If there is one thing anyone who attended IMTS remembers, it is the fantastic balloon that appeared in the front lawn of McCormick Place, the IMTS Rally Fighter built on the show floor and the Strati - the world's first 3D Printed car printed and constructed in the Emerging Technology Center.

IMTS Orange Balloon Farewell Tour

Over the years the IMTS balloon has become an icon recognized and loved by the IMTS community the world over. The balloon made its inaugural flight in 2004 as the big purple IMTS balloon. In 2008 the balloon got a makeover and became the Big Orange IMTS balloon we know today. Once again the time has come to search for a new look, but not without a proper sendoff.

This year the IMTS balloon embarked on a farewell tour through nine cities across the United States and gave the IMTS community the opportunity to get up close and personal with the industry icon. A contest was held in each city to win a ride in the IMTS balloon. Entries poured in from all over and a few lucky winners in each city got the chance to fly in the Balloon.

AMT and IMTS were thrilled to provide the once in a lifetime experience to the IMTS community. Paul Dembek, Barnes Aerospace, wrote back, “Rode the IMTS balloon at Stowe last weekend! Wow, what a ride.”

Bob and Alison Arrighi of Union Tool and Mold Company, shared in the excitement, “My husband and I would just like to thank you for the wonderful balloon ride we enjoyed on Friday, July 24, 2015. Somehow you even arranged for perfect weather and super clear, calm skies!”

Tom Wittekind, The Tooling Support Group, won the contest in Albuquerque, N.M. and gave the ride to his wife and daughter who described the ride as “honestly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!”

Along the way the IMTS balloon competed in competitions and races, coming in third place in the Great Galena Balloon Race. With great weather for the vast majority of the events it was an all-around great farewell tour.

We at AMT are excited for the next chapter of the IMTS balloon’s story and recommend keeping an eye on the sky at IMTS 2016, September 12 – 17, 2016.

Rally Fighter & Strati

IMTS Rally Fighter

The IMTS Rally Fighter was built live on the show floor at IMTS 2012 as part of the Collaborative Manufacturing section of AMT’s Emerging Technology Center. The car build team from Local Motors compressed five weeks of work into five days and unveiled the new Rally Fighter before a large crowd during the show. Local Motors is the first disruptive U.S. automaker to enter the market in decades, and is built on the principle of collaborative manufacturing. The designs for its cars come from an open-source design community.


At IMTS 2014, Local Motors took their designs even further creating the first drivable 3D-printed car in the world during the show. The ‘Strati’ was built using a direct digital manufacturing technique that could revolutionize the industry. Printing began at the start of IMTS and only took 44 hours to complete. Made of carbon-fiber reinforced polymer, the same plastic as Legos, the car was printed on a large-scale additive printer by Cincinnati, Inc. The wheels and hubcaps were also 3D printed using the direct metal process.

iSpy: Under the Hood

Andrew takes us behind the scenes with Local Motors at IMTS 2014 for a look at the creation of the 3D printed car!