tooling solutions. The company runs all of its manufacturing equipment in-house and has designed and built much of it themselves. As an SAP Additive Manufacturing partner and the official West Coast MJF by HP Experience Center, they are qualified in both prototype and production manufacturing.
- Linde Advanced Material Technology (booth #433116) is well known for its industrial gases – including high-purity gases used for additive manufacturing (AM). Linde has expanded further into the AM arena with its TruForm metal powders (available in cobalt, iron, nickel, and titanium) for additive manufacturing. They flow easily and deposit evenly, and as a result, successive layers are created with consistent density and uniform build rates.
- Visitors to IMTS 2024 will see more AM solutions, such as Powder Motion Labs (booth #433160). The company is dedicated to the design and manufacture of precision powder feeders. A patented technology leverages electrostatic forces to manipulate powder particles in order to provide smooth and consistent powder flow and feed rate repeatability.
- OEMs that want to distinguish their products with “fashion finishes” can turn to Master Finish Company (booth #135986), the first certified DecoKlad applicator in the United States for MacDermid Enthone Fashion Finishes. DecoKlad offers consistency in finishing performance by defining line-auditing parameters and coating-measurement techniques. This facilitates global uniformity for factors such as adhesion, color, corrosion resistance, and gloss levels.
“I never miss IMTS because technology is moving so fast,” says Gawlik. “I have visited hundreds of shops, and all the top shops use technology and take the time to go to IMTS because it is the epicenter of what is possible. It is ‘potentiality’ realized.”
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