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Specialty Areas Add Punch to GOA

Press release from the issuing company

By Noel Ward, Executive Editor, On Demand Journal; Managing Editor, WhatTheyThink.com February 14, 2005 -- The most obvious thing about this show was more visible from the "skyway" that connects the two sides of the Miami Beach Convention Center. This enclosed walkway looks down on the show floor and it's from here that you get the best views of the entire show floor. You get a look at the crowds, and more importantly, you get a bird's eye view of the scope of vendors on hand. Almost a quarter of the space seemed to be taken up by wide format printing vendors, whose Brobdingnagian prints spilled out of their booths and onto the floor. All were besieged by attendees wanting the giant prints of movie and cartoon characters, exotic cars, motorcycles, and more. Wide format printing is a hot product under the Latin American sun, with all manner of indoor and outdoor signage, plus vehicle and building wraps all bringing revenue to print providers. Ad Graphics is a U.S.-based company with affiliates in Latin America that offer vehicle-wrapping along with a seemingly endless assortment of out-sized signage. On the show floor, their vehicle wrapping crew was encasing a minivan in a jungle motif print replete with a cheetah on each side, a leopard on the hood and the front-end of an elephant on the hatch to intimidate tailgaters. They used a 3M Scotchprint substrate that is flexible enough to wrap around the compound curves of todays' curvaceous vehicles. The material seems to stick like duct tape, yet can be easily peeled up with no damage to the paint or glass. The materials are warranted to last up to five years, twice the time for most paint and other digitally printed applications. And a single section can be easily replaced in the event of an accident. On cars, applications can usually be completed in a day or so, but buses, trucks, boats and aircraft--yes, there are templates for all of them--take longer. The templates are key to this kind of work and are created in a number of different ways. Christian Van Schepen of Digital Auto Library was at GOA offering CDs containing some or all of the 5600-plus templates he has built. Van Schepen takes a series of measurements and a set of digital photos to create a profile of each car and then creates the templates using proprietary software. He has mapped virtually every car and truck sold in North America, and the library is updated annually. His templates include a wide assortment of boats and light airplanes and he will also map unique vehicles on an as needed basis. Since vehicles are so highly visible, wraps are a growing form of advertising for businesses of all sizes, both in the U.S. and Latin America. Innovative, colorful designs make cars and trucks stand out from traffic and are both effective and fun ways of telling the world what a business is all about. The ink jet printers that produce the big images have come a long way since they first showed up at trade shows about a dozen years ago. Now even the "low resolution" ones that max out at 300 dpi produce excellent image quality, and output from the best machines looks about as good or better close up as that of many big sheet-fed offset presses. Every product shown in Miami Beach was excellent--the deciding factors for print providers would be which had the best match in sizes, substrate choices and inks for the types of jobs they produce. Mail Grows in Importance Mailing is expanding as a value-added service--and profit center--for a growing number of print providers. Talk to a direct mail service bureau or transactional printer who has been mailing for years and they will be quick to tell you that "regular" printers are in for a big surprise if they think they can make money from mailing. Well, maybe. But maybe not. Smaller companies like Neopost and big ones like Pitney Bowes, both of which were at GOA, are focused on providing mailing solutions that can fit the needs of printers expanding the value of their services by adding mail. Pitney had some small table top machines for sorting, inserting and applying postage that would be a good fit in smaller print shops and also had a more complex system on hand that you'd normally expect at a more mail-centric event. Backing up the big system was a full range of software that helps automate, track and verify each job at the envelope level. These included OnRoute mail tracking to monitor the status of mailpieces, and DFWorks, a suite of tools for defining, measuring, analyzing, controlling and improving mail processing. Pitney also had Group 1 Software on hand, showing a variety of print and mail solutions for personalizing transactional and marketing documents for multi-channel delivery. Personalization Grows, Too Personalization was the story being told at Exstream Software as well. Exstream has been aggressively promoting its Dialogue and Dialogue Webverse products, in the U.S. and Europe for the past few years. Now it has teamed with Digipro S.A. de C.V., giving Digipro the right to sell and distribute Dialogue software throughout Mexico and Columbia. Based in Mexico City, Digipro provides document management solutions for financial firms, banks, telecommunications firms, utilities, government institutions, and other organizations that communicate with large bases of installed customers on an ongoing basis. The distributorship agreement provides Digipro the opportunity to offer a high-performance enterprise personalization solution for customers who want to enhance client relationships using sophisticated, one-to-one communications. Why Latin America? According to Exstream, over 95 percent of customer communications in Latin America take place using paper-based documents, making this is a powerful channel for companies to expand customer relationships for increased profitability. Exstream's Dialogue software allows companies to create any kind of personalized communications from high-volume bundled billing documents to reports and other fully customized communications. It is especially interesting to see companies like Exstream and Group 1 at GOA. It is indicative of the pending growth and potential of Latin American markets and combines with the increased emphasis print engine vendors are placing on the region. In another sense, it shows how the personalized digital document--in both paper and electronic forms--is becoming common in more and more markets. The show may be over, but there's still more to come: The Book Publishing Factory was great, along with how some of the big digital print engine vendors see the Latin American market. I'll cover that next time.