By John S. McClenahen Spurred on by this month's biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago, makers and distributors of machine tools in the U.S. are hoping for a strong finish to 2002. That's understandable. The first seven months of the year were not kind to the industry. U.S. gross sales of machine tools was $143.34 million in July, down 29.5% from June and 21% from July 2001's mark of $181.36 million, reveal the most recent data jointly released by AMT-The Association for Manufacturing Technology and the American Machine Tool Distributors' Association. For this year's first seven months, consumption of machine tools totaled $1.286 billion, down 23.8% from the first seven months of 2001. Gross sales of metal-cutting machine tools during the first seven months of this year totaled $1.169 billion, down 24.5% from the first seven months of 2001. Gross sales of machine tools that form metal were $117.57 million during the first seven months of this year, down 15.1% from the first seven months of 2001.