It looks like Graph Expo may be shaping up to be one of those must see events. While not a drupa-class event, expect a whole range of new hardware and software updates to make it to Chicago. Couple this with the willingness of service providers to look at new digital equipment to replace their last generation equipment and workflow software, and this year’s show should be very exciting. Of course, ‘most importantly,’ Dr. Joe’s more upbeat views on the state of the economy and the industry, should also help. Be sure you pick up a copy of his new book, This Point Forward, being launched at the show. I have high expectations for this event. 

So what can you expect? As far we know, as a result of some of the new product releases over the last couple of months from companies including EFI, HP, Kodak, Konica Minolta, Océ/Canon, Xerox and others, coupled with recent press releases from Fujifilm, Screen, Ricoh and others, there will be an abundance of next generation digital print equipment. These will be a range of electro-photographic, liquid toner/ink, and production inkjet devices. These latest generation toner and inkjet digital devices have raised the bar again on quality which will undoubtedly result in a further migration away from conventional printing technologies. We expect a number of ‘surprise’ announcements in print hardware as well, so stay tuned. These new devices will address a wide range of application use, including commercial print, wide format, labels and packaging. It’s our understanding that there will only be one offset press on the show floor: a Ryobi MHI offset press with LED-UV instant cure being demoed live at Graph Expo. Quite a change from previous years. 

ECRM will be featuring innovative plate and CTP technology with an attractive price point as a result of a joint venture with CRON, China’s largest manufacturer of CTP systems. This marks CRON’s entry into the North American market.

On the workflow software front, there will also be some interesting new products and upgrades to see first hand. Of course, with its record-breaking 11 must see’ems, 8 of which are for software solutions, a stop by the EFI booth would be a valuable exercise. A stop by the Aleyant Systems booth to see a technology demo of an entry-level cloud-based job management system is also in order. The company claims it can be up and running in as little as 15 minutes, with most of the capabilities needed to effectively automate order entry, estimating, job management and more.

For those of you who have not looked at Avanti recently, be sure to stop and see the latest version of Avanti Slingshot, including the award winning Advanced JDF Framework module.

Ricoh will be showing off its new award-winning TotalFlow BatchBuilder, which simplifies and automates the batching and scheduling of short-run digital work. This will be shown along with the Critical Communications solution suite, designed to address the growing needs of regulated, customized and personalized documents.  Expect to see more surprises from Ricoh at the show.

Ultimate Technographics, celebrating its 25th anniversary, will be showing new ways to help automate your workflows with its latest imposition software in addition to its award winning Ultimate Bindery solution.

In the web-to-print space, Rochester Software will be showing its latest award-winning version of WebCRD; PTI will be showing its latest award-winning version of MarcomCentral; DirectSmile, as a new part of the EFI family, and XMPie will be showing a number of new and award-winning updates to their extensive lines of customer communication solutions.

This is only a small sampling of the exciting products and solutions that will be shown in Chicago. Look for more of my in-depth articles on these and other products on WhatTheyThink in the near future.