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Commentary & Analysis

Keeping Pace with Market Trends

Industry trends always drive what vendors bring to trade shows.

By Noel Ward
Published: August 31, 2005

Industry trends always drive what vendors bring to trade shows. And while vendors compete for customers, they still perceive trends differently, based in part on the market segments they target with their offerings. To get a sense of how key vendors see the market today--and how that influences what they roll out at PRINT--I asked some execs what they think are the most important trends in the printing industry as we head into PRINT 05.

Hewlett-Packard

"Without a doubt, the most important trend in commercial printing today is the blurring of the lines between digital and offset printing," says Alon Bar-Shany, vice president and general manager, Indigo division at Hewlett-Packard. "It is changing the playing field by making technology advancements that offer the look and feel of offset and the workflow of offset combined with big digital benefits including variable data and short-run printing capabilities."

For several years, HP-Indigo digital presses have been finding homes in numerous traditional offset print shops where they are typically used for short-run jobs that may not fit well on an offset press. This trend is continuing, Bar-Shany told me last year at Graph Expo, and HP-Indigo has continued placing presses in commercial shops in 2005. To keep up the momentum at PRINT 05, HP will be making a number of announcements about new workflow, printing, finishing and support offerings. HP's solutions and its solution partners will be in two locations: Booth #12005, McCormick Place North, Level 1, and the Wide Format Pavilion at Booth #8345 , McCormick Place North, Hall C , Level 3.

If you want to be sure of getting some individualized attention when you reach HP's booths, contact Glenda Brungardt (glenda.brungardt@hp.com) to make an appointment, otherwise just take your time to look at all there is to see at HP.

IBM

Rumors abound that IBM will be rolling out something new, but Big Blue is customarily tight-lipped, so we'll be kept guessing until showtime. Who knows, maybe it will unveil a high-speed color laser that will rock the digital print world. After all, the AFP Color Consortium announced at drupa last year is probably more than a technology exercise. Or maybe not.

But for PRINT 05, we know this much is true:

  • At Pitney Bowes (Booth #3667), IBM will be demonstrating a statement application printing on 20 pound pinless paper feeding two inserter lines.
  • In the Lasermax Roll Systems booth (#3580) IBM will be running a direct mail app on 9-point coated stock. Along with books, coupons and other offers for Chicago restaurants, golf and entertainment.
  • In the Videk booth (#3079) IBM equipment will show an inline camera system for print verification.

Clearly focused on its traditional transactional print and mail customer base, IBM almost always has something of interest--but we'll just have to wait and see.

Kodak

Barb Pellow, Corporate Marketing Officer at Kodak's Graphic Communications Group points out three trends shaping the industry and are reflected in the approach Kodak will be communicating at PRINT 05.

"First, I think we are really beginning to see the pendulum swing from mass to targeted communications. This really impacts the second trend, which is that people are beginning to understand the difference between cost-per-print and cost-per-response and printers need to leverage that when talking with customers. Finally, I believe we'll be seeing more monochrome work migrating to color over the next 18 to 24 months."

Kodak is unique among other companies in the printing industry due to its roots in photography at both professional and consumer levels. That landscape is changing rapidly as film is supplanted by bits and bytes and the company adapts to a digital world. The new Kodak is building on its color and imaging expertise and applying it across the spectrum of commercial printing, digital imaging, and consumer digital photography to be one Kodak to all customers.

Offset and digital printing are big parts of the reborn company, so Kodak's Graphic Communications Group (GCG) is heading to PRINT 05 with a key set of messages that underscore the unified focus of the company on the print industry:

  • Kodak is the right partner to help customers grow their business.
  • Kodak is the company to help customers find new and innovative ways to enhance and expand their businesses.
  • Kodak offers complete solutions to help printers meet their business challenges. Kodak delivers an integrated suite of products that comply with industry standards and interface with an array of external partners.

