IMTS 2020 Cancelled In The Face Of COVID-19

By on June 12th, 2020 in Event

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Crowds at IMTS 2018 [Image: Fabbaloo]

The massive biannual International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) has been cancelled for 2020.

The cancellation, which event organizers AMT (The Association For Manufacturing Technology) note is the first since WWII, comes unsurprisingly as a result of the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic. The pandemic has seen the cancellation of many (most — maybe all?) major events since March 2020, as cases of the resulting COVID-19 have globally surpassed 7.3 million as of yesterday per the WHO, with more than 413,000 deaths. Nearly two million of those cases, and almost 112,000 of those deaths, have been in the United States, where IMTS is held.

IMTS Cancellation

IMTS is specifically located in Chicago, Illinois, where in 2018 1.4 million square feet of exhibit space hosted 2,563 exhibiting companies — and 128,415 registrations. The show is rather a picture-perfect example of a mass gathering. And in a pandemic, mass gatherings are an ideal vehicle for viral transmission.

The Governor of Illinois and Mayor of Chicago have, as all civic leaders have been, working nonstop to understand and defend citizens against the spread of the virus. For Illinois, this has included a five-phased plan for business reopenings, to slowly and hopefully safely get the economy — if not back to normal, then back up and running.

In a statement made “on behalf of the AMT Board of Directors, the IMTS Show Committee, the AMT Staff and specifically my team,” Peter R Eelman, AMT Vice President & CXO, explains:

“In early May, Governor Pritzker introduced a five-phased plan to re-open Illinois businesses. As it reads, the plan specifically states that conventions are included in phase 5 of the plan. The conditions that must be met for the implementation of phase 5 feature either the availability of a vaccine for the COVID-19 virus or a highly effective treatment protocol, neither of which are expected to occur in the coming months.

In light of these difficult and challenging circumstances, IMTS – The International Manufacturing Technology Show, scheduled for September 14-19, 2020 had to be cancelled. While this saddens us, the health and safety of our exhibitors and audience remains our top priority.”

Obviously the cancellation is a loss to the manufacturing community, including additive manufacturing. For the 2020 event, the Additive Manufacturing Pavilion was set to be 40% larger than in 2018

This year, AMT had also planned to highlight supply chain issues that emerged during the pandemic. As we’ve seen, traditional supply chains have seen significant difficulty in operating nationally and globally — the experts available at IMTS would have proven an excellent resource for plans to reshape this.

“The cancellation is especially poignant because the show was poised to offer an unmatched breadth and depth of resources to help industry rethink, reestablish and reengage with supply chains disrupted by COVID-19,” Eels said.

For attendees who had already paid to register, IMTS offers the option for either a refund or a transfer of their registration as a tax-deductible donation to Miles For Manufacturing, which puts money toward student programs that prepare them for careers in manufacturing technology.

IMTS has every intent to continue its scheduling program for its next edition, planned for September 13-18, 2022 in Chicago.

IMTS Digital Experiences

All is not lost for 2020, though, as we can still gain access to some of the technical knowledge and networking of IMTS this year. Eels’ letter explains virtual opportunities available for 2020, which include:

“IMTS Network: We will host the IMTS Network, live-streaming a wide variety of features and human stories from the Manufacturing Technology sector. More information about the IMTS Network will be provided very soon.

NEW – IMTS Spark: IMTS Spark, a comprehensive digital platform that connects IMTS exhibitors and visitors, provides educational and networking opportunities and offers first rate experiences, will launch in the near future.”

3D Printing Events In 2020

The cancellation of IMTS for this year joins a growing list of events the 3D printing industry had hoped to host and attend.

IMTS’ September scheduling had left many with hope that by the autumn the pandemic would have been countered enough for some normalcy in such activity. Illinois’ requirement for treatment or a vaccine, though, ensures that major gatherings like trade shows — and IMTS is one of the largest of these in the world — do not offer a hot spot for additional cases to emerge even should numbers otherwise be lower by then.

Many events have either moved fully digital or added virtual components, and it’s very good to see that IMTS has chosen this route as well. We’ll be very curious to hear the details when more emerge about how the show — which I know I was very much looking forward to attending again this year — will go on. Online, that is.

The 3D printing calendar does still as of now have Formnext to look forward to as an in-person event, as the Frankfurt-based event is currently planning to go on with at least some live aspect in addition to digital.

“Additive manufacturing has made a significant contribution to the fight against the corona pandemic in recent months and is still a driving factor for innovation, resource-efficient production, and the technological management of future challenges. It is all the more important that with Formnext 2020, we continue to support and advance this trend even in these economically challenging times,” said Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President Formnext, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, in the most recent Formnext communication, issued last week.

Formnext will necessarily have new health advisories in place, with a concept focused around “a range of measures focusing on hygiene (higher cleaning frequency for example), social distancing (including professional crowd management), and a generous supply of fresh air (including a regular exchange of the hall air every hour).” Enforced social distancing, wider aisles, and redesigned booth concepts will also feature. The event will also enhance its digital offerings for those not able to or choosing not to attend in person.


By Sarah Goehrke

Sarah Goehrke is a Special Correspondent for Fabbaloo, via a partnership with Additive Integrity LLC. Focused on the 3D printing industry since 2014, she strives to bring grounded and on-the-ground insights to the 3D printing industry. Sarah served as Fabbaloo's Managing Editor from 2018-2021 and remains active in the industry through Women in 3D Printing and other work.