Rahul @Drupa: Making sense of the six categories

As Rahul Kumar travels to Düsseldorf to attend the Drupa Media Conference, from 29 February to 2 March 2016, he delves into product categories of the show

24 Feb 2016 | By Rahul Kumar

For a visitor, Drupa can be a culture shock at best of times. There is so much to see, there is so much to hear, there is so much to learn. Therefore, it’s important for a visitor to do his homework: know what is in store at the world’s largest printing equipment exhibition.

This Drupa will see six highlight themes, which aim to respond to the change seen in the print and media industry, with exhibitors set to showcase state-of-the-art technologies and new solutions.

Packaging production

As India leaps towards packaging printing, this is a must-visit segment. All the latest solutions and applications will be available in more than 25,000 sq/m exhibition space.
KBA, Heidelberg, HP, Landa and the Indian company Uflex among others will be at the show.

In the last calendar year, the company sold seven high-configured sheetfed offset presses in India. And KBA goes to the show with the slogan – Add more KBA to your day – with a focus on performance, reliability, quality and economy.

During a recent pre-Drupa event in Germany, Heidelberg revealed more information on its star attraction, the B1 inkjet press, PrimeFire 106, developed in partnership with FujiFilm, and claims it to be an industrial digital print solution.
The seven-colour single-side printing press uses water-based ink suitable for food contact applications, can also be used for packaging applications.
Plus there will be new additions and upgrades to its Speedmaster series, with which the company hopes to strengthen printing packaging applications.
Then there is the Landa Digital Printing, which was a show-stealer at the last Drupa. I understand that Benny Landa is working on the S10 model for folding carton converters, completely re-engineering the product, right from it weight to technology, which will include the inline coating. Like Drupa 2012, will we see the same flamboyance, this time, around?
Functional printing
Ink on paper is an old story. The demand of the time is to move away from paper and find other substrates and create function printing. Printers who want to venture into these uncharted territories would find all the latest innovations, applications and solutions for industrial and functional printing at Drupa this year. 
In functional printing, the buzz is around printed electronics. The topic generated lots of interest in the 2012 edition of Drupa. This year too, the future technology will be prominently represented, at the Drupa Innovation Park (DIP) in Hall 7. There are also knowledge seminars at Drupa Cube in Hall 6.
Pune-based Keetronics is a shining example how printed electronics can make it big in India. As Rajesh Kulkarni managing director of the company, told PrintWeek India, printed electronics encompass printing functional conductive inks on different substrates using different printing technologies. While rotogravure is a favourite process with the players dealing with printed electronics, Keetronics deploys screen printing for the purpose.
If you were wondering whether traditional print is lost amidst these new technologies, fear not. Print will thrive, albeit with the help of emerging technologies. 

During Drupa 2012, we saw high-speed web-fed inkjet through Kodak, HP, Fujifilm, Impika, and KBA, joining Oce, Ricoh and Screen.

While Fujifilm already has Jetpress 720S and Screen has Truepress JetSX in the B2 sheetfed inkjet space, Komori and Konica Minolta will launch their co-developed B2 printer along with the already developed B2 sheetfed inkjet press, the Impremia IS29. Konica Minolta, will sell an almost identical machine under the KM-1 badge. I’ve already mentioned Heidelberg’s PrimeFire 106 sheetfed inkjet press in the B1 space under the theme – packaging.

Canon’s first cut-sheet inkjet press, Oce Varioprint i300, which was announced in 2015, will also join the inkjet party.

LED UV is another technology of interest for Indian printers. We already have three installations in the country at Coimbatore’s Shree Maruthi Printers, and in Delhi’s Impact Promotions and Infinity Advertising.
The next big step in wooing customers is customised or personalised content on demand. Thus, web-to-print, variable data printing and Internet-based tools, such as augmented reality and QR codes, is shaping the entire cosmos of print media and the complete workflow. It’s time to come onboard to these changes or risk the danger of being left out. It is heartening to notice that both web-to-print and variable data printing are growing in India.
New Delhi-based Chanakya Mudrak is doing some good work in combining print with other media. One of their creations was a hotel menu, which could not only be read, but also heard. For this, the company was named Digital Printer of the Year in the 2015 edition of the PrintWeek India Awards. According to Puneet Arora of Chanakya Mudrak, it was supposed to be the world’s first attempt to create a menu, which can be accessed by all. 
3D printing
The buzz right now is on 3D printing. As a cross-sectional technology, 3D printing will change many industries, and printers naturally want to be a part of this change. Understandably, Drupa 2016 would pay appropriate attention, especially given the fact that this additive manufacturing process has already become a daily routine in medical technology, in the construction of prototypes or the aerospace industry.
According to a new item published by the business daily Mint, Sculpteo, a French 3D printing service agency recently did a study of users of 3D printers across 16 different industries where 3D printing has a potential impact. Interestingly, 2/3 (68%) of the respondents said they will increase their spending on additive manufacturing.
In its simplest form, it is a desktop-sized printer which can print plastic, resin and nylon objects built bottom-up. The printer adds layer upon layer of raw material, usually melted plastic or metal as specified by the design.
The possibility of 3D printing is endless. Current applications range from phone covers to masks, statues, electronic casings, dolls and dentures.
Green printing
Going green is a real issue. It is not just that we want to be environment-friendly; we also want practical and hazard-free print experience. Keeping up with the demand, equipment manufacturers, especially consumables solutions providers, are offering green technologies.
Sustainability in the entire process chain is gaining in importance. During the conference on LED UV, which took place in Delhi in January, the speakers especially highlighted the importance of green print production. Today, brand owners worldwide require their print communication to comply with green standards.
As awareness grows, Drupa 2016 will have different solutions and avenues to achieve cost-effective green printing.
Drupa, the world’s biggest graphic art industry trade show, will take place from 31 May to 10 June 2016 at Dusseldorf, Germany.
PrintWeek India is a cooperating media partner at the show.