Every four years the print industry convenes for one of its biggest events. This year’s rendition, PRINT 13, was held Sept. 8-12 at McCormick Place in Chicago. I had the privilege of attending and representing IWCO Direct with several colleagues including Frank Boncore, Director of Mailing Operations in Hamburg, Doug Brustad, Manufacturing Operations Manager, and Steve Malec, Manager of Color Technical Services. Since we know not all of you could attend, here are the high points from what was a fantastic show.
Overall attendance was very strong and traffic was brisk throughout the floor. However, while making the rounds, it was obvious that most people gravitated toward the digital print engine suppliers, or almost anything digital. Canon, Xerox, HP, Ricoh and Fuji all had digital web presses that commanded large audiences throughout the day.
Color digital print is here. It’s young and evolving and moving rapidly. So much so that PRINT 13 could have been called Digital PRINT 13. Perhaps the most noteworthy trend was the lack of “iron” on display. With only one or two offset units at the show, and a diminished presence from giants like Heidelberg, the absence of conventional presses was a strong indication that digital is the technology of the future. Simply put, gains in print technology are now focused around harnessing data and leveraging digital print to create focused communication with the end customer. And vendors are more motivated to partner and negotiate deals to help get new equipment installed – all in search of real user feedback to improve their products and drive these innovative gains.
As color and quality are rapidly improving, coatings and paper options are also expanding. As a result, integration is everywhere from full-size presses to 4” modules. Having a sound color management process will make a considerable difference with quality and consistency on newer equipment across platforms. IWCO Direct has reflected these shifting paradigms with our new Océ ColorStream 3900®and G7® Master Qualification from IDEAlliance®.
With several live product demonstrations throughout the week that presented real and relevant applications geared toward the integration of print and online channels, it was exciting to see all the new digital technology under one roof and compare quality, speeds, etc. in such close proximity. We were especially impressed with Océ’s new Niagara cut sheet color box that will be out in 2014. It will be capable of producing 10 million letter sized sheets (full-color digital) per month. Other exciting technologies included radio frequency identification (RFID) and printed circuit boards with real-world examples such as:
- A printed sticker that could be put on the outside of a coffee cup to tell the temperature of the coffee inside the cup;
- Printed circuit boards using ink made of silver or copper (to create a paper circuit board). As electronics get smaller these paper circuit boards will be used in disposable electronic gadgets or even high-end devices like Apple’s iWatch.
It was an exciting show and a great week to be in the Windy City. Vendors provided great opportunities to network and meet with new people, and we got to experience the exciting future of digital print, one that will shape our industry for years to come.
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