IMTS ready to open doors, break records

Pre-show exhibition levels top past shows, and more than 100,000 are pre-registered.


While the trade show floor was still in the final stages of set-up on Sunday afternoon at Chicago’s McCormick Place on Sept. 11, IMTS 2016 already has broken a couple of records.

North America’s largest manufacturing trade show, the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) will open Monday morning with more exhibitors and more trade show floor devoted to manufacturing than any show in history, and it’s on track to break all attendance records as well.

Peter Eelman, the vice president of exhibitions and business development for the Association for Manufacturing Technology (AMT) told the pre-show press conference Sunday that the show already has topped 1.37 million sq. ft. of exhibit space and more than 2,400 exhibiting companies.

“We are bringing all of the big elements, all of our big companies, here in 2016,” Eelman said. “We’ve got a blockbuster ready to open.”

The Industrial Automation North America pavilion at the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago will feature exhibitors and speakers focused on the Industrial Internet of Things. Image Courtesy: IMTS

With expansions in additive manufacturing, industrial Internet, automation and partner pavilions, IMTS is expected to attract more than the record 114,000 attendees in 2016. Eelman said Sunday that pre-show registration for this year’s biennial show in Chicago topped 101,000, a 6% increase over 2014. If on-site registration at the show performs as it has in past year, registration number would top the total from 2014.

Eelman noted the growth of additive manufacturing from a few booths four years ago to a pavilion devoted to the technology shows the growth of the additive manufacturing industry. “All of those companies have become mainstream,” he said.

AMT president Doug Woods said growth in the technology sector, and in the partnerships AMT has forged, has helped IMTS grow over the past four show cycles. AMT will announce additional partnerships during this year’s show, which Woods said is helping expand the importance of IMTS beyond North America. “When look at all people who will be attending, this has become an international show,” said Woods.

Woods also noted the growth of foreign direct investment (FDI) in recent years, a reflection of the global nature of manufacturing. “In last several years, FDI investment has grown enormously in the U.S. People want to be close to their customer base, and this creates huge amounts of additional manufacturing,” Woods said. “A lot of high-tech, high value-added manufacturing is coming back.”


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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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