It is easy to identify most of the major paradigm shifts in the printing industry and its related graphic industries. Moving from hot lead to cold type was a major change. The introduction of digital presses capable of high quality output has certainly been a change. And, the melding of the traditional web and offset print worlds with the IT and MIS oriented print world, with the expansion of print-on-demand options, has been the source of many changes in job and document workflow. This year’s CeBIT offered a wide variety of evolving products for all of these markets, with the promise of even more to come.
We talked about Heidelberg in earlier CeBIT coverage. Their booth highlights the merging of many print options into a variety of offerings under the umbrella of a company that knows printing as well as any company in the world. Whether you need offset capability or want to move into color digital or black and white digital production, Heidelberg has a hardware solution backed up by software offerings for every facet of job and document flow. By partnering with the big names in software, including Microsoft, Apple, and Adobe, they have re-invented Heidelberg for the millennium. They have embraced digital and are committed to educating their current and future customers so that they are comfortable with the new technologies as they implement them. Look at the output from one of their large web offset presses and a NexPress side-by-side and it is very hard to tell them apart, and this is how Heidelberg believes it should be.
The Oce, Xeikon, Ricoh, Canon, Scitex, Minolta, Konica, Brother, and IBM booths all offered printing solutions that work today with high standards of quality. While their ability to explain their technology varied, their demonstrations showed a commitment to moving print technology and its supporting management technologies forward. In addition to the printer vendors, there were dozens of software vendors specializing in document management, document workflow, and the important technologies of data mining and knowledge management which expand the range of what you can do with the data you process for print.
We didn’t find any evidence that paper is going away, or that we are running out of reasons to print on paper. Instead, we found more and more applications providing print connectivity, albeit through some new devices. Olympus showed some very impressive photo printers, although they have not embraced wireless connectivity. There were dozens of vendors offering scan-to-digital solutions for integrating your incoming paper invoices and statements with your digital document workflow systems. Clearly the vendors see the convergence of paper and digital as meaning that everything should exist in both media.
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