drupa 2012 : Something for Everyone
The Skinny On: Offset. These guys will probably be relegated to a lower position of interest in the scheme of things. I give the offset manufacturers a great deal of credit for trying to squeeze as much efficiency as they can out of offset equipment. Companies like Kodak with its Prosper S-series inkjet units extend the life and add value to web offset presses. I'm sure we will also see some sheetfed inkjet solutions from offset press manufacturers. I don't think offset is going to go away, but if you talk to people, that's not what many of them are coming there to buy.
High-speed web inkjet and, now, sheetfed inkjet are going to start really challenging the requirements that offset currently has a stronghold in providing. Even flexo is being impacted by inkjet technology now. Take a look at some of the inkjet products coming out, including narrow web. They're going right for flexo's jugular, at least in the short-run market.
Inkjet technology and products will continue to develop, and change as the market demand changes. But, the good news is that this has nothing to do with the demise of print; it has to do with the technologically driven shift of how print is produced relative to the changing requirements of the marketplace.
Exciting Stuff: I'm looking forward to seeing what Benny Landa has been working on, because he has a history of interesting developments and always puts on a good presentation. Some of the other companies he's been funding have some neat stuff out there, as well. There's a sheetfed laser diecutting system that is pretty amazing, so I will want to check that out.
I'm also curious to see what is being done to extend the life of electrophotographic (digital printing) equipment. They are starting to be impacted by inkjet, as well. One printer told me he put in one production inkjet machine and retired nine iGens. That's a pretty significant change. Although there is a maturity in digital printing and new value-added options are being added, so don't write it off.