Nearly 3,000 business and manufacturing executives as well as students and educators filled the demonstration hall this week at Hoffman Estates-based DMG/Mori Seiki to learn about new technology, training and jobs in manufacturing.
From Tuesday through Friday, the company demonstrated 41 robotic machines and devices for suppliers, new buyers, engineers and others for its third annual Innovation Days event, said company President Mark H. Mohr.
"If it's not flesh, not wood or not organic, it has been touched by machines," Mohr said. "Anything that you see that is plastic or metal or other material has been pressed or put into molds that we make."
Gildemeister and Mori Seiki combined their operations in 2011, forming DMG/Mori Seiki, with 11,000 employees and roots in both Germany and Japan. The U.S. headquarters with 150 employees was located in Rolling Meadows and then moved to a larger campus in Hoffman Estates about three years ago.
Students from Palatine, Wheeling and other high schools learned Friday about how your car's steering wheel, radio nobs, engine parts or even your hip or knee replacement or tooth implant all have parts produced by machines from DMG/Mori Seiki equipment.
"The mother of machines is here, everything starts here," Mohr said.
While Innovation Days was intended to help boost sales for DMG/Mori Seiki and other companies, including customers John Deere, Caterpillar, Boeing, Rolls-Royce and General Electric, DMG/Mori Seiki wanted to encourage the younger generation to see manufacturing in a new light. The company wanted to show that the industry isn't the dirty, grimy industry it once was and instead often includes high-tech equipment and clean environments.
Vince Serio, 16, a Palatine High School sophomore was watching some of the demonstrations and was interested in checking out job opportunities for the future.
"I'm not sure yet, but I wanted to explore what was out there. I'll be in a manufacturing class next year," he said.
Even Haley Singer, 17, a Wheeling High School junior, said she was eager to learn more about manufacturing and has had a longtime interest in becoming an engineer.
"My parents like it that I'm interested in manufacturing and that I've been really involved in it because there are some good job opportunities," Singer said. "Even my friends think it's pretty cool that I'm involved in it."
To encourage other young people to learn more about manufacturing, Zach Veach, an 18-year-old holder of the Firestone Indy Lights record at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and part of the Andretti Autosport team, was on hand to encourage other young people to consider the industry. He said he wouldn't be racing if it wasn't for DMG/Mori Seiki, which provides many of the parts that go into his vehicle.
"That's what really keeps us competitive," Veach said.