GRAPH EXPO 2006: Digital Printing — Short Selling Printing

DI technology was also on display in the xpedx Printing Technologies booth in the form of the Ryobi 3404 DI four-color press. To address variable data applications, the company unveiled a new “pay-per-click” program for commercial and in-plant printers that enables them to add OEM-branded digital equipment (the Xerox color product line to start) to their operations for a flat per-page fee, rather than an upfront capital outlay.

KBA North America reported a Midwest printer had purchased three KBA 74 Karat digital offset presses like the one it had running on the show floor. Screen (USA) also brought its digital offset press, the Truepress 344, to McCormick Place.

Compared to PRINT 05, things were much quieter on the merger and acquisition front. Just prior to the event, though, Xerox Corp. announced a deal to acquire XMPie, a leading provider of variable information software. XMPie will continue to be used as a brand name and the operation is to function as a standalone software unit serving the entire graphic arts market.

Kodak revealed it is teaming up with Four51 in a less formal business arrangement to roll out the Kodak MarketMover Network, which it describes as a “commerce networking service.” Four51 is providing the underlying server infrastructure.

There are layers to how the system could be used but, at its heart, the service is intended to provide an online connection between print service providers (with Kodak Nexpress, Prinergy or Versamark equipment) and customers. Print providers will be able to use the service as a private network with Web-to-print functions to link just their customers.

Kodak has a grander vision, though, of companies building relationships on a national and worldwide basis to share jobs and information in a distributed print production model, or simply for load balancing. The service is not intended to be a print bid site, however, stresses Kevin Joyce, managing director, United States and Canada Region, and vice president, Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group (Kodak GCG). Joyce concedes there may be some risk of one shop trying to poach another’s customer in that production model, but the hope is that print providers will be able to develop trusted partnerships through the network.

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