Strong numbers at IMTS 2008: show has best attendance since 2000; more than 1,800 exhibits filled pavilions.

Author:Seeds, Dennis
Position:IMTS 2008 report
 
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From a section of the Boeing 787 Dreamliner with a dozen rows of seats nine across, to the Okuma Partners in THINC actual production line, to the sheer size of the MAG-IAS booth, IMTS 2008 offered a staggering number of exhibits. In the end, the International Manufacturing Technology Show posted its strongest showing since 2000. Total registration for the Sept. 8-13 event at McCormick Place in Chicago was 92,450, the strongest showing since 2000.

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Among the many highlights were the premiere of thousands of products, the introduction of software standard MTConnect, and industry developments featured in an Advanced Manufacturing Center and Innovation Center.

"We are ecstatic that IMTS 2008 not only achieved, but exceeded, expectations and objectives," said Peter Eelman, IMTS vice president, exhibitions.

Robert Simpson, the new president of show sponsor AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology, listed some more statistics. There were 43 million pounds of machines, worth at retail close to $1 billion. The exhibitors represented 40 counties, while attendees hailed from 110 countries.

Simpson echoed the thoughts of exhibitors who were pleased to see potential customers from across the globe.

"The booths were packed," he said. "These are the decision-makers. They're coming to buy."

Machining highlights

At the South Hall A, the crowded Mazak booth was at the center entrance. Its Integrex e-420H-II was one of 20 machining solutions on display, showing what multi-tasking can achieve on a 98.4" (2,500mm)-long oil field drilling shaft. High-speed turning and milling, simultaneous five-axis milling, and precise and flexible threading were all accomplished on a single workpiece in one chucking.

Flanking Mazak were the well-known names of Haas Automation, Okuma, Makino and Mori Seiki.

Haas packed its booth with its HMCs, including the newest one, the EC-500. It features a 30x34x32" work envelope, 50-taper spindle, dual pallet changer with 550mm pallets, 50-pocket side-mount tool changer and a built-in 1-degree pallet indexer.

But for nostalgia's sake, visitors checked out an original SC collet indexer, which was Haas' first machine, produced in 1983. It cost $49,990 new --and a current model is $46,995, Haas spokesmen proudly noted.

Okuma America Corp. and Partners in THINC collaborators pushed the envelope with a new automated, oil coupling cell for the production of 4-7" API and premium couplings for the deep oil drilling industry--and in another booth the Partners had their debut with a project that produced a model air-cooled engine assembled by robots. The operation showcased process flow all through the THINC control, complete from order entry to shipment invoicing.

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Makino introduced several machines, including the MAG1 five-axis horizontal machining center for aerospace structural parts, the DUO-series next-generation wire EDM machines, and the V33i vertical machining center with high accuracies for hardmilling. The MAG1 is designed to handle quick, high-precision aluminum production of parts up to 1,500mm.

Mori Seiki was showing off its integrated mill turn center, the NT6600 DCG/4000CS among its 20 machines on display. The NT6600 claims to offer the world's largest Y-axis travel, as well as the fastest Z-axis rapid traverse rate and tool change in its class. It's designed for machining large parts and long workpieces for the aerospace, oil, and natural gas industries.

But it was impossible to miss MAGIAS, which had the largest floor space at the show, the most new machines (15) being introduced in North America, and the largest machines.

"The booth reflects how we've structured MAG around customer needs," said Mark Logan, vice president, business development and marketing for MAG Americas.

All of the companies' 13 brands were represented for the first time at a show. MAG was especially proud of a significant single order of a six-machine cell from MAG Cincinnati for Brek Manufacturing built around the new HyperMach H4000.

GE Fanuc was announcing its 0i-D series, the latest in its line of high performance CNC systems. This is the latest 0i generation and comes with nanometer interpolation as a standard feature. The GE Fanuc booth was its most comprehensive yet for IMTS.

At Toyoda Machinery USA, the massive FH-1250SX HMC was in the spotlight, being Toyoda's largest HMC. It was manufactured by the JTEKT Group, a joint venture between Toyoda and Koyo Machinery USA. It's seeing use in the aerospace and energy industries.

Methods Machine Tools was telling visitors about its new agreement with Kiwa-Japan to import machining centers that offer...

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