2012 is shaping up to be a big year for additive manufacturing. So big, some say, that the technology may finally earn the major market acceptance it has been working toward these last 25 years or so.

From Stratasys's "magic arms" to last month's announcement of the $30 million award for the creation of the National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII), manufacturing news this year has been replete with stories about the incredible advances being made to these technologies and with applications of them.

But the real peak of this drive is set to come in Chicago next week at the International Manufacturing Technology Show where additive manufacturing, 3-D printing and related technologies will enjoy an expanded role and expanded prominence in a show packed with as many as 100,000 capital goods buyers.

Dave Burns, COO ExOne "We believe that to some extent [IMTS] is going to be a coming out party for additive manufacturing." - Dave Burns, president, COO of ExOne  

"This will be the first far-reaching American show that deals with all manufacturing technologies where there is a clear understanding that additive manufacturing has a presence," explained Dave Burns, president and COO of Pittsburgh-based metal printer, ExOne.

"We're excited about the show because it is IMTS saying to the world that additive manufacturing has arrived. It is highlighted and the spotlight is going to be shining upon it," he said. "We're very excited about that, obviously."