Graph Expo 2006: The Show Ahead
Special Report by Noel Ward,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: October 10, 2006
Special Report by Noel Ward, Managing Editor, Trade Shows October 10, 2006 -- Word on the street is that Graph Expo '06 will be jumping. Chicago hotel rooms were an endangered species before Labor Day. Preview meetings for press and analysts have aided the quarterly numbers of the airline industry. Vendors are readying new products, old products, updated products, and technical demos, replete with carefully crafted spins on how the latest whiz-bangs are going to make you smarter, richer, faster, better-looking, more productive, sexier, more connected, and change the very way you do business. All for the better, of course! WhatTheyThink is poised and ready to hit the show floor, see the toys, do the interviews, fill you in on what we see, and give our takes on what it all means for you and the industry. Our coverage starts this week and runs through November 3, with at least one story each day. To make it happen and deliver what you need we've rounded up the usual suspects: Pat Henry, Executive Editor of WTT.com and the guru of all presses offset, will be searching out the latest developments in prepress and big iron. The ways in which vendors are stepping up to demands for shorter runs, faster makeready and increased quality are truly impressive and Pat will tell us all about it. Cary Sherburne, the leading lady of digital workflow, is delving deep into the latest workflow offerings from digital press vendors and software companies. She's looking for the tools that make the most sense and that deliver the real world value print providers need to optimize their operations. Barb Pellow, wonder woman of print industry marketing, is supporting Cary on workflow with a look at the companies that enhance workflow while adding new ways of leveraging print and electronic media. Gail Nickel-Kailing, our Left Coaster who usually covers the IT side of things, is seeing what's happening in both paper and supplies and also checking out finishing, especially as it applies to in-line options for digital print engines. Carole Alexander is flying through the windy City on her way to the Far East and will spend a day at the Executive Outlook and will tell us all about that. Finally, being a hardware kind of guy, I'll be in my usual orbit of digital print engines, covering the big production boxes as well as cruising the wide format pavilion to cover one of the fastest-growing segments of digital print. (And you'll be seeing more on wide format in the coming months at On Demand Journal.) So Much Good Stuff to See I was honored this year to be a judge for two different awards that are presented at Graph Expo. First was the Must See 'Ems, ably orchestrated by each year by Bill Lamparter of PrintCom. This was some tough judging because so many of the products in the running were at least eligible for the "Worth a Look" category, and plenty were clear-cut top picks. Be sure to pick up the Must See 'Em book as you go into the show (or follow up online once the show opens) to see who the top choices are and make the effort to see them and investigate further. The software coming to Chicago is comprehensive, the equipment well-thought out and any product that makes the cut in the Must See 'Ems is something you need to be aware of. Only slightly easier to judge but with lots of eye appeal were the Xerox PIXI Awards which showcase some of the best design and digital print being produced today. The winners will be announced on Sunday night, October 15, and will be listed on WTT on Monday. Sworn to secrecy as I am, I can't say much, but the winners leave no doubt that not only is digital printing the equal of offset for a huge range of applications, but the new generation of designers sees digital print as the best technology on which to launch their visions--in color and black and white. If you're at the show, be sure to see the awards display in the Xerox booth. Prepare to be dazzled: this stuff, especially the Best of Show, rocks! 2 minutes on What I'll See I won't steal from the stories I'll be doing at the show, but here's a short list of stuff to look for on the print engine side of things: Canon is about to go live with its new full color production press and has some worthy entrants in the wide format market as well. Epson is carving out more territory in proofing. HP will tell more about it's widening focus on wide format, how Indigo presses are finding new markets, and their new alliance with Standard Register. And more. IBM will be rolling out a long awaited and much rumored color device. Kodak is rolling out workflow systems, product enhancements, and offerings for virtually every type of print operation. And they'll have some very interesting news about new ways of driving business to their customers. Nipson is talking about where they see the market heading and how their technology delivers the capability to drive new applications. Océ is demonstrating how its unique approach to color provides real world advantages across multiple markets and how monochrome duplex printing can be done fast, easily and with superior quality. Look for an exclusive interview with Océ's Guy Broadhurst on Monday, October 16. VUTEk is on hand with its latest superwide devices, EFI workflow software and its new BioVU inks that change the environmental constraints for large format solvent printing. Xeikon will up the ante among digital production color presses with more speed and improved color. Xerox has something to talk about in pretty much every market segment they serve, from full color to highlight color to workflow. Plus there's a technology demo of a new monochrome product. And then there's software and business development. Look for an exclusive interview with Xerox's Jerry Murray and Kevin Horey this Friday. Is there more? Of course, but it'll keep until show time. Stay tuned...