Hotel rooms all across Chicago are filling up fast as the city prepares to host what is on pace to be one of the largest editions of the biannual International Manufacturing Technology Show on record.

With more than 1.2 million square feet of exhibiting space available at McCormick Place and some 1,800 exhibitors already registered, the estimated 90,000 attendees will have access to more than 13 miles of aisles showcasing all of the latest technology trends that will be driving the industry through the next decade.

To Douglas Woods, president of the Association for Manufacturing Technology, which is sponsoring the event, the record pace at which rooms and exhibitor spaces are filling up speaks not only to the success of the show, but also to the strength of U.S. manufacturing.

“Manufacturing has been the poster child of economic return in this country—the bright spot in the economy. All of our numbers continue to show that that is still the case,” he says. “You’ve got to feel good about manufacturing in the United States.”

The tens of thousands of attendees who will descend upon Chicago in September for the five-day show, he explains, are coming because they are looking for production solutions to help maintain that momentum.

“They want to buy this stuff and put it on their factory floors here in the United States,” he says. “These people are positive and excited about increasing their manufacturing capabilities.”

As the industry regains its strength after the 2008 downturn, IMTS is becoming the prime source for these solutions, he says.

 
"Everybody in the manufacturing sector got stung hard in the last recession. Those that survived and survived reasonably well were able to provide productivity or technology solutions that were different from their competitors."
-Doug Woods, AMT president.

 
 

“Everybody in the manufacturing sector got stung hard in the last recession. Those that survived and survived reasonably well were able to provide productivity or technology solutions that were different from their competitors.”

Armed with AMT’s insights and investments in the emerging technologies shaping the future, these solutions are what IMTS is best positioned to deliver to the industry.

“I think people are looking at IMTS as a way to see what those interesting or neat technologies are that will make a difference for their business—what new methodology for implementing capital equipment or software system, or automation, are they going to be able to put into their plant or factory that is going to differentiate them from their competitors,” Woods says.

Across the wide spectrum of metal cutting, tooling, forming and software offerings on exhibit, there will be no shortage of new technologies and novel solutions to give manufacturers this leg up. From basic machine tools to multifunction lasering and additive manufacturing, this 29th IMTS event will offer manufacturers a dense and diverse collection to survey.

To help make sense of these offerings and to lead our coverage of the event, IndustryWeek has identified some prominent trends that will be echoing throughout the show.

We will start the coverage here with three trends—hard-to-machine composites, sustainability and the IT/production merger—and continue the discussion on the IW website until the event begins on Sept. 10.