In a drupa year, Graph Expo is something like walking home after watching a magnificent Fourth of July fireworks show. The preceding display of pyrotechnics lingers vividly in your mind’s eye even as miscellaneous Roman candles and sporadic bottle rockets whiz forth and a constant pop-pop-pop reminds you of your own youthful adventures with a string of ladyfinger firecrackers stuffed in a Coke can. And just when you think things are truly winding down, the defiant boom of an illicit M-80 rattles a few windows.
Such was the case at Graph Expo, which took place Oct. 7–10 in Chicago. Most new products had been announced in May at the Dusseldorf show, but there were still many new things and old friends to see. Some exhibitors said they approached the show with low expectations but were generally pleased with the turnout, and some observers, including our own Andy and Julie Plata, characterized the overall mood of the show as optimistic. Overall attendance was up by close to 3%. The 2012 show drew 21,022 total attendees vs. 20,451 in 2011 and bodes well for a successful PRINT 2013. (Mark your calendar: PRINT comes to Chicago Sept. 8–12, 2013.)
To no one’s surprise, digital and inkjet equipment dominated the show floor. HP stressed it is delivering on its drupa promises—it has installed the first HP Indigo 10000 Digital Press beta systems at US-based Sandy Alexander, Israel-based Old City Press, and UK-based Precision Printing. At Labelexpo, we learned that Innovative Labeling Solutions (Hamilton, OH), Belmark (De Pere, WI), and UK-based Shere Print are beta sites for the HP Indigo 20000 flexible packaging press.
Benny Landa did not have a booth, but, as always, he had a presence. Landa was the featured speaker at an Info Trends breakfast and later met with individual journalists and analysts. “Buy an Indigo; that’s the best product out there” was his advice for those who can’t wait two years or so for a Landa nanographic press.
ALL THAT GL ITTERS
In other digital developments, Xerox unveiled the Nuvera 314EA Perfecting Production System. The monochrome press can print 314 81/2×11-inch A4 images per minute. OKI continued to court the production market with its compact, web-fed label press, the OKI pro511DW, and the pro900DP/905DP digital envelope press. MGI’s new Meteor DP8700 S targets entry-level users. It can accept sheet sizes from 3.94×5.83 inches up to 13×19 inches and weights from 70 to 300 gsm on a wide range of papers. Meanwhile, Xanté looked to step up to the high volume ranks with the IMPRESSIA Multi-Media Digital Print System. The $14,999 machine’s feed trays can handle sheets sizes from 3.5×5.8 inches up to 12×18 inches. It also prints on oversized sheets and banners up to 12 inches wide × 49.6 inches long.
Scodix digital coating presses were a crowd pleaser. Users can achieve results similar to traditional embossing as well as matte-like effects on both digital and offset output. “Digital glittering” and “digital Braille” were among the innovations showcased.
There were an impressive number of wide-format offerings on both the roll-to-roll and flatbed sides. Franchisor FastSigns International was a first-time Graph Expo exhibitor, surely a portent of growth opportunities.
Three wide-format machines earned Must See ’em accolades: Epson’s solvent-based SureColor S50670, HP’s latex-ink Designjet L26500 and Xanté’s Memjet-powered Excelagraphix 4200.
To prove that print isn’t dead, EFI’s Guy Gecht showed us a realworld application produced on a VUTEk flatbed device: a coffin. EFI’s GS3250LX is a 126-inch-wide LED UV-curing printer. The hybrid machine is capable of 1,000 dpi and eight-color (plus white) speeds of up to 1,200 square feet an hour. For entry-level users, EFI offers the R3225, a 3.2-meter roll-to-roll.
Mimaki targeted small and midsized users with its new JV400LX Series of wideformat latex, including the JV400-130LX (53 inches) and the JV400-160LX (63 inches), while Mutoh showcased the 64-inch ValueJet 1638, an ecosolvent printer. Wetzel Brothers, a CGX Co., bought the Onset S40i flatbed digital printer seen in Fujifilm’s booth.
WORK IT OUT
Visitors also saw many new workflow offerings. Enfocus featured Switch, a modular software solution that integrates with existing systems and drives third-party applications to speed up job processing, reduce errors, and automate repetitive tasks. Octopus MES direct machine interface can monitor presses ranging from one-color duplicators to seven-story web presses. Hybrid Software’s middleware solution, Pipeline, facilitates the JDF linking from MIS to other applications—it gathers, combines and processes information from any of the user’s data stores. Also new from Hybrid: Proofscope Live, a soft-proofing product that allows last-minute production artwork corrections to be made remotely from any web browser in real time.
Series of wide format latex, including the JV400-130LX (53 inches) and the JV400-160LX (63 inches), while Mutoh showcased the 64-inch ValueJet 1638, an ecosolvent printer. Wetzel Brothers, a CGX Co., bought the Onset S40i flatbed digital printer seen in Fujifilm’s booth.
In a post-show webinar, NAPL economist Andy Paparozzi said operational efficiency has never been more important. “We have to find new sources of revenue,” he advised. “We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep reinvesting.” Paparozzi warned, however, that there’s no margin for investment error. “It used to be if you made a bad capital expenditure decision, you threw a tarp over it and moved on. Not anymore. As one owner says, ‘A bad cap ex decision can put a company out of business.’ We have to keep reinvesting, but we have to get it right.”
Katherine O’Brien, senior editor of American Printer, also serves as an associate editor of GreensheetBIZ