Clouds Hang Over Ipex 2010

Gareth Ward is a European journalist who has been writing about developments in the printing industry for more than 25 years. This is the seventh Ipex he has attended.

There are two invisible clouds hanging over Ipex 2010. One is the cloud of volcanic dust from Iceland which has prevented many making the trip to Birmingham. The other is the reluctance of banks in Western Europe and North America to support printers in their investments.

The first is a temporary issue, but one which will prevent many seeing what is the most interesting line up of machinery for some years. The second cloud is showing too many signs of permanence as recession continues to hold the industry tight in its grip. But not everywhere.

According to Kodak, sales in the Asia Pacific region are soaring, while North America is crawling out of recession and Europe staggers nine months behind the USA. You might not guess this from the healthy flow of visitors from around the world.

The numbers are bound to be down on last time (Ipex 2006), but in the digital print halls, there is more relief that there are, if not crowds, then a steady streams of printers.

Stream, aka the Kodak Prosper 5000XL is a main draw, as are the two sheetfed inkjet presses from Fuji and Screen. Add in the HP T300 and its baby brother, the T200 being launched here, along with inkjet presses from a host of other companies, and those claiming that Ipex is an inkjet show will have good justification for the claim.

Few though are ready to ship at the show. The Screen Truepress Jet SX ships late this year, the Fujifilm Jet Press 720 not until 2011. The HP T200 is available next year, and so it goes on. Kodak has repeated its intention to accelerate its plans to manufacture Prospers at a rapid pace due to the “more than 100 but I can’t give you a definite number” of letters of intent that Kodak CEO Antonio Perez says the company has.

John Crosfield
Among the ‘Champions in Print’ award winners named at Ipex 2100 was John Crosfield, inventor of press registration controls, electronic scanning and electronic page composition, who founded Crosfield Electronics in 1947. He is pictured here (the gentleman in the wheelchair) on the Canon stand at the show.

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