Posts tagged: Production

Kodak NEXFINITY – More than just a new paint job?

Marc Mascara
 Mar 12, 2018

On February 28th to March 1st, during Oscar week in Rochester NY, Kodak opened the Kodak Center to 250 printers, distributors, media, designers and publishers. With an unbelievably warm 60-degree winter day in Western NY, Kodak hosted over two days of product session, industry speakers and customer panels.

Flexcel NX Sample

Attendees would hear firsthand about new product innovations from Kodaks Print Systems Division regarding processless plates, digital printing and functional printing categories. While the event would mainly focus on Sonora printing plates and the Nexpress digital press, other Kodak divisions were also represented.

On hand at the technology fair were:

  • William Schweinfurth represented the Flexographic Solutions with Flexcel NX samples.
  • Joan Taylor and Carlos Muniz were on hand for the Unified Workflow Solutions with demonstrations of the latest in Prinergy Workflow offerings.
  • Stream and UltraStream products were represented by Randy Vandergrif from the Enterprise Inkjet Systems with Prosper Press literature and samples. Preliminary samples of Kodaks UltraStream technology was also on hand, that looked very promising.

    Transparent antenna demo

  • Carolyn Ellinger demonstrated Kodaks latest technology play in material science and deposition with a demo of their transparent antenna application.
  • Demian Gawianski rounded out the fair with a Portrait 3D Printer.

The two-day event labeled Taking PRINT Further focused on sustainability, profitability, simplicity, growth, transformation and partnering. Kodak’s main message centered around how they are focusing on removing cost from their customer’s manufacturing process. With processless printing plates like Sonora, the cost savings becomes quickly evident which remove associated costs in chemistry, processors, water, waste disposal, electricity and floor space. With digital presses like the Nexpress the story is a little more nuanced.

Strategy beneath the new paint job!


In the week following the official launch of the Kodak NEXFINITY Press platform, opinions on forums and boards have ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other. So just what is underneath that new paint job? Peel back the new press cover and you discover a bold strategy and advanced technology planted as the cornerstone of the NEXFINITY platform. Read more »

Web Offset Consolidation – manroland Web Systems and Goss to Merge

Ralf Schlozer
 Mar 5, 2018

A few years ago, the prospect of two major offset press manufacturers merging would have easily dominated the headlines. And there was never a great number of preeminent manufacturers of web offset commercial printing and newspaper presses. Together with KBA, Goss and manroland Web Systems were among the big three, complemented by a handful of much smaller, more specialized manufacturers mainly in Japan and India. A few other manufacturers left the market recently such as Swiss newspaper press manufacturer Wifag.

Goss and manroland have a long history of press manufacturing but had a mixed past since the first big slump in web offset press demand following the year 2000. manroland started the millennium as a subsidy of the German heavy industry conglomerate MAN, then became an independent company in 2006, and went bust in 2007. Following the insolvency, manroland was split into a sheet-fed and a web-fed group, the latter being acquired by the German manufacturing holding Possehl Group. The recent history of Goss is even more protracted. After being spun off from Rockwell in 1996, Goss filed for chapter 11 in 1999, and again in 2001, blaming the downturn in press demand. A group of banks as creditors sold the business to MatlinPatterson Global Opportunities Partners. At that time Heidelberger Druckmaschinen had its ambitions set on entering the web offset business and invested heavily. Soon after Heidelberg did shed all low margin businesses to dress books before going public and Goss did pick up the web press activities in 2004. This doubled the global headcount at Goss to about 4,000. In 2010 the Shanghai Electric Group acquired Goss, adding it to its range of (sheet-fed) offset press and finishing equipment manufacturing brands. In 2015 the private equity firm American Industrial Partners acquired Goss. All the while both companies shed thousands of jobs compared to its heydays in the early 2000s

Under the terms of the proposed deal Goss and manroland Web Systems will combine their businesses. Details are still being negotiated, and everything depends on regulatory approval. The main site of manroland Web is Augsburg in Southern Germany. The main site of Goss is located in Durham, New Hampshire. Both have sales and service organisations as well small parts/components manufacturing locations across the globe. The current shareholders, American Industrial Partners and the Possehl Group, will continue to co-own the combined company. The Possehl Group will hold the majority and the combined operation will be headquartered in Germany. Subject to regulatory approval, the merger is expected to be completed by the middle of 2018. For the time being both companies will continue to operate independently.

