No one is promising that everything you see on display in the Emerging Technology Center (ETC), Booth N-650, will be in your shop next year. But based on past IMTS ETCs, it’s a good bet that something there will directly impact your company’s future.
“The premise of the ETC is to provide a glimpse of technology that may well become common somewhere down the road,” says AMT’s vice president of exhibitions, Peter Eelman. “We are trying to highlight technology that may not be on the radar of most people, but still has a very good chance of transforming manufacturing in the coming years.”
IMTS 2012 has a particularly strong lineup with several big ideas and technologies, of which many industry observers believe the question is not so much if they will go primetime, but when? Those technologies include:
Additive Manufacturing – While the term “rapid prototyping” may still be more familiar, this generation of additive technology is moving out of the design department and on to the shop floor to make production parts and tooling impossible to manufacture with other processes. You literally can go directly from CAD model to complex functional parts in hours, and with an increasing variety of metallic and plastic materials. The display includes working 3D printing and laser sintering processes and parts from leading companies such as Objet, 3D Systems, ExOne and Renishaw.
Collaborative Manufacturing – In one of the most interesting displays ever featured in the ETC, the Collaborative Manufacturing section features a live, on-site car build done by Local Motors, an open-source automaker that collaborates with a community of engineers, designers, and car enthusiasts to produce its vehicles. Will open source become a key part of durable goods manufacturing much as it has in the computer industry? Local Motors is living proof that it can be done. Or as Eelman puts it, “You can come see a manufacturing company in action that has figured out how to tap into a wider market of ideas.”
MTConnect – MTConnect is an ETC veteran that is now well on its way to much broader adoption. It’s an open and royalty-free communications standard that is transforming production systems by providing plug-and-play communications and interconnectivity between manufacturing equipment and devices. First introduced in the ETC in 2008, MTConnect has been adopted by a wide range of equipment and systems manufacturers as well as applied by end-users. This year, the ETC highlights a variety of new applications that bring new levels of productivity though the intelligent sharing of information on the factory floor.
MTInsight – IMTS 2012 marks the introduction of MTInsight, a game-changing business intelligence tool specialized to the manufacturing industry. With a growing cache of apps, MTInsight has the potential to bring manufacturing business leaders data and insight never before possible. ETC visitors can try out the MTInsight demo and learn more about the important data it has to offer.
See the future now in the Emerging Technology Center at the front of the North Hall.