Photos: IMTS

CHICAGO-The 2004 International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS, www.imts.com) is a distant memory for many, but for others, it signals a revival of sorts.

Contrary to the past few years when many manufacturers have all but kept their wallets closed, this year's 1,277 exhibitors occupying more than 1.15 million square feet of exhibit space, reported a strong buyer interest in replacing older equipment with new, more productive machines.

"The tempo is upbeat and positive. Serious shoppers are back, and as a result, a large number of show models bear 'sold' signs," said John B. Byrd III, president of AMT (The Association for Manufacturing Technology), on Sept. 15, the last day of the eight-day show, held at Chicago's McCormick Place. "Evidence of today's manufacturing revival exists at most every level. This revival has the potential to hit 25-year highs."

While not on par with the show's heyday of more than 100,000 visitors, 2004's total attendance of 86,232, did exceed the number of visitors attending in 2002, the last year the biennial show was held.

An Emerging Technology Center, created in partnership with GE Fanuc Automation, presented manufacturing "technologies of the future" from leading universities and government research labs. With this feature, IMTS returned to its roots, since from the beginning these shows had been forums where the latest technologies had first been seen. The Student Summit drew 6,462 students and educators, 50% more than at the previous show, from 37 states and 11 foreign countries.

The next IMTS, once again at McCormick Place, is scheduled for Sept. 6 to 13, 2006.

IMTS 2004 saw a resurgence in buyer interest. Exhibitors reported that attendees displayed interest in replacing older equipment with new, more productive machines.