What Is IMTS? And Other Things You Should Know

When we’re back in Chicago, we feel it. The excitement, the innovation, the comradery. It’s truly a week like no other with people and machine tools like no other.

IMTS 2024 is fast approaching and many attendees are in search of information. What happens at IMTS? When is IMTS? What time does IMTS start? Will automation be featured at IMTS?

We’ll give you this information! And answer some other frequently asked questions.

September 9-14, 2024
McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago, IL, USA. Visit us at booth #338500. It’s front, center, and the best shade of blue; you can’t miss it.
In 2022, IMTS had 86,307 registrants and featured 1,816 exhibiting companies.1 Even more are expected at this show.
There’s more than 1.2 million square feet of space at McCormick Place Convention Center to house all IMTS exhibitors. Our booth is one of the biggest — for good reason.
Find new automation solutions that help shops experience open possibilities, the new Okuma OSP-P500, and a new machine look at IMTS 2024, all in a newly designed booth. When you’re not exploring one of our thirteen machines, you can learn about our unrivaled service, support, distribution, and automation offerings with strategically placed kiosks. We also optimized our communication process and have a unique digital experience waiting for you when you arrive.
IMTS occurs every two years. Planning for the next show starts as soon as the current one ends.

But you should also know more — more about what IMTS means to us at Okuma and more about what you can do and see and eat in the beautiful city of Chicago when you have downtime. Whether you’re an exhibitor, attendee, marketer, IMTS veteran, or IMTS rookie, you should know what to do after hours, what to bring for the long (but oh-so-worth-it) trade show days, and what it’s like to visit the largest manufacturing technology show and marketplace in the Western Hemisphere.

Keep reading for different perspectives and recommendations...and some exclusive information.


The show officially starts on Monday, September 9th, at 9 AM, but the behind-the-scenes effort is what makes IMTS happen. Just ask Gary Snow, our principal engineer who’s gearing up for his thirteenth IMTS. He’s always one of the first to land in Chicago, 21 days in advance.

“I’m the first one in,” he says. “The floor (in the South Building at McCormick Place) is bare when I arrive. With a couple of other engineers, I physically lay out the floor before the booth is set up, marking X and Y coordinates for our machine tools with tape measures and painter’s tape.”

This year, before the show, Gary will oversee the installation of 13 machine tools — almost all of which will be automated. “We’re bringing the highest percentage of automation to IMTS that we ever have,” he previews.

If you’re there for extensive setups and pre-show preparation like Gary — and have a few hours to spare the day before the show starts — visit Soldier Field to see the Chicago Bears and their brand-new, number-one-pick quarterback take on the Tennessee Titans. The weather’s almost always beautiful in September, and downtime away from all things manufacturing is essential to getting through a busy week. It’s only a six-minute Uber or cab ride from McCormick Place!

Or try Millenium Park. Its main spectacle — The Bean — will no longer be under construction after a year of limited public access and views. See everything from art to architecture to gardens on a slow afternoon or evening, a change of pace from the busy, bustling trade show atmosphere that’s coming.


On Monday morning, everyone wakes up a little earlier than normal in a city with a different skyline. There’s time for a quick email check before members of the Okuma team congregate downstairs, grabbing caffeine at the Starbucks that’s tucked inside the hotel lobby.

Reliable shuttles transport groups to McCormick Place starting at 7 AM. “I make sure I’m on the very first shuttle,” says Mindy Mikami, our Web Manager who’s attending her ninth IMTS this year. “I like to get there early, turning on the monitors, making sure the booth is presentable, and experiencing the quiet of the showroom before it’s open.”

About the booth, she adds, “This year, there are new ways our booth gives our guests more. More hospitality, more room to sit and discuss business. It’s something we’re excited about.”

Kelly Ball, Senior Marketing and Social Media Specialist, echoes this sentiment. “We’re debuting a new booth design, and we’re excited for customers, executives, and other exhibitors to see it for themselves. We’re also bringing a new digital interaction that hasn’t been a part of our booth before!”

