If you recall how “excited” I was last year when Graph Expo relocated to Orlando, then you’re probably not surprised to learn how much better I feel this year now that PRINT 17 has returned to Chicago.
Though the change last year did allow a number of Southern in-plants to attend for the first time, a far greater number of Midwest printers are happy to be returning to Chicago this month for the event — and “event” is the right word; it’s not just an equipment show any more.
Since assuming ownership of the PRINT and Graph Expo trade exhibitions earlier this year, NPES has tried to reimagine them and transform them into community-building events where printers and manufacturers can help and learn from each other. Attendees will notice a revamped educational program featuring shorter sessions, more user panel discussions and a seminar schedule that concludes at 1 p.m., giving attendees the afternoon to visit the show floor.
Anyone who’s walked that floor in recent years will have noticed it’s much smaller than it was a decade ago. Not only are the offset presses gone, but since many of the important technology developments are happening on the software side, the show floor needs less space for equipment. Also, applications and best practices are more of a focus in the vendor exhibits.
Interest in Wide-Format
To get an idea of what in-plants are planning to investigate at PRINT 17, I emailed a dozen or so of them. The one technology almost everyone mentioned was wide-format. Several plan to look at flatbed devices so they can print directly onto rigid substrates.
Production inkjet presses are also on several “must see” lists. Amanda Bronowski, manager of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center’s Print Center, says her in-plant will “almost certainly” get an inkjet press this year, and PRINT 17 will let her see many of the models up close.
Bindery equipment is on many in-plants’ itineraries. Abbas Badani, director of Penn State’s in-plant, is looking at punching, diecutting and creasing equipment, both to replace older models and to add new opportunities. Julio Rosado, director of the NYPD Printing Section, plans to check out folding and scoring equipment, as well as computer-to-plate devices.
Software is also on a few shopping lists.
“I am in the market for new MIS and Web-to-print systems,” reveals Laura Lockett, interim director of Reprographics & Mail Services at Sacramento State. “It’s been a summer of demos and webinars, and we are narrowing it down to our top two or three. I plan to research further while at PRINT 17.”
Many in-plants, however, are coming to Chicago just to stay up on the latest digital printing technology.
“We plan to learn more about the current generation digital press market,” acknowledges Jason Gillam, director of Business Operations for Blue Valley School District. “Our Xerox iGen3 is coming up on [its] retirement date in 2018. We are always interested in learning more about automation.”
Rob Lingard, director of Central Services at DMBA, also plans to look at digital printers from the major vendors “to ensure that our present equipment configuration meets our anticipated needs for the next few years.”
Full Staff Attendance
One in-plant is bringing its entire staff of 15 to PRINT. University of Illinois Illini Union Document Services is only a two-hour drive from Chicago, so half the staff will drive up on Monday and the others will come Tuesday. They aren’t just coming to collect posters and pens, though; each one of them has a mission, says Duplicating Services Manager Liz Bowden.
“Our quick copy folks will be looking for a mid- to high-range replacement for our Xerox C75,” she says. “Mailing preparation will be looking at inserters. Campus mail will be looking at meters and software. Our pressman will be looking for a shrink-wrapper that has a conveyor belt. Prepress and wide-format will be looking at a new HP Latex, vendors for wide-format temporary tattoo paper and a stitcher for banners.”
The in-plant has ambitious plans, and PRINT will provide the perfect opportunity to compare and contrast.
I look forward to seeing many of you in Chicago this month as well.
Related story: PRINT 17 Seminars to Focus on In-plants
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.