The transformation Drupa is in town

By Hannah Jordan, Tuesday 31 May 2016

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After months, even years of preparation, feet are finally in the starting blocks at the global print Olympics. ‘Drupa 2016: Touch the future’ is under starters orders at Messe Düsseldorf, with an anticipated 300,000 visitors from across the globe expected to throng its halls for the show’s duration.


“This is the transformation Drupa,” says show director Sabine Gelderman. “We are taking a completely different approach this time. The technology on offer is all about Industry 4.0 and in our case Print 4.0. It’s about ‘the internet of things’, connection of workflow and process, streamlining, digitalisation, automation,” she explains. “It will enable individualisation and personalisation in digital printing and rapidly diversify industrial and functional printing solutions.

“The concept of Industry 4.0 [essentially the fourth industrial revolution] is going to have a massive impact on print going forward. This is the real focus for Drupa 2016,” says Gelderman, ‘Touch the Future’ illustrates how the technology you are going to see here is a window to the future.”

Over the past few weeks Messe Düsseldorf’s halls have gradually filled with the stands of an impressive 1,824 exhibitors (2012: 1,844) from 54 countries (2012: 52). 

Many of the mammoth stands belonging to industry heavyweights and show regulars, such as KBA, HP, Heidelberg, Xerox, Canon, Kodak, EFI and Konica Minolta, have taken weeks to construct, while other smaller presences, including some of this year’s circa-500 debutants, will only have materialised in the days before the doors finally open at 10am on 31 May and the first notes of this year’s Drupa song hit the airwaves. 

Irrelevant of size and discipline, from pre-media to post-press and everything between, “incredible innovation” will be abundant, Gelderman says.

Many of the show’s first-timers fall into a relatively new and rapidly expanding exhibitor profile for Drupa including those delivering cutting edge technology for printed electronics, prototyping and 3D printing and additive manufacturing. One of the names to look out for here is Massivit 3D Printing, while offerings in these new technologies will also be presented by household names such as Mimaki, Roland, Ricoh and HP. 

Around the show, aside from the 60-odd exhibitor parties, some of which must be factored into every visitor’s schedule not least so you can walk away laden with freebies and Sekt, there promises to be a healthy raft of new equipment launches that shouldn’t be missed.

Amongst the presses will be Konica Minolta’s much anticipated B2 KM-1 inkjet device, the new Primefire B1 inkjet machine from Heidelberg, Komori’s Lithrone G29 B2 litho press, the Océ Colorstream 6000 from Canon and Xeikon’s new Trillium liquid toner machine. 

Landa will no doubt once again provide one of the most talked about highlights of the show, with Benny himself set to make five presentations a day in a theatre twice the size of 2012’s, incorporating three presses and, PrintWeek is led to believe, a lot of printed Lycra.  

Gelderman says that although offset still has a strong presence at the show, digital and specifically inkjet have continued to increase enormously. “Both will still have their own place and USP but inkjet is an increasingly dominant technology at Drupa given the fact that it can print on nearly any substrate be it ceramics, glass, wood, packaging, plastics, you name it. It’s unbelievable to see what inkjet can deliver,” she says, adding that as a result visitors can also expect to see a huge and diverse range of substrates alongside traditional graphical materials. 

Some say the area to watch this Drupa is post-press and with the huge range of new developments and announcements expected, they may be right. Among the stands to make a beeline for are Scodix, which will unveil its new B1-format multi-function digital enhancement press, Horizon for its new SmartStacker, KAS Papermaking systems with its Mailmaster Eclipse inserting machine and Duplo, which is unveiling a raft of new equipment including the PFi Di-Cut 300 die-cutter. 

To help visitors focus their interest amidst the mind-boggling scope of the event, the organisers have categorised its content into six ‘highlight’ themes - print; packaging production; functional print; 3D printing; multichannel and green printing - that run throughout the show including Drupa’s four learning platforms.

These include the popular Drupa Cube, the Drupa Innovation Park (DIP) and two ‘Touchpoint’ areas, one for packaging and one for protyping, 3D printing and additive manufacturing (see boxout). 

Previously a paid-for educational content feature, the Drupa Cube, is now free, which according to Gelderman is an investment from Drupa “into an industry that has really been living through a fundamental restructuring process”. 

Sponsored by international business consultancy The Medici Group and with keynote speeches from 60 industry leaders, scheduled presentations, workshops, and debates, the Drupa Cube is “the major stage for outside-the-box, thought-provoking content to inspire visionary best practice”, says Gelderman. 

