Exhibitor Previews Offer Tidbits and Bytes
DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY—This will be the ink-jet Drupa. No, it will be the green Drupa. Or, maybe the print buyer Drupa. Actually, it will be big enough to be all three, and much more.
With more than 1,800 exhibitors occupying more than 1.8 million square feet of exhibit space in nearly 20 halls, putting a label on Drupa is one way to make it more digestible. Another is for visitors to develop a “must-see” list ahead of time. To that end, a number of briefings are being held in advance of the show to get the word out about what to look for from major exhibitors.
The preview tour’s first stop was the Drupa International Media Conference, conducted by Messe Düsseldorf, the show’s organizer, and AD Communications.
Albrecht Bolza-Schünemann, president of Drupa 2008 and CEO of Koenig & Bauer AG, greeted attendees with the message that “print is not at all dead” and the industry continues to develop new business models in response to the ongoing new media challenge. There has been cross-pollination between digital and offset, not cannibalization, he continued, adding that brand protection and anti-counterfeiting measures hold promise for print.
Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, added that this event is to the graphic arts industry what the Olympic Games are to sports. He noted the above statistics and the special event offerings, such as the Drupa Innovation Parc technology forum, Compass Sessions educational program, Highlights Tours and drupacube print buyers program (which have already been covered in past Drupa Countdown articles and on the PIWorld.com Website).
Dornscheidt said regional offices are available around the global, including one in Chicago, to assist interested printers with making arrangements to attend the show, which will run May 29 to June 11. He also recommended using the event’s Website (www.drupa.com) to buy admission tickets at a reduced price and to get the latest program updates.
Eleven exhibitors made presentations during the official pre-show briefing. Most touched on at least two of the top themes—ink-jet (or at least digital) printing and going green.
Heidelberg prefaced its presentation by noting that it planned to hold a separate briefing in March to preview its Drupa product introductions, including a look at its previously announced large-format Speedmaster XL sheetfed presses. Adriana Nuneva, senior vice president of global marketing, went on to explain how the “HEI Tech” campaign the company launched last summer will be the theme of its exhibit and marketing efforts for the next four years.
For the first time, a focus on “Business Consulting” is being added to the existing topics of technology innovation, product solutions and application marketing, Nuneva said. Based on a personalized analysis of a customer’s situation, business consulting experts will now be available to help printers develop an investment plan and share their market know-how.
Heidelberg will occupy Halls 1 and 2, with the latter devoted to packaging solutions—such as Prinect Packaging and the XL presses. Hall 1 will be divided into five dedicated areas, titled Anicolor, Prinect Integration, One-Pass Productivity and Small & Medium Format Solutions, along with a section devoted to Polar finishing equipment.
“Information and Business Centers” will be located in the center of each hall to provide visitors with information on the new business consulting offerings, as well as systemservice, Saphira consumables, financing solutions, remarketed machines and the Print Media Academy. Booth overviews will be provided in Hei Light tours led by guides or recorded on loaner iPods.
In collaboration with Adidas, Heidelberg will be producing some 80 real-life printed products, including advertising posters, autograph cards, brochures and packaging products. As part of its green efforts, all materials produced at the trade show will be run on Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) chain-of-custody certified substrates.
This year, Domino Printing Sciences (Domino Amjet) is celebrating its 30th anniversary as a supplier of ink-jet printing solutions for addressing, labeling and personalization applications. Its systems are installed in-line with presses and finishing lines.
BitJet+ is the company’s leading product line for high-speed, high-end applications. Version 4.5 will be launched in Germany and is said to be a “big step change” in the product line’s development. Automated crosstalk compensation for improved image quality is a key advance, stated Philip Easton, Domino’s product director for commercial print. Also, the 2.13˝ continuous ink-jet print head has been rotated to boost the maximum print resolution to 180 dpi and the unit’s maximum print speed has been increased by more than three-fold.
Domino’s K150 drop-on-demand (DOD) piezo ink-jet system, designed for mailing applications, is said to be completely new for Drupa. It can use UV or solvent inks, has exchangeable heads, and prints a 180 dpi resolution at up to 325 fpm.
