By Frank J. Romano When you consider that the vast majority of digital printing is offset substitution, and most offset printing is 4-up, it makes sense to have 4-up digital printers. July 26, 2004 -- There were several technologies and products that we expected to see at drupa that did not make it--or made it but were shown in secret. There were several that we heard about that others have seen but were not there. And there are some that I sort of made up. We expected to see at least one 4-up (20-inch or wider) digital color printer. Indigo showed the sheetfed XP4 at drupa 2000, and we know of one Japanese company that has been demonstrating such a web-fed machine. When you consider that the vast majority of digital printing is offset substitution, and most offset printing is 4-up, it makes sense to have 4-up digital printers. Xeikon sold 50 of their new 50D 20-inch versions because of this. We expected more than one low-priced DI press. Ryobi came in under $300,000, but we had hoped for something closer to $200,000. The new Screen TruePress is a winner and the new Ryobi versions are excellent. Look for Heidelberg to do their own machine now that they have the laser technology. The digital printer market will follow the same trend line as printing presses, and speed will be an issue forever. We expected higher speed digital color systems reaching 150 ppm to 200 ppm. A Japanese company has such a machine and has installed at least three of them in Japan. The digital printer market will follow the same trend line as printing presses, and speed will be an issue forever. We expected sheet-fed color printers at 80ppm or 90ppm to fill in the gap between 70ppm and 100ppm. The NexPress 2100 at 70ppm and the Xerox iGen3 at 100ppm leave a hole that is tantalizing for any marketer. Look for it to be filled within a few months. We expected more inkjet printers integrated with printing presses. Heidelberg showed such a system at drupa 2000, but not at drupa 2004. Océ and MAN-Roland had such a system, as did Muller Martini and Kodak Versamark. Dotrix has a color inkjet system that sits on a Mark-Andy flexo press, but it was not there. Hybrid printing will grow. We expected more high-speed black-only inkjet systems. There were a few that adapted the desktop printer heads for roll-fed digital printing. The Kodak Versamark reigns supreme in its class, and there will be challengers. We expected color inkjet systems somewhere between the desktop level and the middle-level office printer. Riso had something close at 105ppm with quality just below good enough. Good enough always gets better. We expected the JDF hype to be overwhelming and often irrational. And it exceeded our expectations. We expected a press printing photoconductive inks. Sun Chemical and Flint have divisions with the ink for printing RFIDs, batteries, displays, and other electronics. Inkjet is a wonderful delivery system for unique chemical solutions. Spectra was printing on cookies, and the wide format folks were printing on plastics and other substrates of all kinds and weights. We expected really cheap 4-up platesetters. Creo has a well-priced bundle with CTP, proofer, software, and even plates—and others have brought the price of 4-up violet systems down and offer bundles as well. We expected the JDF hype to be overwhelming and often irrational. And it exceeded our expectations. Some things never disappoint.