As summer slowly burns itself out, we get ready for another season certain
to warm the hearts of anyone looking for new ideas to solve old design problems.
Fall begins a spate of important trade shows where manufacturers will exhibit
their hottest products, hoping to ignite sales in applications from aerospace to
factory automation and beyond.
The season has already begun. As we write this column in mid-July, the U.S. Air and Trade Show is underway in Dayton. Additionally, technologists are girding for Siggraph (early August in New Orleans), IMTS (early September in Chicago), PC Expo (late September in Chicago), Sensors Expo International and Wescon (late October in, respectively, Philadelphia and Anaheim), and Autofact and Comdex (mid-November in, respectively, Detroit and Las Vegas).
Trade shows are important events where engineers learn of new products that can make their design job easier. You never know what you'll find. The Annual Design Engineering Show, for example, is always a shopping center of ideas. At last year's Siggraph, Intergraph showed the world its new line of TDZ workstations, among the first products to include the Pentium Pro.
It was at an Autofact show in 1987 that Parametric Technology Corp. (PTC) introduced Pro/ENGINEER, a software product that even PTC's competitors admit revolutionized computer- aided design. Last year's Consumer Electronics Show saw the debut of Toshiba's digital video disk technology, which could usher in a new generation of home entertainment systems.
For many engineers, IMTS is the place to discover ways to improve manufacturing. The record is impressive. Numerical control with punch paper tape first made headlines at the 1955 IMTS. At the 1960 show, Kearney and Trecker (now part of Giddings and Lewis) introduced the machining center. Carbide cutting tools took a bow in the early 60s, and computer numerical control made its first public appearance in 1974. The last IMTS, in 1994, saw the introduction of Giddings and Lewis' VARIAX machining center, which eliminates the traditional orthogonal ways, or rails, and moves faster.
What will be this year's revolutionary new product introductions at IMTS? There are many contenders. This year's show reportedly will exceed the 1994 number of exhibitors, which was 1,700. One of them could just hold the solution to your most vexing design problem.