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Highcon Releases the Euclid IIIC

India Tatro

Highcon, developer of the revolutionary “Euclid” digital cutting and creasing technology for paperboard, recently announced the commercial release of a new machine, Euclid IIIC, which can cut and crease thicker media, in particular several grades of corrugated. The new machine features can work with single ply paperboard, laminated stocks, and N, F, G, E, and B-flute corrugated from 1mm to 3mm in thickness (40-120 points). The Euclid IIIC thus allows the Euclid series to expand further, thanks to the new printer’s ability to finish thin to medium grade corrugated media. That media category has grown quickly in the past few years because of is use in packaging, in particular for primary packaging such as small but sturdy boxes for cosmetics, consumer electronics, and home furnishings.

Highcon IIIC digital cut & crease machine for corrugated

About Highcon Euclid

Highcon made waves back in 2012 when it released its first product, the Euclid digital cutting and creasing machine. Noticing a need for digital alternatives to traditional post-press processes, Highcon developed the Euclid to be a suitable replacement for analog die cutting and creasing. Its first installation took place in 2013, and since then Highcon has placed units in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

A hallmark of the Highcon Euclid series is the separation of the cutting and creasing processes. Unlike traditional die cutting and creasing, where these processes typically occur simultaneously, the Euclid performs these tasks one after the other. The creasing is carried out by Highcon’s proprietary Digital Adhesive Rule Technology (DART). Before the production process, a specialized polymer is jetted onto a Highcon DART foil and cured. During production, the sheets pass between this DART cylinder and a drum, creating the crease lines.

Creating the DART rules

Sheets then automatically pass to the cutting station which uses a series of high powered CO2 lasers and scanners to follow the instructions given by the DXF file. The Euclid’s laser cutting technology can also be used to create a number of special effects including variable cutouts, perforations, etching and possibly others. With the Euclid’s digital technology, it is also possible for the operator to make last minute changes to the cutting parameters for corrections, design changes, or new versions. This allows converters to take on more complex designs, including “one-off” designs, and to offer their customers a higher degree of flexibility than they could with analog technology alone. The Euclid III generation, of which the new Euclid IIIC is now part, work with B1 (40” x 29”) sheets—about the same size as the sheets used by most offset presses for folding cartons—and can crease and cut them at up to 1,500 sheets per hour.


The Euclid IIIC at LxBxH

At the end of 2015 Highcon installed its first Euclid IIIC at a company called “LxBxH,” located in Kirchberg, Switzerland. LxBxH, which specializes in folding carton and corrugated packaging, has since then been using the Euclid to offer short runs at competitive prices. The success of the Euclid IIIC at LxBxH is encouraging as it demonstrates a demand for high quality short run packaging. Highcon CEO and co-founder Aviv Ratzman noted about the experience at LxBxH that box compression tests that have compared the digitally produced boxes with conventional ones have proven that boxes produced with the same substrate on the Euclid are stronger than those produced on conventional machines. That finding implies that packaging can have the same strength with less material, and possibly less cost.


Packaging Moves to Corrugated

Highcon has been a source of exciting news for the packaging and printing industries since the company first exhibited at drupa in 2012, and Euclid IIIC continues the Israeli company’s habit of expanding and improving its core technology. This new ability to work with corrugated is helpful and timely, given that makers of consumer products have increasingly made use the thinner grades of corrugated, in particular for primary packaging. To be able to make test runs and short runs of such packaging is now an attractive option for brands worldwide, and one the new Highcon technology helps enable.



Xeikon Update: Notes From Q1 Analyst Call

India Tatro

Xeikon, much in the news in 2017 for its “Xeikon Café” events and its debut as an inkjet technology vendor, held a first-ever quarterly briefing for press and analysts in all regions. On hand were top managers: Filip Weymans and Jeroen Van Bauwel, both from Xeikon’s headquarters in Belgium, and Dave Wilkins and Donna Cavannon, marketing and sales leaders for Xeikon North America, based in Illinois.


The Xeikon “Blueprint”

Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s VP of Global Marketing kicked off the presentation with an overview of the strategy or “blueprint” for the company. The key point was that Xeikon will now continue product development based on both dry toner electrophotographic and inkjet printing technologies, also that Xeikon will continue to expand finishing and workflow offerings for Xeikon’s commercial print and industrial printers. Xeikon will have a particular emphasis on folding carton printing on the industrial side and on high-value graphic arts applications like direct mail and educational books on the commercial print side. At the same time, Weymans noted that Xeikon has a long-term goal of moving into the corrugated market. In the meantime, though, Xeikon will focus on the label printing applications that today are the core of its industrial printer business.

