A show-stopping line-up

The printing press, whether conventional or digital, is the machine upon which a diverse and innovative business is built and so, in a special preview, the PrintWeek international team takes a look at what will be on show from 3 May to 16 May in Düsseldorf Words Jo Francis

03 Apr 2012 | By www.proprint.com.au

Drupa. It’s undoubtedly the greatest print show on earth, and this year’s event looks to have no shortage of attractions for those interested in the business of putting ink, toner – or indeed something else altogether – on paper or other substrates.

The exhibition is shaping up to include an ideal blend of products that are real, working and can deliver profits for the people that purchase them; alongside some suitably thought-provoking ‘technology demonstrations’ pointing to where cutting-edge print technology is heading. The latter will provide savvy print bosses with plenty of possibilities to consider for the future.

And when it comes to showmanship Drupa 2012 will mark the return of one of the industry’s great innovators and impresarios, as Indigo founder   returns to the industry with his new nanotechnology printing venture, Landa Digital Printing. It’s a safe bet that Landa and his team will be putting on something of a spectacle in Hall 9.

Details of precisely what the Landa Digital Printing offering will be are under wraps for the time being, and the [unofficial] word on the street is that commercial availability could be some way off. But with Landa back in town with his legendary pizzazz and a new print proposition, it will certainly heighten interest in digital printing developments, should any heightening of interest be needed.

Looking at the floorplan for Drupa, it’s incredible to see how much space is now devoted to digital technology. At the last Drupa in 2008, it was across four halls, now it’s up to six. HP is the second-biggest exhibitor behind Heidelberg, with one HP executive quipping that they would have taken extra space if they’d realised how close they were to gaining the number one spot.

Consider this: HP will have a whopping 50 digital presses running on its stand. And yes, among them will be the firm’s new B2-format Indigo. That is going to be some display of digital printing firepower. Francois Martin, marketing director at the firm’s graphic solutions business, believes the entire printing and publishing industry is at “an important moment of change”.

“A new world is now shaping, and that world is digital. Digital production is no longer for small runs and special jobs. It’s becoming mainstream,” he asserts. “This is the second digital revolution. The first was at Ipex 1993. The second is now, when everyone is announcing digital developments – even offset players.”

Martin makes an important point and there is a huge buzz around the plethora of digital printing advances, especially in inkjet where there seems virtually no limit to the potential applications for the technology. But while the heavy-metal press manufacturers are being squeezed, they are not sleeping while digital gains ever-greater market share.

Shared expertise
Heidelberg, the world’s largest press manufacturer, has made a well-publicised return to digital over the past year through its tie-up with Ricoh, and the worldwide roll-out of this offering is now almost complete.

Industry partnerships of this nature are becoming as abundant as foaming steins in Düsseldorf’s Altstadt. Komori recently announced a similar tie-up with Konica Minolta that will involve both inkjet and electrophotographic devices. And Canon-owned Océ has a partnership with Manroland, although the future shape of this co-operation will depend on the strategic direction taken by the now-separate Manroland sheetfed and web offset businesses under their new owners.

Venerable British book printing specialist Timsons has developed a digital book production line that melds its specialist paper handling system with Kodak’s Stream inkjet heads. And elsewhere, KBA has teamed with print goliath RR Donnelley on the development of an inkjet web press that fuses RRD’s inkjet technology with KBA’s web press manufacturing expertise. The results will be among the world premieres in Düsseldorf, and add a new dimension to the high-speed inkjet printing arena, a sector where Screen currently claims market leadership with more than 400 Truepress Jet520 systems installed.

This area has been identified as a huge growth area by industry analyst InfoTrends. Of the overall growth forecast for digital colour production print between 2010-2015, inkjet is predicted to increase six-fold to some 213bn pages. Look out for new systems from HP, Kodak and Océ.

Another increasingly mainstream area is web-to-print, and a lively ongoing debate can be expected at Drupa around the break-even points and economies of differing print output options, as evidenced by the activity in web-to-print and ganging up of jobs on highly automated and efficient offset presses.

According to KBA, the large-format offset presses will become more productive as innovations applied first on smaller formats evolve upwards. “These large-format presses will now behave like B1 presses in terms of their speed, of set-up and job versatility.” 

And despite the digital assertions of HP’s Martin, at Heidelberg, the argument is not about an either or choice between conventional printing and digital, it’s about marrying available technologies and creating slick workflows to allow customers to divert jobs to the best output option.

