For the first time in four years—four years!—manufacturing professionals reunited in person for the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) in Chicago. With over 1.2 million square feet of exhibit space, 86,307 attendees, and 1,816 exhibitors in 1,603 booths, IMTS 2022 blew past 2018’s record-setting show size, underscoring the industry community’s deep desire for face-to-face connection.
Held at the McCormick Place convention center from September 12-17, the show’s theme paid homage to modern manufacturing’s unprecedented growth over the last half-decade:“Digital Manufacturing. Implemented.”
The future of manufacturing was evident all around us, in booths and brochures, conversations and connections. Our industry’s faith in its own forward momentum was palpable, and we loved every minute of it!
IMTS 2022 set a high bar for the upcoming wave of revived manufacturing events, with three focus areas winning two seriously big thumbs-ups from NTMA and our members:
1. Women Make Manufacturing Move
“When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the whole world—‘No, you move.’”– Captain America, Amazing Spider-Man, #537
More women than ever before are joining the manufacturing workforce, and hundreds of them were gathered at IMTS, begging the question: How do we attract more women to manufacturing careers?
The Women Make Manufacturing Move programming drew in more than 1,200 attendees across three events, with representation from 400 companies and 52 countries. If anyone harbored doubts about women’s impact on manufacturing, those uncertainties have been well-quashed by the sheer force of women’s presence at IMTS.
2. Smartforce Student Summit
Over 1,000 of the conference’s 11,715 students showed up for the Smartforce Student Summit, where many exhibitors had booths set up to devote special attention to the youngest attendees.
A new generation is considering a future in manufacturing, and the Smartforce Student Summit delivered impressive motivation with 24,000 square feet of interactive technology and multiple experiential, education-to-career displays.
We know we are truly in the age of the modern CNC machine shop when the automation advancements on display are as plentiful as the people.
Throughout the exhibit hall, attendees found common shop equipment—from machining centers to inspection systems—integrated with robots, cobots, and countless other forms of automation. Two exhibitors even showcased autonomous vehicles that were outfitted to ferry cobots around a modern machine shop floor for machine maintenance.
NTMA at IMTS
We arrived at IMTS unsure of what to expect. Would attendance be low? Were people still fearful of gathering in a crowd?
IMTS 2022’s enormous success demonstrated what we at NTMA have always known: that manufacturing professionals are relentless and passionate about their craft and their cause. Again and again, NTMA members found our team—some to seek advice, but most simply to connect.
Every individual we met was glad to be at IMTS, surrounded by friends and peers and endless innovation. Next year can’t come soon enough!
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