What I Liked at GRAPH EXPO
The first thing I thought was cool was what you didn't trip over the moment you walked in the door...the old guard. Namely, Heidelberg and Komori weren't on hand—going un-missed and un-mourned—while the new big (digital) dogs of print lined the center aisle.
A few remaining princes of offset were relegated to spaces further back in the hall, all but lost among the maze of stands that serve the needs of digital print and distribution first, while ignoring the needs of offset technology. Offset still has a place in the world, but it's getting smaller. 2010 is the year that offset printing—at least in terms of a trade show presence—finally became, well, mostly irrelevant.
Big and Fast
The big inkjet systems are making a lot of noise and I'll revisit them in more detail in some coming installments of this blog. First up is the one most noticeable—the T-300 and T-200 family from HP.
While having these machines at a short show like Graph is not practical, HP still tells a good story. There are now some 20 T-300 systems (40 print engines) installed around the world. According to HP, these sites are all paying customers, and while no doubt some smokin' deals were cut, these machines are beginning to affect the market. Virtually all are in some type of book manufacturing operation where they are turning out to be an excellent fit.
In talking with execs from college textbook publishers such as Pearson Education, I'm hearing no issues with print quality compared to offset, and the appeal of printing only the number of books required makes a compelling business case. Publishers' assessment of quality gets my attention because inkjet print quality for publishing applications has been on my mind for some time. The validation of big publishers tells a lot about the changes.