Touching the future today

By Max Goldbart, Monday 20 June 2016

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It was Drupa 4.0, we were touching the future, and from 10 o’clock onwards on day one the buzz from Düsseldorf’s Messe was palpable. “Drupaaaaa, is in town agaaaaain” blared round the 17 halls, and print enthusiasts from around 190 countries knew that once again they were home.

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260,000 visitors strolled down the aisles of the Messe, 76% of which were from outside of Germany. Overall visitor numbers were down on 2012 but the per-day average was higher, according to show director Sabine Geldermann. 

Unsurprisingly, with 55 live presentations and a host of other media appearances, it was the sheer charisma of Benny Landa that once again stole the show. Anyone who didn’t have the opportunity to watch one of his five daily Landa presentations will come away feeling slightly aggrieved. According to Landa, 40,000 managed to see it. 

Sales figures were high, with many of the biggest manufacturers reportedly smashing their targets. HP surpassed 2012 sales by 20% and exceeded its 2016 sales goal by 25% overall. It was especially pleased with its performance in the Asia-Pacific region, with sales targets exceeding 150% for the area.

HP worldwide marketing leader for digital graphics solutions Francois Martin is overjoyed with how the show worked for his company. He says: “Drupa altogether is a unique exhibition because you see the best of the industry in one place, in one location. That is really unique. And it is memorable, as people are going to see things that you only can see here.

“So it was relevant, unique and memorable, those are the three things that customers are telling us. And that is a combination of what we do at HP, and what Drupa is offering as a platform.”

Nano takes off

Landa’s charisma may have stolen the show once again, but sales of Landa’s new S10 and W10 Nanographic printing presses were just as much a hot topic. 

“Drupa 2016 will be remembered as the inflection point in the industry’s transition from mechanical printing to digital. In the past, digital print vendors had to try to convince the market that digital is the way to go. Previously it was a ‘push’ selling motion,” says chairman Landa.

“For Landa Digital Printing, this market awakening has been particularly rewarding, as reflected in the substantial number of orders that we took at Drupa.”

Landa’s announcements were as large scale as its domineering Hall 9 stand. It claimed over €450m (£355m) in orders for its Nanographic presses. 

Despite still selling the promise of products to come, there were also Landa beta-site announcements with companies in the US and Germany, and a first UK signing for a Landa W10 Web Press, from flexible packaging specialist Reflex. 

Kodak Prosper presses flew off the shelves, with seven being sold in total: two mono machines and five four-colour models. 

Kodak worldwide director of sales and operations Olivier Claude says: “Drupa 2016 completely exceeded Kodak’s expectations. The fact that we hit our sales target on day seven – and having reached 168% of our sales target on day nine – is testimony to the industry’s trust in our cutting edge technology.”

Some commenters could be heard referring to this Drupa as ‘Dru-Pack’, with corrugated presses and packaging emerging as major hot topics. There were debut showings for Heidelberg’s new Primefire 106 B1 press and the announcement of HP’s C500 PageWide corrugated press, with more on that in the near future. 

“The Primefire 106 was definitely a highlight of the booth. It’s been a very, very positive reaction. Everybody wants to be the first, or the first in their country,” says Heidelberg board member for equipment Stephan Plenz. 

Canon also unveiled a prototype of its B2 Voyager, an inkjet photo products press, available from 2018.

Super sales

Drupa’s soaraway sales award must go to Israeli finishing manufacturer Scodix, which sold more than 100 of its machines. Finishing giant Muller Martini was also pleased with its Drupa performance.

“It’s been fantastic. We had one customer who came in from the US and he said that Muller Martini was the ‘winner of Drupa’, he said he’d never seen anything like it,” says Muller Martini UK sales manager David McGinlay.

He adds: “Because run lengths have become so small, technologies’ touchless workflow has become a reality for most of our customers. It’s coming down the track. The big manufacturers are interested.”

