Graph Expo Review: Digital Printing & Workflow – Inkjet Is the New Heavy Iron

Heidelberg’s booth was once again located at the entrance to the South Hall, next to Xerox, but the EFI VUTEk printer in it was the first piece of equipment attendees saw.

Agfa Graphics was just one of the many exhibitors showing wide-format printers.

It’s better than tea leaves, but attempting to divine the future of the printing industry by “reading” the GRAPH EXPO 2011 show floor is still an iffy proposition. Yet, some of the signs were too striking to ignore.

Heidelberg, for example, once again had its traditional booth location at the entrance to the hall (alongside Xerox) after taking a one-year hiatus. However, the piece of equipment front and center was an EFI VUTEk GS3200 grand-format UV inkjet printer. That machine was running in conjunction with a Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts Edition color digital press and a Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 74 offset press to demonstrate integrated workflows and color management.

Wide- and grand-format printers really stood out around the show floor, with the size of some devices giving them the impression of being the new “heavy iron” in the industry. Heidelberg had a second offset press on display, but the only other sizable piece of offset iron was in the Presstek booth.

Presstek stresses the digital aspect of the five-color Presstek 75DI it brought to the show, since it can go from a digital file to sellable sheet (max. 31.02×23.62˝) in only six minutes. The company also had its smaller format digital offset presses, the Presstek 52DI-AC (aqueous coating) and 34DI, on hand.

Other smaller format devices could be found around the show floor, such as the two-color BaumPrint 18 press Mitsubishi Imaging used to demonstrate the quality and printability of its Thermal Digi-
Plate processless and chemistry-free plates.

Even the new crop of inkjet presses for high-volume page production was overshadowed a bit by their wider brethren, as fewer vendors elected to bring machines to Chicago.

Under the partnership announced earlier this year, Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A. displayed a Truepress Jet520 inkjet system from Screen (USA)—which did not exhibit. Konica Minolta also featured its own bizhub PRESS C70hc color printer, a 70 ppm version of its High Chroma color print engine introduced earlier this year; and the bizhub PRESS C8000/C7000 color press family that it promotes as “big-iron,” toner-based machines.

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