Meanwhile the DIP will house around 130 start-ups and technology companies occupying small stands categorised into six ‘theme parks’ including: Multichannel publishing & marketing solutions; Web-to-media & E-Commerce; Process Optimisation & Automation; Added Value in Print; Innovations in Printing Technologies; and Business Models. The DIP will also offer its own presentation schedule.  

Finally the two Touchpoint zones, packaging and 3D printing, are spaces within the show specifically dedicated to showcasing those technologies through talks, demonstrations and interactive lectures. 

Gelderman says that with so much to see, not just at Messe Düsseldorf, but thanks to the organiser’s Drupa City initiative allowing ticket holders free public transport around the city and countless deals with Düsseldorf’s bars, restaurants and shops, visitors would be wise to think ahead. 

“Get acquainted with the programme, the exhibitors, the events going on at Drupa and around the city, and download the Drupa app or use the website to create your own programme so that you can maximise your visit,” she advises.

And with three years to wait until Drupa is back in town again, she’s probably right.  


When May 31-June 10, 2016 

Where Messe Düsseldorf, Germany

Opening times

Monday to Friday 10am to 6pm 

Saturday and Sunday 10am to 5pm

Admission fees

One-day ticket Online: €45;  on site: €65 

Three-day ticket Online: €120;  on site: €175 

Five-day ticket Online: €190;  on site: €290

All tickets entitle you to free travel to and from the exhibition grounds on the day of your visit, with all modes of transport within the VRR and VRS public transportation network. This is valid for category D tickets, southern region only (DB/German Railway 2nd class, supplement-free trains).


Drupa Innovation Park (DIP)

The DIP is made up of smaller stands and is billed as the “global platform for innovations”. It’s a space for the  start-ups to showcase their innovations and for the more established players to have an alternative presence at the show. It’s also the target zone for visitors from the marketing and print buying communities, who might not be as interested in the heavy metal side of the industry. Exhibitors range from Alwan Color Expertise, to FlyerAlarm, web-to-print software specialist Lead-Print and imposition specialist Quite Software. DP Lenticular is also promising to show a new large-format lenticular lens. Other Dip features include presentations and lecture programmes.

Touchpoint Packaging

Drupa organisers say the Touchpoint Packaging exhibit (Hall 12, B53) is a “visionary and designed space dedicated to packaging production and design”. Covering four main vertical markets the permanent, special show will reveal how future packaging and design will deliver additional value, initiatives and growth opportunities for brand owners, agencies, print service providers and buyers, product and packaging experts. Designed as four futuristic working laboratories Touchpoint Packaging is intended to inspire by using best case prototypes, the latest packaging design and production solutions as well as concepts for future packaging design and production. 

Drupa Cube

The Drupa Cube is the “main stage” of Drupa and will be hosting an 11-day conference programme, with the theme Touch the Future. Featuring leaders from the worlds of innovation, design, creativity and technology, the cube offers attendees a glimpse into the future of print. For a full run-down of the conference programme, visit


It’s no surprise that Düsseldorf has become a firm favorite for some of our global industries’ biggest and most prestigious trade fairs and print is no exception.

One of Germany’s wealthiest cities, the capital of Nord-Rhein Westfalen projects a modern, manicured and well-heeled exterior with fashion, finance and advertising just a few of the thriving industries behind its success as an economic powerhouse. 

However, if you take the time to delve deeper than a quick afternoon’s wander along the city’s impressive, tree-lined luxury shopping boulevard, Königsallee, you’ll find a cultural landscape and social vibe to rival many of the world’s greatest cities. 

For the culture vultures among you, and if your Drupa-weary feet will allow, Düsseldorf boasts an almost obscene number of museums and art galleries – modern art is a highlight here – alongside a fascinating blend of old meets ultra-modern architecture. 

But if tramping the halls of the Messe Düsseldorf has left you needing to take the weight off, then make the most of the city’s position on the Rhine to kick back on one of the many river cruises that depart from the Promenade, and treat yourself to a visual feast of villages, vineyards and castles. 

For those that like to burn the candle at both ends, Düsseldorf also has a buzzing nightlife from the hundreds of pubs and eateries that pepper the streets of the city’s Altstadt – it isn’t nicknamed ‘the longest bar in the world’ for nothing – to the more sophisticated but no less rowdy bars populating the city’s cosmopolitan Medienhafen quarter – the relatively new harbour redevelopment.

The beer connoisseurs among you will already know that no trip to Düsseldorf is complete without sampling its famous Altbier, or Alt as its known locally, from one of the Altstadt’s many historical brew houses. Beware though, when the waiters (known locally as Koebes) spot your empty glass they’ll replenish it without you having to raise a finger, a custom that could hurt your wallet as well as your head. Enjoy!

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