Once past the “clerks” at the entrance who insist on scanning your badge as if you're groceries at a supermarket, opening day at GraphExpo 2002 had steady crowds at most of the major vendors' booths.

Heidelberg, with nearly an acre of real estate immediately inside the entrance drew attendees with an enormous range of prepress, printing and finishing technology. One of its most notable informational and positioning tools was a multimedia theater with an excellent presentation of Heidelberg capabilities and touting its Prinect Printready technology which is the JDF-based workflow technology Heidelberg says will connect every piece of printing technology by the time DRUPA rolls around in 2004.

Next in line was Xerox with three DocuColor iGen3s, a couple of 6060s, a 2060 or two and assorted other solutions from the DocuColor 12 on up. Print samples of the iGen3 featured some challenging jobs, notably a catalog of high-end watches that showed just how far Xerox is pushing the envelope of printing with their new box. The gold and silver colors shown were amazing and it was hard to believe the pages came off a toner-based press.

Books are a hot item here in both Heidelberg and Xerox booths, with solutions for color children's books (iGen3) and color covers on laser-printed pages (Digimaster 9150i/NexPress 2100 and DocuTech 6180/DocuColor 6060). One of Xerox's books, a guide to mixing an astounding array of cocktails, was a hot property.

The crowds seemed to spread out once past Xerox and some were busy checking out the solutions offered by Scitex Digital Printing. In case there is any doubt about the viability of high volume digital color printing--as in millions of pages per month--visitors to SDP's booth got a glimpse of the future. A credit card billing application based on customer purchase patterns and including special offers and coupons showed just how compelling digital color can make a transactional document. Keep an eye on WhatTheyThink for further coverage of this application in the weeks ahead.

Further back in the hall, Océ and Bell & Howell demonstrated the benefits of their newly announced strategic partnership that enables Océ to provide customers the ability to implement a broad range of flexible, one-off, custom-tailored binding and finishing solutions for almost any kind of book publishing. Although various finishing solutions have been coming to market from all the major vendors, many lack the flexibility busy print providers need. The customization the Océ/Bell & Howell alliance offers can deliver more efficient, cost-effective options with better workflows and faster ROI than standardized systems.