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Going Wide in the Windy City

(August 2007) posted on Mon Aug 27, 2007

Graph Expo's Wide Format Pavilion exposes attendees to the largest output opportunities

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By Angela Prues

In the midst of the all-encompassing 2007 Graph Expo will again be a familiar haven devoted to the ever-growing wide-format community: the Wide Format Pavilion. From print providers to software savants, the fifth-annual Pavilion will be serving up an impressive selection of exhibitors promoting large-format output.

This year’s show, held in Chicago September 9-12 and encompassing 460,000 sq ft, includes Graph Expo’s traditional components from prepress and commercial printing to business management, workflow, and more. The Wide-Format Pavilion itself will house about 24 companies, including some of the larger players in wide-format printers, inks, media, color-management solutions, RIPs, and finishing products.

If you pull out a map of the Graph Expo floor plan, you may be hard pressed to find the Wide Format Pavilion-it’s seemingly dwarfed by the rest of the show floor. But appearances can be deceiving: The relatively small space drew more than its share of traffic last year-and is expected to do so again. According to Sonia O’Donnell, business development manager for the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC, which produces Graph Expo), audience-movement videos from last year’s show verifies that the Pavilion attracted attention: "The Wide Format Pavilion, even though it’s in the back of the hall, got higher numbers than the show’s other areas," she says.

Some wide-format exhibitors are so confident from previous years’ Pavilion success that they are venturing awayfrom the Pavilion, instead setting up booths on the general Graph Expo floor, or double booking within and outside of the Pavilion. According to O’Donnell, it’s a mark of the Pavilion’s success that some exhibitors are moving onto the main floor, indicating that wide-format is integrating with other printing operations and attracting wide-format-based newcomers to the show. Other companies, such as Gerber Scientific, will be first-time exhibitors within the Pavilion.

Valuable ideas for expanding services

Juxtaposing the Pavilion are the Innovation Gallery and Wide-Format Theatre. The Gallery is a special section devoted to displaying final output from a variety of wide-format printers, as well as fine-art applications from artist Jackson Collins. Collins’ displays will include his colorful, musicallyinspired original paintings as well as digital- inkjet print editions of his fine art (see "The Self-Made Giclee," p. 8).