ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 22, 2012) -- Where can one go to see a printer whose output is three dimensional, and play cards with a robot? The answer is simple: America's largest manufacturing technology show.
Twelve Ohio University engineering technology and management students in the Fritz J. and Dolores H. Russ College of Engineering at Ohio University checked it out for themselves when they traveled to Chicago recently for the International Machine Tool Show (IMTS) as part of a Society of Manufacturing Engineers activity.
More than 1,900 exhibitors and 100,000 visitors representing 119 countries attended to share ideas and provide solutions to manufacturing problems.
"This is usually where the cutting-edge technology in the machining and tooling area is revealed," said Zaki Kuruppalil, Kraft Scholar and assistant professor of engineering technology and management, and the group's adviser. "I want the students to experience and get excited about it -- you can see machines that can hold and cut parts close to the size of an average sedan and still hold one thousand's of an inch tolerance."
Tolerance is a given specification by which a measurement can be incorrect. And if measurements are off, parts won't fit together.
Chris Jones, one of the student attendees, said it was a great chance to see current technologies as well as make new connections.
"It's important to stay current and relative, and this show did exactly that for us." he said. "Along with the learning opportunities, there were great networking opportunities," he added.
Jordon Wells said the event was not only educational but surprising.
"I played blackjack against a robot that even knew when it misdealt," he explained. "Another thing we saw was how cameras are used in robots to instruct how to pick up a certain part."
SME president Devon Klumb was amazed by a rapid prototyping machine -- it uses a computer-aided design (CAD) program to process blueprints and then creates the part by layering materials as specified in the CAD drawing.
"When people think of manufacturing, they tend to think of the auto industry and manual labor. The truth is, with everything switching to electronics, companies producing such high-tech devices and parts need manufacturers to design efficient ways to mass produce these parts as well as conserve energy during the assembly and creation process," he said.
"It's one thing to work with machines in our labs here at Stocker Center, but this show opened up my imagination. It's safe to say that I now see the manufacturing world in a new light," he added.