Other planned announcements from the company include the L400 thermal ink-jet system, which reportedly runs more than 30 percent faster than existing models while producing sharper print quality, and the BaseLine off-line material handling solution, a first for the company.
Version updates and new functionality for existing products dominate the introductions planned by Dalim Software. The JDF Connectivity Package for TWiST enables the workflow solution to automatically communicate job data to compatible systems. Version 3.0 of its MiSTRAL project management/job tracking system features a new Publisher’s Production Flatplan user interface that shows true PDF images of production pages and uses AJAX technology so only the portions of a Web page that have changed need to be refreshed with real-time uploads. The company will also report on its efforts to implement the Adobe PDF Print Engine technology.
On the proofing front, the version of DiALOGUE demonstrated at Drupa will feature text extraction capability that enables users to cut/paste text from the proof into a posted comment. In addition, Dalim will offer a “technology demonstration” of the Virtual Library option for PRiNTEMPO and MiSTRAL that provides an interactive simulation of the actual printed piece. Users can turn pages in an animated, curl fashion that mimics a printed piece, and pages can reflect paper characteristics such as show through and brightness. UPM-Kymmene has signed a deal to use the technology as a selling tool to demonstrate printed results on different paper stocks.
Targeting larger printers and global expansion are the two pillars of Presstek Inc.’s broader growth strategy and its plans for Drupa. It will be bringing its line of DI digital offset presses and chemistry-free CTP solutions to Düsseldorf.
According to Jeff Jacobson, president and CEO, the market for Presstek-branded DI presses has been running at 200 units a year worldwide. The company pegs the “addressable market” as a $2 billion annual opportunity for runs in the 250 to 10,000 impressions range. Only the current 52DI and 34DI models will be on display, but Jacobson said Presstek sees a need in the market for a larger format and is exploring the possibility of introducing a 66, 68 or 74cm model, with such a product having an 18- to 24-month development cycle.
Presstek’s DI presses and CTP product lines are right in step with the market trend of seeking eco-friendly printing solutions, noted Mark Levin, president, Americas Region. The vendor is already offering its fourth generation of chemistry-free plates, including Anthem Pro, Freedom and PearlDry, he added. They will be on shown along with the Dimension and Vector lines of platesetters driven by the Momentum Pro workflow.
Ricoh and InfoPrint Solutions (which is still a joint venture with IBM for now) will have booths across from one another in Hall 9. As the next step in its bid to become a leader in the production printing market, Ricoh is planning to use Drupa as the launching pad for its new “Pro” brand.
Also unveiled will be the first product introduction in the line: Ricoh Pro C900 and C900s (with integrated scanner) color printers, which had a limited preview at Graph Expo under the name Ricoh Future Color. The devices print 90 ppm on stocks up to 13x19.2˝ and 300 gm2 (including coated papers) at a maximum resolution of 1,200 dpi using an EFI Fiery print server.
The company is not releasing pricing information yet, but characterizes the line as being “unique in its combination of performance and cost” and marrying “light production costs with high production capacity.” Commercial shipments are slated for Ricoh’s current fiscal year third quarter.
According to Ricoh, polymerized toner is pre-mixed with the developer and affixed in a single belt fusing unit to provide a wider color gamut and good fusing over a wider temperature range for stability in long-run printing. Other features include customer replaceable parts and in-line finishing options that include a bookletmaker, perfect binder, ring binder and stacker.
Kodak also participated in the pre-Drupa briefings. Now known as Kodak’s Print On-Demand Solutions (PODS) Group, the company continues to provide Creo-branded color servers and other front-end solutions to OEM partners. Any end-user product introductions will come from those companies, noted Ilana Jucha, general manager of the PODS Group.
Going forward, Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group (GCG) will be standardizing on Creo color servers and the front end for all of the digital printing devices it offers, including solutions from partners, added Judi Hess, general manager of enterprise solutions, Kodak GCG.
