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Commentary & Analysis

Drupa 2012 Report

They moved the exhibition to the middle of May to coincide with the feast of Saint Drupus,

By Frank Romano
Published: June 20, 2008

They moved the exhibition to the middle of May to coincide with the feast of Saint Drupus, patron saint of no air conditioning. It is still in Dusseldorf, a German city known for bratwurst, beer, and asparagus that has not been color corrected. The hotels no longer take cash; payment is in gold ingots.

Heidelberg wanted to expand its space and had to settle for a 10-story addition. HP rented the Rhine River for 14 days and all boat traffic was re-routed through the Baltic Sea. For hotel rooms, the USS Ronald Reagan was leased, with direct flights to the ship; there is a surcharge for baggage and ballistic missiles. There are so many new exhibitors that some have special exhibition areas on the trams and in the rest rooms.

The offset press people were very busy over the last few years. KBA has a new 16-foot sheetfed press, which takes large format offset to its largest format. The platemaker is now the 51st state. Muller-Martini has a folder for it that doubles as a harvester for wheat. New press technology is introduced that eliminates plates -- imaging is direct to cylinder. Anilox inking is on many presses; makeready is down to 30 seconds and most presses have no operators because of TOA -- Total Offset Automation. Press operators wear uniforms like airline pilots and sit in a cockpit: “We are now cruising at 20,000 sheets an hour and do not expect turbulence.”

manroland has announced a new logo -- Manroland -- a capital idea. And the digital printer companies have changed from their brand color -- red -- to red -- only this version can be printed by their own equipment.

Adobe actually put up a sign to tell people about PDF-VT (Variable Transactional), one of the hidden gems of Drupa 2008 buried in Acrobat 9 that no one reported. It saves repeatable items as X objects and makes VDP truly interoperable through any company that applies the PDF Print engine RIP -- which is all of them except for HP, who opted out because they really do not want designers to print all that crazy stuff with transparency and other creative content.

Xerox has introduced the iGen999999, topping the Oce 10000 for most digits in a product name. The new machine uses both toner and inkjet for those users who cannot make up their minds. It is the world’s first truly hybrid printer. A new gel ink can also be used as a mousse for hair styling.

Oce has a roll-fed printer that is so fast it prints before you send it files. But Ricoh says their printer can actually send transaction documents back in time so bills are paid before they are due. The term “transpromo” has been banned, except in one Tibetan dialect where it means “cross eyed yak.”

(What do you call junk mail to a monastery? Monk mail. Badabing.)

The de-inking cartel now says they can de-paper ink, instead of de-inking inkjet ink even as they de-inked toner which is not ink, and ink, which is ink, so now all recycled paper will be inkless, tonerless, and paperless.

The inkjet printers shown at Drupa 2004 are running and commercially available. This is good because users can finally keep samples. However, several Drupa 2012 introductions are expected after 2020. Drupa always seems to be a few years too early. FujiFilm showed an inkjet printer using edible inkjet ink printed on rice paper. The result was called Fushi and visitors were eating it up.

Wide format, super-wide format, and gigunda-wide format inkjet printers are in every hall. They no longer use scanning print heads because head arrays several meters wide are available. Thus, wide format inkjet competes with page production inkjet and both compete with toner and all compete with offset litho.

Inkjet printing is now mainstream and there are production page printers that are sheet- and roll-fed, A4 up to 40-inch output. There have been skirmishes in the aisles between offset, toner, and inkjet suppliers. The UN has established a buffer zone in Building 19.

To speed visitor traffic, Drupa has implemented a transporter system like Star Trek. It still has some bugs, because one visitor from Slovenia was beamed inside a NexPress. Fortunately, they were extricated just before the duplexing cycle.

Chinese-made systems are everywhere. One web2print Internet application uses fortune cookies.

Every company is now green. Hot air from the stands has been directed to special turbines and every visitor takes a turn on the large wheel that generates electricity for the fair grounds. All paper companies have paper made from organically grown trees with no growth hormones. Every tree has its own RFID tag and is tracked from seedling to printed sheet. There was a “mad paper” scare but it was traced back to a bad batch of coated stock made on Easter Island using child labor -- baby monkeys. Carbon contracts are being sold at the hot dog stands.

The fair grounds now has an amusement park with a closed loop-de-loop color roller coaster system. Color Space Mountain is also a popular attraction.

All exhibitors have their usual slogans, but the one that got the most attention was Ricoh’s “Free beer.” Not to be outdone, Xerox introduced “Freeflow beer,” which is not free.

Lastly, there is a new Drupa song. Based on “It’s a small world,” it combines inane lyrics with repetition that drives you crazy:

It's a print world after all.
It's a print world after all.
It's a print world after all.
It's a print, print world.

There’s just one Drupa

And that’s enough

The halls are crowded

And there’s lots of stuff

I walk the aisles

Adding up the miles

It's a print world after all.
It's a print world after all.
It's a print world after all.
It's a print world after all.
It's a print, print world.

Repeat 200 times.

Frank Romano has spent over 50 years in the printing and publishing industries. Many know him best as the editor of the International Paper Pocket Pal or from the hundreds of articles he has written for publications from North America and Europe to the Middle East to Asia and Australia. Romano lectures extensively, having addressed virtually every club, association, group, and professional organization at one time or another. He is one of the industry's foremost keynote speakers. He continues to teach courses at RIT and other universities and works with students on unique research projects.

Please offer your feedback to Frank. He can be reached at frank@whattheythink.com.

 

 

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