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Why You Can't Miss the New Additive Manufacturing Pavilion at IMTS

To enter the North Building at McCormick Place, visitors to IMTS -- The International Manufacturing Technology Show -- must exit the Grand Concourse and pass through the new Additive Manufacturing Pavilion. Previously the technology has been featured in AMT's Emerging Technology Center as a cutting edge technology and then added to the Fabricating and Laser Pavilion. For IMTS 2016, additive manufacturing technology has earned a stand-alone spotlight at the show, which runs from Sept. 12-17, 2016.

"Additive manufacturing is a reality for the industrial marketplace. It's not fully mature, but the technology has progressed far enough that if you're ignoring 3D printing at IMTS 2016, you're making a big mistake," advises David Burns, founder and principal of Global Business Advisory Services, LLC. "Fortunately, within the IMTS Additive Manufacturing Pavilion, you'll find companies that offer a full suite of 3D products, and they're good at explaining the benefits."

Burns well understands industrial manufacturing. IMTS 2016 will mark his 16th show. Before he started advising industrial companies, Burns co-founded and was President and COO of ExOne™, a leading provider of 3D printing machines, products and related services. Prior to ExOne, he was CEO for gear manufacturer Gleason Corporation.

Burns says that technology advancements occur so rapidly that staying on top of new developments requires constant work. As it applies to 3D printing, developments include new metallurgies, new machines and a suite of design tools.

"Designing for 3D printing requires a completely different approach, as does integrating the power of 3D printing into your industrial manufacturing operation," he says.

As an example, Burns cites an aerospace part redesign where 3D printing reduced weight from 7 to 2 lbs. and offered better mechanical properties. Saving 5 lbs. per part over several parts adds up to serious fuel savings when you consider that American Airlines claims it will save $1.2 million in fuel per year by switching from 35-lb. paper manuals to a 1.5-lb. iPad.

In another example, 3D printing enables the integration of conformal cooling channels in the tooling for injection molded parts. The new design reduces cycle time, reduces reject rates associated with warping and offers a claimed productivity rate increase of 20 to 70 percent across several applications. In yet a third example, 3D printing enabled a design team to combine 18 parts into a single component that was 25 percent lighter and, more importantly, eliminated maintenance issues.

"If you're just trying to emulate an existing design, you need to expand your thinking to fully harness the power of 3D printing," says Burns. "Savings and productivity improvements are going to come from ways you have yet to imagine."

The Additive Manufacturing Pavilion

"Additive manufacturing is incredibly dynamic, and in order to see new materials, new design ideas and new production techniques, you need to attend IMTS 2016," says Peter R. Eelman, Vice President -- Exhibitions & Communications at AMT -- The Association For Manufacturing Technology. Eelman emphasizes that the term additive manufacturing encompasses a collection of diverse technologies that includes material providers, 3D printers and associated equipment such as sintering furnaces, design and production software, scanners that capture points to create a parametric design and 3D printing service centers.

"The Additive Manufacturing Pavilion showcases essentially every component necessary for a manufacturing cell," he says. "In addition, the technology has progressed so far that you'll also see it on the show floor. Several of the leading machine tool providers will demonstrate 'hybrid machines' that integrate 3D printing and traditional machine tool capabilities."

Pavilion exhibitors include ExOne, EOS of North America, 3D Systems, Statasys, HP, Optomec, Proto Labs, EnvisionTEC, Cideas, DM3D Technology, SCIAKY, 3rd Dimension Industrial 3D Printing, Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies, GPI Prototype & Manufacturing Services, Linear AMS, and more still being added.

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