IMTS Showcases Manufacturing’s Diverse Landscape

Amar Hanspal, attending his first ever International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) at Chicago’s McCormick Place this week, tweeted that the event “is a digital manufacturing Disneyland.”

And really, it’s hard to argue with that assessment, based on the sheer numbers of attendees (more than 100,000 over the week-long event), exhibitors (over 2,000 companies), seminars, and innovative ideas being featured.

Tony Holtz, left, technical specialist for Proto Labs, discusses rapid overmolding at the International Manufacturing Technology Show Thursday in Chicago.

A stunning variety of participants are visiting the show: Company presidents, chief technology officers, engineers, designers, software developers, entrepreneurs, and college and high school students. This variety showed in the diverse wardrobe: Those in jackets and ties walked the same exhibit halls as those in flip-flops and shorts.

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago’s mayor, showed up to tour the Association for Manufacturing Technology’s Emerging Technology Center, which featured research and development projects from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Those projects included a 3D-printed SUV and the “additive bionic human,” showing additive manufactured medical implants and body parts.

Various special focus areas showcased 3D printing/additive manufacturing, machining, controls and CAD/CAM, fabricating and lasers, and more.

At the Proto Labs booth, staffers answered an array of questions, including queries about our new rapid overmolding service, the trend of using 3D printing for production parts, and the finer points of five-axis machining, another new Proto Labs service.

Trade Show Roundup: Detroit and Boston

The automotive and medical industries are on display this week at a couple of high-profile trade shows:

We’ll be at SAE World Congress running today through Thursday at the COBO Center in Detroit. Find us at booth #1335 to talk with a customer service engineer about how quick-turn 3D printing, machining and injection molding are well-suited for automotive prototyping.

In Boston, we’ll be talking device development and prototyping in booth #304 at BIOMEDevice, taking place at the Boston Convention Center tomorrow and Thursday. Get a free Expo Hall pass with code: invite.

 

Strategies in Light Underway in California

The big lighting and optics show, Strategies in Light, starts today in Santa Clara, California. We’ll be talking with designers and engineers over the next three days about how industrial 3D printing, machining and injection molding processes can help them develop well-designed, more efficient products and devices. Track us down at booth #102.

One topic that is certain to dominate the conversation is the relatively new thermoset material, optical liquid silicone rubber (LSR), which has many advantages during lighting development versus plastics like polycarbonate and acrylic.

Optical liquid silicone rubber prototype from automotive company MagWerks LED.

Optical LSR is changing the lighting industry with its superior material and optical properties that improve:

  • durability
  • lightweighting
  • heat resistance
  • UV stability
  • light transmission
In addition to ongoing optical LSR discussions in the booth, we’re co-hosting a presentation with Dow Corning on prototyping with optical moldable silicone on Wednesday, March 2 at 1 p.m. in the presentation theater. Proto Labs’ global segmentation manager Jeff Schipper and Dow Corning senior application engineer John Nelson will cover why optical LSR works well for prototyping and low-volume injection molding and the results of recent research on implementing aluminum versus steel tooling when molding with optical silicone.
We hope to see you at the show!

THE SHORT LIST: 6 Ways to Get the Most Out of a Trade Show

As you add to your calendar the various trade shows you’ll be attending in 2016, we offer you this list of a half-dozen quick tips for making the most of those shows.

Check your email; free is good. For many trade shows, you can get a free exhibit hall or expo pass from various companies exhibiting at the show. Watch for emails ahead of the shows with promo codes for these passes from vendors. (See Proto Labs’ code list below).

Proto Labs’ industry specialist, Jeff Schipper, discusses rapid manufacturing at LightFair 2015.

Plan ahead. For large trade shows, look at the event’s website ahead of time to scope out the show’s floor plan, check the exhibitor list and review specific program-track lineups. Some shows are massive, so this advance prep will make your time at these shows more efficient and productive. Continue reading

MD&M Show in Minneapolis

Minnesota’s Lt. Governor, Tina Smith, and Proto Labs CEO, Vicki Holt, talk shop.

Proto Labs is at MD&M Minneapolis this week (Wednesday and Thursday, Nov. 4-5) in conjunction with Minnesota Medtech Week. Stop by booth #327 to talk with manufacturing experts, learn about newly launched capabilities and, of course, see prototypes and parts in all shapes and sizes made by our 3D printing, CNC machining and injection molding services.

We kicked today off with a visit by Lt. Governor of Minnesota, Tina Smith, who met with Proto Labs CEO Vicki Holt to discussed the state of Manufacturing and Proto Labs’ efforts.

At this week’s show, we’re all about speed-to-market and reducing development time, so Proto Labs will be participating in the following two conference sessions:

Tony Holtz.

  • Our technical specialist, Tony Holtz, will be at the Tech Theater stage on Nov. 4 at 2:30 p.m. talking about prototyping and low-volume production for medical applications. He’ll go in-depth on how to accelerate the development of medical devices and quickly launch products to market.
  • Eric Utley (our expert on everything 3D printing) will also be participating on a panel discussion titled “Going Beyond Prototyping: Accelerating Regulatory Approval and Speed-to-Market” on Nov. 5 from 1 to 1:40 p.m. The group will evaluate common pre-development design failures, how to differentiate prototypes from final products, and tactics to better analyze the composition of prototypes versus final products.

Haven’t registered for the show yet? Enjoy a FREE Exhibit Hall Pass from Proto Labs. Register online and enter promo code: MYPASS

See you there!