Another hot Drupa topic was automation and industry 4.0, or in this case Print 4.0, ‘the internet of things’ and connection of workflow and process. Intriguing automated machines could be seen everywhere, including on Esko’s stand, with the Kongsberg XP digital cutter, Heidelberg’s new ‘push to stop’ presses and Kama’s fully-automated finishing line.

Geldermann was particularly intrigued by the focus on automation and innovation at this year’s show. She says: “People received a lot of orientation and guidance for the future. The number of technology innovations was outstanding. 

“The theme ‘touch the future’ seemed undoubtedly to be a reality and the overall atmosphere and spirit in the halls was unbelievably high.”

And there was even an opportunity for Geldermann to announce that Drupa 2019 will in fact be Drupa 2020, as the plan to move Drupa onto a three-year cycle was scrapped. It would be a fair assessment to say that the resulting sigh from the Messe atendees was one of relief. 

Commemorative sales of Drupa 2019 lanyards will be exceeding the £1,000 mark by next year. 

The world of print will return to the Messe in 2020, and we are rubbing our hands together in glee. 


DRUPA DEALS AT A GLANCE

Tuesday 31 May

Heidelberg unveiled its vision of autonomous printing presses at Drupa with its ‘Push to Stop’ philosophy promising massive increases in productivity. It also revealed it would ship the first Primefire 106 B1 inkjet press, developed with Fujifilm, to a packaging printer by the end of the year... Landa Digital Printing revealed that web-to-print giant Cimpress was set to take “up to” 20 Landa Nanography presses and signed strategic partnership with US commercial print giant Quad/Graphics. It also unveiled first beta installations of the B1 format S10 press... Kodak launched 20 new products on day one of Drupa, including two new NexPresses, and OEM partnerships with Manroland Web Systems and Matti Technology to integrate Kodak Prosper Stream Inkjet technology... Manroland Sheetfed showed its Roland 700 Evolution B1 press at a major event for the first time and has revealed unit sales were approaching 200 after 18 months.

Wednesday 1 June

HP announced it was developing a highly automated sheetfed, single-pass corrugated press. However, the sheetfed C500 Press was not shown at Drupa. It did show a full integrated label line with foiling and spot and tactile varnishing: an HP Indigo WS6800 digital label press inline with a new JetFX finishing unit... Durst also unveiled its new development for corrugated packaging and display printing, the new 9,350m2/hr Rho 130 SPC... Konica Minolta unveiled a prototype of a new B1 UV inkjet press, the KM-C, targeted at the commercial print and packaging sectors. It also commercially launched its renamed B2-plus UV inkjet press, the KM-1. Days later it revealed it had sold the first AccurioJet KM-1 UV B2 digital presses to two US firms... EFI sold the Drupa-premiered Nozomi C18000 single-pass corrugated press to Expressway in Costa Rica.

Thursday 2 June

Xeikon revealed a new one-pass-duplex web-press, the €395,000 (£312,000) Xeikon 9600, a new 2,000sph flatbed die-cutter and gave its long-awaited Trillium One its first public outing... Spanish flexo press manufacturer Comexi launched a new version of its F1 press, with more automation including a built-in robot... Bobst launched a raft of new print and finishing kit and services. Highlights were a new die-cutter, the Mastercut 106 PER, and a new folder-gluer, the Masterfold 110 A3... HP said it had sold around 50 of its Drupa-launched B2 Indigo 12000s in the first two days of the show, including a deal with US-based web-to-print photo giant Shutterfly for 25 and a separate deal with global web-to-print group Cimpress for around 20... Screen and BHS Corrugated Maschinen announced a joint venture to develop a 300m/min inline inkjet printing solution for BHS corrugators.

Friday 3 June

Ricoh and EFI signed a sales partnership for Ricoh to sell EFI wide-format printers. The deal covers the H1625 LED roll/flatbed hybrid UV printer and the 2m-wide EFI Vutek HS2000 UV printer... Fujifilm unveiled a plan to partner with US-based Epac Technologies to create ‘5D printing’, an automated system for the print industry targeted particularly at high-quality book manufacturing, using its Samba heads, its Jet Press 540W and Epac’s robotic E2... Xerox announced that Canada-based business Hume Media had ordered the first Drupa-launched B3 sheetfed Brenva HD and French firm DocOne had ordered two Trivor 2400s compact digital web presses... As part of a broader mission to increase automation in its machines MBO launched the highly automated, web fed K8-RS Digi-Folder. The line featured a 1.52m-wide web feeder and is capable of 24,000sph.

Saturday 4 June

Kodak celebrated its 21,000th thermal platesetter sale, to Karton-Pak of Poland, while celebrating the 21st anniversary of the technology... Canon said it reached its show sales target for the 100ppm imagePress C10000VP by day three of the show. It also sold two €850,000 flagship high-speed sheetfed inkjet press, the Océ VarioPrint i300: including one to UK personalised gifts company Signature Gifts... DuPont revealed Cyrel Easy flexo, a one-stage solvent-free plate production process that produces flat-top digital dots directly onto the plate, new flexo processor, the Cyrel Fast 2000TD, and Izon, a 3D security film... Ricoh sold its first flagship Pro VC60000 digital web press in central and Eastern Europe. EDC Poland signed for its machine at Drupa, bringing the European installed base to 15 machines.

Sunday 5 June

Goss launched its new Embedded Color Bar Control technology for label and packaging applications and revealed its latest partnership with with sister company Presstek to develop pre-press and press packages for the commercial and newspaper printing markets... Scodix revealed it had sold almost 40 digital enhancement presses in the first week of Drupa, and claimed to have smashed the 100 systems barrier by the end of the show... Ferag premiered its collating and inserting line EasySert, which compiles advertising inserts into recipient-specific collections.

Monday 6 June

Agfa Graphics launched a new version of its Apogee workflow. Apogee 10 boasts extra features and better performance, said the company... OKI Europe gave a taster of its Next Generation wide-format printing technology. The water-based pigmented ink technology should become commercially available in 2017... HP sealed its largest ever Japanese deal for a new books-on-demand factory, which included an HP PageWide Web Press T490M HD and HP Indigo 50000 and announced a collaboration with packaging giant Smurfit Kappa for its upcoming C500 corrugated press.

Tuesday 7 June

Digital cutter manufacturer Zünd launched its new D3 digital cutter, said to be twice as fast as the S3, with the firm securing more than 10 pre-orders for the €300,000 machine... German manufacturer Rowe presented a prototype of its new ColorPress series of toner based wide-format printers. It will become commercially available next year.

Wednesday 8 June

MGI Digital Graphic Technology called Drupa 2016 its “best ever” after seeing sales of its sheetfed digital presses and enhancement presses reach the “high double digits”. The French firm launched the Jetvarnish 3D Evolution at the show... Komori secured nine letters of intent for its B1 Impremia NS40 sheetfed digital press, its version of the Landa S10. It also said it had achieved strong sales of the Impremia IS29 system, its B2 sheetfed inkjet developed with Konica Minolta... Kodak exceeded its Drupa target for Prosper inkjet press sales, with six deals sealed at the show by Tuesday, including a Prosper 6000C press bound for Lettershop, part of YM Group... Presstek launched Eco-UV Integrated Curing System for its DI presses, the Dimension Pro2 Thermal platesetter and the chemistry-free develop-on-press GemPlate.

Thursday 9 June

Epson launched its new 1.1m-wide SureColor SC-P10000 printer at Drupa, selling more than ten of the a wide-format printers... KBA said its sales at Drupa had broken the €100m (£79m) mark. The manufacturer claimed it was the best Drupa since 2000 after selling more than 60 presses to customers in the first nine days... Ireland-based trade printer Walsh Colour Print signed for three H-UV Komoris in a deal worth around €6m (£4.7m). The company bought a GLX-840RP 4/4 fixed perfector and two five colour plus coaters: a B1 Lithrone GL 540 and a Drupa-launched B2 GL 529.

