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DIGITAL digest

March 2004
Exhibitors Promise a Super Drupa

DUSSELDORF, GERMANY—As an international group of journalists gathered at the fairgrounds for a preview, the countdown to Drupa 2004 clicked past the 100 days threshold.

Scheduled once every four years, the 13th installment of this world market for print media, publishing and converting is slated to run May 6-19, 2004.

Playing off the Olympic motto ("faster, higher, farther"), the slogan for Drupa 2004 could be "prettier, faster, more reliable," suggests Albrecht Bolza-Schünemann, president of the event and CEO of Koenig & Bauer AG. "Print products are becoming prettier. Print services will have to be delivered ever faster in the future. Quality and speed require reliable production processes," he explains.

All 17 of the available exhibition halls have been fully booked by some 1,800 exhibitors and are expected to host around 370,000 visitors, according to Werner Dornscheidt, chairman of the board, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. Those numbers are down from the record-breaking Drupa 2000, but are up compared to all other years.

A new feature at the event will be the "drupa innovation parc." It will offer special presentations on four topics: JDF, dynamic document generation, software innovations and digital photography.

Exhibitor presentations during the recent Drupa Media Week briefing ranged from tantalizing hints to detailed announcements about products expected to be showcased at a select group of stands. Some companies were surprisingly forthcoming.

Bernhard Schreier, CEO of Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, even made note of this break with tradition in his lead-off speech. "In contrast to past trade shows, it's noticeable that this time companies have at least in part abandoned the restraint and silence they once maintained up to the first show day," he says.

The future of Heidelberg's digital and web offset press assets were naturally on everyone's mind but, according to Schreier, there is no news to report. "With regard to the current situation, I can only say that the plans we announced in November are progressing well, but have not yet been implemented. What we said then still applies—namely that we will make the appropriate decisions by the end of our fiscal year in March 2004," he notes.

Heidelberg previously had announced its intention to introduce a new generation of the Speedmaster 102 sheetfed press and to have all of its systems JDF-enabled at Drupa 2004.

The big story from dotrix N.V. was still the recently announced agreement between Agfa-Gevaert and Barco for the former to acquire all of the assets and staff of the Belgian-based ink-jet press manufacturer. The company currently focuses on industrial applications, including folding cartons, displays/signs and decorative sectors. However, Etienne Van Damme, manager of business development at Agfa Gevaert, stated that, "We didn't buy them for what they are today."
 

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