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Following a session by PrintAction Editor Jon Robinson, Martin Habekost, Associate Chair of Ryerson’s Graphic Communications Management program, spent an hour discussing both digital- and conventional-printing trends at drupa. Habekost began his session, called Is It All Digital Now?, describing the highly positive atmosphere at drupa, which featured 1,837 exhibitors from 54 countries, 260,000 visitors from 188 countries (slightly down from 2012), and 1,900 journalists from 74 countries.
Gleaning statistics from drupa organizer, Messe Dusseldorf, Habekost noted some interesting post-drupa numbers from surveyed visitors, including: 29 percent placed orders during drupa, 30 percent are planning to place their orders after drupa, and 60 percent found new suppliers at drupa.
Habekost began his digital trends highlights by noting how inkjet print speeds are increasing and starting to reach offset speeds. Based on the amount of print applications highlighted at this year’s show, he also noted how inkjet inks can print on almost anything and more special inks are being developed for inkjet work. Habekost spent several minutes taking the crowd through key digital and offset developments, including an emphasis on the progress of Landa Digital, which expects to begin shipping its presses in 2017.
Habekost concluded his session by explaining how print is alive and coming back strong, as digital printing is making strong inroads into the offset print market, again with increased print speeds and high-quality output.
Nick Howard, President of Howard Graphic Equipment, presented the third session at PrintForum discussing how technological change is not new to the printing industry and shared his thoughts on how inkjet will impact the commercial printing industry. He also discussed the market for offset technologies (new and used) and what printers should consider when making investments. Howard explained LED curing, or similar hybrid variations, is a definite advance that all offset-perfecting printers should consider, as well as companies running straight configurations.
The final conference session featured seven industry leaders discussing the state of production inkjet technologies, both web and cutsheet. The panelists included: Alec Couckuyt, Senior Director, Canon Canada, Professional Printing Solutions Group; Brad King, VP, Graphics Communications, Xerox Canada; Brent Moncrief, VP, Brand Management, Fujifilm North America Corporation, Graphic Systems Division; Edward Robeznieks, VP and GM, Production Printing, Ricoh Canada; Ray Fagan, Sheetfed Product Manager, Heidelberg Canada; Brian Forrester, Senior Sales Executive, Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division, Eastman Kodak; and Grant Robinson Business Development Manager at Delphax Technologies.
While all of the panelists have a natural interest in promoting the adoption of inkjet technologies, the group provided several examples for why in fact production inkjet technology has arrived in the printing industry. The group explained that the issue of inkjet speed relative to sheeted offset has largely been overcome, particularly when focusing an inkjet system toward suitable applications. The inkjet panel also described how inkjet quality has reached a level to meet most customer expectations, even as advances are still needed in inks and supporting substrates. The panel also opened up to dicuss the potential business models and investment rationale for investing in inkjet technologies.