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The Post Pandemic return of the IMTS, in September in Chicago, provided a definitive sign business travel is rebounding. ITMS is the largest indoor trade show in the western hemisphere, ordinarily held bi-annually at Chicago’s McCormick Place. IMTS 2022 did not disappoint. The future of Manufacturing technology was on full display. That future includes a next-generation workforce. More on that in a few paragraphs.

Held from Sept. 12-17 at Chicago’s McCormick Place, IMTS 2022 achieved a total registration of 86,307, including 11,715 students, and featured 1,212,806 million square feet of exhibit space representing 1,816 exhibitors and 1,603 booths. The North American visitor-to-exhibitor ratio increased by more than 10% compared to 2018’s record-breaking show, reaffirming the need to meet in person.

“While the excitement and electricity were clearly evident in every aisle of the show, what was most gratifying for the industry and the country was the scope of commerce taking place as visitors sought out, and found, key technologies and productivity solutions to move their businesses forward,” says Douglas K. Woods, president of AMT – The Association For Manufacturing Technology, which owns and produces IMTS.

At IMTS 2022, the Student Summit brings together students from elementary school through college, scout troops, robotics, and STEM clubs, home-schooled students, and educators of all levels to explore the latest Industry 4.0 digital technologies driving manufacturing today. Those student registration numbers are important because IMTS is a part of the movement to help the USA regain its manufacturing leadership footing. The prospects of successfully recruiting a new generation of highly skilled, student debt-free manufacturing technologists, are truly good, if not great, due to the evolution of the hi-tech aspects of the manufacturing technology industry; not to mention the failure of the USA Higher Education Complex.

Why because the 21st-century machine + fabricating shops, as well as machine tools manufacturing facilities, will be hi-tech havens of all things building, controlling, and driving machine technology. I’m talking about the machines that make the parts for or the entire machines that make the products, we all use in our business and personal lives. What tech you might ask. All tech is speeding into the future, including but not limited to; Coding, Block Chain, AI, ML, AR, 3D, Nano-Tech, Polymers, Additives, Carbon Fiber, Exotic Metals, Prototyping, and more. Did I mention Robotics?

Students can look forward to a fun, interactive, and engaging exhibits from leading manufacturers demonstrating breakthrough technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, generative design, digital twin, and more. The event benefits educators by informing curricula to ensure classrooms align with the standard practices of the modern manufacturing workplace including shop safety, technical skills and acumen, problem-solving, critical thinking, and more.

Now, in 2022, attendees will go beyond learning about manufacturing technologies to better understand how advanced machinery and software synchronize to build the equipment and infrastructure necessary for cutting-edge products and programs across industries. Examples of the possibilities these technologies produce will appear in inspiring exhibits from NASA Artemis, which relies on advanced manufacturing for long-term space exploration and the agency’s upcoming return to the moon, and Boston Dynamics, featuring Spot the Robot Dog, a revolutionary robot that combines automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence for terrain navigation, safety, inspection, and manufacturing.

This year, for the first time, to support the Student Summit’s commitment toward career connections, industry job openings for students will be just a few clicks away. Smartforce Career Connections will allow exhibitors at the summit to display QR codes that, when scanned, link students directly with exciting job opportunities in manufacturing technology.

The Student Summit plays a key role in AMT Smartforce Development’s efforts at guiding current students toward fulfilling and well-paying careers in manufacturing, as well as updating the perception of manufacturing as a technology-driven, digital field.

Nine technology pavilions feature solutions such as multitasking machining centers, robots/cobots, digital twins, manufacturing software, controls, additive manufacturing, and quality control/inspection. More than 75,000 people have pre-registered for the show, which attracts OEMs, tier suppliers, contract manufacturers/fabricators, jobs shops, sourcing/purchasing agents, investors, students, and technical educators. 

“IMTS exhibitors have blown away existing barriers to technology acquisition,” says Eelman. “For example, visitors can learn how to set up and run an entry-level automation solution in 30 minutes. Computed tomography inspection systems now operate with almost push-button simplicity, and digital twin technology is as easy to use as your favorite CNC control or CAD/CAM program.” 

The Hannover Messe USA is co-located with the IMTS 2022. IMTS is big business and together with Hannover Messe USA is the largest gathering of industrial manufacturers in North America and a unique, comprehensive event focused on automation. It attracts proven decision-makers looking to develop relationships and strengthen partnerships. It showcases the world-leading technologies these leaders need to win amid the industry disruption and transformation of industry 4.0 and industrial 5G.

5G-ACIA member Verizon will build a private 5G network leveraging mmWave and C-Band spectra. The mission of 5G-ACIA is to ensure the best possible applicability of mobile radio, especially the 5G technology for connected industries, in particular, the manufacturing and process industries. Deutsche Messe has been a 5G-ACIA member for several years and is cooperating on the technical presentation of Industrial 5G.

“You could talk about automation, hardware, and software, but the biggest buzz at IMTS 2022 is the humans – we’re here,” says Jason Zenger, president of ZENGERS Industrial Supply and co-host of the “MakingChips” podcast, which broadcast from the IMTS+ Main Stage. “Every couple of minutes, I run into somebody I know or make a connection that is going to be a great resource. IMTS is the epitome of the manufacturing community coming together to build the future.” 

“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.”

In my manufacturing industry outsider POV, ‘Best In Show’, is Bantam Tools, a unique suburban New York-based manufacturer of desktop tooling machines, which look similar to Desktop 3D printers. Bantam Tools, builds desktop CNC machines with professional reliability and precision to support world changers and skill builders. Bantam Tools machines are easy to set up and ready to use right out of the box. In the words of Bantam Tools’ marketing material, their machines punch above their weight class. The CEO told me Bantam Tools CNC machines allow for rapid prototyping in-house. All of Bantam’s desktop CNC machines are clean, fully enclosed, and come with built-in safety features making them a great choice for any shop, lab, studio, or maker space.

Since 2013, Bantam Tools has been developing prototyping solutions that enable users to take control of their own product development. According to press information, with Bantam Tool’s mature ecosystem of hardware and software products, as well as services and CNC training,  clients have everything they need to build an agile and resilient team that is no longer dependent on unpredictable supply chains.

Bantam Tools was honored by Industrial Equipment News for having one of the Top 10 exhibits which stood out at the show. Considering the CEO’s background as an artist, it is not surprising.

Actually, as a journalist what I found most fascinating is Bantam Tools, CEO + Founder, Bre Pettis started his career as an artist. From Bre’s LinkedIn Bio Brief:

“I have been a puppeteer, school teacher, artist, videographer, and co-founder of MakerBot, Thingiverse, and NYCResistor. I co-wrote the Cult of Done Manifesto.

It is the best time in the history of humanity to be a creative individual. The hardware and software tools are accessible, electronics are modular, and there are amazing resources available to those who are willing to explore the frontier of what happens next.”

The next IMTS International Manufacturing Technology is scheduled for September 9-14, 2024, at McCormick Place, Chicago, IL, USA. Exhibitor Registration is open now.

I suggest non-industry brands consider the opportunity to engage with approximately 100,000 most current prospects working in the well to very highly paid High Tech Manufacturing Technology Industry. For insights and strategic tactical options, in this regard, contact independent experiential event + target engagement services provider Drew Barrett, Global 3T, (Tech, Trade, Touris),,+1 (312) 933-6525.