Last week, IWCO Direct sent a group from operations, procurement and R&D to GRAPH EXPO. Our goal, as it has been in past years, was to research the latest technology trends and innovative products to support the expanding needs of our customers. We were looking to uncover advances in technology, both equipment and software, that support new capabilities and efficiencies.
One of the biggest changes to GRAPH EXPO in 2016 was the location. After decades of being held in Chicago, this year it was hosted in Orlando. If you like hot and humid, this was the place for you! The convention center was a nice venue with easy transportation to nearby hotels. The exhibit hall was a little smaller than past years in Chicago. Attendance appeared to be average to light, but the word on the floor was that traffic was steady with a lot of new faces due to the location change. We were also told that sales were steady, which was evident by numerous ‘sold’ signs on demonstration equipment.
Color digital print technology continued to have the strongest presence at the show. The latest technology offers new inks and expanded substrate options that will drive new products and capabilities into the direct mail and marketing sectors. High-speed color digital printers continue to improve color fidelity and print resolution to be able to deliver products that had previously fallen in the high-end offset print market. Similarly, software and workflow technologies continue to grow and expand to support the growth of color digital print technology. As color digital print volumes and capabilities increase, so do the requirements for software and workflows to manage the processes and deliverables to the printers.
Key Trends Caught Our Eye at GRAPH EXPO
One of the top trends at the show was the presence of wide format color digital printers. This was highlighted by our friends at InfoTrends, who showcased ‘wide format’ as one of the largest market sectors in color digital print during their briefing on critical industry trends. Wide format printers handle sheets and webs between 18” to 100” and are used to print banners, poster boards, wallpaper and signage, to name a few. Another interesting color digital print sector that is growing rapidly is ‘textiles and ceramics’ which also had an increasing presence at the show. Next time you are shopping for wood grain textured ceramic tiles, take a closer look; you might be looking at the results of the latest inkjet technology.
Another technology gaining a widespread presence at the show was high-speed web inspection systems, with the common theme of building more automation and intelligence into this technology. These camera inspection systems offer a variety of features and functions such as print quality inspection, content validation and various tracking and reporting options. They are available on most high-speed print systems as well as a growing number of post-processing devices. These inspection systems are becoming increasingly important as print speeds and quality expectations continue to increase. You can read more about some of our efforts in quality control and accuracy here.
We thought the InfoTrends critical industry trends briefing had some real sizzle; not just because of the bacon served during the concurrent breakfast, but for the content, too! They provided a very interesting overview of the color digital print industry as well as covering key industry topics such as personalization, data and workflows. We also attended other sessions on strategy, technology, data analytics and workflow. The one thing that stood out was that IWCO Direct is helping lead the industry in many of these areas. Through partnerships with our vendors we are actively engaged in advancing new capabilities and technologies across the many facets of the industry.
GRAPH EXPO was another successful and productive show that allowed the IWCO Direct team to see the latest technologies in the industry. Our teams are already actively working on putting them to use to expand our offerings. We are not sure where the next GRAPH EXPO event (known as PRINT 17) will lead us, but rest assured, we’ll be there
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