Industry Market Trends

Trade Show Preview: Pavilion Format Simplifies IMTS Planning

Jun 11, 2014

Held every two years at McCormick Place in Chicago, the International Manufacturing Technology Show is one of the world's biggest industrial trade shows. The breadth and depth of technology shown at IMTS deserve a full walk-around, but the trade fair's pavilion format enables targeted visits.

The International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago is one of the world's biggest industrial trade shows. Throughout the history of IMTS, the attendees and buyers who get the most out of the trade fair are the ones who plan their visits carefully and strategically.

Held at McCormick Place every two years and attracting almost 2,000 exhibitors and 100,000 attendees, the show is organized into nine pavilions totaling more than 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space. This year, IMTS will take place Sept. 8-13, and will be joined by two co-located shows: Industrial Automation North America and Motion, Drive & Automation North America. Here is a round-up of the nine pavilions, designed to help show visitors get around vast exhibits and find their areas of interest quickly:

Abrasive Machining/Sawing/Finishing

This pavilion features new technologies for manufacturing applications that require high-tolerance and precision surface finishes. Including grinding technology, as well as sawing and cutoff machines and a variety of finishing technologies, such as lapping, balancing, honing, and polishing machines, the pavilion will enable visitors to see advancements in abrasives. The pavilion will offer manufacturers solutions according to abrasive size, shape, and composite materials, as well as nano-materials contributing to improved surface finishes in more constrictive areas.

Controls & CAD-CAM

Custom automation and the latest software are extracting the maximum efficiency from machine tools to optimize plant operations and cost efficiency. CAD/CAM and other digitally enabled tools will help define smart manufacturing, industrial Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, and other advancements in the digital manufacturing and business enterprise. Buyers and visitors will learn how to take advantage of the trends to further connect islands of digital data into a fully integrated solution, from design to performance to recycle and reuse.


Manufacturing professionals in the tool and die industry always look forward to visiting the EDM (electrical discharge machining) pavilion. This area of IMTS will showcase CNC wire EDM equipment and die sinking machines and is especially relevant for manufacturers that specialize in one-off or specialty components. Some of the 2014 highlights in this pavilion will be improved dielectric fluids, optimized wire control, and advanced energy management, all of which are emerging to support the ever-increasing demands of harder materials, complex geometries, and greater accuracy levels in part manufacturing.


Along with the core machining processes, there is a stable of processes that manufacturers rely on to produce state-of-the-art parts and components. This pavilion is devoted to the latest technologies in metal forming and fabrication, laser cutting, and waterjet cutting, along with additive manufacturing. The pavilion will also have displays of welding, metal treating, and marking equipment. Exhibits are expected to highlight in-process monitoring, multifunctional beam capabilities, as well as community collaboration on design, simulation, materials, and quality, to produce the most capable systems to support industrial manufacturing applications.

Gear Generation

Gear machining and manufacturing is still a specialized skill and process. This area of IMTS will be devoted to gear cutting, forming, and finishing, as well as broaching, shaping, and slotting machines. It will spotlight traditional gear applications, such as automotive, construction, mining, and ship-building, but the emerging alternative energy and wind power sectors will also be involved. Advancements in abrasive machining to improve dressable tooling applications and increased multifunctional, automated solutions to minimize workpiece movements to improve overall production time will be evident.

Machine Components/Cleaning/Environmental

This area is a must-visit destination for manufacturing operations professionals, as it focuses on the myriad goods and products needed to run a plant. It will exhibit everything from the parts to service and monitor machines to the components necessary for safe and environmentally responsible operations. Many exhibitors here plan to focus on plug-and-play modularity, integrated automation, the application of real-time data management to reduce consumable waste, and cleaning methods that reduce user exposure and provide increased recycle and reclamation opportunities.

Metal Cutting

Metal cutting is the center and foundation of many manufacturing industries. Buyers and visitors will have the opportunity to see the latest innovations in metal cutting equipment that includes advanced machining centers and turning centers. The subject of data analysis will be back in the spotlight, as many manufacturing technology builders will have product offerings with interconnectivity standards like MTConnect, which provide the insights necessary to optimize today's dynamic production floors. Machining speeds and feeds continue to evolve along multitasking platforms that process ever-more challenging materials.

Quality Assurance

Metrology equipment and systems keep manufacturing and production processes on track, along with equipment that checks the accuracy of machines. Manufacturers can immerse themselves in the technical achievements that reduce the necessity for stand-alone work cells and have increased inspection abilities for both materials and features. Exhibits will highlight enhancements to three-dimensional, non-contact quality assurance methods, as well as improvements in dynamic inspection reporting.

Tooling & Workholding Systems

These systems greatly affect cycle time and manufacturers' effectiveness in producing accurate products. This pavilion will be a venue for all the necessities and innovative solutions to tooling challenges. Here, buyers can maximize the investment in their machinery and equipment by finding the latest technology that will allow for minimum setup and machining time, give new capabilities to older equipment, and explore the latest in state-of-the-art workholding systems. Exotic and advanced material systems for longer tool life, reliable tool and surface wear software, and universal workholding systems will be driving forces in this pavilion.

AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology, the owner and host of IMTS, has created a pavilion-style floor plan intended to make planning easy for manufacturers and buyers. Both first-time and veteran visitors to IMTS should start their planning by doing two things: visiting and registering. By registering, manufacturers gain immediate access to the planning tools, newsletters, and technology updates of IMTS.

For a trade show the size of IMTS, which takes up all four buildings of McCormick Place, advance planning is the key to a successful experience. As much as walk-arounds are encouraged, identifying exhibitors and the use of the MyShow Planner tool, which saves what is of interest to an attendee's personal agenda, make visits more productive.

One last helpful, practical tip, especially for first-timers at IMTS, is to plan footwear. What may seem like the most comfortable shoes before the show can bring down even the most hardy soul. Start breaking in multiple pairs of shoes right now and plan to change them often in Chicago. Socks and hosiery also provide an all-important barrier between skin and the shoe.

Just like a well-planned epic vacation, a trip to IMTS promises to leave buyers and manufacturing professionals a little tired but also excited and energized because they will have seen the latest technology in action, made new connections, joined up with old buddies, and taken away new ideas that will be great for their business.

READ MORE: Divide and Conquer for IMTS Success 

Top photo credit: AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Whitney Brown is media communications manager for AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. The International Manufacturing Technology Show, IMTS, is produced by AMT - The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Based in McLean, Va., AMT represents and promotes U.S.-based manufacturing technology and its members - those who design, build, sell, and service the continuously evolving technology that lies at the heart of manufacturing. For more, visit AMT's website For more information on IMTS and to register your team, visit