“Don’t worry, it’s not a bomb,” says the Chicago-area horticulturist as she stuffs her bag into the corner.
It’s rare that I’ll get into a full conversation with a stranger, but this woman had the perfect balance of contemplation and, well, imbalance. Did she think her action would raise the terrorist flag, or was she merely mocking the culture of mistrust of recent years?
Between bites of my blue roast beef and brie sandwich, I learned a lot about the changes the horticulturist expects over the next few months. The signs of irreparable changes are all there: the loss of the middle class, the drop in real estate and the difficulty in acquiring credit. It’s amazing how much has changed in four short years – the research power of the Internet, the flailing economy, the shrinking print market, etc. It’s easy to read the signs and expect the worst.
Improving on PRINT 05’s success certainly wouldn’t have been easy in any economy, let alone this one. The show covered 750,000 square feet, with 954 exhibitors and 62,000 visitors. When faced with the challenge of some of the big hitters scaling back the size of their exhibits, promoters Ralph Nappi and Christopher Price responded by ramping up their efforts. By incentivizing exhibitors and expanding the scope of the show, they are promising more for the printing industry professional than before.
As we shift from just putting ink on paper, our needs have become much more personalized and specific. By branding PRINT 09 as myPRINT, the show organizers will be targetting these individualized needs.
“Increasingly, the printing industry has offered an array of products and processes that enable mass customization of printed communications. Recognizing the prominent place of these innovations, and the effectiveness of personalization in communications today, we’ve integrated these tools into our own outreach, and aptly themed our 2009 event ‘myPRINT,’” says Ralph Nappi, president of the Graphic Arts Show Company, Inc. (GASC), the show’s producer.
To help maintain the size and quality of the exhibitors, GASC introduced the PRINT 09 Subsidy Plan, a stimulus package that will reduce the exhibitors costs of participating in this year’s show. They are providing two stimulus plan options for exhibitors participating in PRINT 09. Option one is designed for companies with heavy machinery that occupies a large percentage of their booth space, which allows for unlimited machinery material handling at the show site. The second option features limited material handling, but encompasses both machinery and non-machinery at the show site.
Altogether, GASC expects to offer up to $3 million in credit through the PRINT 09 Subsidy Plan. Nappi estimates exhibitor savings will range anywhere from $550 to $165,000, depending on the size of exhibitors’ booth space.
In addition, special attractions on the PRINT 09 show floor will include seven special interest “pavilions” that will feature today’s most in-demand products and services within: prepress/design software; press-finishing; the mailing and fulfillment center; wide format pavilion; Future Print; and the introduction of PackPrint and GREENspace.
“Within each of these special show floor features, the opportunity for buyers to get immediate answers to their questions will bring to life new profit possibilities for those seeking to expand their services and profits by appealing to new customer market segments,” Nappi states.
During the PRINT 09 media days we were shown just a few of the highlights we can expect to see at this year’s show.
For PRINT 09, Kodak announced it will be showing a full suite of products, aimed to provide solutions for commercial printers, data printers, publishers and packagers.
To help commercial printers produce products such as direct mail, marketing collateral, catalogues, publications, photo books and other materials Kodak introduced the Nexpress SE3600 digital production colour press. The new SE platform promises to deliver unmatched productivity and image quality.
The Prosper brand name was also unveiled for Kodak’s family of products using Stream inkjet technology. The first product, the Kodak Prosper S10 imprinting system, is now commercially available and targeted for direct mail, catalogues, magazines, newspapers, inserts and transactional documents. It uses a monochrome continuous inkjet solution for inline digital printing on high-speed web devices.
Also to be shown are the Digimaster EX300, which is the fastest cut sheet black-and-white electrophotographic printer; the Magnus 800 platesetter, which can run an entire pallet of 600 plates without an operator; Prinergy 5.1, which promises to do to digital workflows what the original Prinergy did to platemaking 10 years ago; and the Flexcel NX, a digital flexographic system, which is a complete, integrated system that improves predictability in prepress, platemaking and printing.
Presstek was the first of the presenters to identify and directly target the gap in the market between digital printing and offset. The company’s solution is the Presstek DI. It aims to be the most economical press in the sweet spot between 500 to 20,000 impressions. At the show, Presstek will be introducing the 52DI-AC, a new digital offset press with an integrated aqueous coater, and the 52DI-UV, which uses UV waterless inks that dry instantly for immediate work and turn or quick transfer to finishing operations. Presstek will be accepting orders for 52DI-UV and 34DI-UV presses at Print 09, and Presstek 52DI and 34DI digital offset presses are field upgradable to the UV version combining the benefits of UV printing with the superior quality of DI printing on a wider range of substrates.
