This year’s International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS 2014) has shown optimistic numbers, and the Manufacturing.net staff was part of the thundering traffic cruising through McCormick Place in Chicago. There was more to see than any normal human could take in within the six-day show – 1,900 exhibitors displayed their wares for over 100,000 attendees.
That’s why we’ve collected some of the best of IMTS 2014 – admittedly though, we may have missed some nuggets of interest amongst the crowds.
10. Heavy-Duty Construction For The Aerospace Industry
Okuma unveiled a new CNC turning center (the VTM-2000YB) at IMTS, which exhibited a large work envelope demonstration on a fan hub and engine case. Tooling within the aerospace industry is always an impressive feat, but this machine provided “natural” part handling in a conservative footprint.
9. The Ballet Of Machine Tools And Robots
We’re all familiar with machine tools and the robotics systems that grace shop floors and manufacturing facilities, but IMTS provided a seemingly never-ending array of machines – all moving to different programming in an obscure robotic ballet. Entertaining, but mildly intimidating.
8. Mach 1 Drones
The TTC (Today’s Technology Center) showed off a few advancements in their booth, but the real attraction (just past the Corvette) were three drones built by Composite Engineering Inc. One of which could reach altitudes of 45,000 feet and hit Mach 1.
7. Additive Manufacturing With Renishaw
Renishaw collaborated with Empire Cycles to create what the company has called the world’s first 3D-printed bike frame. In an attempt to make a frame that was both stronger and lighter, Renishaw utilized a topological optimization process (using the company’s AM250 additive manufacturing system) to create a titanium alloy frame that was 33% lighter than the original design.
6. Crowdsourcing Design, Manufacturing At Home
Local Motors presented a gem for the company’s collection of communally-designed, build-at-home car, the Rally Fighter. This model demonstrated some IMTS-specific highlights, including IMTS badging and a Virginia license plate reading: IMTS 1.
5. Additive Manufacturing For Challenging Markets
ExOne showed of its wares in the additive manufacturing realm. As 3D printing technology continues to expand rapidly, new processes are emerging and gaining a foothold in the marketplace. ExOne has expanded its technologies to create printed components with standard foundry materials as the company strives to maintain and grow in the complex and challenging markets of aerospace, automotive, medical, and energy.
4. Breaking Records
With money donated by The Manufacturing Institute, Sandvik Coromant broke the Guinness World Record for the largest coin mosaic ever created while calling attention to the impact and importance of manufacturing in society. The mosaic incorporated coins worth more than $65,000, which coincidently, is the amount of money manufacturing contributes to the U.S. economy every second.
3. Bionic-Inspired Tools
Festo presented what the company has dubbed the Bionic Handling Assistant – a readily yielding gripping arm that was inspired by an elephant’s trunk. This safe-to-be-around robotic arm serves as a development platform for Festo, as it combines an array of the company’s technologies and components.
2. 3D Printing Cars
As an encore to the company's rally car, Local Motors presented a challenge to build a 3D printed electric car onsite at IMTS 2014. The winning design was being printed (ever so slowly) throughout the week, giving insight into the capabilities and challenges that 3D printing has in the manufacturing environment.
1. Robotic Arms And Graduate Projects
Universal Robots unveiled the company’s latest generation of safe-to-be-around robotic arms. One of the robots was armed with a new gripping tool from Empire Robotics, VERSABALL. This new tool provides a flexible, ball-like surface that looks more like a science experiment than an industrial tool – it was, in fact, a graduate project of CTO and Co-Founder, John Amend. Using air pressure and a sand-like substance, the VERSABALL can grip objects of varying size, shape, orientation, and delicacy. The company is even hoping to eventually get the gripper into space.
IMTS 2014 is claimed to be the world's largest manufacturing show, so there is an awful lot to see. Did we miss something? Comment below or email email@example.com and let us know what may have flown under our radar.