One other point of emphasis on the call is that Xeikon now has a dedicated “Inkjet Competence Center” from Antwerp, Belgium. The facility, with 20 staff, was created in 2017 to continue research and development of inkjet printing technology.  In the near term, the team is continuing work on the Panther (PX 3000) series of UV curing inkjet label webs, as well as Xeikon’s “Fusion” technology for in-line embellishment of digital printed webs. Long term projects at the center will target flexible packaging and corrugated. While Xeikon for now offers only UV inkjet technology, the company is evaluating aqueous inkjet as well.


Updates on the Jetrion Acquisition

In late 2017 Xeikon and EFI announced a deal whereby Xeikon acquired the existing customers of EFI Jetrion; Xeikon now owns all the relationships, services the installed base, while EFI still manufacturers inkjet ink for that base (and will continue to do so until 2021).  Noted at the time of the deal and also during the analyst briefing, at over 200 UV label webs the EFI Jetrion installed base is the largest of all inkjet label printer installed based; its acquisition brings to over 700 the total production digital printers in Xeikon’s installed base.

Jetrion 4900M UV inkjet label press

Xeikon’s managers said on the call that their company will continue to actively market the Jetrion 4900 printer series, not just maintaining the current installed base, and added that there have even been new placements since the acquisition. The service and sales teams from EFI Jetrion have now joined Xeikon, and its global service and support infrastructure; the Xeikon managers said that their company’s localized and timely service have netted a positive reaction from Jetrion customers, with many signing long term service agreements, and some even purchasing additional Xeikon machines.


In Other News

During the briefing, Xeikon announced the sale of three PX3000 machines, which will be delivered this summer. PX3000 is the UV inkjet label web that Xeikon first showed at LabelExpo in Brussels in September 2017. Without disclosing the name of the purchaser at this time, managers on the call did say the sale is to an existing Xeikon customer with a large commercial print shop focusing on retail/POP applications.

Panther PX3000 UV inkjet label press

The PX3000 has also been placed with an early adopter in Belgium that has previously only printed with dry toner. This is an encouraging step forward for Xeikon since the success of the PX3000 at this site could help them market UV inkjet to other printers looking to expand their product line to include labels and flexible packaging.

Updates on other Xeikon products, including commercial printing products:

  • German companies PPS and K&L Wall Art signed deals for Xeikon’s Wall Decoration Suite earlier this year at Heimtextil
  • Thompson Press in India is the first in the region to install the Xeikon 9600, a complement to its existing web and cutsheet capabilities
  • An unnamed religious publisher in the US purchased two Xeikon 9600 machines for in-house publications
  • Existing Xeikon customer Labels Unlimited of Winnipeg, Canada purchased two CX3 presses (the 98 fpm “Cheetah”)
  • An existing Jetrion customer in Minnesota added a second Jetrion printer to expand their label printing capabilities
  • A Xeikon 3500 label printer (20” web), has been sold to an undisclosed customer in Montreal


Upcoming Events

Xeikon, which exhibited at EFI Connect in January, is a presence at many trade shows, including the ones that it hosts on its own, namely the “Xeikon Café” events that it hold in Europe and North America. Following are the plans for rest of the first half of 2018:

  • Xeikon Café – Antwerp, Belgium: March 20-23
  • Digital Inkjet Summit: April 9-11
  • Flexographic Technical Association: May 7-8
  • Xeikon Café North America – Chicago: May 15-17
  • Digital Print for Packaging Conference: June 4-8

More events are likely to be scheduled for later in 2018, including LabelExpo Americas in Chicago in September. Analysts from Keypoint Intelligence will attend some of these same events, and will continue to report on developments from Xeikon.



SGIA SPIRE Group Presentation 2018

Steve Urmano
 Feb 22, 2018

This year’s SPIRE event has been ramped up to include great new content to help you manage your graphics business – all delivered at warp speed. 33 top tier graphic imaging professionals and 10 presenters participated in this eclectic conference to provide new ideas to build a framework to future growth requirements.

Steve Urmano, Director of Wide Format had a half hour presentation and Q&A on the topic: Convergence, How The Wide Format Industry Is Changing. It focused on all the different ink & media technologies and how the market opportunities are changing along with them. Attendees should come away with a view of new opportunities & adjacencies.

The schedule is so full, the 10 presenters are sure accomplish this lofty goal. With a limited number of spots available, attendees needed to register quickly to ensure they didn’t miss out on the event of the year. The SPIRE strong sharing environment allows for critical insight and game-changing industry networking.