Presstek will also present a complete portfolio of solutions, including its Compass Series CTP Platesetters. They are a highly-automated, open platform 4-page and 8-page platesetters, which support up to 250 lpi printing with production speeds ranging from 15 to 38 plates per hour. Compass platesetters image Presstek Aurora Pro and Anthem Pro chemistry-free plates, as well as other third-party low energy thermal plates.
Ricoh left much to the imagination with what to expect in September. It will be announcing two new front ends: the EFI Fiery QX 100 and the Creo Color Controller C-80, with more to come. The company will also be showing the Ricoh Pro C550EX/C700EX Colour Digital Imaging Systems, which are designed to help businesses drive revenue and increase profitability. Targeted for a wide range of production environments, these systems are particularly ideal for light production applications that use colour and multifunction products.
It was still a little early for EFI to speak in more than broad terms. One of the company’s aims is to simplify and streamline its software experience and to make it easier to integrate unskilled workers into a production environment. EFI will be introducing new Fiery RIPs at the show, which will feature some of these changes.
The company will also feature new modules for its suite of print MIS software systems, enhancements to its VUTEk and Rastek superwide and wide format printer lines and its new Fiery Command WorkStation 5 centralized job management system. The company will also demonstrate how its newest printers are designed to increase productivity while delivering the highest photorealistic colour. EFI’s workflow solutions, including Print MIS, Web-to-print and Fiery solutions, will demonstrate that print providers can reduce waste, eliminate errors and be even more productive with their current workforce.
MGI will be bringing its cost-effective digital solutions, aiming to bridge the gap between digital and offset (anyone starting to notice a trend here)?
MGI will be bringing its Meteor DP60 Pro, a 4-colour digital press specifically designed for higher volume applications ideal for use at central labs. With an output of up to 3900 sheets per hour, it prints up to 2400dpi in sizes up to 13×47” with no click charge.
The Meteor DP20 On-Demand Digital Photo Solution is ideally suited for photo production. It is an all-inclusive digital solution that can print, laminate, crease and cut in just one pass.
Also shown will be JETvarnish, an inkjet spot UV coater, which prints up to 20×29” sheets, can handle, with ease, runs from one to 1000s with full variable data capabilities.
Xerox will be bringing a full range of products to its 82,000 square foot booth. This includes the new Fiery EX Print Server for the iGEN4, which will deliver unparalleled image and colour quality, maximum productivity and unsurpassed reliability.
Xerox also gave a look at the iGEN Automated Packaging Solution, which integrates digital printing with a Kama diecutter and Epic flood coater. It’s primarily being targetted to the high-end cosmetics carton and pharmaceutical markets.
By announcing its ComColor series of piezo inkjet printers, Riso expanded its reach in the inkjet market. Citing faster speeds, higher quality, a lower cost per page and improved environmental sustainability, the ComColor series of printers are able to print speeds of up to 90-150 ppm. RISO claims to provide the world’s fastest cut-sheet inkjet printers.
Konica Minolta will be unveiling its next generation of the bizhub PRO colour engine at PRINT 09. Details on the mid-level digital press is limited, but the company is promising higher speed and quality with many finishing options. Also to be shown is the bizhub PRO 65hc, which uses a high chroma toner to produce nearly sRGB quality images.
Version 1.4 of Printgroove, Konica Minolta’s workflow software will also be released. It will feature better workflow management, Prinergy integration, support for its new products, and web-to-print support for PayPal.
manroland probably faces the biggest challenges of any of the companies that presented at Media Days. By relying on sales of web and large presses, they’ve been hit particularly hard by the cuts in the newspaper and media industry. Realizing that it’s going to be harder to sell new presses, the company is now focussing on providing solutions for customers who are looking to upgrade and improve their current equipment.
Also to be featured will be manroland’s DirectDrive technology. DirectDrive allows plate cylinders and temporary inking units to be isolated from the mechanical drive system and driven by motors directly at the plate cylinders. This enables up to 60% of conventional makeready time to be saved.
Maybe the horticulturist was right; times are changing. But perhaps, the changes we’re experiencing are not all negative. The economy is already starting to show signs of life, being led by people who aren’t afraid of change – people who revel in it, by adapting their management styles and technology, and then by showing others how to do the same.