IMTS 2016 Wrap Up – 3 Amazing Sights from Day 1
Ian Wright posted on September 12, 2016 |
My first encounter with the International Manufacturing Technology Show.
Today, I was one of over 100,000 attendees at the International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS). I’ve never been to IMTS, or any international tradeshow for that matter, so this was a truly novel experience.

My first impression was underwhelming. When we arrived at McCormick Place through the lower entrance, I couldn’t help but wonder, “If there are supposed to be over 100,000 people here, where is everybody?” My question was immediately answered as we entered the main concourse, where Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker was delivering keynote remarks to a captive audience and a score of reporters.

The hall was thronged with people, conversing, browsing or, in the case of one severely jet lagged attendee, sleeping.

I decided to try live tweeting my day; also a new experience for me, but fortunately it wasn’t hard to find things worth talking about. From a 3D-printed electric Shelby Cobra replica, to a massive FANUC robot hoisting a corvette as though it weighed nothing at all, the show is filled with incredible sights.

Honestly, I saw so much just in the first day that it’s difficult to keep track of everything, but I did take note of a few things that were especially impressive, at least to me.

1) KUKA’s Robot Barista

Early in the day, I was offered a coffee prepared by an autonomous barista. It even had a bowtie! Although I suspected that it was just a tech demo, a KUKA representative informed me that some coffee companies are actually giving the technology serious consideration. No word yet on whether the robots will misspell your name on the cup.

2) Realities Virtual and Augmented

Kagan Pittman gives VR a try.
Kagan Pittman gives VR a try.
I was surprised by how many companies seemed to have an Oculus Rift or Microsoft Hololens in their booth. Our own Kagan Pittman got a chance to give the former a try at the ABB Robotics booth, and I managed to fulfill a minor dream by trying out augmented reality for the first time with a Hololens. These weren’t just for show either. At the DMG Mori press conference, Dr. Mori mentioned that the company is partnering with Microsoft to explore AR applications in machine tools.

3) FANUC’s Car-Lifting Robot

Amazing and only slightly terrifying.
Amazing and only slightly terrifying.
Near the end of the day, I was scrambling to reconnect with the rest of our editorial team at the show. I happened to wander through the FANUC booth in my efforts to locate them and was stopped dead in my tracks by a behemoth robot swinging a Chevrolet Corvette around like a child with a teddy bear—albeit with a lot more control. It’s one thing to read and write about these massive industrial robots. It’s quite another to meet one in person.

That’s all for today, but check back tomorrow for more IMTS updates or follow me on Twitter at @IanWrightEngCom for more live updates.

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