All eyes were on PRINT 13 (September 8th through 12th at McCormick Place in Chicago) to test the validity of print trade shows in an era of always-connected mobile access. Combined with the CPP (Converting & Package Printing) EXPO, the PRINT 13 show runs once every four years and is a day longer than Graph Expo. This year’s event was a true test of the industry’s willingness to support a large printing trade show, and from my perspective it clearly got a passing grade.

The theme for this year’s show was “Innovate. Integrate. Communicate.” There was an excitement in the air linked to all things digital and emerging opportunities for service providers to participate in new markets and applications while reducing costs through streamlined operations. There is no question in my mind that PRINT 13 participants had the opportunity to interact with suppliers and explore new ways to innovate, integrate, and expand communication alternatives.

Innovation frequently links to an expansion in digital solutions. Digital providers were the clear leaders in firms that invested in PRINT 13. An analysis of the show floor map revealed the following top listing of exhibitors based on the square footage of their booths:

Figure 1: PRINT 13 Exhibitor Rank by Booth Size







3 (tie)


3 (tie)

Konica Minolta



6 (tie)

Standard Finishing

6 (tie)






Not far out of the top listings were Bell & Howell, Müller Martini, Pitney Bowes, Epson, KBA, Xeikon, Duplo, and Kern.

Hardware Announcements

While there was great emphasis on solutions and workflow, PRINT 13 wouldn’t be a print show without some printing equipment spitting out pages. A few highlights from the hardware portion of the show included:

  • B2 format digital print (and larger): drupa 2012 was the place for many product announcements and technology demonstrations related to B2-format digital print. PRINT 13 provided an opportunity for attendees to see the Konica Minolta KM-1/Komori IS29.
  • Cut-sheet production digital inkjet: Canon’s technology demonstration of “Niagara,” a B3-format cut-sheet inkjet printer, was announced shortly before the show and drew a lot of attention. RISO, which was the first to offer production speed inkjet devices, demonstrated expanded finishing and other options for its ComColor series.
  • Effects beyond four-color: MGI and Scodix have both been building momentum with their UV inkjet value-add product offerings and PRINT 13. Both companies clearly demonstrated that there is room in the market for “enhanced printing” for creative applications. Oki Data’s announcement of five-color capability (CMYK plus clear or white) for its C941dn is another example of how vendors are expanding capabilities beyond four colors. Extensive four-color plus options from HP Indigo and Xeikon will also be on display.
  • Offset/inkjet imprinting: High-speed monochrome and color imprinting heads from companies like HP, Kodak, MCS, and Xerox/Impika illustrated the manufacturing capabilities of offset while providing personalization capabilities[1]. PRINT 13 was a great place to see these products in action.
  • Large Format: Commercial printers of all sizes are assessing the role of large format in their solutions portfolios, and a number of options and alternatives were available. Canon was showcasing its Arizona 660 XT and ColorWave 900. EFI demonstrated the EFI R3225 superwide format printer, the VUTEk GS2000LX device, and VUTEk HS100 Pro superwide format products with LED technology and a new VUTEk GS-TF thermoforming system. HP showcased the HP Latex 3000 for the first time in the United States. The company also featured its Designjet Z5400 Postscript ePrinter, which is targeted toward the quick print market. Meanwhile, Xerox debuted its Wide Format IJP 2000.
  • Integrated in-line finishing: One of the big values of digital print is the ability to perform multiple functions with a single operator. Nowhere is this clearer than with integrated in-line finishing. There were many examples of this across the show floor from exhibitors such as Bell & Howell, Duplo, Kern, Müller Martini, Pitney Bowes, and Standard. Edge-to-edge digital printing is an attractive concept because of its ability to eliminate the need to trim after printing.

Software Announcements

Integration, automation, and application solutions are at the cornerstone of profitability for the printing industry. PRINT 13 showcased technological advances for printers of all sizes. Vendors demonstrated a myriad of alternatives to support streamlining operations and participating in new revenue opportunities. Although not inclusive, the following is a sampling of new software solutions and enhancements demonstrated at PRINT 13:

  • Advancements in Workflow Management: In the months prior to PRINT 13, there were a number of new product announcements and advancements surrounding production workflow management solutions. Kodak introduced Prinergy 6, which includes the latest PREPS Imposition Software version 7, COLORFLOW version 2, and INSITE prepress portal version 6.6, as well as its new productivity-focused interface, Workspace. While Kodak did not have a booth at PRINT 2013 this year, the company demonstrated the latest advancements to Prinergy 6 at Konica Minolta’s booth. Ricoh Americas demonstrated the latest developments to its production workflow management solution, TotalFlow 2.0. Included in the latest release of TotalFlow 2.0 are TotalFlow Prep, TotalFlow Print Manager version 2, and TotalFlow Production Manager. Xerox introduced its next generation of workflow solutions called FreeFlow Core. This new platform is the core engine that enables automated and integrated solutions across in a modular scalable approach. It is designed to fuel growth in organizations of all sizes, from the small independent print shops to large multinational corporations. It has a series of modules including advanced prepress and automation to FreeFlow Digital Publisher for integrating print and rich media applications.
  • Movement to the Cloud: Another major industry trend in the production software space is the movement toward enabling products and services to be accessed in the Cloud for ease of implementation and affordability. Cloud-enabled workflows began gaining a lot of attention and momentum during 2012. At PRINT 13, this trend continued with announcements from a handful of vendors about new and existing solutions being offered in the Cloud. Hybrid Software demonstrated the newest solution to its Order Lifecycle Management (OLM) suite of tools, CloudFlow. CloudFlow is a private Cloud-based production workflow management solution intended for label and packaging, wide format, and commercial printing environments. Avanti made some exciting moves to the Cloud with its latest Slingshot print MIS solution. Avanti Slingshot is open to multiple delivery models (public, private, hybrid Cloud, as well as vendor hosted), but by default will primarily be offered as a public Cloud-based solution for commercial, in-plant, and franchise print production environments. GMG demonstrated CoZone, which was first introduced at Graph Expo last year. GMG CoZone now incorporates the Cloud with the new Collaborate module for managing, reviewing, proofing, and approving graphic arts content.
  • Solutions are the Key to Success: The drive for expanded marketing services continues. Across the show floor, vendors demonstrated how equipment plus software would open new revenue opportunities. XMPie showcased several new features with uStore 8, the core software component of PersonalEffect StoreFlow offering, including a mobile-friendly portal design and a wizard-based skin creation to customize the portal experience. Advancements in the realm of personalization focused on the creation of personalized maps that can be incorporated in cross-media marketing campaigns. locr GMBH has been making headway in the U.S. market since announcing a partnership with XMPie to support the XMPie Mapping Service. locr maps highlighted strategic partnerships developed with GMC and Pageflex at the show, and also formally announced plans to expand its presence in the United States. Konica Minolta demonstrated its full array of EnvisionIT Production solutions and services, which offer the capabilities commercial printers need to improve productivity and increase profitability. Konica Minolta had a dedicated "Solutions Circle" where visitors could learn more about the company's All Covered IT Service offerings, including Cloud services, managed IT services, EngageIT Automation, EngageITXMedia, and Dispatcher Phoenix Professional Solution.

The Bottom Line

Service providers that attended PRINT 13 found the show packed with answers on techniques for expanding capabilities. This year’s event clearly focused on all things digital, while also highlighting the need to blend equipment technology with workflow and software to drive profitability. This industry is changing very quickly, and vendors across the floor stepped up to the challenge of addressing the need for innovation, integration, and new techniques for communications.


[1] Kodak heads were shown via partner Adphos.