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IMTS 2016: Rise of the Machines

Every two years, thousands of companies from all across the globe, representing a massive variety of manufacturing processes, descend upon the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) to show off their best (and often biggest) new machines, technologies and services. There were massive CNC machining centers, 5+ axis waterjet cutters, an entire hall of tooling and workholding manufacturers, an incredible array of CAM packages, robotic welders and everything in between. The sheer size of the show was daunting, and you would be hard-pressed to see a good cross section of the show without a multi-day pass. With 115,612 registrants, IMTS 2016 was the third-largest in the show’s history, and with the help of Markforged, also broke the record for number of attendee-designed parts manufactured on-site.

Printing the same few ‘proven-printable’ sample parts at a show doesn’t showcase the full capabilities of our machine — so we decided to do something different this go-around. A number of people we talked to at IMTS were interested in a sample print of a component they had designed, so we delivered with next-day on-site functional manufacturing. Over the course of the six day show, we used a Mark Two Enterprise Kit to print custom carbon fiber-reinforced Onyx end-of-arm tooling, gripper jaws and bracketry for a variety of robotic arm integrators and manufacturers, including our friends at Yaskawa, who were demonstrating a variety of different robotic arms for industrial automation, manufacturing and co-operative assembly.

‍The set of metal-strength gripper jaws mounted onto the robotic arm right off the printer — no post-processing necessary.

IMTS was also a great time to demonstrate our work with customers in the areas of tooling, workholding and fixturing. Many Mark Two owners are using their printer to print strong, highly complex fixtures for their job and production machine shops, and as many attendees of IMTS own or work at such a shop, we had a lot to discuss! IMTS is special because the audience is incredibly technical, which gave us the opportunity to enjoy quite a variety of interesting conversations. It's always a lot of fun to really dive into the specific engineering challenges being tackled by different people and companies and with a backdrop like IMTS the knowledge transfer is most definitely a two-way street.

‍Mid-print of a custom Carbon Fiber-reinforced Onyx angle bracket for a company doing volumetric robotic inspection of forged steel parts.

Finally, a big shoutout also goes to one of our resellers in the Midwest, Big Systems, who helped us acquire, setup and run our booth and generally made IMTS an even more fun experience for us — thanks guys!

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