Digi:media – a new trade show on print-media integration

Ralf Schlozer
Apr 11, 2011

There are countless tradeshows addressing the whole or parts of the graphic arts industry and apart from half a dozen global flagship trade shows most receive only regional attention. However when the organisers of drupa, the mother of all graphic arts trade shows, come up with a new event, it is worth having a look.

Digi:media is billed as an addition to drupa, not only to bridge the three years between the drupas. Digi:media has been set up to cover the entire digital process chain for digital media. Print is covered from content creation and creative stage to the finished product with special focus on print’s integration with other media. The exhibition is flanked by numerous conferences and special events.

The Ricoh — Heidelberg partnership took the limelight at the show, with the official launch of the partnership at a joint press conference the day before the show opened. Accordingly this drew considerable international trade press attention to the whole event. On the show floor Heidelberg showed the integrated production of marketing collateral using a Ricoh PRO C901, an Anicolor offset press and a Linoprint Driveline B (the narrow web label printer), including folding on finishing on the booth. The adjacent Ricoh booth had more a focus on workflow and business development. Incidentally the show marked the first appearance of a Linoprint inkjet industrial printer on a Heidelberg booth. After a period of wait and see, with a distinctive separate branding of the inkjet developments, the Linoprint unit is now starting to be integrated into the mainline Heidelberg business.

But there was more to see at digi:media. Océ and manroland shared a booth to present their cooperation on high-speed inkjet printers. A joint Océ — manroland branding of the booth underscored the intended approach for a close integration of systems to potential customers. A manroland flexible format folder was announced for finishing books and magazines digitally printed on Océ presses, the first fruit of the development cooperation. Other providers of digital print equipment present were Xerox, Hewlett Packard and MGI, via their new German distributor Igepa (originally a paper merchanting organisation). However there were noticeable gaps as well in terms of providers of digital printing equipment.

A few interesting start-up products were on display as well. Winkler & Dünnebier, one of the biggest manufacturers of offset envelope presses, showed a prototype of a high speed envelope printer using Impika colour inkjet imprinting heads. At a much lower throughput rate B&G mail solutions showed the Astrojet M1, a desktop envelope printer using Memjet heads. A large number of tiny booths were occupied by suppliers of software & solutions, paper, consulting and trade information.

Digi:media ran from the 7-9 April in hall 6 (the “PrintCity hall” for drupa buffs). All exhibitors fitted in with their booths, including the shut-off areas for the various conference tracks, a stage for awards, a press centre, coat check, with the hall still providing ample space for catering and meeting zones. In other words for the next digi:media there is potential for renting out more space to more exhibitors.

Starting a new graphic arts oriented trade show nowadays is a gamble, as companies are tightening their budgets for events. Even without equipment on the booth costs are steep. Attendance on the first day was good. Ricoh and Heidelberger were the centre of attention, but other parts of the hall did have their share of traffic as well. The majority of visitors came from Germany, although the Heidelberg-Ricoh announcement drew in the international trade press, adding an international accent to the proceedings.

Somewhat surprisingly given the lack of upfront information on the themes of the tracks and topics of the sessions, the free conference sessions seemed to be well attended (no insight on the paid for ones). The program listed 13 organisers of conferences/congresses/forums hosting a multitude of tracks and events. The conference program provided more insight into print in a multichannel world and a clearer focus on media integration than the exhibits. However, its benefits were limited due to a lack of promotion of the program prior to the show and a confusing array of events. Nevertheless digi:media got off to a promising start and could become an important addition to the trade show calendar.

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