A sampling of the presentations are as follows:

  • Richard Romano, What They Think, Developments in Production Automation
  • Patrick Morrissey, EFI, Review of New Products & Scope
  • Kerry King, Spoonflower, Décor & Shift Towards Online Portals
  • John Hagan, Hagen Graphic Assets, Exploring Employee Recruitment
  • Alexander Hussain, 3D Chimera, 3D Printing: Production & Partnership



SPIRE is a unique network of CEOs and top executives from industry leading producers of retail, point-of-purchase, OEM, transit, outdoor, and similar graphic solutions. The interests, concerns, and challenges of SPIRE members are often different than those of individuals managing smaller companies within the SGIA membership. SPIRE has been in existence for more than 20 years, providing both educational and networking opportunities that are unparalleled in our industry. The members of SPIRE have carefully created an environment where printers from related markets, even direct competitors, can comfortably address common issues. In fact, just about every SPIRE member will tell you that their SPIRE network is their most valued SGIA resource.


Feedback from the Organizers

“I’m very proud of how we have advanced the quality and pacing of the SPIRE program. It’s dynamic, relevant content that speaks to today’s industry challenges.”

– Scott Crosby, SPIRE Program Co-Chair, Holland and Crosby

Scott Crosby of Holland & Crosby

“SPIRE has become the don’t-miss meeting in the print industry. At SPIRE, we provide high-level topics for top-level executives you can’t get anywhere else.”

– Terry Corman, SPIRE Program Co-Chair, Firehouse Image Center

Terry Corman of Firehouse Graphics


Meetings and Social Events
Ongoing changes to the graphic arts industry are profound, with new areas of convergence and unprecedented opportunities for those companies that can navigate change successfully. Attendees gained insight from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends industry consultant Steve Urmano as he presented his views on how today’s changes will affect tomorrow’s realities.



Moms Provide Insight Into Print’s Advantages

Christine Dunne Dunne

My local online moms group recently got into a discussion about whether paper or digital invitations are preferable for kids’ party invites. While they were discussing consumer printing (and in many instances production printing for consumers), it got me thinking about how many of their comments are also relevant to the world of business printing.

First, let me show you the main points addressed by these moms. In summary, they cited the following advantages of printed versus digital invitations.

Advantages of printed vs. digital invitations cited by local moms

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HP Indigo Lands Big Deal for HP Indigo 20000

India Tatro
 Feb 21, 2018

HP Indigo announced this month that a current user of HP Indigo 20000, ePac Flexible Packaging, has agreed to purchase 10 additional HP Indigo 20000s. ePac, based in Madison, Wisconsin, is a young, all-digital converter of flexible packaging and is already operating three HP Indigo 20000s sited in Madison and in Boulder, Colorado. The company, which started operations only in 2016, working with just one HP Indigo 20000, will add the new units to its existing sites this year and next at new facilities in Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Miami.

HP Indigo 20000 30″ digital web press

Among color digital printers for packaging and labels, HP Indigo 20000 is rare indeed. As of today, it is the only fully commercialized production level digital printer designed to print flexible packaging. Meanwhile, it was only in 2014 that HP Indigo launched the printer, so this seven color, 30” (760 mm) EP web is off to a fast start. At the time of the recent ePac announcement, HP Indigo also revealed that the current global installed base of this printer is 115 units. Given this model’s high purchase price, HP Indigo has likely achieved nearly $200 million in sales of HP Indigo 20000, not including the recent ePac deal.

A Brief History of the HP Indigo 20000

HP Indigo 20000 has predecessors, but they are all HP Indigo printers, namely the HP Indigo ‘Series 3’ label webs, especially HP Indigo WS6000 and WS6800. Starting around 2009, HP Indigo began developing flexible packaging as an extra application of WS6000, enlisting partners such as Karlville and Avery Dennison for finishing and media. As HP Indigo expanded further into flexible packaging, the company began to work with narrow-web label converters to help them start printing this application. In addition, HP Indigo even equipped rare flexible packaging converters with the Series 3 printers. Today, the HP Indigo 20000, an HP Indigo ‘Series 4’ printer, is the pinnacle of the HP Indigo’s efforts to develop digital printing for flexible packaging. With a web width equal to that of many flexo presses, and a powerful print engine based on the HP Indigo 10000, the Indigo 20000 is a practical digital option for flexible packaging.

Labels, Other Applications Also

Since HP Indigo 20000 is a roll-fed printer with a substantial web width, it is well suited for the production of both flexible packaging and labels. About 75% of the printing done on the Indigo 20000 is flexible packaging, with the remaining 25% being labels, or a mix of label and flexible packaging, or other applications. Keypoint Intelligence estimates that gross billings from the current base of HP Indigo 20000s for all uses is over $300 million annually. Those billings will grow as the base does, and as converters gain skill both in using the printer and in selling its services.