Hess asserted that the concept of Web-to-print is too narrow and the industry should expand its focus even further upstream to what she terms “plan-to-print.” In keeping with this philosophy, PODS will now being offering its OEMs a more comprehensive workflow solution that leverages Kodak’s Unified Workflow product offerings, including Prinergy and Insite.
New at Drupa will be the Nuevo Technology for color servers that is said to offer a 10 times boost in processing performance, supporting output rates of 1,000 ppm and higher. It features an embedded solution for handling variable data and is scalable with parallel RIP capabilities.
While simultaneously retaining its leading share of the global digital platesetter market (including OEM sales), Dainippon Screen—Screen (USA), here—is entering a “new era” by looking to expand its print-on-demand (POD) business into a main product line by 2011. It plans to compete in four digital printing market sectors: paper based, signage/display, industrial printing and package printing. The company’s current product offerings for each sector, respectively, are the Truepress 344 and Jet520, Truepress Jet2500UV, Truepress Jet650 and Inca FastJet.
Tim Taylor, marketing manager for Screen Europe, said a major portion of the company’s display space at Drupa will be given over to POD solutions. “We need to make a big impression to get recognition in that market,” he explained.
The Truepress Jet2500UV was previewed at the FESPA exhibition, but will be Screen’s key introduction in Germany as the product enters full commercial release. It is a combination flatbed and rollfed UV ink-jet printing system with a maximum 1,200 dpi output resolution on media with a maximum width of 98.4˝ and thickness of 1.96˝. The unit prints in CMYK, with the option of adding light cyan and magenta or white ink.
Screen’s management believes the CTP hardware market will peak in 2008 and considers this aggressive move into digital printing to be a logical conclusion of the company’s product developments to date. It can leverage its experience with workflow solutions, precision movement of imaging heads and flatbeds, exacting manufacturing processes and color knowledge, Taylor asserted.
Worldwide, Screen reports selling 40 to 50 Truepress 344 presses annually, primarily in Europe and the Far East. It is exploring further development of the product.
Guy Gecht, CEO of EFI, sees the industry and his company’s product development being driven by the “Big Five” factors. These include industry consolidation, the power of information in running a profitable business, digital printing, industrial printing and going green.
Addressing the five in order, Gecht said he is surprised that there hasn’t been more discussion of the significant consolidation that is occurring and how to compete with merged companies. EFI plans to show new things on every front—including MIS—at Drupa, but Gecht declined to go into specifics.
In the digital printing arena, MultiCopy, based in Amsterdam, was recognized for purchasing the landmark 500,000th Fiery unit shipped to a European customer. It is driving a Canon imagePRESS C7000VP color press. EFI also announced the release of the Fiery XF for driving wide- and superwide-format printers.
Packaging, labels and even textiles (custom apparel) are among the big opportunities in the industrial printing sector, with $900 billion in global sales, but may take time to develop, according to Gecht.
He expects the recently launched Jetrion 4000 Series label printing solution to be big news at Drupa. The four- or six-color UV ink-jet system has a maximum print head width of 8.4˝ to support web widths up to 12˝. It prints up to 100 fpm with a maximum resolutions that exceeds 1,000 dpi.
Lastly, Gecht characterized being green as “a necessity” and said it will be a topic at Drupa. Printers need to address it or they will start losing customers, he asserted, adding that Schawk’s facility in Los Angeles has been able to win billboard work from the likes of Universal Studios specifically because of its green initiatives, such as using VUTEk BioVU inks.
It’s much more than a coincidence that Xerox Corp. and Fujifilm will be exhibiting alongside each other in Hall 8b on the fairgrounds. The companies report strengthening their partnership, which in part enables Fujifilm to resell Xerox digital printing systems.
Echoing the opinion that the printing industry is being changed dramatically by mergers and acquisitions and a digital printing explosion, Valentin Govaerts, Xerox Europe’s senior vice president, added that time has shown “digital and offset to be absolutely complementary.”
