Industry experts gathered in McCormick Place in Chicago last week for the Print 13 and Converting Packaging and Printing (CPP) Expo, which were co-located for the first time. Running from Sunday, September 9 through Thursday, September 12, the show featured more than 100 educational sessions in 12 specialized learning tracks. Print 13 featured 14 show pavilions and specialty sections, four show floor Learning Theaters, and four “Ask the Expert” stations aimed at 12 major graphic communications industry segments: commercial printers, in-plant printers: corporate/government/education print centers,sign and display shops/wide format printers, package and label printers and converters, quick/small commercial printers, photo imagers and retailers, transactional printers, mailing and fulfillment professionals, book printers/publishers, newspaper printers/publishers, marketing/creative services professionals, and media/print buyers.
Educational opportunities kicked off September 7 with the Executive Outlook Conference, which annually precedes Print and Graph Expo. Sponsored by EFI, Xerox, and OutputLinks Communications Group, the conference was themed “Driving Profits Through Innovation, Integration, and Communication.”
At the conclusion of the session, the ‘Best of Category” awards from the Print 13 Must See ‘Ems technology competition were announced, along with The Legacy Award for a past Must See ‘Ems winning technology that has had the most profound impact on the graphic communications industry.
The Must See ‘Ems Best of Category Winners for 2013 are:
Sales and Order Entry
Hybrid Software – Hybrid Software Facelift
Prepress and Premedia
Enfocus – Enfocus Connect ALL
Color Management and Quality Control
Masterwork USA Inc. – MK420MINI Full Automatic Sheet Inspection Machine
Variable, Transactional and Multi-Channel
Ricoh – Ricoh Critical Communications Solutions Suite
Pressroom: Analog Presses
Mark Andy Inc. – Mark Andy Performance Series flexo printing presses
Pressroom: Digital Presses
Allen Datagraph Systems, Inc. – AXXIS HS Digital Label System
Fujifilm North America Corporation – Graphium
EFI – EFI VUTEk GS-TF System
Postpress and In-line Finishing
MGI Digital Graphic Technology – JETvarnish 3D Twin w/iFoil
Imprinting, Mailing, Shipping and Fulfillment
Printware LLC – iJetPress Digital Inkjet Printer with iJetColor Workflow
EFI – EFI Complete Integrated Workflow for Inkjet
The Future of Print: Technology Demonstrations
AccuZIP Inc. – AccuTrace with LIVINGMAIL
“The industry will see from these Best of Category winners there is no lack of innovation and creativity in the R&D part of our industry,” said Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) President Ralph Nappi. “Despite some challenging times and limited resources, these companies are dramatically committed to making our industry more effective.”
The Epson Stylus Pro inkjet printer has been selected by the panel of 32 Must See ‘Ems judges to receive the 2013 Legacy Award. “The 2013 Must See ‘Ems Legacy Award recognizes Epson’s important contribution to the field of digital proofing,” said Nappi. “It was an enabler for many of the automation breakthroughs that followed, including computer-to-plate and color management.”
When evaluating the nominees for this award, one judge said of the Epson printer: “The quality of this inkjet printer was the start of what we see today in the inkjet printing market.”
Sappi Fine Paper North America was the recipient of the 2013 Positively Print Award, a print advocacy program designed to promote the power of print in today’s media mix. This is the fourth year for the award, which acknowledges one organization that effectively promotes print.
“The purpose of the Positively Print program is to share examples of creative and effective print advocacy campaigns with the entire graphic communications industry,” said Nappi. “We want to demonstrate to companies involved in print that advocating for print can be done and that it helps to carry a powerful message that will benefit the entire industry.”
“For the past decade, the increase in digital advertising spend has led to assumptions that print would soon reach its demise, however, industry studies show that the opposite is true,” said Patti Groh, marketing director, Sappi Fine Paper North America. “The fact of the matter is that while this industry is constantly evolving, print and digital are proving to be mutually supportive, and brand marketers are learning to play to the strengths of each.”
Many leading label industry companies were on display at this year’s show. Here’s a glimpse at what was seen in Chicago:
Mark Andy highlighted its new Mark Andy Print Products division and the debut of its Versa Max mid-web press, which generated lots of interest at the Mark Andy booth, said Mary Sullivan, director of global marketing.
Mark Andy’s Versa Max combines Comco and Mark Andy technologies to deliver a press designed for short-run film and flexible packaging applications. It has a minimum repeat size of 10 inches, fast changeover times, and offers continuous full-rated speed with drying solutions that provide maximum productivity.
