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GRAPH EXPO WRAP-UP -- Traditional Offset Gets a Booster Shot

November 2002

Given the lingering economic malaise, representatives of sheetfed and web offset press manufacturers exhibiting at Graph Expo & Converting Expo 02 in Chicago last month—understandably—may have felt a bit under the weather leading up to the show. Any salesperson trying to reach his/her quota selling printing presses knows that the past 12 to 24 months have been a real headache. Would customers and prospects even come to the show and, more importantly, would printers there be feeling healthy enough to make capital equipment purchases?

To the surprise of many exhibitors, attendee traffic was brisk, especially the opening day and throughout the exhibition. The show's organizers, the Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC), reported a total of nearly 38,000 attendees representing more than 9,600 companies over the four days of the show held in the McCormick Place South hall.

And, while there was a large quantity of visitors, exhibitors also seemed pleased with the quality of attendees and with the level of purchasing interest shown by buyers. This led to a consensus among most exhibitors that the graphic arts industry is, indeed, beginning to rebound.

"The most encouraging part of this year's Graph Expo was the confidence we felt from our customers," agrees Niels Winther, president of Heidelberg USA. "The industry is recovering and printers are more eager to invest." Heidelberg, Graph Expo's largest exhibitor with a 38,000-square-foot booth, featured 14 running presses. One highlight was an eight-color Speedmaster 102 "Freedom Press" adorned with red, white and blue to commemorate the September 11 tragedy that took place during the PRINT show last year.

Heidelberg introduced a Speedmaster CD 74 with UV integration, heralded as the first offset press specifically engineered with UV printing and coating in the original design specification. This allows fast changeovers from conventional to UV chemistry. Speedmaster customers were also drawn to AxisControl, Heidelberg's online spectrophotometrical color measurement and control system. Additionally, it demonstrated a Speedmaster SM 102 with ImageControl, which reads an entire 40˝ sheet, breaking it into 160,000 measuring squares, to provide color reference values, deviations and other information for each individual square.

In the smaller sheet size formats, Heidelberg showed its new Short-Path-Inking-Mode designed to achieve correct inking, regardless of coverage, on its 20˝ Speedmaster 52; a new blanket washing system for the Printmaster GTO 52; and an optional, completely integrated blanket and impression washup cylinder for the half-size Printmaster 74.

"Probably most positive about the show is the fact that most printers we talked to remarked that their business was coming back, their schedule boards are filling up and they were again hearing the sounds of presses running in their pressrooms—the sound of money being made," remarks John Dowey, Heidelberg USA vice president of product management/sheetfed.


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