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Graph Expo--Roll Out The Technology

December 1998


Despite falling just a month after IPEX in England, this year's show drew more than 44,000 visitors—and the vendors didn't let them down.

When graphic arts industry representatives from all over the world arrived in Chicago for Graph Expo recently, Xeikon decided to shock them a little bit. At a press conference, the Belgium-based digital color press manufacturer contended that digital color production costs are now comparable with offset at runs of 1,000 units or more.

Based on a study Xeikon had commissioned, which used real costs and time factors in actual production environments, the company insisted that digital color presses have entered the mainstream of publication and commercial printing—they are no longer limited to niche applications. In the print-on-demand market, Xeikon contended, Xeikon presses are "significantly more profitable than the offset alternatives." Xeikon tested its presses against the Heidelberg Quickmaster DI and Speedmaster 52-4.

Though the study certainly gave printers something to contemplate, it was by no means the only news at Graph Expo, which attracted more than 44,000 visitors during its four-day tour of Chicago's McCormick Place. Despite the fact that the show followed closely on the heels of IPEX, its more than 550 exhibitors reported significant sales. Heidelberg, for example, boasted $108 million in sales. MAN Roland announced an impressive $57 million in orders, with total expectations in the $70 million range. Muller-Martini revealed that it exceeded its sales expectations by 50 percent the first day of the show.

Visitors were treated to an impressive array of sophisticated prepress software and hardware options, as well as the latest performers in digital and traditional printing press markets, and a score of workhorse finishing devices.

Among the more interesting announcements:

• A.B. Dick introduced a new computer-to-plate device for the small-format market. The new Digital PlateMaster 1340 CP can produce process color on polyester plates from a desktop computer.

• Indigo launched a low-cost digital color press which it is aiming at entry-level users.

• Xerox touted its digital book publishing capabilities by printing and binding a book of award-winning essays from high school students. It was printed on a DocuTech Book Publisher, which, although it can print 360 book pages a minute, Xerox stressed can also be used to produce single copies on demand.

• Heidelberg, as usual, had the largest booth at the show. One needed a map to navigate the 25,000-square-foot exhibit, which contained all aspects of Heidelberg Prepress, Heidelberg USA and Heidelberg Web Press, as well as an array of Heidelberg saddle stitching and perfect binding systems.
 

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