According to Sullivan, this press will be of interest to label printers that want to expand into flexible packaging, along with existing flexible packaging printers that want to have an economical solution for shorter run needs. The first Versa Max installation is in Mexico, with two additional sales pending.
With its new Mark Andy Print Products division, Mark Andy is positioning itself to be a “total solutions provider” for its customers. The division offers a wide range of prepress and pressroom supplies, consumables, and chemistries for flexo and offset printers. According to Joe Demharter, VP consumables business, the business will follow a distributor model and will continue to add offerings to fulfill the total solutions supplier goal.
Having previously acquired flexo products supplier Print Products, and with the recent acquisition of the offset supplies division of Presstek, Mark Andy is positioned to support a larger customer base. This will also allow Mark Andy to support offset customers that might be looking to expand into flexo and label printing, said Demharter.
Also proudly on display at the booth was the Must See ’Ems Best of Category award that Mark Andy received for its Performance Series flexo printing presses.
EFI debuted a new version of EFI IQuote estimating software, which was developed for the worldwide market. The software, one of eight EFI products to win a 2013 Must See ’ems award, is a browser-based, JDF-compliant system that the company says takes flexibility and automation in estimating to a higher level. Originally developed for the Latin American market by a company EFI acquired in 2012, Brazil-based Metrics Sistemas de Informação, the newest version of IQuote will be commercially available in early 2014.
“At EFI, we continue to look for opportunities to bring best-of-breed technology from around the world to our client base,” said Marc Olin, EFI interim CFO and senior vice president and general manager of EFI Productivity Software. “We believe our customers will be very excited about the ways IQuote can transform their estimating processes.”
“What makes IQuote so different from other estimating software is the fact that the salesperson or estimator enters specifications for a job based on the elements and properties of the finished product – not on the technical processes required to complete it,” added Osmar Barbosa, vice president and general manager, EFI Productivity Software Latin America. “This distinction is important because it means that these users do not necessarily need to understand the technical production complexities of the job. At the same time, if desired, it is also possible to build product specifications that utilize specific technical processes.”
Visitors to Xeikon’s booth were able to see ultra-realistic printed murals that have been designed by Hugo Diego and printed on a Xeikon digital color press by Melan, which is also based in Montreal, and has been a Xeikon customer since 2008.
According to Hugo Diego, the wallpaper murals decorating Xeikon's booth space were comprised of images that have an extremely high resolution. The images Hugo Diego used had five- to ten-times as many pixels as typical wallpaper murals, which made them much more realistic in detail.
"Even when you're close up, you can see the fine detail and texture. There is such a high resolution that you can actually feel the texture, and it's mind-blowing to our customers," Diego said. "My company is known as Creative Illusion because what we do is take an interior space, and in a few hours, give it a new life and theme that completely changes the space."
Garo Nazarian, owner of Melan, said the wallpaper murals, which his company prints for Creative Illusion, were a good demonstration of the format flexibility and print quality of the Xeikon technology. Melan said he first purchased and installed a Xeikon press in 2008 to produce oversized posters, banners and signage for its customers. Many other digital color presses had sheet/frame size restriction, which made them unsuitable for Melan's applications.
"The Xeikon presses have a 20-inch substrate width, no restrictions on the length of the printed image and industry-leading image quality. There is no other digital press with the format flexibility and quality similar to Xeikon's to produce applications, such as the wallpaper murals, designed by Creative Illusion," Nazarian said.
INX International Ink Co. joined Air Motion Systems/AMS UV for a one-hour seminar on UV LED Curing geared towards sheetfed offset printers and flexographic narrow web label converters.
Jonathan Graunke, Vice President – Energy Curable Technology for INX and Steve Metcalf of AMS, explained how LED UV can successfully be introduced to a press room. According to the company, LED UV Curing systems are currently in use on high speed offset and flexo presses in the United States and other countries, and have emerged as a viable alternative to conventional mercury UV and additive type UV systems. One area of the INX booth, as an example of its “FX of INX” theme, was dedicated to educating sheetfed printers on how to achieve a faster return on investment by retrofitting their presses to LED UV. Another section featured the NW140 inkjet UV digital narrow web press and demonstrate its capability to deliver UV-LED cure single pass output up to 80 feet per minute on any label stock.
Before the show, Graunke said: “We will explore where the UV-LED ink technology is today, including its challenges. Most important, we hope to show how the technology can enable printers to enter the instant dry world of UV, even on existing equipment. There are a lot of unique uses for LED UV, and like all new technologies, there is much confusion surrounding its abilities. I think this session will give printers insight into an extremely important part of the industry that is rapidly growing and continues to evolve.”
