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Commentary & Analysis

Looking Back at Graph Expo 2010

There have been mixed reviews about Graph Expo. A slow start on Sunday. Not much offset. Andy Tribute, as always, was right in the thick of things. In this article he wraps up his thoughts on the event, and looks forward to Graph Expo 2011.

By Andrew Tribute
Published: October 12, 2010

I have already produced two videos of my impressions of Graph Expo that were shown last week on WhatTheyThink. This article will cover some of the items I mentioned in those videos, but in this article I will cover a number of items that I saw that were particularly interesting.

The first thing we should answer: Was Graph Expo a success? Before the event there was concern, especially when two of the major suppliers, Heidelberg and Komori, pulled out of exhibiting, and many other suppliers downsized their exhibit areas. On day one of the event, this being a Sunday, the event was very quiet and the exhibitors were worried. The second day was very different though, with a large number of visitors, and we saw a attendance on Tuesday. (I cannot comment about the final day as I was gone by then.) The exhibitors I spoke with thought the quality of attendees was good and they were satisfied with the the number of leads they obtained. I don't feel that starting the event on a Sunday is a good idea. I am also not really sure there is a need for a Graph Expo every year.

This brings me to a key point; Graph Expo this year was definitely a digital show. One had to search for any offset presses on the show floor. While manroland and KBA were exhibiting they brought no presses with them. The major offset exhibitor was Presstek, but again this is really a digital company. There was also one Chinese offset press and I believe one of two Letter size presses. Graph Expo may have an opportunity to adapt its position and perhaps take over the role of OnDemand and Xplor as the major digital printing exhibition in North America.

In the digital area most of the interest appeared to be in the high-speed continuous feed inkjet area where many presses that had been introduced at IPEX earlier this year were being shown for the first time in North America. The highlight was the demo of the full Kodak Prosper 5000XL that ran almost continuously on the Kodak stand. This produced excellent output and generated great interest. The first such press is currently being installed at a book printer in the USA and Kodak indicates it is accelerating the installation programme for the press over the rest of this year. There were also some new introductions at the show. The first was the HP T350 press. This is the same press as the HP T300 that now has around twenty installations with a total of forty print engines. The HP T350 is the same size of press but has a running speed of 600 ft/min at a resolution of 1,200 x 600 dpi, 50% faster that the T300. This is brought about by faster inkjet print heads, a faster data pipeline and a new ink configuration. Dainippon Screen also introduced a faster press, this being the Truepress Jet520 ZZ (this engine also appeared from Ricoh Infoprint as the Infoprint 5000VP). This press also has a wider web width of 22.5 inches. The press has a running speed of 600 feet/min, but apparently this is achieved at a resolution of 720 x 360 dpi. This speed is achieved through the use of new faster Epson print heads.

Another area of interest in the inkjet area is the development of imprinting heads to be added to offset or flex presses. HP previewed new imprinting systems using the same Scalable Printing Technology print heads as used in the HP T Series presses with a running speed of 800 feet/min. Perhaps the most interesting development was seen on the stand of Adphos, a systems integration company. They were using the Kodak Prosper S10 monochrome imprinting heads, and creating a four-color imprinting system. This was used as an imprinting system for mounting on a 38 inch Goss Sunday press. It had sixteen S10 heads providing four areas of overprinting in full color across the width of the web.

The other really impressive digital development appearing for the first time was the new Xerox iGen4 EXP. This new press has a larger page size with a length of 26 inches. This was shown allowing for a gate fold document with three A4 or Letter images. This opens up a wider market for digital printing and also eats into one of the key areas being seen for the forthcoming B2 format sheet-fed inkjet presses from Fujifilm and Dainippon Screen. This created a very high-level of interest on the Xerox stand. Xerox however is not alone in this area and Kodak has announced a similar format Nexpress. This was not being shown however, and my understanding is it will not be available until next year.

I was also very impressed with what I saw from EFI. They were showing a wide range of the technologies with an emphasis on the wide format and narrow web inkjet. I was also impressed with the latest versions of the Fiery DFE. It is amazing how this continues to develop and maintain its market lead in a market it created twenty years ago.

Graph Expo in 2011 is scheduled for September 2011, and among the initial showing of exhibitors Heidelberg will be back taking the prime position on the floor that was taken this year by HP. It will be very interesting to see whether this will push offset back into prominence, or whether we will see Graph Expo continuing its switch toward becoming a digital printing show.

 

Discussion

By Raymond Prince on Oct 12, 2010

It was a digital show and it was great. In regard to the negative comments -- you cannot please everyone no matter what day you start the show on or what day you end it on. Likewise every year, every other year, every three years -- you cannot please everyone.

The comments and activity on the floor was good. I had the pleasure of spending time with a number of clients that were buying. It was interesting to note the activity in the HP, Kodak, Xerox and EFI booths - packed. Last year when Kodak brought no equipment and in many cases no samples the booth other than Saturday was dead - this year with equipment(digital and litho) it was packed.

I spoke with a press manufacturer who did not exhibit and after seeing what was happening on the floor on Monday, his comment was "We made a mistake in not showing, a big mistake."



 

By Howie Fenton on Oct 12, 2010

Andy
Although it was not an official Graph Expo event per se, I loved the panel discussion you moderated for Cabot at The Peninsula Chicago. The idea that printers can build their own digital inkjet presses out of traditional web presses fascinates me. I am writing a blog that will appear tomorrow in the Print CEO forum on this subject. Thanks for the blog fodder!

 

By Paul Schiller on Oct 12, 2010

Andy, wanted to set the record straight with your statement in your article above: ". . . Xerox however is not alone in this area and Kodak has announced a similar format Nexpress. This was not being shown however, and my understanding is it will not be available until next year. . ."

If visitors came to the Kodak booth at Graph Expo, indeed they DID see the KODAK NexPress SX Digital Production Color Press with 26" long-sheet capability which we announced would be available in spring 2011. Didn't see the availability of the Xerox in any of their PR releases or webpages. And better yet, any Kodak purchase this year would be eligible for the SX upgrade with the option to get the long sheet feature.

 

By Andrew Tribute on Oct 13, 2010

I must apologize to Kodak. My eyesight must be getting bad, or perhaps I was overwhelmed by the spectacle of the Kodak Prosper 5000XL running at speed. From my understanding the Xerox iGen4 EXP will be available early 2011, but it is currently operating at multiple beta sites.

 

By Paul Schiller on Oct 13, 2010

No apologies needed! We appreciate you coming to our booth to see the Prosper 5000XL. Glad we were able to overwhelm! Impressive indeed, if I don't say so myself . . .

 

By Jasper Casey on Oct 13, 2010

One glaringly obvious thing about the show this year: There were QR Codes EVERYWHERE.

 

By Paul Schiller on Oct 13, 2010

No apologies needed! We appreciate you coming to our booth to see the Prosper 5000XL. Glad we were able to overwhelm! Impressive indeed, if I don't say so myself . . .

 

By rick ciordia on Oct 13, 2010

While both the iGen4 and Kodak Nexpress SX series are proud to show they are able to run a 26" long sheet,and they should be, you neglected to mention that MGI-USA, Inc. Meteor DP60 which has had the ability to run a 26" sheet since it's unveiling at Drupa several years ago, is now offering the ability to run a 13" x 40" sheet as standard. I understand that the DP60 is a mid-level production machine, but it's flexibility in running multiple substrates, format sizes and laser safe envelopes along with a "no click charge" model is truly game changing from a customer profit prospective. Oh and it's aquisition and operational costs are incredibly low compared to its monthly 600,000 duty cycle!
Power to the Printer!

 

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