After 4 long, isolating and truly strange years, IMTS was back and in full swing after being absent in 2020 for COVID-related reasons. I was fortunate enough to have an entire day to explore the 1300+ exhibitors in the over 1.3 Million square feet of space at the McCormick Center in Chicago, Illinois. With so many exhibitors and conferences packed into IMTS, I planned by day and set out to Chicago. Here are among just some of the trends and major themes I saw during my time in the Windy City:
Automation, Automation, Automation!
Increased Investment from Nikon in the Additive Manufacturing & Robotics Sectors
3D Printing for Production
HP Announces new Metal SJ100 Series of Powder-Bed Additive Manufacturing Systems
Continuous Evolution of Machine Tools
5 Axis CNC’s Working Envelope’s (^see cover image^) are Seemingly Endless, this Czech-based Machine Tool OEM (TRIMILL) makes some Large VMC’s with nearly 3000 mm travel in the X Axis!
Enhanced Tooling/Workholding for Additive & Subtractive Manufacturing
3D Printing is changing the way we view (and design) tooling, while enhanced material research and manufacturing methodologies have enabled expedited product development of superior workholding pieces for CNC, Welding, and other Fabrication methodologies. Today’s design & analysis/simulation software allows us to predict how our parts will hold up in real life, while modern prototyping methods enables us to quickly test & iterate our ideas in real-time.
Wilson Sporting Goods leverages Nexa3D Printers & AddiFab Tooling Material for Lean Product Development and R&D Workflow
Unique Use-Cases for Robotics
OnRobot developed robotics specifically aimed at warehouse/factory floor automation
Ever-Growing Use Cases for Industrial Software
FastSuite aims at Simulating the Robotics/Welding process prior to going into production
While we’ve been disconnected from one another through the Pandemic, Manufacturers and Technologists alike were all able to gather in Chicago this September for a spectacular turnout at IMTS 2022. Exhibitors demonstrated an accelerated look into the future filled with Software-enabled production, Digitally-driven Manufacturing, and Equipment/Hardware to support our ever-evolving Global Supply Chain.
It’s fascinating for me, who’s only been involved professionally in Manufacturing Technology for just 6 years to see such a vast evolution with everything, via the IMTS show. I’m ecstatic for 2024 and what it will bring, oh, and for FormNext to be in the Windy City in just 3 years!
MACOMB, MI – Baker Industries, a Lincoln Electric Company, and Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions (LEAS) today announced a new strategic relationship with General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) on a research and development project exploring the feasibility of wire-arc additive manufacturing (WAAM) for producing steel layup tooling used in the manufacturing of composite lamination for GA-ASI’s unmanned aerial systems (UAS).
Our turnaround time can be significantly quicker than larger job shops, and we can usually ramp up production quickly to combat fluctuations in customer demand.
Mike Wangelin, Business Development Manager, Lincoln Electric Additive Solutions/Baker Industries
Coupled with Baker’s robust post-processing, fabrication, and inspection capabilities, WAAM’s ability to quickly produce large, complex components using several materials could present a comprehensive solution to GA-ASI’s production tooling needs.
While still in the process of qualification at GA-ASI, the process has demonstrated preliminary success toward reaching production-level use in GA-ASI’s manufacturing operations. Overall, GA-ASI has seen savings ranging between 30-40% in cost and about 20-30% in lead time using WAAM in place of traditional manufacturing processes for specific tool families and geometries. In addition, the first tool produced has passed GA-ASI’s initial assessments. It is vacuum-tight, has a uniform thermal survey, and exceeds target GD&T requirements.