Allen Datagraph Systems displayed two Must See ‘Em products at its booth: its iTech AXXIS HS Digital Label System, a turnkey table-top digital product built to print and finish labels for label convertors, commercial printers and brand owners of all sizes. The iTech AXXIS HS Digital Label System, designed and manufactured in the US, is comprised of both the iTech AXXIS HS Digital Label Printer, a high-resolution roll-fed CMYK print engine featuring LED toner technology, and the iTech AXXIS HS Digital Label Finisher that laminates, integrates die-less diecutting, and then strips, slits and rewinds to finished rolls of labels.
“We are thrilled to display two Must See ‘Ems on our Print 2013 and CPP Expo booth,” said Mark Vanover, ADSI VP, Sales and Marketing. “With nearly 1000 systems of all models installed worldwide, we have been very successful selling cost-effective, complete digital label systems. The iTech AXXIS HS Digital Label System is our answer for those who desire the ability to manufacture – print and finish – labels in a complete, all digital workflow with greater productivity. It provides commercial printers a new, profitable business opportunity. The digital label market continues to grow at double digit rates and our commercial printer customers say that our digital label systems help them gain new business and market share while retaining current customers by supplying on-demand short label runs—something that’s difficult to do with larger systems. Many customers report an ROI in less than a year.”
Dscoop, HP’s user’s group, showcased its newest member benefits: the Designer Tutorial and the Signature Sample Series. Dscoop members, volunteers and staff were in the HP booth on the show floor to demonstrate and discuss these new opportunities with attendees.
The Designer Tutorial educates designers on how to design specifically for the HP Indigo’s special capabilities, such as white ink, raised print, variable data printing and more. As the newest addition to Dscoop’s Customer Communication Tools, the Signature Sample Series provides Dscoop members with 18 sample image files specifically chosen to showcase the HP Indigo’s capabilities as well. Both of these initiatives were created in conjunction with HP and Dscoop Partners, and were designed to help position Dscoop members as leaders in their field and showcase the array of features available on the HP Indigo.
HP announced the continued adoption of its digital printing portfolio, highlighting customer installations and new products that help general commercial printers increase efficiency and profitability.
The analog printing market is projected to grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of just 1.2 percent through 2016, the company said, challenging print service providers (PSPs) to identify ways to grow business with existing customers and to reach new audiences. With HP Digital Presses growing at double-digit percent CAGR, HP said it delivers this path to growth, helping PSPs expand their businesses with a broader range of applications and faster turnaround times.
“Changing commercial printing business conditions are forcing PSPs to take a hard look at their technology, application offerings and how they create a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” said Stephen Nigro, senior vice president, Graphics and Inkjet Solutions Business, HP. “HP’s digital solutions’ portfolio is the future of the printing industry, fueling a transformation from analog to digital while offering PSPs new avenues to enhance profitability.”
Relyco announced the launch of its new Endura Label brand, which is specifically designed and manufactured for Memjet engine printers and other inkjet printers. These superior quality labels provide Memjet and other inkjet printer users the ability to print full-color labels offering the industry’s “best performance and highest image quality.”
“Memjet-engine printers offer a great cost of ownership advantage over toner-based printers, making them ideal for high-volume print applications like label printing, as well as the economical choice for printing variable data,” said Mike Steinberg, president and CEO of Relyco. “Our customers will be impressed by the color quality and image details that they can achieve with out Endura Label labels for Memjet and other inkjet printers.”
Available in thousands of shapes and sizes, Endura Label labels for Memjet come in matte, bright/white, clear, gloss, vinyl top coated, PET film and other coatings, finishes and synthetics – many come with a universal waterfast inkjet coating. A wide and flexible variety of roll sizes and cores are available to fit nearly every inkjet printer.
Color-Logic, developer of the Process Metallic Color System, reported “outstanding” results after the show. Commenting on the exhibition, Color-Logic Director of Sales and Marketing Mark Geeves said: "Throughout the show, Color-Logic enjoyed a steady stream of printers and graphic designers interested in our Process Metallic Color System-not just in the Color-Logic booth, but in eight other booths at the show as well. Color-Logic benefited from the many pavilions and variety of users at the show, since our process is equally applicable to offset, flexo, wide format, digital, screen printing, and gravure."
Color-Logic Chief Technology Officer Richard Ainge added: "Graphic designers were particularly fascinated with our new FX-Viewer, which enables them to visualize, before finalizing their designs, the metallic effects they have created. FX-Viewer is an important adjunct to our popular Color-Logic Design Suite. Booth visitors were also able to see the seven CAR magazine covers which recently used the Color-Logic process.”