Graph Expo: A Glimpse of Printing’s Future
With larger crowds, the return of some major offset vendors and a host of new inkjet technologies, Graph Expo had a lot to offer.October 2011
JUDGING BY the number of in-plant managers walking the Graph Expo show floor last month, there are quite a few in-plants itching to leave the recession behind and get busy adding equipment. The show gave them plenty to ogle, too, particularly in the inkjet arena.
The Graphic Arts Show Company reported a total of 20,451 participants (exhibitors and attendees) at Graph Expo this year, which included 13,426 verified attendees/buyers—up 7 percent from last year's show. GASC notes that, according to exhibitor feedback, this year's attendees came "on a mission" with budgets to spend on the equipment, products, software and applications being demonstrated by the 491 exhibitors.
While the large, high-volume inkjet presses that dominated Graph Expo 2010 were largely missing this year, there were some impressive developments. Xerox finally broke out its waterless production inkjet system, and Xanté showed a very fast 42˝ multi-substrate inkjet printer. Wide- and grand-format printers really stood out around the show floor, with the size of some devices giving them the impression of being the new "heavy iron" in the industry.
Offset made a slight rebound this year, with the return of Heidelberg and Komori to Graph Expo, but actual offset presses on the show floor were few and far between. Instead, press manufacturers focused on technology developments that speed press makereadies and reduce paper waste, and touted partnerships with digital equipment providers.
Heidelberg, for instance, was back in its traditional booth location at the entrance to the hall, but the piece of equipment front and center was an EFI VUTEk GS3200 grand-format UV inkjet printer. It was running in conjunction with a Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts Edition color digital press and a Heidelberg Speedmaster SM 74 offset press to demonstrate integrated workflows. Nearby, a five-color-plus-coater Speedmaster SM 52 was on display, with Anicolor zoneless inking, designed for ultra-short-run printing. Heidelberg linked the digital and offset systems with its Prinect workflow to illustrate its cross-platform color management and job routing expertise. (Watch a video demonstration of Heidelberg's Prinect Image Control.)
Right across the aisle, Xerox was grabbing attention with its CiPress 500 waterless production inkjet system. Using solid-ink technology, it can print on standard uncoated papers (34-lb. to 110-lb. offset) without the ink soaking through. In this process, granular ink is heated to a liquefied state for jetting by piezo heads and then hardens again on the paper's surface. The twin-engine device can run up to a 201⁄2˝ web width at a rated speed of 500 feet per minute (fpm), producing a maximum 2,180 (81⁄2x11˝) pages per minute (ppm) at a 600x400-dpi resolution. (Watch a short IPG video about the CiPress 500's key features.)