drupa 2012: A Fantastic Opportunity
By Katherine O’Brien, Senior Editor, American Printer Division, OutputLinks Communications Group
This was my fourth drupa. My first show, drupa 2000, was overwhelming, both in terms of the volume of information as well as the precipitation.
“Above all, we were wet,” writes Frank McCourt in the introductory paragraphs of “Angela's Ashes.” The same phrase aptly describes my drupa 2000 recollections. Every morning as I set out to the train station, it was as though an unseen hand was emptying a bottomless Rhine rain barrel on my head.
The rain returned for a day or two at drupa 2012, but this time I was prepared. I also brought a more practiced eye to the proceedings. Drupa 2000 featured some key digital press introductions such as the iGen and NexPress, as well as at least six direct imaging presses and at least 10 platesetters. E-commerce also was a huge topic. Many of the machines announced at drupa 2000 didn’t make it off the drawing boards for one reason or another. And, although web-to-print is commonplace today, it didn’t evolve as some early vendors hoped.
Top trends at drupa 2012 included inkjet (HP, Landa, Kodak, Memjet and others); liquid toner (Miyakoshi/Ryobi, Xeikon and Océ); and B2 format digital presses (Fujifilm, HP, Landa, Komori/Konica Minolta, MGI and Ryobi/Miyakoshi). And seemingly all vendors—digital, sheetfed and even web offset—had something for the packaging sector. Hybrid solutions also proliferated: KBA, manroland and Presstek announced plans to integrate Atlantic Zeiser’s inkjet technology on offset models.
What are the implications for U.S. printers? At the end of the day, it’s all about achieving meaningful competitive differentiation. Machines and/or technology are only one component. Moreover, we must bloom where we are planted: Although some vendors see potential in the packaging arena, very few commercial printers are currently engaged in mainstream packaging activities such as folding carton production.
Longer term, I have to agree with Benny Landa. “There’s nothing more ephemeral than technology,” Landa declared. “Here today, obsolete tomorrow—even printing on paper will eventually give way to digital media. But mankind has been communicating with paper for 5,000 years and printing for 600 years. This isn’t going to happen for many decades. What really counts in the horizon, which for most of us is the next 20 years or so. ‘Eventually’ is so far away…in the interim, the opportunity looks FANTASTIC.”
Katherine O’Brien is the Senior Editor of American Printer, a Division of OutputLinks. Contact her at: