Print’s global get-together gets set to embrace the future

Jo Francis
Monday, June 10, 2019

It seems like only yesterday, when we were all (well, some of us at least) warbling along to “Drupa is in town again... touch the future” the official song for Drupa 2016, which rang out across the Messe every morning as the doors to the show opened.

In fact, it was three years ago, and that means that we’re now just one year away from the world’s biggest print showcase – Drupa 2020. 

Drupa 2020 factfile

Dates Tuesday 16 June–Friday 26 June 2020

Duration 11 days

Location Messe Dusseldorf

Number of halls 19

Exhibition space 158,237sqm

Number of exhibitors 1,830

Number of visitors in 2016 260,165


Time has a habit of flying, and Drupa 2020 will be upon us before we know it, so how are things shaping as exhibitors turn their thoughts to Dusseldorf and June 2020? Understandably, detailed exhibit plans remain firmly under wraps, but there’s more than enough to whet the appetite as Drupa’s organisers prepare for the countdown clock to reach the 52 weeks to go mark. The Drupa 2016 theme of ‘touch the future’ has been updated, and for Drupa 2020 visitors and exhibitors are being invited to ‘embrace the future’.

What, then, will that future hold? There will be a new look for the Messe, for one thing. A major €140m (£124m) investment in a new landmark south entrance and completely new Hall 1 is due to be completed at the end of this year. 

Hall 1 (replacing what were Halls 1 and 2) will be a state-of-the-art 12,000m², pillar-free space with a 15m clear height. The new south entrance, meanwhile, will feature a huge 2,110m² foyer space that can be used as an event space, and a stunning 20m-high projecting roof canopy made of translucent fibreglass.

Key themes

The Drupa team has decided upon five key highlight topics. Print being first and foremost, obviously. “The fascination of print products is increasing with the steady ongoing evolution of technical possibilities,” says the organiser. Packaging production is a hot topic once again, thanks to the importance of the growing packaging and labelling industries. The other highlight areas are Functional Printing (including printed electronics and textiles), 3D Printing, where Drupa notes that numerous “classic” Drupa exhibitors are involved with additive manufacturing and ‘fabbing’; and lastly Future Technologies including themes such as intelligent networks and automated production processes. 

Drupa 2020 director Sabine Geldermann says: “Perhaps the most exciting thing about touchpoint packaging (and its unique selling point) are the prototypes that the industry partners and students will produce to be shown at Drupa. These prototypes aim to illustrate how printing solutions can help the packaging industry meet the demands placed upon them by consumers, the industry itself, the environment etc that arise from global trends.”

Another new show feature is DNA – Drupa Next Age – which replaces the Drupa Innovation Park. Located in Hall 7, this will be a showcase for start-ups as well as specific innovations from larger exhibitors, with the intention of creating an environment where partnerships and collaborations can be formed. 

“In daily business there are few touchpoints between innovative start-ups and global players. The special show-in-show at Drupa creates a networking space for encounters between equals; a place for collaborations with the potential to shape the development of the entire industry!” says the organiser. 

Geldermann also highlights the return of the Drupa Cube conference and events programme. This part of the expo will “focus on the innovative power of print and the exciting potential of diverse print applications in a wide variety of industries and areas of life,” she says. 

Industry snapshot

Each Drupa provides a snapshot of the shape of the industry in that particular year – and the mergers and acquisitions that have taken place since the last show will be reflected in the floorplan for 2020. 

At the last Drupa Heidelberg was in its traditional home of the old Hall 1 alongside a number of its partner companies including Chinese manufacturer Masterwork. Since then there’s been a further change in the dynamic, with a new CEO at the helm of the press manufacturer, and Masterwork becoming its largest shareholder earlier this year. 

Heidelberg has confirmed it will be occupying part of the new Hall 1 in 2020, and it will be fascinating to see how CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer’s ‘Heidelberg goes digital’ messaging translates into its presence at the show. A spokesman says: “Drupa is still the print media industry’s most important event and communication platform. Therefore, we can confirm that Heidelberg again will take part with an important show in the new Hall 1. The event will be adapted exactly to our customer needs, further supporting the digital transformation of print shops and the whole industry.”

Reflecting the ongoing industry shift to digital printing, it looks like HP will once again be the show’s biggest exhibitor, taking over all of Hall 17 for the duration. Drupa 2020 will involve some logistical challenges as – following the 2016 decision to scrap plans for a three-year rotation and stick with a four-year cycle – Drupa will take place just four-and-a-half weeks after the large Interpack packaging show, which also takes over the whole showground, and at which HP and a number of other Drupa exhibitors will also be present. 

Drupa build time is significantly squeezed as a result, and Michael Smetana, global head of marketing operations at HP’s Graphic Solutions Business, says the firm is likely to implement a two-shift system or even 24-hour working to maximise the available hours. “We will store some equipment on site after Interpack for four weeks and then rebuild it in another hall. There’s a huge amount of planning and organisation involved and we have a very skilled team who know precisely what it takes – we will make it work,” he says. 

Smetana says that HP is planning what products it will show, and launch, very carefully. “Our philosophy is that we are not there just to tell a story. We really want to ensure that we are showing something that people can get for real. We will guarantee 90% of products shown people can buy at the show, plus a few future concepts. If you announce too early, you create frustration.”

While HP is returning to its favoured hall, we’ll have to wait for the publication of the official floorplan to see how other manufacturer moves have reshaped the layout. Since 2016, for example, Goss and Manroland Web Systems have merged to form one company; while Kolbus sold its perfect binding business to Muller Martini prior to expanding its own packaging business with the acquisition of UK manufacturer Autobox. Bobst and inkjet developer Radex also teamed up for a new digital printing venture, Mouvent. 

Kodak, meanwhile, has just sold its flexographic packaging division and insiders say the new company, Miraclon, will be located next to its former parent. Kodak spokesman Nicholas Rangel says: “Our Drupa 2020 focus will be highlighting our broad portfolio of products and solutions – from traditional offset technology, to inkjet and workflow software – as well as demonstrating our commitment to our customers. For the last year or so, we’ve been using ‘Taking Print Further’ as a campaign to market and describe our products and solutions. We look forward to expanding upon this theme in the lead up to Drupa 2020.

“There is nothing like Drupa, period,” Rangel adds. “Its size, its reach and the excitement that comes with it are unparalleled. For us it’s a great way to showcase our company and the lasting power of our brand. We can’t wait for Drupa 2020!”

Elsewhere Ricoh has made further buys in MIS, industrial printing, cloud-based software and colour management since the last show; while venerable press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer has added to its numerous alliances with a new co-operation with Durst for packaging and corrugated board printing – corrugated was certainly a hot button topic at the last show, and come next year some of the many corrugated concepts unveiled at Drupa 2016 are likely to have become more concrete. 

One notable success in this respect is EFI’s Nozomi, which was unveiled at Drupa 2016 and now has more than 30 installations worldwide, most recently at UK packaging converter Durham Box. 

Ever-acquisitive EFI has also made a string of further buys since the last Drupa, including Xerox’s front-end business and textile ink maker BDR, and is itself currently in the process of being acquired by private equity firm Siris. 

The manufacturer said it would have a substantial presence in Hall 9, with technologies from across its display graphics, textile and packaging product portfolios planned for the booth. 

“The need for more personalisation, faster turnaround, and greener, more-efficient production hits in every segment of print – from commercial print, publication printing and direct marketing, to signage, packaging, textile and beyond.

“So it is now more important than ever before to have the business and production management infrastructure to handle that,” says chief revenue officer and senior vice-president for sales and marketing Frank Mallozzi.

One industry mega-merger that would have had a big effect on the floorplan, but didn’t come to fruition, was Fujifilm’s proposed acquisition of Xerox. The two companies remain partners in the Fuji-Xerox joint venture and we understand they’ll be ‘friendly neighbours’ in the same hall again next year. 

Whether any further industry M&A deals will take place between now and June 2020 remains to be seen, although it would probably be foolish to bet against it. 

Something that will be a Drupa nailed-on certainty is a spectacular show from Landa. This will be the third Drupa appearance for Landa’s Nanographic inkjet presses, the crucial difference this time around is that Landa will also have an installed base to talk about – the firm has straight printing and perfecting models of its B1 S10 sheetfed press already in use in the field, and expects to install the first W10 flexible packaging web press early next year. 

Away from the huge stands and elaborate showcases put on by the industry’s established players, Drupa also offers a showcase for new entrants. Geldermann says the show is expected to attract 1,800 exhibitors from more than 50 countries, and around 33% of these “are new exhibitors across all product categories”.

The top five exhibitor countries according to space booked are: Germany, Italy, China, the UK, and the Netherlands.

UK manufacturer and distributors’ association Picon is putting in place plans for a suitably prominent presence, as chief executive Bettine Pellant explains: “Picon is organising a UK Pavilion of exhibitors that includes members and non-members who want to promote their products to an international audience. 

“Picon represents both exporters and importers and, irrespective of the outcome of Brexit, it has never been as important for British manufacturers and distributors to wave the flag for UK business. We have so far secured bookings for 9m² to 20m² booths and enquiries continue.”

Pellant describes Drupa as “the number one show in Europe, if not the world”.

“It is where visitors can take the pulse of the industry, glean insights into trends, see innovations and uncover new ways to differentiate or improve efficiency and productivity.”

Picon’s plans also involve providing visiting Brits with an opportunity to get a decent cuppa, or perhaps something stronger. “The Picon lounge will provide networking opportunities or an area for respite from the demands of the show. This is always a popular feature. At Drupa 2016 the Picon lounge served over 1,000 cups of coffee, 497 cups of tea and 552 beers!” Pellant says. 

Visitor views

In 2016 the overarching theme of the show was ‘Industry 4.0’ and the increasingly connected and automated world of print, while inkjet developments across all areas of the market were also centre stage. We can expect more of the same next year – perhaps Industry 5.0 – and the continuing rise of inkjet tech means there will no doubt be many more advancements in that field to get to grips with. 

With a show of Drupa’s size and variety of exhibitors, it can be understandably difficult to alight on a single key topic, and manufacturers are reporting a variety of customer ‘wants’ that will shape their messaging and exhibits at the coming show. 

Peter Wolff, vice-president, production printing products EMEA at Canon, says the firm has been gathering insights from print businesses and their customers in the 14 years since Canon entered the production print space. “Close collaboration across the whole production print supply chain has been key to our R&D development and, in combination with our customer insight, has driven the technological innovations we’ve brought to market. It has also informed our ambitious and exciting plans for Drupa 2020, where we will have an even bigger stand presence compared with that of 2016,” he says.

“Drupa 2016 was about helping customers to realise the new growth opportunities with digital print. At Drupa 2020, we’re committed not only to helping our customers envision how their business models can evolve, but also to demonstrating how they can embrace that vision and, with Canon’s support, turn it into a reality. There is still so much untapped potential for our customers to explore – whether it’s uncovering new application possibilities or maximising operational efficiencies – and automated, end-to-end digital print solutions play a key role in enabling future growth. Visitors to the Canon stand will be inspired by what digital print technology is capable of delivering and how it can transform conceptual applications into profitable commercial products. Drupa 2020 is the place and time for customers to embrace their full potential.”

EFI’s Mallozzi says he anticipates four main themes for the 2020 show: packaging, textiles, intelligent automation, and inkjet innovation. From a customer viewpoint, he also pinpoints four key areas of interest gleaned from EFI’s customer base: being able to turn jobs around more quickly; new applications that create more value and attract new business; data insights “having accurate and current data that details their total cost of ownership for their equipment and solutions is a big need”; and insourcing of jobs. “Customers will gain market share and increase margin by bringing formerly outsourced jobs in house,” he explains. 

“Many of our customers are looking for an integrated approach, which is where EFI is positioned. And that is why we’re so excited about Drupa, a show that encompasses signage, packaging, textile, commercial print and more. Some of our most successful customers rely on us for their plant-wide management systems, as well as for the production and output on all their devices. It is a responsibility we take seriously, and we are there to help them grow.”

At HP, Smetana says that customers have a variety of imperatives. “We are picking up a number of industry trends. For some customers the challenge is that it’s very hard to get skilled labour, therefore they are looking for automation so the more we can automate, the more it helps,” he explains. 

“Larger PSPs are typically looking for higher speeds and lower total cost of ownership; whereas smaller, family-owned businesses might be asking how they can differentiate their services, while also leveraging automation. We see common ground in the themes of sustainability, colour management, automation and with Print OS which is now available for the mid- and high-volume market,” he adds. 

Drupa itself, in its latest Global Trends Report put together by consultants Printfuture and Wissler & Partner, reports that printing firms engaged in the packaging and functional markets were “very bullish”, while those in commercial printing and publishing were more cautious. For printers, finishing equipment was the most common investment target for this year, followed by print technology and then pre-media/workflow/MIS.

Help is also at hand for visitors who feeling overwhelmed by the sheer scale of Drupa – a new matchmaking app will bring together visitors and exhibitors based on individual requirements. 

Geldermann says the host city is also gearing up do its bit to contribute to that unique Drupa atmosphere: “Dusseldorf is looking forward to hosting all visitors and exhibitors of Drupa. There will be again a dedicated campaign called ‘Drupa City’ bringing Drupa to local gastronomy, hotels and public spaces.”

Come 10am on 16 June next year, the doors will open on what is undoubtedly the biggest global focal point for print, a veritable festival of all that is innovative in our industry and a chance for visitors and exhibitors alike to assess the current state of the trade and where it is heading, and to stay on top of what’s new. 

Lastly, what about that all-important Drupa song? Well, we can exclusively reveal that it’s in the works so there will definitely be something to warble along with. A Drupa insider says: “We have the music, and we’re working on the lyrics”. 

Comment: Sabine Geldermann, show director

geldermann“The current booking status clearly emphasises that Drupa 2020 will underline its global significance and relevance as an iconic trade fair for the industry. 

International key players confirm that they are explicitly aligning their technology innovations with the Drupa cycle. In a period of continuous change and transformation Drupa will be a must-attend event for the industry as the show gives orientation, valuable impetus for sustainable business models and, last but not least, offers the best conditions for networking and excellent new business contacts.

Together with its 1,800 exhibitors from more than 50 countries, Drupa underscores its unique selling proposition as the most relevant and important platform for the global print technology industry. 

In short – a premium event that is about educating, engaging and entertaining in a fascinating and inspiring atmosphere.”


drupadailyRead all about it! PrintWeek will again be teaming up with our partners from Druck & Medien magazine in Germany to produce the official Drupa 2020 show daily publication. The DrupaDaily will be written by an international editorial and production team located on the showfloor at the Messe. It will be published in German and English, with 10,000 copies a day distributed at key points around the show.


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