Advanced Manufacturing Expo coming to DeVos Place

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A Citizen L20 type x machine will make a "king" chess piece at next week's Advanced Manufacturing Expo. Courtesy AME

The 2021 Advanced Manufacturing Expo will be held at DeVos Place in downtown Grand Rapids next week.

Advanced Manufacturing Expo (AME) founder Mark Ermatinger said Monday that the 2021 event — which is free and open to the public — will bring “compelling sights and sounds” to downtown Grand Rapids from Aug. 26-27 with live metal-cutting demonstrations, a packed agenda of speakers and a FIRST Robotics Invitational competition of more than 20 teams.

If air travel restrictions from the United Kingdom are lifted, a Gravity Industries pilot will lift off from DeVos Place and whoosh around the Grand River in a display of an Iron Man-style personal jet suit.

“There isn’t another high technology show in Michigan that is as convenient, fun and affordable as the AME, for attendees and vendors alike,” Ermatinger said. “The AME has free admission, it’s being held at DeVos Place so everyone can experience downtown Grand Rapids, and it’s our best showcase ever of solutions for companies looking to adopt Industry 4.0.”

In addition to a private party for exhibitors and sponsors Wednesday as they set up displays, the AME provides free lunches for exhibitors during the show that runs from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 26 and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Aug. 27.

The AME is offering free two-hour parking vouchers valid at city of Grand Rapids parking ramps, limited to the first 2,000 attendees between both days, to reduce the cost of parking.

Now in its sixth year, the AME has signed more than 200 vendors situated in three halls that emphasize automation, metalworking and mechanical solutions for manufacturers. Vendors will use entertaining ways to demonstrate how their equipment and products can increase efficiency, reduce downtime or cut costs. The Automation Hall is sponsored by Industrial Control Service Inc. in Zeeland, the Metalworking Hall is sponsored by Creston Industrial Sales in Grand Rapids and the Mechanical Hall is sponsored by Motion Industries Inc. in Walker.

For the first time, full-sized metalworking equipment will make chips at the show. Braun Machinery will run a Hurco VM20i CNC with an integrated Universal Robot, Gosiger will operate an Okuma LB3000 with robot load and unload, and Millennium Machinery will make a “king” chess piece on a Citizen L20 type X machine that can perform turning, milling, drilling, ID threading and engraving.

“These vendors are making sizable investments to transport and set up equipment on this scale,” Ermatinger said. “Their investments are testimony to the size and quality of the attendees we draw from all around Michigan.”

Also new to the show is a Smart Technology Zone organized by the Industry 4.0 team of the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, which was established in 1991 to assist Michigan’s small and midsized businesses to compete and grow. The center’s staff and suppliers will give talks and hands-on demos in the Smart Technology Zone that deal with advanced manufacturing technologies, digital process controls, human-machine interaction and enhanced operations management.

The FIRST Robotics Invitational competition for high schoolers will run from 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 26. Founded in 1989 by inventor Dean Kaman, FIRST Robotics seeks to introduce young people to technology and teamwork through a competition that centers on building robots that perform certain tasks. The AME will install bleachers around the competition area so attendees can watch the competition live.

“The AME is built on the values of personal networking and the responsibility to mentor the next generation,” Ermatinger said. “We think it is critical to support a youth-oriented event that will expose teenagers to technology and give them the opportunity to walk the show floor to see how technology is used every day.”

Show staff members are working with the office of U.S. Rep. Peter Meijer (R-MI), state and local officials to determine a practical way to allow Gravity Industries to send its flight crew from the UK to Grand Rapids. Based in Salisbury, Wiltshire, England, Gravity Industries has pioneered the practical use of a jet suit, showing its military, commercial and recreational applications.

“As of today, restrictions remain in place for air travel from the United Kingdom to the United States, and state and local governments can place further requirements for self-quarantine,” Ermatinger said. “We are working with everyone to try to make a Gravity demonstration happen in Grand Rapids.”

The AME show was organized with both visitors and exhibitors in mind, Ermatinger said.

“Exhibitors are burnt out on large, expensive shows, and they are diverting their marketing dollars to more local venues,” he said. “AME allows them to get in front of their customers right here in Michigan at a low cost.

“We also take away worries, distractions and costs: We provide lunches for them during the show, we provide lead generation software to them for free and we only run a couple of days instead of weeklong trade shows.”

More information on the show is available at AME’s website or by contacting Joe Teague, AME’s marketing manager, at joe.teague@industrialcontrol.com or (616) 299-7610.

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