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.