Chicago, IL—Final attendance figures for the 2004 version of the biennial International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) showed a 1.4% increase over the 2002 show. According to AMT, the show organizers, total attendance this year was 86,232 during the eight-day run of the show, where more than 1200 exhibitors, including a strong showing of laser-related companies, reported generally positive results for their efforts.
This was the first year that many of the sheet metal fabrications equipment suppliers, including several leading suppliers of laser cutting systems, chose not to exhibit at IMTS. The result was, in the view of this attendee, a diminishment of the potent laser display of previous shows. And yet more than 70 companies showing laser-related products, including three laser cutting systems suppliers—Mazak, Bystronic, and Hankwang—equaled in number the 2002 laser-related exhibitors.
Many of these companies expressed concern, to ILS, that the laser fabrication equipment suppliers that normally occupy a major portion of the Metal Forming & Fabricating/Laser Pavilion but who opted not to show in Chicago would, by their absence, decrease the traffic flow to their booths. A slow opening day precipitated comments in this regard which where allayed by strong attendance on the next three days.
However, a general thread running through discussions we had with all the laser exhibitors was the future of IMTS as the only industrial laser show in North America. Twenty-five of the laser marking systems exhibitors, for example, told us they have other options but that IMTS was a very good show for them and they believe they can be successful without a strong fabricating presence.
On the other hand, companies such as laser suppliers and those selling related products are not certain about their attendance in future shows without the draw of the big laser fabricating equipment companies.
One aspect we noted, which was confirmed by many exhibitors, is that a working laser system can be a draw for show attendees. So, perhaps IMTS in 2006, with a strong grouping of these equipment suppliers in a laser pavilion, will be the answer.—DAB