Observations from IPEX 2006

Editor’s note: While not a blog, exactly, Dennis E. Mason, of Mason Consulting Inc., kindly agreed to share some of his first-hand impressions of IPEX 2006 direct from the fairgrounds.

IPEX 2006 Day 2:

Wednesday at IPEX proved to be a much better day than its opener on Tuesday. Crowds were good, and exhibitors were generally quite pleased with their booth traffic. IPEX veterans say that the second and third days are usually the best attended, so everyone seemed to think that things went according to plan.

The day began with a Xerox briefing, featuring CEO Anne Mulcahy talking about where the company is going. She said Xerox had had an excellent first day, which included sales of three iGen3s.

Mulcahy asserted that, “Digital is not optional.” She added that printers must redefine their businesses, they must clean up their balance sheets, and they must move to the new technologies.

Workflow is key, Mulcahy says, because of the large amount of money tied up in non-output functions at printers today. She counseled printers to “Listen carefully; act quickly; chose carefully.”

The second portion of the program consisted of film clips from the Xerox forum on Tuesday, which had attracted more than 1,000 people. Interestingly, a key participant in the forum was Bernhard Schreier, president of Heidelberg. Mulcahy said, with respect to Heidelberg, that suppliers must become less competitive and more collaborative.

Xerox also announced it is offering printers a “Digital Readiness Assessment,” which benchmarks their operations against 17 key factors to determine whether they are likely to be successful in moving into the digital arena.

X-Rite held an “unveiling” to announce a new plate reader–the PlateScope. It is similar in form and function to Techkon and GretagMacbeth instruments already on the market.

Fujifilm started its briefing with a discussion of its complete line of thermal and violet plates, in both processed and processless versions. Its new software introduction, though, was more striking. A first implementation of the Adope PDF Print Engine, the software is said to produce pure JDF with native PDF RIPing. Also, the company says it has linked its workflow software to 10 different MIS systems.

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