Winning the Drupa Race
In Dusseldorf, new technologies capture the market's imagination.
One of the most applicable quotes that came out of Drupa 2008 is from Valentin Govaerts, senior vice president, production and graphic arts, with Xerox Europe: "It’s easy for the end of Drupa to feel like crossing a finish line," he says. "But, the race never ends."
Certainly, the finish-line analogy is very appropriate. After all, the 2008 edition of this mega-show is the equivalent of a tradeshow marathon: It lasted 14 days, showcased wares from 2000 exhibitors, and drew some 400,000 visitors. In the later afternoons, it wasn’t unusual to find people from the attendee and the exhibitor camps sprawled out in common-area benches or simply nodding off while sitting in chairs. True exhaustion had set in for many folk.
But the second part of Govaerts’ statement is equally as dead on: The end of Drupa really simply signals the beginning of the race, for manufacturers as well as print providers. If everything works according "to plan," the technologies, products, and trends showcased in Dusseldorf will spread their way across the Atlantic and be picked up here in the States. Then, of course, it’s up to print shops to see how they can apply those technologies to their customers’ jobs and determine just how to make a profit utilizing them. And even if it takes a while for some of the products seen at Drupa to make their way to market, the groundwork has been laid.
Common entry points
At such a large event, it’s sometimes difficult to be able to "pull back" and find some overall trends (seeing the forest for all the trees, so to speak), but these commonalities were noted:
* New ink technologies: It’s easy to fall into a rut when it comes to wide-format-that there’s nothing new under the sun. But companies such as Durst, HP, and Oce made it very clear that they’re not going to stop trying to push the envelope when it comes to ink technologies. Each of these companies introduced machines utilizing new ink sets that appear to set their machines apart from those of their competitors.
* Different markets, different applications: Mimaki is just one example here, but a good one. The company well-known for its wide-format and cutting machines introduced a single-pass 4-color UV label-printing press. Of course, because it’s UV, it can take on a range of substrates. We’ll cover this press in-depth in a future issue.
* Providing options: It was evident that OEMs have decided that in order to address all the different types of end users and applications out there, they need to ensure that prospective buyers have various options when it comes to a single machine or, alternately, can pick from a variety of machine models that slightly vary. Multiple RIP choices, for instance, is becoming more common, across most brands.
Finally, note that it’s never too early to begin making plans for the next Drupa event, which will be held May 3-16, 2012 in Dusseldorf.