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Industry Insight

What to Do and See at Graph Expo?

As the Graph Expo show approaches, I’ve had people ask if they should go and if they go what they should see. First, the answer is yes – you should go. Even if it’s just for one day – you should go. There is no better way to research equipment and learn about money saving and money making strategies than by seeing the equipment and hearing from the industry experts at the show.

By Howie Fenton
Published: September 1, 2010

As the Graph Expo show approaches, I’ve had people ask if they should go and if they go what they should see. First, the answer is yes – you should go. Even if it’s just for one day – you should go. There is no better way to research equipment and learn about money saving and money making strategies than by seeing the equipment and hearing from the industry experts at the show.

The most important reason to go to any show is to see all the products in a category that you are about to invest in. So if you wanted to buy a digital thingamabob then you could see all the new digital thingamabobs all at once.

But there are other reasons to go including the educational seminars. It’s probably the best place to catch up on something you may have put on the back burner or something new that you need to learn more about. In fact, this is the first year that I can remember that the entire seminar track was “clean sheeted” or started fresh with a clean sheet of paper, thanks to our friends at CalPoly.

I suspect one hot subject will be opportunities to sell more marketing services.  Although discussions about shifting from a PSP (print service provider) to a MSP (marketing service provider) have been around for a while, the technology and success stories will be more accessible than ever.

Another hot subject will be inkjet printing. Considering the size and cost of these machines not all the manufacturers will bring them, but many will bring samples. This show may be the best showcase for inkjet printed samples.

In addition to seeing the inkjet printed samples, another important thing to consider is learning more about the new markets and applications for inkjet printing. The traditional markets are transactional printing (bills and statements) and direct mail, but different manufacturers are discussing other markets.

A few years ago Oce started to talk about newspaper applications. Today they point to Madrid-based publisher Imcodavila that prints 6,000, 80-page broadsheet papers each day, a pilot project with personalized editions of The Washington Times Weekly Edition and most recently "niiu," the world's first custom newspaper in Germany.

Last year HP made it clear that they are focusing on the book market. In an open house at O’Neil Data Systems they talked about how they were targeting books with installations at CPI, Europe's leading book manufacturer, and Courier Corporation, North America’s third-largest book manufacturer.

Some companies are targeting a more broad appeal. It’s not easy to find lower cost inkjet devices that are fast but Riso and Xerox (Phaser) have products which are pioneering use in the office market.

Companies such as Agfa and HP are using inkjet for industrial applications and label printing. In fact, the tag and label market may be the emerging market for all types of digital printing. Based on announcements made at Labelexpo we may be seeing toner-based devices from Xerox and Xeikon targeted for label and packaging applications.

There are many more companies offering inkjet products including EFI, Kodak, FujiFilm, Impika, MGI, Miyakoshi, Olympus, Ricoh/InfoPrint, and Screen. So when you go to Graph Expo plan on hitting a few seminars, make a list of the products you are researching or considering buying and learn more about emerging markets and applications. Lets face it – it does not matter which technology you use as the demand for traditional products and services declines success will come from new markets, applications, and opportunities.

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.

Howie Fenton is InfoTrends' Associate Director of Operational Consulting. For over 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance in in-plants and commercial printers. He can be reached via e-mail at Howie.Fenton@infotrends.com.



By Gordon Pritchard on Sep 01, 2010

If you live in Chicago or within easy driving distance then you might as well go. However, based on the information released so far, the floor plan, and vendor participants so far...(and based on my experience of Print '09) well, I don't think this show will be worth the airfare. You can get samples of digital presses by simply contacting the vendors directly.


By L.b. on Sep 02, 2010

Heidelberg is not going, what does that tell you?


By Rick Ciordia on Sep 02, 2010

Gordon, why would anyone pay airfare, hotel and meals plus their time out of the office to just roam the floor of any print trade show? The fact is that Graph Expo is the ONLY centrally located show in North America and the only reason to attend a show is because your company has needs. In today's world attending a show just to browse is done only by journalists reporting on new equipment. The rest of the people are there or should be there because they have done their homework and are now looking for seminars, equipment demonstrations and if there is time left, to see what else may be of interest.


By Paul Edwards on Sep 02, 2010

Graph Expo looks to be another great event. Being there is always an amazing way to learn and keep track of new and expanding technology. Reading about it or just requesting samples is only an appetizer. The enormous pool of knowledge and ideas available at the seminars and exhibits is always worth 10X the time and investment.


By Paul Abdool on Sep 02, 2010

If you are in the high volume printing industry, you owe it to yourself to keep abreast of what is happening. You will learn more in a few days than you will surfing the net at your desk.

The educational sessions will be excellent. Check out Xplor Document University sessions for real life applications and access to experts in this business.


By Patrick Henry on Sep 03, 2010

This year, I've had the opportunity to be a screener of entries in the "Must-See-ems" roundup that's a feature of all of the GASC shows. I can say, based on the submissions I've evaluated so far, that there's going to be more--in fact, much more--of interest at Graph Expo 2010 than I realized. The show, don't forget, is the U.S. venue for new-product introductions at IPEX, and the Must-See-ems entries tell me that we can look forward to a slew of those in hardware, software, and integrated solutions. I can't be more specific than that, but I can say that I'm very much looking forward to investigating these offerings in depth, and in person, at McCormick Place.

Another thought: if the absence of some of the major press manufacturers is deterring anyone from attending, I'd caution those folks against assuming that Graph Expo 2010 won't be a solid and worthwhile show for conventional offset litho technologies. There will be offset equipment on the floor, and plenty of opportunities to discover what's new in this bedrock segment of the industry.

Finally: if you're a printer who has made plans to attend Graph Expo, WhatTheyThink wants to include you in our coverage of the event. Please e-mail me at patrick.henry@whattheythink.com.


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