Friday 10 June

HP claimed double digit sales of its HP Indigo 30000 Digital Presses for folding carton applications, after US-based printer Nosco became the first in the world to invest in a second 30000 machine and Hucais Printing International in China bought three... UK printing kit manufacturers exhibiting in the ‘Picon Pavillion’ at Drupa, reported a “very successful” show after securing a significant number of sales... Foiling specialist Kurz sold two of its Drupa-launched DM-Liner B2 toner transfer foiling machines at the show. One of the buyers was Kent-based NXP Europe.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM INFOTRENDS

Experts from Infotrends highlighted a number of areas of opportunity for print and packaging printers at a special briefing during the show. 

Despite the decline in familiar high-volume areas of print, Infotrends managing director Jeff Hayes urged printing industry business leaders to “have the right perspective – this is a huge $1.5trn industry”. Not surprisingly, packaging was pinpointed as a key growth area, with a predicted CAGR of more than 25% for digitally printed packaging between 2015-2020. 

On the topic of direct marketing, group director Barb Pellow said that marketers have learned that printed direct marketing is critical to customer retention. “Direct marketing is easier to understand than digital media and brand recall is better with direct marketing,” she stated, and said there was an opportunity to “make mail more meaningful through personalisation” but warned that this required client companies to be capable of “transforming their reams of data into meaningful information.”

Group director for production and print media Jim Hamilton spoke about inkjet disruption in commercial, promotional and publication printing, including a “merging of categories”. He said that high-quality applications would drive growth in colour inkjet, and that analysis of costs needed to take into account other factors beyond ink costs versus coverage. “Look at what else goes around it, there may be non-cost related advantages to printing digitally.”

HP’s Pat McGrew will re-join Infotrends at the end of June, focusing on workflows. She asserted that workflow was more important than ever. “I’ve seen a tremendous lack of workflow in some organisations and some truly amazing workflows,” she said. 


READER REACTION

What was your experience of Drupa 2016?

patrick-crouchPatrick Crouch, managing director, Acorn Press

“I think Drupa was a gamechanger in the sense that if you had asked me a year or two ago where we were going in the future, I think it’s probably changed my view. The technology was quite something, it was very much an eye-opener, very interesting. Our intention wasn’t to buy now; we are going to think over the next 18 months about which technology to go for but I found it very exciting. The LED-UV was of particular interest and there were many other things there as well.” 

alan-padburyAlan Padbury, managing director, Westdale Press

“We made our trip to explore how we might rebalance the business at Westdale having come out of web offset last year, and we are looking at what we can add to the considerable capability we have in sheetfed litho volume. We are particularly interested in extending our finishing services and possibly digital printing and short-run specialised finishing. It is early days but the show was extremely well represented in all the areas we wanted to see, and inspirational in the variety of solutions available to get a piece of printed media in front of a customer or consumer.”

andrew-hornAndrew Horn, commercial director, Augustus Martin

“I thought there was a real buzz about the show this time. I had three main highlights. Firstly, the maturity of digital printing and how there are now digital solutions for all types of print. Secondly, digital end-to-end – finally some digital finishing for volume commercial workflows is coming. Whilst Scodix has a touch of Harry Potter wizardry about it, Highcon was the most impressive in this space. And finally Nanography – Benny is the ultimate showman in the industry but it still seems so far off and did we really learn much more?”

julian-hockingJulian Hocking, managing director, Nationwide Print

“I think Drupa just reaffirmed everything I was expecting to see about the onset of digital. I didn’t actually see the Landa B1 digital press in action but obviously it’s ready and it’ll be interesting to see the first production runs and reviews of what happens with that. It looks like something out of the Star Trek Enterprise. In four years’ time it will be even more interesting to see how much digital has taken over. There’s only one way that print Is going and that’s digital.”

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