Although Graph Expo was one of this year's premiere gatherings of commercial printing companies, most makers of digital color presses are saving their major product announcements for the DRUPA 2004 show, May 6-19 in Dusseldorf, Germany. At Graph Expo, press OEMs emphasized the significant progress being made in stimulating demand for short-run color and variable-data printing. A number of companies are also working to expand the range of digital-print media and finishing equipment that can help press owners differentiate their services and fulfill niche requirements.
Xerox reported than more than 100 million pages have been produced on their DocuColor iGen3? digital color presses and presented awards for outstanding achievements in one-to-one marketing communications, short-run digital full color, and digital books and manuals. By the end of 2003, the iGen3 is expected to be available in 30 major markets in North America, Latin America and Europe.
At a press conference, the CEOs of Adobe, Creo, and EFI stood side-by-side with Gil Hatch, the president of Xerox Production Group to underscore Xerox's efforts to develop a range of workflow solutions for all types and sizes of corporations and graphic-arts businesses. Adobe and Xerox will jointly support the widespread adoption of standards such as PDF, JDF job ticketing, the PPML Graphic Arts Conformance Subset, PostScript, and XLM. Creo and Xerox are striving to manage both offset and digital printing from the same workflow. EFI's Velocity Balance workflow has been integrated into Xerox DigiPath 4.0 production software.
The company also highlighted three finishing options: the C.P. Bourg BBF2005 Perfect Binder that can be used with a perforate/rotate/fold module to create 350 perfect-bound books an hour; the Xerox SquareFold? booklet maker by Plockmatic that produces booklets that have the look and feel of perfect-bound books at a fraction of the price; and GBC's in-line Fusion Punch II that can create hole-punched documents for layflat binding in notebooks or wire- or comb-bound manuals.
Heidelberg estimated that there are approximately 250 NexPress presses in use worldwide, with about half of those in the US. They noted that one new owner of a NexPress for one-to-one marketing achieved $1 million in business in their first year.
To help educate print buyers of some of the benefits of digital color printing, Heidelberg hosted a seminar for Chicago-area designers. Variable-data invitations for the seminar contained copy that had been personalized for the thousands of Chicago-area designers, art directors, print buyers and other creatives involved in marketing communications. Heidelberg is also expanding its 2003 Road Show, which provides a venue for printing companies, print buyers, and graphic artists to exhange ideas on how to successfully and creatively use variable data. Events will be held in Miami, New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago in November and Minneapolis in December.
Heidelberg also announced that the NexPress 2100 is now Pantone-licensed. To qualify for licensing, the CMYK printer had to provide that it could consistently produce the best possible representations of Pantone? colors. A software upgrade for the NexStation front end can automate the process of matching Pantone colors. (www.nexpress.com)
Xeikon used panoramic photographs from photographer Stan Jorstad to show off the large-format printing and in-line laminating capabilities of their Xeikon DCP 500 D. Xeikon output and laminated prints in sizes up to 4 ft long x 20 in. high. Some images were output on a new translucent substrate suitable for backlit displays. To provide the level of saturation needed for panoramic backlits, the Xeikon DCP 500 D can simultaneously and accurately print on both sides of the translucent substrates. (www.xeikon.com)
Canon is promoting its CLC 5100 as a lower-priced alternative for professional-grade, short-run digital color printing. Priced at $63,000, the CLC 5100 can output standard-weight prints at speeds of 51 pages per minute (ppm). Heavier-weight papers up to 253 gsm/140 lb.can be output at speeds of up to 22 ppm. Finishing options include a production-level saddlestich finishing device for creating professional looking booklets and a high-capacity stacker that can hold 2500 sheets for extended runs. For companies seeking to offer variable-data printing capabilities, Canon offers four different controller options. (www.usa.canon.com)