Right before the doors open, all Okuma team members hold a big meeting to go over priorities, schedules, and obligations for the day. Energy is high. Nerves are present. Excitement outweighs everything. The meeting moves fast.

In no time, it’s 10 AM.

The rest of the day is spent welcoming visitors into the booth, hosting meetings, demoing parts. This year, cutting demos include parts for EV and semi-conductor markets. Visitors can also expect a bigger support and service presence, too, evidenced by clearly marked spaces.

Gary will monitor machines, answer questions, run cutting demos, and show customers all the features and design components of Okuma machines that are designed to maximize process efficiency, part accuracy, and shop performance.

Kelly and Mindy will be the first people you see when you walk into the Okuma booth, greeting members of the media, customers, visitors.

When asked about their favorite part of show days, Gary, Mindy, and Kelly’s answers were almost identical. “The best part about IMTS is seeing the Okuma booth come to life. Seeing the long, hard hours come together with the people who made it happen. Getting to show Okuma to the world, including industry friends, no matter which logos they wear on their chests.” IMTS is a chance to reconnect and celebrate manufacturing with old and new faces.

For eight hours, McCormick Place is alive with people, machine tools, technologies, and automation. Nothing is still, but that’s the way it should be. The top three things our team recommends for a successful show day are portable chargers, snacks, and comfortable shoes.

At 6 PM, the roar of the crowds becomes more of a murmur, machines are powered down, and it’s all-hands-on-deck to prep the Okuma booth for the next day. The wake-up calls and pre- and during-show routines repeat themselves throughout the week. So do the post-show activities.


It’s tradition for the Okuma team to meet with customers, vendors, or other employees for a much-deserved dinner after the lights go out in McCormick Place each night. Our IMTS experts have a few recommendations on where to go:

  • Weber Grill – Wings. Pan pizzas. Soups. Salads. Burgers. This classic grill has just about everything and is perfect for group dining.
    • 539 N State St
      Chicago, IL 60654
  • Chicago Chop House – Make a reservation at this historic, fine dining steak house so you don’t miss hand-cut USDA prime steaks, fresh seafood, shareable sides, and from-scratch desserts.
    • 60 W Ontario St
      Chicago, IL 60654
  • Half Shell This underground gem is the longest-running crab house in Chicago! They don’t take reservations, so make sure to get there early before they run out of room — and crab legs.
    • Lincoln Park 676 W Diversey Pkwy
      Chicago, IL 60654
  • Tufano’s Vernon Park Tap This old-school Italian joint serves the best lemon chicken, eggplant parmesan, and fried calamari. Reservations for groups of ten or more are accepted. Cash or check only!
    • 073 W Vernon Park Pl
      Chicago, IL 60654
  • Miller’s Pub The fan favorite. The closest pub to our hotel. Here, you can always find a sizable Okuma group dispersed across booths and the 50-foot bar. Join us for a post-show burger or drink!
    • 134 S Wabash Ave
      Chicago, IL 60654

If you’re looking for food and entertainment, catch the White Sox in a long home-game stretch that starts the first day of the show. Or explore the city from different perspectives. See the city from the skies in Skydeck Chicago, on the ground with Segway tours, immerse yourself in history museums, or dive into the music scene with a touring Broadway show.

Then, it’s back to the hotel. Emails are checked once more. Clothes are laid out for the next day. Alarms are set for the morning. We’re lucky to do it for six straight days.


IMTS is truly a week like no other. The days are long (we can’t stress comfortable shoes enough), but they also go by too fast. The excitement, innovation, and connections make them fly.

Devising a plan for before, during, and after the show will help you make every minute count. Stop by booth #338500 to see Gary, Kelly, Mindy, the rest of the Okuma team, and everything that’s new. We can’t wait to bring the show to life with you.

For more information leading up to IMTS 2024, please visit okuma.com/imts.


  1.  https://www.imts.com/media/index.cfm
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