As people met each other with smiles, hugs, and handshakes, the connectedness of the manufacturing community was the literal showstopper at IMTS 2022, which achieved a total registration of 86,307 visitors to its 1,212,806 million square feet of exhibit space representing 1,816 exhibitors.
Reaffirming the need to meet in person, the ratio of North American visitors to exhibitors increased by more than 10% compared to 2018, which had record-breaking attendance. The number of machines sold at the show was reminiscent of IMTS 1998, as people came to the show ready to invest in technology.
“While the excitement and electricity were evident in every aisle of the show, what was most gratifying for the industry – and frankly the country – was the scope of commerce taking place,” says Douglas K. Woods, President of AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS. “Visitors sought out, and found, key technologies and productivity solutions to move their businesses forward.”
The manufacturing community achieved something that hasn’t been done since World War II: it brought our industry back together after a worldwide disruption. We proved our resiliency, but we achieved much more. The digital technologies and other new products at this show aren’t just advanced: they are accessible, inclusive, and ready to be implemented by small and medium-sized businesses regardless of their workforce composition.
After the human connection, IMTS 2022 will be remembered as the show of a thousand robots, cobots, and other automated functions.
“The automation systems at IMTS focused on ease-of-deployment, iPhone-level programming simplicity, and affordability for small and medium-sized businesses,” says Tim Shinbara, chief technology officer at AMT. “Visitors could find new startup automation companies and spinoffs in every hall, and every one of them introduced solutions for high-mix, low-volume applications to help job shops address their workforce and productivity issues.”
For example, Ashley and Daniel Miller of ARC EDM, a three-person shop in Muncie, Indiana, purchased a Titan Force EDM hole popper with automatic electrode changer at the show that can run unattended. “We want to quote on parts that have nearly 1,000 holes in them, and this machine will make us competitive,” says Daniel.
Growing the Community
IMTS 2022 also expanded its offering of educational and networking events, which attracted 7,647 people. More than 1,213 people, representing 400 companies and 52 countries, came to the three Women Make Manufacturing Move specialty programs. Three IMTS Job Shops specialty programs, presented by AMT, Modern Machine Shop magazine, and Additive Manufacturing magazine by Gardner Business Media, attracted 293 people and covered topics such as taking shops digital, 3D printing, and benchmarking best practices. The inaugural IMTS Investor Forum, powered by AMT, was designed to help the investment community understand the opportunities in manufacturing.
The AM4U Area, presented by Formnext, a new venue for IMTS, featured well-attended daily presentations on additive technology. AMT, Gardner Business Media, and the organizers of Formnext announced the launch of three new additive manufacturing events: Formnext Forum Austin (Aug. 28-30, 2023), the Formnext Forum co-located at IMTS 2024, and Formnext Chicago (April 8-10, 2025) at McCormick Place.
Motivating Technical Education and Careers
Working closely with exhibitor partners, the Smartforce Student Summit at IMTS 2022 presented 24,000 square feet of interactive experiences and attracted 11,715 students.
“We showed students how they could find themselves and provide them choices in the education-to-career pathway that they might not have considered,” says Greg Jones, vice president, Smartforce Development, AMT.
One of those students was Saylor White, who wanted to visit IMTS with her father for a very special 10th birthday present. Father Todd White operates Todd White Metal Works, a small shop in Glendale, Arizona.
“My favorite part of the show was the student area,” says Saylor. “You can only look at machines on the show floor, but here in the Student Summit, you can actually touch them. That can bring more kids into machining.”
“The opportunity in manufacturing is for all of us,” says Andrew Crowe, founder of the New American Manufacturing Renaissance. “The collaborations have been crazy positive. This show is historic, and people are going to point to IMTS 2022 as a catalyst. It’s been amazing to see the people we’ve been talking to online and realize how important the human ecosystem is.”
When the MT community connects and collaborates with friends to solve problems, what can we say but “Dang, we’re better together!”
News, photos, and videos from IMTS 2022 will continue to be posted on IMTS.com. You can stay even more connected at IMTS+, our multimedia content destination.
If you have any questions about this information, please contact Peter at peelman@AMTonline.org.