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Graph Expo: A Digital Printing Redux

At Graph Expo, digital press vendors highlighted workflow and digital front end capabilities, emphasizing automation, personalization and ­run-length optimization.

November 2012 By John Parsons
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Graph Expo suffers from a perennial problem and a quadrennial one. The latter, of course, is that it comes only months after the international drupa printing trade show, where vendors have all but exhausted their new technology announcements. Every drupa year, vendors must come up with something new to show in Chicago, or simply offer a repeat performance.

The perennial problem with the show is the high cost of exhibiting at Chicago's McCormick Place, compared to other venues. Such costs are cited as one reason so few offset presses were on display. Another reason, of course, is that digital printing is the new norm for shows like Graph Expo and for the printing industry in general.

Almost without exception, digital press vendors highlighted their workflow and digital front end (DFE) capabilities at the show, enabling everything from transpromotional and variable data printing to ganging of smaller jobs into longer production runs. The emphasis was on automation, personalization and run-length optimization.

Océ/Canon was one of the two largest exhibitors, combining the electrophotographic (EP) and high-speed inkjet heritage of both sides of the company in its booth. The Océ ColorStream 3900 inkjet press announced at drupa made its U.S. debut at Graph Expo. The 21.25˝-print-width color press boasts a speed of more than 400 fpm, and was shown running with an in-line booklet finishing system from Standard Horizon.

The other of the two largest exhibitors, Xerox, featured the latest incarnation of its popular iGen digital press platform. Making its North American debut, the iGen 150 features a 150 ppm print speed, new matte dry ink and a host of finishing options for booklet production. Also on display were the CiPress 500 waterless inkjet system, for color printing on a range of uncoated stocks, and the new Nuvera 157EA (157 ppm) and 314EA (314 ppm) monochrome systems, the latter being a perfecting system.

Sharing the booth was XMPie, a Xerox Co., which introduced the uStore 7.0 upgrade to its Web-to-print solution. Enhancements include JDF compliance and the ability to work with Xerox FreeFlow Connect.

The New 'Big Iron'

With offset presses becoming scarce on the show floor and digital vendors pushing for higher volume and larger B2-format machines, digital presses are becoming the "big iron" components of the show. One example was the HP Indigo 10000 digital color press which, advancing from its introduction at drupa, is now officially in beta testing. Two smaller-format HP Indigos—the 7600 and the 5600—also made their U.S. debuts. A major advance offered by these systems is Enhanced Productivity Mode (EPM), which is the company's three-color printing option that boosts productivity by 33 percent.

 

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