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Japan's Graphic Arts Show Goes International

November 1999
TOKYO—Smaller than two years ago and with fewer visitors, IGAS 1999 nevertheless managed to attract genuine foreign printer-visitors this year. In previous years, foreign interest was shown primarily by dealers and distributors for Japanese equipment and materials, as well as area managers for overseas suppliers.

Now, after many years of persistent efforts, the organizers of IGAS have at long last agreed to fit into the four-year cycle of the major international graphic arts shows: Drupa, Ipex and Print.

Business in Japan is only beginning to come out of a severe recession. The buying and investment effects of a renewing confidence, though, will probably take another year to make themselves felt. Profits of printing companies are down. At giant Toppan Printing they declined by 4.7 percent. Never- theless, that company recently bought the first two large imported web offset presses: two Heidelberg M-3000 Sunday gapless blanket cylinder web offset presses.

The buying patterns of Japanese printers differ somewhat from those in other countries of the industrialized world. Almost all eight-color sheetfed offset machines sold, for example, are for perfecting 4+4. The import of web offset presses is very rare. Heidelberg has had some success with its Japanese version of the M-600, and now the M-3000s. MAN Roland also has a version of the Rotoman for the Japanese market. All other commercial webs are Japanese-made: Komori or Mitsubishi. TKS has further improved its Model 3000 web offset press, but has not exported any machines.

Ryobi showed a new Model 668 A2-format offset machine with extended and high-pile delivery. Using Presstek technology, Akiyama launched a book offset perfector based on the J-Press concept.

Waterless offset continues to enjoy albeit limited popularity. Toray has added new plates, and is also working on CTP in this area. Hamada has a Color 48 five-color waterless keyless machine.

Japanese manufacturers of bindery equipment are offering more sophisticated designs, but are still competing with European-built Muller Martini, Kolbus, Polar and others.

The large Japanese printing groups have enthusiastically adopted digital image transmission. Vio and Wam!Net have extensive Japanese following. Dainippon Printing has its own international network for worldwide co-production of books and catalogs.

Copydot scanning, pioneered by Purup-Eskofot, is gaining ground. Creo Renaissance allows resolution level change. Heidelberg Topaz scans by both copydot and de-screening methods. Computer-to-plate is making some inroads into Japanese printing, though primarily in larger companies. Imagesetting continues to rule.

Among new Japanese CTP systems are Fuji Brillia (positive, Mitsubishi Diamond Plate and Asahi Scopes (CTP shortrun system) for polyester or aluminum plates was developed in collaboration with Presstek and is designed for waterless printing. Ink-jet CTP systems from basysPrint (UV) and Toyo Ink's Inkproof image direct-to-plate. Hitachi Koki has its SJ102 ink-jet CTP system for film or paper and printing plate.
 

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