The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) held at Chicago's McCormick Center in September wasn’t your typical nuts-and-bolts trade show this year, thanks to a creative new booth concept from Swedish manufacturer, Sandvik Coromant AB. The 5,000 sq. ft. booth more closely resembled a mystical ice palace bathing in the "Northern Lights" than a regular tool display.

IMTS is North America's largest tool show, featuring 1,400 companies and attracting over 85,000 visitors. 855 million pounds of equipment was moved in for the 2006 show–almost twice the weight of the Sears Tower. While most exhibitors at the show relied on standard overhead fluorescent lighting and basic displays, Sandvik Coromant employed Gyromedia and Spectra Stage & Event Technologies to create a dramatic theatrical lighting scheme in one of their most ambitious exhibition programs ever.

Sandvik Coromant had 22 tons of ice flown in from Sweden’s famed Ice Hotel for the booth, the first time the special ice has ever been brought into the US. A six-ton ice bar was the main attraction, and seven-foot tall ice sculptures featuring the Sandvik Coromant logo flanked the outer perimeter of the booth.

Obviously, the ice required very special lighting to curb melting. For low-heat fill color throughout the booth, the team used 17 City Theatrical ColorBlast units and 19 Color Kinetics ColorBlaze LED strips, supplied by PRG Chicago.

While the LEDs satisfied the low heat requirements, the team needed fixtures that could be focused to spotlight the ice bar and sculptures on display. project manager and lighting designer Rickard Gabrielsson of Gyromedia specified Wybron Nexera CDM fixtures–18 Profile and 12 Wash–to deliver “Northern Light” color, without the heat of traditional tungsten source lighting fixtures. To reach the desired 4,200-color temperature, Wybron suggested using Phillips CDM 942 lamps for the fixtures.

Gabrielsson explained, ”The Nexeras deliver such a beautiful punch of color, and I love how quiet they are. Plus they're easy to use, which saves us all time. Not to mention, the lamps have a 14,000-hour life.” Spectra purchased the 30 Nexeras specifically for the show. Production manager Ola Melzig of Spectra says, ”Not only do the Nexera CDMs fill our needs for low heat, focus-ability, and perfect color mixing, they’re extremely energy efficient, which translates directly into big savings at a trade show. At 150 watts each, we’re only using one-fourth the power of traditional fixtures, and the per-watt cost of power at trade shows can be outrageous.”

Other features of the booth included a 10’ x 20’ LED wall built with 78 Barco I-Lite 6 tiles (also supplied by PRG Chicago), used to play a short corporate movie. In keeping with the theme, parts of the movie were actually filmed inside the Ice Hotel. The entire lighting scheme for the booth was programmed via timecode on a HES Wholehog II to be synched with the movie.

To highlight Sandvik Coromant products and encourage interaction, the booth had a freestanding pedestal showing hologram projections of milling cutters, plus 12 touch-screen displays, eight plasma screens, and even a magician. The booth attracted show attendees by the hundreds for the duration of the show, with most claiming the atmosphere was incredibly cool and comfortable. "I love this--it's like my living room," one guest was overheard saying.

Björn Roodzant of marketing communication and planning for Sandvik Coromant was thrilled with the results. ”It looks fantastic–definitely the best lighting in the history of this show,” he notes. ”We’ve always gone with basic overhead lighting and this made all the difference. We wanted to do something different and we achieved it.”