Key industry trends include the expansion of digital solutions, increased emphasis on workflow, and consideration of the social and environmental impact of print, added Valerie Blauvelt, Xerox Corp.’s vice president of marketing, Production Systems Group.
The company’s focus at Drupa will be weighted toward continuous-feed print engines that use flash fusing of toner, Blauvelt revealed, building on its recent product announcements. “Xerox is not a single technology company,” she added, noting that it will present technology demonstrations of ink-jet products and will have a Heidelberg sheetfed press in its stand to demonstrate hybrid workflows.
Xerox will introduce an ink-jet device “when the time is right,” Blauvelt continued. “We will not duplicate ink-jet technology that is in the market today. It (our technology) will offer superior image quality on a wider array of substrates.”
The company did announce a new monochrome continuous-feed printer line, the Xerox 650/1300, that has a maximum print speed of 300 fpm or 1,308 ipm (letter-sized). Slated for second quarter availability in the U.S., it uses dry toner and flash fusing. Xerox will also be introducing a new JPEG plug-in for the Freeflow Print Server and adding a Value-Based Pricing Kit to its ProfitAccelerator offerings.
Product announcements for the packaging sector are also in the offing, the company representatives said, but details are being held for the show. They did report that the focus will be mostly around folding carton applications.
Fujifilm is aiming to strengthen both its position in the traditional offset market sector and the digital printing arena. The company’s Drupa announcements will have a bit more regional focus in so far as it has elected not to offer the Adobe PDF Print Engine-based Workflow XMF system in the U.S. and the Taskero Universe color control solution was already introduced here.
On the offset front, Brillia HD PRO-V chemistry-free violet plates will be demonstrated on its stand and are expected to be commercialized after the show, possibly as soon as sometime in July. The multi-grain, photopolymer product is said to be compatible with current platesetters (no performance penalty), have a 1-99 percent resolution at 200 lpi and handle 150,000 to 200,000 impressions. Fujifilm will also be unveiling a new Pressmax line of environmentally friendly pressroom chemistry.
Under the banner “Digital Power at Your Control,” Xerox solutions will be featured in the digital printing/POD zone of Fujifilm’s stand, and current Fujfilm Sericol and Inca Digital product offerings will be on display in the new wide-format ink-jet zone. Dominating the latter, at least physically, will be the very large Inca Onset UV ink-jet system that has a maximum 126x60˝ imaging area.
Digital printing will be featured by Kodak’s GCG at Drupa, but it will also be talking workflow, CTP and even proofing. While upgrades, including the previously mentioned PODS front ends and new security features will be shown for its electrophotographic printing systems, ink-jet imaging is what will be truly new at the show.
For some time now, the company has been touting the benefits of the “next generation” Stream continuous ink-jet technology in terms of the imaging head’s capabilities. It’s now going a step further by showing a concept press capable of running at 500 fpm and offering “offset-class quality, productivity and cost” even on glossy substrates.
Stream is an implementation of micro-electromechanical system (MEMS) technology and encompasses the drop delivery system, ink and media. It offers precise drop control, uses pigment inks and is capable of 2,500 ppm (letter-sized) speeds. Kodak says the technology is very scalable, so even though it currently is projecting the color press version not to be available until 2010, other Stream-based products will be available for sale in Germany. The company will also be introducing a new model in its drop-on-demand line, the Versamark VL2000, which outputs 1,090 ipm with a 600 dpi resolution.
Other advancements will be on display around Kodak’s stand. Insite version 4.0 provides integrated marketing campaign management with support for personalized URLs, e-mail messaging and integration with Darwin version 3.0 variable data software. Prinergy Workflow System 5.0 features a new user interface, digital print management tool and more automation. The Magnus 800Z thermal platesetter images up to 60 plates (eight-page) per hour, including the new generations of Kodak’s Electra and Thermal Direct non-process plates to be introduced in Düsseldorf.
Only the highlights of each company’s Drupa plans have been presented here. Visit www.PIWorld.com to read an extended version of the briefing announcements, but keep in mind that the full details of each exhibitor’s product presentations will likely not be known until the opening day of the show. PI