This article first appeared in IMPO's October 2012 issue.
IMTS - the International Manufacturing Technology Show - is held every other year at McCormick Place in Chicago, IL. This year’s event ran September 10-15.
Ranked among the largest trade shows in the world, total registration for the six-day 2012 event was 100,200, which is a 21.6 percent increase over 2010 — the largest show-to-show increase ever for IMTS. “The energy level was at an all-time high,” says Peter Eelman, IMTS Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications. “The most exciting take-away from IMTS 2012 is what it says about the prospects for manufacturing over the next year. The overall activity and buzz indicates that we are entering a period of sustained growth that will fuel economic prosperity and job creation.”
Lista International Corporation was showcasing the new Mini Mezzanine, which maximizes usable storage footprint while providing much higher storage density of items of all sizes. Lista’s Mini Mezzanine takes advantage of additional available height in a storage area and is a cost-effective alternative to a larger mezzanine system, says the company. Comprised of stacked Lista high density storage cabinets, it is ideal for storing everything from maintenance and repair parts and supplies to perishable tooling and CNC tooling. www.listaintl.com 
MSC Industrial Supply Co.’s metalworking technical team and supply chain management experts demonstrated how using the right tools properly and managing inventory in streamlined processes could help customers save money and compete more effectively. “We are seeing a lot of success in helping our customers reduce their costs by optimizing their applications, streamlining their supply chain at the shop floor level, and providing them with the most innovative products our suppliers have to offer,” said Tom Cox, MSC Executive Vice President of Sales. “We were excited to bring those solutions and discussions to our customers at IMTS.” www.mscdirect.com 
Gorbel showcased a broad range of overhead lifting solutions, including a free-standing Work Station Crane and G-Force® Intelligent Lifting Device. “Gorbel is coming to IMTS with some of our most innovative overhead cranes and lifting devices,” said Jeff McNeil, Gorbel’s marketing manager. “The systems that we’re demonstrating embody the notion of ‘working smarter, not harder.’” Gorbel’s newest line, Tether Track™ Rigid Rail Fall Arrest Systems, provide a turn-key fall protection solution that exceeds OSHA safety standards. www.gorbel.com 
FARO Technologies Inc. introduced the Vantage, a true laser tracker that combines disruptive new features and a supremely portable design. Enhancements like SmartFind, Multiview, and integrated Wi-Fi® expedite measurement routines for unprecedented speed and efficiency. “The Vantage is a revolution,” said Ken Steffey, Director of Product Management for the FARO Laser Tracker. “The Vantage will be the standard for laser trackers going forward.” www.faro.com 
Nikon Metrology introduces the MCAx Manual Coordinate Measuring Arm — a precise, reliable and easy-to-use portable 7-axis measuring arm. It is the perfect partner for the ModelMaker MMDx/MMCx digital handheld laser scanners and Focus 10 Handheld scanning and inspection software. This total solution’s accuracy, capability, and portability make it feel perfectly at home in the metrology lab, on the shop floor and in the field. In other news, the company has also announced a multi-year partnership agreement that makes Nikon Metrology the Official Supplier of Dimensional Metrology Products and Services to Penske Racing. www.nikonmetrology.com 
Dan Reed, owner of R&R Tool, Inc. and inventor of the ‘Lightnin Rod’ has unveiled their most innovative product yet, the LR7000. The LR7000 notifies the operator of a gap between the work piece of any material and the stop. Maintaining a precise location when machining seems simple to the naked eye, but when chips, and pieces of the milled work piece begin to jam in between your part and the stop, the smallest shift can cause your part to fall out of conformance leading to time and money wasted by scrapping the part, or re-working it. Previous Lightnin Rod models have only been able to detect placement within .0002” of ferrous materials, although the LR7000 opens the technology up to all materials. www.thelightninrod.com 
CribMaster, a leader in tool control technology, demonstrated its latest product: PROTOid™, the world’s first RFID-embedded industrial hand tools. PROTOid comes with a passive UHF RFID tag embedded in each tool, and was developed to simplify tool control while at the same time significantly reduce the risks of FOD (foreign object damage). www.cribmaster.com 
Molex Incorporated announces that its Brad® HarshIO PROFINET I/O Modules are now certified by the PNO (PROFIBUS Nutzerorganisation) in accordance with PROFINET specifications meeting all requirements for conformance class B. Recently launched with Fast Start-Up (FSU) technology to provide reliable solutions for connecting industrial controllers to I/O devices, Brad HarshIO modules are suitable in a range of applications, including automation systems with higher-level machine control and a deterministic data cycle. “Conformance Class B certification of Brad HarshIO PROFINET I/O modules validates conformity to the PROFINET standard and trouble-free interoperability with other certified devices,” said Eric Gory, global product manager, Molex. “Coupled with FSU technology, HarshIO Modules bring exceptional speed to the market for optimal flexibility in all industries using robots for repetitive tasks with precision, as well as in harsh environments.” www.molex.com 
Gilman USA exhibited at IMTS for the first time under its new ownership. The company, previously known as SKF Precision Technologies, was purchased by Christopher Hetzer, Mark Ziebell, and Michael Weiland in late 2011. This provider of mechanical slides and spindles looks to further develop its spindle and slide repair service for virtually any manufacturer’s equipment, and to continue to service the machine tool industry with premium-quality slides. www.gilmanusa.com 
ExxonMobil Lubricants and Petroleum Specialties, a division of Exxon Mobil Corporation, showcased its range of machine shop lubricants that can offer potential energy efficiency benefits. ExxonMobil became the “Official Lubricant Supplier” for IMTS in 1960. During the past 52 years, the company’s Mobil-branded hydraulic fluids, oils, lubricants, coolants, and greases have kept IMTS exhibitors running in top condition. Key products showcased include Mobil DTE 10 Excel™: A series of energy-efficient, high-viscosity-index, shear-stable, anti-wear oils for hydraulic systems; Mobil SHC™ 600: Synthetic circulating and gear oils that deliver outstanding protection; and Mobil SHC™ Gear: Fully-synthetic industrial gear oils that help enhance equipment performance, deliver exceptional oxidation resistance, and outstanding low-temperature fluidity. www.mobilindustrial.com 
ABB displayed the IRB 120 robot, ideal for material handling and assembly applications. According to ABB, the IRB 120 robot provides an agile, compact and lightweight solution with superior control and path accuracy. As the smallest robot from ABB, the IRB 120 offers all the functionality and expertise of the ABB range in a much smaller package. Its reduced weight of only 25kg and compact design enables it to be mounted virtually anywhere, whether it is inside a cell, on top of a machine, or close to other robots on the production line. www.abb.com 
Ranked among the largest trade shows in the world, total registration for the six-day 2012 event was 100,200. “The energy level was at an all-time high,” says Peter Eelman, IMTS Vice President – Exhibitions and Communications. “The most exciting take-away from IMTS 2012 is what it says about the prospects for manufacturing over the next year."