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GRAPH EXPO and CONVERTING EXPO 2004 -- Star Attraction

September 2004
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

Traditionally, DRUPA has always created an east-to-west breeze; hence, whatever new technology or technologies made a splash in Germany at the world's largest printing exposition generally carried over to its North American counterpart, Graph Expo and Converting Expo.

The problem is, there's really not a hot new technology that has everyone abuzz. But that will hardly dampen enthusiasm when the doors of McCormick Place swing open to about 40,000 attendees from Oct. 10 through 13.

It might not take a new technology to bolster the show. The one trend that stuck out at Drupa, according to Bill Lamparter, president of PrintCom Consulting Group in Charlotte, NC, was the revitalization of the sheetfed offset press. Lamparter notes that most manufacturers unveiled "significant developments" to the sheetfed press, with Heidelberg practically rolling out an entirely new platform.

While Job Definition Format (JDF) continues to be the media darling and will no doubt garner a great deal of attention in Chicago, Lamparter sees sheetfed press technologies making a bigger splash. Even those printers who are not currently in the market for a new sheetfed press need to at least increase their awareness of the developments that may find their way into competitors' shops.

"JDF was the vendors' buzz technology at Drupa and it will be the vendors' buzz technology at Graph Expo," he says. "We think the sheetfed developments are more important in terms of having an immediate and mid-term impact for the mid-sized sheetfed commercial printer.

"The average printer is not going to go out and implement JDF tomorrow afternoon. But he may need a new sheetfed press, which he hasn't bought in several years. And, if he doesn't do that, he'd better know what new press his neighbor is going to buy."

JDF is still a pretty fresh topic, and the trend towards diversification will be evident in the Mailing & Fulfillment Center, along with the Wide Format Pavilion, at the Chicago event. Of course, there will be no lack of traditional equipment and software for prepress, press and postpress applications as 600 firms will be showcasing their wares in more than 400,000 square feet of exhibition space.

In terms of square footage, this should be one of the largest Graph Expos in recent years. More exhibitor floor space for this year's show had been sold by June than the final 2003 figure. The Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC), which orchestrates Graph Expo and Converting Expo, expects the expanded space it ordered to be completely sold out in October. Both the Mailing & Fulfillment Center and the Wide Format Pavilion have roughly doubled in size.
 

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