These messages will be impressed upon everyone who steps into Booth 6707, which is designed to showcase all of GCG's offerings. You'll see some things you may have seen before (and others you haven't) with inkjet and hybrid printing, advancements from Kodak Versamark, and new equipment from NexPress. Perhaps more importantly, there'll be several real-world applications demonstrating comprehensive workflows that integrate offset and digital printing and new partnerships.

While Kodak has had a lot going on their booths at the last few shows, this is really the first time all elements of the Graphic Communications Group are being presented with an overall message and voice to the market. I know I'll spend a good chunk of time there and hope you can, too. I'm looking forward to a look at some of the new technology they'll be rolling out.

Nipson

“The most important trends include the growth of one-to-one marketing in direct mail and transactional printing," Robert Stabler, president, Nipson America told me. "At the same time, there's a continual drive to improve quality and reduce costs through the integration of different printing technologies."

Demonstrating this in Chicago, Nipson, which uses magnetography in its VaryPress machines, will be turning up the speed on its already fast boxes with a new carbon drum and toner technology. Targeting book-on-demand, print-on-demand, and direct mail applications, the new technology will be featured in the VaryPress 200 at 290 ft. per minute (a speed increase of over 25%) and the VaryPress 400 (410 ft./min.), integrated with traditional finishing systems. The new, proprietary drum and toner technology is intended to extend press component life while substantially reducing operation costs. A full book-on-demand application and integrated direct mail application will also be featured at the show.

Nipson will be in North Hall in Booth 12049. If you'd like to set up an appointment, please contact Susan Maki at 847-357-9210 via email (susan.maki@us.nipson.com) or just swing by the booth!

Océ

"The success stories in the digital printing business during the next ten or so years will be those who best address the issue of workflow," says Bruce Ganger, Senior Director, Field Marketing for Océ North America. "That's because a good workflow improves the printer's profitability as well as the quality of the final product. It's a win/win for everyone involved. There's an old standard joke that goes something like "better, faster, cheaper: choose two." With an intelligent, well-architected workflow, print buyers can choose all three. That's a trend that is here today and will continue for some time."

"Remember when desktop publishing packages first hit the market? All of a sudden, print jobs were coming in with 15 different fonts on a page. That was because the technology was new and users hadn't yet figured out how to use it to advance their business goals."

"We're at that point with color. Clients are starting to become more circumspect, and they want business justification for spending the extra money on color documents. At Océ, we believe in something called 'job-appropriate color.' Simply put, that means using -- and paying for -- only the type of color that the application demands."

In Booth 2462, Océ will show off its latest innovations spanning job-appropriate color, workflow, and new profit-oriented business models for book publishing. One of the highlights will be the latest iteration of the VarioStream 9000, now able to put three colors on a page, and closing in on full-process color. Océ will also be introducing a new full-color printing solution along with the new VarioPrint 5160advanced cut-sheet printer which can run any two of conventional, spot color and MICR toner. According to Océ, it is this type of flexibility that delivers the job-appropriate color many businesses need.

Océ's booth will also demonstrate how clear and sustainable profits can be had in the manufacture of short-run books using its cut-sheet and web-fed printing systems. And the books being produced are ones you'll want to take home and read.

  • Frank Romano's new book, The Status of Printing in the United States, 2005, available exclusively at the Océ booth.
  • The first editions of Introduction to Graphic Communication, by Harvey R. Levenson, Ph.D., Department Head at CalPoly School of Graphic Communication.
  • Three Chicago-area authors published through iUniverse, a major self-publishing channel.

You can meet all these authors, watch their books being produced, and have them autograph your complimentary copy. The schedule of autograph sessions is online at http://www.oceusa.com/print05

  • Digital Printing, Océ's encyclopedic book on digital printing technology, and which is part of the curriculum in several European colleges, will be available, as will the Print and Graphics Scholarship Fund Directory of Schools - 2005-2006.

