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PRINT 13 Signals Signs of Resurgence –Michelson

October 2013 By Mark Michelson
Remember the now-iconic television commercial during the late ’80s with the slogan, “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile?” Well, the same might be said about the quadrennial PRINT exhibition. Its latest incarnation, PRINT 13, held in Chicago last month, barely filled the South Hall of McCormick Place—unlike the mega-shows in the 1980s when it would fill the entire McCormick Place complex. Back then, new developments in lithographic printing reigned supreme and offset press manufacturers, led by Heidelberg’s dominating booth, drew huge crowds of show attendees in search of the familiar, clickety-clack sound of multicolor sheetfed offset press demonstrations.

But, as anyone who attended PRINT 13 could attest, this was surely “Not Your Father’s PRINT Show.” With only a six-color Komori Lithrone and a small-format Baum offset press on the show floor, the mind—and wallet—share of showgoers focused primarily on the digital and wide-format digital press offerings from the likes of Canon, Xerox, EFI, Fujifilm, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, HP, MGI, Epson, Scodix and Xeikon. In similar fashion, postpress equipment exhibitors heavily emphasized their systems designed for on-demand, digital print production.

The buzz was especially loud about several new, B2-format cutsheet inkjet presses. Attention also centered around the profitable market opportunities that wide- and grand-format inkjet devices can provide commercial print shops. (Be sure to check out this issue’s cover story on AMP Printing, which serves as a perfect case history success story.)

And, most heartening, was a general consensus on the show floor, especially those in the digital printing space, that printing companies are finally regaining confidence to invest in solutions that can help them grow and expand their service offerings. After years of hunkering down from the Great Recession, printers’ capex expenditure spickets are starting to flow again—albeit still just a trickle for some shops, but a very encouraging sign for the days ahead nonetheless.

As the positive energy and renewed enthusiasm at PRINT 13 seemed to attest, there’s a resurgence of industry optimism taking hold. Maybe the sun is still rising, not setting, for our industry like some naysayers fear. Although the dark, industry clouds of recent years still linger in some markets, it’s comforting to know that, after a heavy downpour, often comes a rainbow. There may not be a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, but at least it’s “Not Your Father’s Oldsmobile.”
 

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