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EDITOR'S notebook

August 2005
The Final Countdown

Exhibiors are scurrying to make final preparations for their booths. Visitors who procrastinated are just now pre-registering for the mega-show, and scrambling to find what's become a dwindling supply of hotel rooms in downtown Chicago. With nearly 800 booths filling almost 750,000 net square feet of exhibit space, roughly 70,000 people are expected to converge on McCormick Place next month during the seven-day run of PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05. If you've never travelled to the mammoth Drupa exhibition in Germany, this international show is the only event held domestically that even comes close in comparison.

With renewed industry optimism, expectations are high. Suppliers—many who ponied up for large booth space several years ago—are nervously hoping for an ROI of strong buying activity and solid lead generation. Printers are coming to check out demonstrations of the newest, most productive machinery offerings available in the marketplace, as well as to attend educational seminars and network with their peers during what will be a nightly barrage of receptions, dinners and supplier-hosted parties.

And, for the multitude of printing operations branching out into value-added services, there will once again be large pavilions devoted to wide-format printing and mailing and fulfillment services. Coupled with a greatly expanded CONVERTING 05 presence, this year's PRINT show will also provide a greater opportunity for commercial shops to investigate whether package printing and converting capabilities might present new revenue streams.

But the show will serve an even greater opportunity. It's the one venue where attendees can check out hardware and software that falls outside their immediate purchasing needs—and comfort zones. Strictly offset printers can learn more about the newest toner-based digital printing offerings, some incorporating variable data printing capabilities, that are increasingly capturing a bigger piece of the short-run market.

In-line finishing capabilities for digital printing will also capture attendees' attention. And they'll see the continued advancement of ink-jet printing technology, which is predicted by many industry pundits (read "See the Unforeseen" on page 44) to be the next major area of development in coming years. Even more futuristic will be a special exhibit focused on RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) technology.

Highly efficient workflows, often with an emphasis placed on the JDF initiative, will also be a major theme pervading various exhibits. Despite some resistance among commercial printers to embrace the standard, industry suppliers are committed to making their new equipment offerings JDF-compatible, and will showcase the throughput gains that are possible. In the press and postpress arenas, the higher productivity achievable by installing new equipment (read "Getting Equipped to Compete" on page 80) that can often replace several older machines will be selling points constantly brought up on the show floor.

PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 may also mark a crossroads in our industry. This will most likely be the last time companies—like Heidelberg, for example, with a whopping 76,000-square-foot booth—commit to mega-booths in which they feel obligated to display their entire equipment lineups at a trade show. It will also serve as the major coming out party for newly integrated industry suppliers, such as Kodak, as the graphic arts industry continues to consolidate. Just a few more reasons to attend.

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