Some Observations After Spending a Week at Hunkeler Innovationdays
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I just returned from Lucerne, Switzerland, where I attended Hunkeler Innovationdays along with about 6,500 other printing industry professionals, most of them from Europe. The international trade show, last held in 2019, focuses on digital printing and finishing technologies – but it was really the inkjet presses that grabbed all the attention. Eight companies showed production inkjet presses, and several launched new ones at the show.
Now in its 14th year, Innovationdays is different than a U.S. trade show like PRINTING United Expo in that each of the major vendors has the same amount of exhibit space, which limits them to displaying just a few key devices. To walk the main hall end to end without stopping would take just two minutes – but the stops are what it’s all about. All the major print equipment vendors were there – Canon, Ricoh, Kodak, HP, Screen, Xerox – as were mailing and finishing companies like Muller Martini, Bluecrest, B&R, Kern, Bowe Systec, Horizon, and of course Hunkeler, which understandably had a double-sized space. Its finishing equipment was running in-line on most digital presses at the show.
In a separate hall were smaller booths where companies like Duplo, Riso, Quadient, Scodix, Kyocera, W+D, and many others demonstrated their equipment. Software and services vendors ringed the hall with mostly tabletop displays. And in the back end of this hall was a cafeteria area where morning coffee was served (in very tiny cups) as well as lunch – all part of the package for attendees.
There were some U.S. printers there, an estimated 9% of total visitors. But by and large, the air was filled with the sound of languages other than English.
I spent my time visiting all the major companies to see their latest devices and recording video interviews with many of them. (Check out some of these show floor videos here.) New continuous-feed inkjet presses at Innovationdays included the Kodak PROSPER ULTRA 520 Press and the Canon ProStream 3000 series. Ricoh showed the Pro VC70000 for the first time. And HP touted the latest innovations to its PageWide Advantage 2200. On the toner side, Xeikon showed its SX30000 single pass, duplex, roll-fed press for the first time.
Innovations on the finishing side abounded as well. Hunkeler unveiled its DocuTrim B2+ with a new sheet cutter, the Generation 8 roll-to-stack solution, and the Starbook Webfolder book solution, among other products. Horizon showed its iCE Stitchliner Mark V for the first time in Europe. The W+D BB820+ inserting system and Bluecrest Velocity mail inserting system were both new at the show. Muller Martini showed both an automated digital saddle stitcher line and a Vareo PRO/InfiniTrim perfect binding line.
I had a pretty busy three days at the show but I also spent some time walking Lucerne’s narrow cobblestoned streets and over its ancient wooden covered bridges. It’s a fascinating place to explore and a great location for Innovationdays. The show will return to Lucerne in 2025 (I’ve heard at the same time as the famed Lucerne Carnival) and would make a great destination for U.S. printers who want an advanced look at new technologies. Stay tuned for more videos and articles on this year’s event.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.