The Center of the Universe…for Print –Michelson

From May 3-16, all planes, trains and automobiles will lead to Düsseldorf, Germany, for drupa 2012, the mega-exhibition that brings together graphic arts professionals from around the world and showcases cutting-edge innovations. Although Americans will represent a very small percentage of the expected 350,000 visitors converging on the fairgrounds’ 19 halls filled with 1,850 exhibitors, the new products and technology demonstrations at drupa provide a compass point for the technological direction that the U.S. industry will take for years to come.

It’s tough to slap a label on an event that incorporates so many processes. Like the same tag line given to the last drupa in 2008, industry watchers are heralding next month’s event as the “Inkjet drupa,” with a plethora of new continuous-feed and sheetfed production inkjet presses on display from HP, Kodak, Océ, Xerox, Fuji, MGI, Screen, Xanté and Delphax, among several others. There will be new and improved electrophotographic (toner-based) digital printing systems on display as well, including Xeikon’s still-secret Quantum offering. And, don’t forget the nanographic (small particle) digital print technology that will be unveiled by Benny Landa—the founder of Indigo and arguably the father of today’s digital color presses. All of these high-speed digital devices need compatible binding and finishing equipment, too, so other pundits are instead calling it the “Digital Finishing drupa.”

But, don’t brush off traditional offset press manufacturers as being irrelevant. The march toward quicker makereadies, waste reduction and automated color/quality control continues, as they persevere and sign up digital dance partners to round out their product portfolios. Worth noting, Komori will demonstrate two prototype inkjet presses, KBA will present its new RotaJET inkjet web press, Goss will feature a 96-page Sunday 5000 gapless web press unit with Autoplate and DigiRail digital inking, manroland will debut as two separate companies, and Heidelberg will highlight its Linoprint family of digital partner offerings along with its Anicolor inking unit technology that’s suited for very short offset press runs.

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