“The combination of digital and offset, and also digital and flexo, will play a key role in the future,” says Heidelberg chairman and chief executive Bernhard Schreier, who describes Drupa 2012 as “the Drupa of integrated technologies”.

Technologies in harmony
Hybrid systems will abound at the show, and HP itself will expand its reach beyond standalone digital presses and into on-press technology, launching a new imprinting module for variable printing on offset presses.

Environmental and eco-initiatives will be key messages for a host of exhibitors. And packaging and so-called functional printing, such as printed conductors, will be increasingly high-profile.  A plethora of printing equipment manufacturers – including Heidelberg, KBA and Komori – view packaging as a key growth area because packs can’t easily be replaced by electronic media. And both Screen and Fujifilm will show packaging versions of their B2-format sheetfed inkjet presses.
Drupa also marks a brand new entrant to the packaging arena in the shape of Goss International, which will launch its new Sunday Vpak web presses at the show.

“Packaging print volumes will grow. There is no electronic displacement – it will be a long time before you can email a piece of chocolate around the world,” says Goss chief executive Jochen Meisner.

The Vpak uses Goss quick-change sleeve technology and holds out the promise of “infinitely variable repeat lengths” through the simple expedient of changing the sleeves. Goss aims to convince packaging printers that this option has benefits over conventional methods. “Against sheetfed, our advantage is productivity; versus flexo it is print quality, ease of colour adjustment on-press and lower plate costs; and versus gravure it is faster makeready,” says Goss director of product management for packaging, Peter Walczak.

In the allied area of label printing there’s a considerable amount of development going on in digital printing solutions, and we can anticipate further progress from EFI, Domino and Epson – and a new product from Screen – in the realm of digital inkjet presses targeting the labels market.

The ROI decisions factoring in initial equipment price, productivity, and price-per-page are becoming ever-more complex. Alongside the array of shiny new presses of all types, expect plenty of business advice about how to make money from them, too: Ricoh will be promoting its next-generation Business Driver Programme and Canon is adding a mentoring programme to its Business Builder offering.

Application hubs abound
Heidelberg will build five different integrated print shops to highlight ‘highly promising’ business models for different types of printing. Xerox plans five separate ‘application conversation stations’ focusing on selling and producing profitable jobs. Which brings us back to the showmanship theme. Amid a superabundance of show-stopping spectacles planned for Drupa, Xerox will be providing a taste of the real big top with daily Cirque du Soleil performances on its stand. Roll up, roll up indeed.

Press and digital developments

Ryobi moves into B1 with its 1050 press... Heidelberg enters large-format offset with the Speedmaster XL 145 and 162... Many launches at Drupa: HP’s high-speed digital web press... Canon’s new ImagePress C1+... Goss aims to take on B1 long-perfectors with the M600 Folia web-to-sheet press... KBA unveils the 18,000sph B1+ format Rapida 106... Presstek adds a UV option for its 52DI and 34DI DI presses... Manroland returns to B3 with the 13,000sph Roland 50... Both Fujifilm and Screen show concept B2 sheetfed inkjet presses... Xerox launches the iGen4... Xeikon claims its 8000 and 3300 label presses are the fastest in their class... Ricoh launches the Pro C900... Later in the year, Konica Minolta unveils its bizhub Pro 2500 range... Ryobi offers a “recession-beating” SRA1 version of its 920 press...

Océ launches the JetStream 2800... InfoPrint doubles the speed of its InfoPrint 5000 to 128m/min... HP Indigo launches a new label press the WS6000...Kodak unveils three new NexPresses... Konica Minolta launches the bizhub Pro 1200... Xerox announces the iGen4 220... Canon launches the imageRunner Advance range...Goss installs a 96pp Sunday 5000 at Italian printer Grafiche Mazzucchelli... Canon makes a €730m offer to acquire Océ...

Ricoh moves into light production with the Pro C720 and C720S... Ryobi launches its small footprint B2 785E... Presstek reveals its first B2 direct imaging press, the 75DI... Komori uses Ipex as the worldwide launchpad for a new B2 press, the Enthrone... Kodak shows the Prosper 5000XL press... Heidelberg adds its own world first for the show with the Speedmaster CX 102... Germany’s Weiss-Druck buys the first 96pp Manroland Lithoman S...

KBA and RR Donnelley team up on digital inkjet... Heidelberg names Ricoh as its partner for digital presses... Goss buys Vits... Manroland files for insolvency

Kodak enters Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection... Manroland’s sheetfed and web businesses are sold to separate buyers... Drupa 2012 promises a host of launches...

Updates on Drupa 2012