All the applications running in Booth 2462 will all be enabled by PRISMA, Océ's JDF-compliant integrated workflow architecture. Be sure to check out PRISMA's new features for streamlining workflows and building stronger print infrastructures. If you'd like an appointment for a personalized look at these solutions, contact Sheryl Pattek at spattek@oceprinting.com.

Xeikon

The Xeikon 5000, rolled out at drupa last year, is impressive for a number of reasons, but what makes it stand out in my mind is that after more than a decade the company has marched to the beat of a different drummer than its competitors. Its core technology of continuous-feed, one-pass duplexing has gotten faster, wider, and added a fifth color while continually improving its print quality. Every time Xeikon shows up on a show floor there is something there to talk about, and PRINT 05 should be no different.

This year it's the live jobs of a real Xeikon customer: variable data postcards for Expresscopy.com. Those will be streaming off a 5-color Xeikon 5000 with in-line 2-sided coating, die-cutting, stacking and batching. The USPS will come to pick-up the printed jobs so the printed postcards will be entering the postal stream from the show floor. This should demonstrate the confidence both Xeikon and Expresscopy.com have in the 5000 and definitely gives credence to the company's tagline, "We are because we dare!"

Meanwhile, another Xeikon 5000 with off-line folding equipment will be producing a one-step direct mail application. Based on real job in production at Xeikon customer Inter-State Studio, this one consists of a self-mailer printed on pre-perfed stock with co-adhesive glue and remoist strip. In addition, the second Xeikon 5000 will also run various PPML/variable data jobs in conjunction with the PODi tour and Xeikon front-end partners, along with other promotional point-of-sale and display materials.

Want an appointment to see all the details? Call Andy Dwivedi 630-438-7912 or email him at aditya.dwivedi@punchgraphix.com. Otherwise make sure to spend some time at Xeikon.

Xerox

One of the key trends Xerox continues focusing on is digital color as an alternative to offset printing.

"Digital color printing enables offset-quality output to be produced affordably in shorter run lengths and for a wider variety of applications," says Valerie Blauvelt, Vice President of Marketing, Production Systems Group. "A recent independent study in Technology Watchcompared digital color images from the DocuColor 8000 to those produced using offset lithography and concluded that xerographic quality matched that of offset."

Xerox is going to PRINT 05 with at least two of its iGen3 presses, several other full- and spot-color boxes, some new monochrome machines, and an assortment of equipment and software to support digital printing and hybrid workflows--those which mix offset and digital printing. The company's two-level booth (#1228) will cover over 35,000 square feet and contain what Xerox claims is the largest all-digital display at the show. Demonstrations will range from showing attendees how to build print volume, streamline operations, and grow profits with Xerox digital printing systems, workflow solutions and customer support tools.

"Another important trend is our customers’ desire to streamline their operations and reduce costs," says Blauvelt. "We are continually adding capabilities to the FreeFlow Digital Workflow Collection and currently have solutions that integrate offset and digital printing as well as automate their operations. "

At PRINT 05 this encompasses not only workflow but business development support for customers, and there'll be new tools and programs supporting both areas. The booth will also feature presentations from industry experts on a wide range of topics, including making money with digital print; hiring and managing a sales team; and the importance of partnerships with the creative community.

Show attendees who wish to schedule a meeting with a Xerox product expert or sales representative can stop at the information desk in the booth.

Finally, the leading Fall season print show wouldn't be complete without Xerox's PIXI awards. Xerox will be displaying the winning applications of the Printing Innovation with Xerox Imaging awards, which recognize excellence in digital printing.

Simply by sheer size, this is going to be quite a show. Many vendors are rolling out new equipment and software and there is an undercurrent of excitement about what some of the new technology will mean to those who adopt it.. Us journalist/analyst types have already seen and heard a lot of the details and it will be fun to see the new stuff at the show--and see the reaction of customers and prospects.

And it all begins in a little over a week. See you there.

 

 

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