Additive manufacturing (AM) is fitting squarely into the bigger manufacturing world, as demonstrated at the IMTS 2022 – The International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, Illinois.
In addition to a large AM-dedicated area on the exhibition floor, there were workshops, conferences, presentations, and tours throughout the duration of the show that focused on AM and its increasingly important role amongst manufacturing technologies.
“At IMTS 2022, the additive manufacturing industry found itself part of a manufacturing technology experience unlike any show before it,” says Dayton Horvath, director of emerging technology at AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology. “It was a comprehensive forum for additive manufacturing that was years in the making and now serves as the new benchmark for interdisciplinary manufacturing events.”
Exhibiting Technology Trends
The Additive Manufacturing Pavilion was larger than ever, with 110 additive manufacturing exhibitors covering more than 100,000 sq. ft. of floor space. These companies demonstrated an extensive range of new AM hardware, software, and materials. Another nearly 200 exhibitors with equipment and software related to additive manufacturing were spread throughout all four buildings of McCormick Place. Additional software providers exhibited in the Controls & CAD/CAM Pavilion and exhibitors in the Metal Removal Pavilion demonstrated new hybrid machines that include subtractive and additive processes.
Some significant innovations introduced at IMTS 2022 were hybrid systems that incorporate additive, inspection, and subtractive processes into a single unit. Several exhibitors showcased hybrid AM offerings: EOS, Meltio, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, Fabrisonic, 3DEO, and nScrypt.
“The connection that hybrid machines make between metalworking (CNC machining) and 3D printing indicates a transition from traditionally separate technologies to a more streamlined approach,” Horvath says. “It’s creating a faster, precise, and efficient manufacturing method for select use cases.”
Many exhibitors introduced solutions for broader manufacturing applications, such as molds, tooling, and short-run production. Companies such as Mantle, which launched its mold production offering at IMTS 2022, brought new technologies to market targeting traditional mold and die service providers.
EOS featured its M 290 3D printer with dual 400-watt lasers. The extra power provides the ability to print with an extensive range of metals, including pure copper, which opens up new applications for aerospace, defense, and electric vehicle parts.
“Having more laser power and material flexibility in the mid-sized LPBF system is compelling from a pricing standpoint,” says Horvath, “It gives options at a middle tier rather than moving up to the larger and appropriately more expensive M400.”
Sharing knowledge and insights
The Investor Forum, powered by AMT, included curated tours of the show floor to highlight the biggest growth trends in manufacturing. During the AM tour, attendees visited five exhibitors to learn about the growth of AM technology and the investment opportunities it presents.
The AMT Emerging Technology Center featured live 3D printing and milling of a prototype for a lunar habitat door. A life-sized 3D printed lunar habitat was on display for attendees to walk through. The exhibits were a collaboration between Siemens USA and Ingersoll Machine Tools Inc.
The AM4U Area, presented by Formnext, featured well-attended daily presentations such as a panel of nine additive manufacturing experts discussing the benefits and drawbacks of various AM technologies. The stage was sponsored by Formnext, the leading industry expo platform for additive manufacturing and industrial 3D printing. Learn more about AM4U.
The AM 2022 Conference at IMTS, produced by Gardner Business Media (GBM), was the first and only event focused exclusively on additive technologies for industrial part production. The conference took a practical, applications-based look at the machines, materials, and methodologies being used to create end-use tools and components. The event is designed for owners, executives, and engineers at contract manufacturers, as well as OEMs involved in durable goods manufacturing.
The 3D Printing Workshop for Job Shops at IMTS, also produced by GBM, was a concentrated half-day seminar of learning how machining facilities are applying 3D printers for tooling and for runs of parts that do not make sense on traditional machining centers. The workshop focused on using lower-cost 3D printing capabilities to make machine tools more efficient.
“The great diversity of AM processes and company sizes at IMTS 2022 is a testament to how AM continues to solve interesting manufacturing challenges,” Horvath says. “It takes a show like IMTS to really bring all those groups together because of the breadth of manufacturing innovators that gather at IMTS.”
More AM Events to Come
AMT and GBM have collaborated with Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH, the organizers of Formnext, to launch Formnext Forum Austin (Aug. 28-30, 2023), the Formnext Forum co-located at IMTS 2024, September 9-14, and Formnext Chicago (April 8-10, 2025) in Chicago.
AM on IMTS+
Find entertaining AM-focused shows, technical podcasts, articles and more on IMTS.com/Plus. AM highlights include:
- Road Trippin’ with Steve, brought to you by EOS, – Climb in our shiny new bus (van) and head back to school with techie Stephen LaMarca and his team for Season Two as they explore all things bigger, better, and … beefier in Texas! From the birthplace of additive manufacturing at the University of Texas to a peek at the future of additive metal printing and mass production at EOS, Steve samples some Texas-sized innovation at every stop. Hit the road now. IMTS.com/RoadTrippin
- IMTS+ Main Stage – Gain insight, inspiration, and technical know-how from the manufacturing technology community. Hear from a broad spectrum up industry insiders including machine shop owners, industry CEOs, cobot designers, technologists, workforce specialists, researchers, and government representatives with free resources to help your business thrive.IMTS.com/MainStage
- IMTS.com/WATCH – See dozens of videos featuring the latest industry advancements and products displayed at IMTS 2022 as well as cutting-edge exhibits about the future of manufacturing including Technologist Richard Browning who designed and flew his own jet pack.
- IMTS.com/READ – Peruse scores of articles on industry topics ranging from AM trends to job shop digitalization.