The month of October brings a brace of major trade shows for the printing industry; October 7–10 brings Graph Expo, as it always does, to McCormick Place in Chicago, while October 18–20 brings the annual SGIA Expo to the Las Vegas Convention Center. WhatTheyThink will be on the prowl at both shows with video, actual written reports, and more.

We'll take a sneak peak at the SGIA Expo in next week's feature, but this week we'll have a quick look at some of the potential highlights of this year's Graph Expo.

This year's Graph Expo comes on the heels of last May's DRUPA, and some of the unveilings there-amply described throughout the WhatTheyThink site over the past several months-will be making it over to the U.S. for their first stateside showing. Much of this was in the high-speed digital inkjet realm, but there are a few wide-format developments to pay attention to. (If I may, for a moment, remove my wide-format-brimmed hat and don my festive and kicky "green" beret, Graph Expo 2012 will also, as it has for the past few years, feature "Greenspace" show floor feature dedicated to environmental sustainability and strategies for printers to "go green.")

Ambling Along the Show Floor

We enter the show floor, get zapped by the badge-scanning sentry (someday we'll just have scannable entry codes tattooed onto our flesh), and immediately see...

In Booth 400, Canon will be showing all five of its newly announced imagePROGRAF wide-format printers: the iPF9400, iPF9400S, iPF8400, iPF6450, and iPF6400. The new models, which range from 24 inches to 60 inches wide, and 8- to 12-color, are designed for use by photographers, artisans, proofers, and print providers. The new models have been enhanced with tools to help maintain color quality and consistency. The iPF6450 in particular has the option to add an on-board spectrophotometer.

Now part of the Canon family, Océ will also be in Booth 400, showing its Arizona 550 GT UV flatbed printer, as well as the ColorWave Poster Printer. The ColorWave 650, superseding the earlier model 600, features slightly faster print speed in "economy" mode, an improved color user interface, and a wake-up timer. Says the company, "the application for this product remains the same: the ability for print service providers to capture new business with productive short-run, short term signage and poster printing." Other benefits of the ColorWave are roll-to-sheet production with no post-print trimming or finishing, up to six online media rolls, zero drying time for instantly usable prints thanks to Océ CrystalPoint technology, and flexible media options from inexpensive bond paper to polypropylene.

We step over to the next booth which is...

In Booth 414, Fujifilm will feature live presentations/demonstrations of the Inca Onset S40i and the Acuity line of flatbed UV presses. The Inca Onset S40i is designed for the production of single and double-sided display POP, exhibition graphics, backlit/frontlit displays, outdoor signage printing, cosmetic/fashion graphics, and more. They will also be demonstrating their Acuity Series, which includes the Acuity LED 1600 UV-LED printer (which uses LED-curable UV ink, and can print white or clear ink in a single pass, if desired), and the Acuity Advance Series UV flatbed printers, which boast edge-to-edge printing and a roll media option for printing on a variety of flexible substrates. An optional white ink module can be added that prints in-line or as an underprint or overprint layer.

Fujifilm also has an array of RIPing, color management, an automation software, and the company's Uvijet and Color+ inksets.

Cutting across the aisle, we immediately spy...

In Booth 1227, HP will be showing its wide-format latex printers, including the HP Designjet L26500 (which has been named as a 2012 "Must See 'Em" in the wide-format category) and the HP Scitex LX850 industrial printer. Both devices use water-based HP Latex inks that can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as point-of-purchase displays, signage, interior décor, and vehicle graphics. HP will also have on hand the HP Scitex FB500 Industrial Printer, an entry-level UV flatbed device that the company says can print on virtually any rigid and flexible media.

We serpentine around the show floor for a bit, stop to take a call, curse the lousy cellphone reception, then continue on to...

EFI has been awarded no fewer than five-count 'em, five-Must See 'Ems at this year's Graph Expo, and will be showing them in Booth 2000. These include the EFI DSFdesign Studio for EFI Digital StoreFront and EFI M500 Self-Service Copy and Print (both of which won in the Sales and Order Entry category); EFI Fiery SeeQuence JobMaster (Prepress and Premedia category), EFI Layout Option for Fiery Wide-Format Solution (Postpress Finishing-Wide-Format), and EFI PrintFlow Dynamic Scheduling–Employee & Tool Constraints (Management Systems).

We backtrack a bit and, because we read this feature beforehand (figure that one out), we check out...

In Booth 627, Agfa will be hosting what it calls "The Six Strings Classic Blues Lounge" (although a "cyans lounge" might be more apt), festooned with real-world indoor and outdoor wide-format applications, such as exterior wall graphics, street signs, textured wallpaper, benches, mirrored signage, and more. If it's a surface, it will be printed upon. Hardware-wise, Agfa will be demonstrating its :Anapurna M2540 FB and :Jeti 3020 Titan FTR flatbed printers.

We then poke out heads into their next-door neighbors, who are...

In Booth 636, Epson America will be showing its Must See 'Em-winning SureColor S50670, a 64-inch rollfed printer with Epson's wide-gamut five-color solvent-based ink system. The printer also features an optional white ink cartridge.

Continuing down the aisle, we happen across...

In Booth 858, Durst Imaging Technologies will be showing its Rho P10 250 10-picoliter UV flatbed printer. The P10 series is designed to produce a wide range of advertising and corporate promotional material, including both indoor and outdoor signage, point-of-purchase displays, packaging, backlit luxury goods, and more.

There is so much to see, and, much like the Three Princes of Serendip who, through happy accident and sagacity, find a lost camel and have riches lavished upon them, we also serendipitously happen across many unexpected delights. I'd describe them here but, well, they're unexpected.

The Original Social Medium

There is more to a trade show than the show floor of course. The Facebook Machine and the Twittersphere are abuzz and ababble. and everyone speaks of social media-but the trade show is the original social medium, and is a great opportunity to network and converse in the flesh with like-minded graphic arts industry professionals.

And you'll also want to check out Dr. Joe Webb's annual "The Business of Print" breakfast event, sponsored by EFI, Monday, October 8th, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. As always, Dr. Joe will offer contrarian insights that incite. Learn how to disrupt the future!