HP Pack Ready

While there are no new HP Indigo flexible packaging printers in sight at this point, a key finishing addition to the Indigo 20000 will be commercialized this year. This is HP’s new Pack Ready Lamination system which will dramatically decrease the time spent waiting for printed and laminated rolls to cure. While flexo converters must wait up to a week for their laminated rolls to cure, users of Pack Ready can expect curing to be almost immediate.

HP Pack Ready system with specially designed hardware form Karlville

The first component of Pack Ready is proprietary chemistry: HP Indigo licenses film manufacturers to use its patented coating technology to coat film for use in HP Indigo 20000 (several film companies in different regions have been licensed). After printing in HP Indigo 20000, that pre-coated film goes into a specially designed laminator by Karlville, HP’s partner for FP finishing. The laminator uses thermal energy to join the printed film with another film layers, and the lamination is fully cured in only a few minutes.

Pack Ready coating structure with HP’s proprietary heat-activated coating (in yellow)

Not Alone Forever

While the Indigo 20000 continues to be the industry leader for digital printing of flexible packaging, there are at least a few new digital entrants. These new machines are from Japanese companies Think Lab and Fujifilm, as well as Uteco Converting from Italy; Think Lab and Uteco are experienced suppliers for gravure and flexo in the flexible packaging industry, and Fujifilm is a giant in industrial inkjet. The new machines from these companies have only a handful of beta installations, mostly in Japan, but more will come, possibly also from competitors that are not evident today. As in all industrial printing, inkjet has high potential to contribute to flexible packaging printing. That said, EP printing from HP Indigo 20000 has a big lead, as exemplified by the recent deal with ePac.

Fujifilm Acquires Control of Xerox

Jeff Hayes
 Jan 31, 2018

The grapevine has been ripe the past weeks, but now the news is finally out. Fujifilm has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the majority holding of Xerox Corporation and will merge Fuji Xerox with Xerox.

The two companies said that Fuji Xerox, a joint venture between Fujifilm and Xerox formed in 1962, will use bank debt to buy back Fujifilm’s 75% stake for around $6.1 billion. Fujifilm will use those proceeds to purchase 50.1% of new Xerox shares. Plans are to complete the deal around July-August of this year.

The new entity, to be called Fuji Xerox, will become a subsidiary of Fujifilm, with dual headquarters in the United States and Japan. It will keep Xerox’s listing on the New York Stock Exchange and will be led by Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson and Fujifilm Chairman Shigetaka Komori.

Why Now?

Xerox has struggled to grow its document technology and related business over the last four years with 2017 revenue ($10.3B) down 19% compared with 2014 ($12.7B). Spurred by activist shareholder Carl Icahn, who owns approximately 9.7% of Xerox shares, Xerox spun off its business process outsourcing business in 2016 to focus on its core. Mr. Icahn has been vocal recently about seeking significant changes to Xerox’ board of directors, senior management, and the Fuji Xerox joint venture with an eye on a potential sale of Xerox in the future.

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Fuji Xerox Iridesse – Two specialty colours is better than one

Ralf Schlozer
 Dec 6, 2017

Less than a year ago, InfoTrends published a multi-client study: “Beyond CMYK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing”. Not only did we find that many printers voiced a strong interest in specialty colours and the desire to have several effects as an option, they also indicated that having two specialty colour stations in the press is their preferred option.

Less than a year later, Fuji Xerox launched the Iridesse Production Press at the Fuji Xerox Premier Partner Conference on the 14th of November in Bangkok for the Asia Pacific market.

For the first time in dry toner production printing, a print engine has been equipped to print six-colours, adding two colour channels to complement process colour print with different specialty colours, including metallic, in a single pass. The Iridesse houses up to two additional specialty toners of gold, silver, clear and white, in addition to standard cyan, magenta, yellow and black. One specialty colour is in front of the CMYK units and one behind, therefore the Iridesse can underprint with one specialty colour, and overprint with another (or the same) in one pass.

Fuji Xerox also revamped toners. CMYK toners are made of Super EA Eco toner, which is Fuji Xerox’s smallest particle size toner to date, citing a particle size of 5 micron for the colour toner. The Super EA Eco toner is able to fuse quickly at a low temperature, and is able to evenly transfer six layers of toners. Another patented improvement is flat metal flakes being embedded into the metallic toner particles. The flat metallic flakes should improve the shininess of metallic prints, and some improvement over the gold toner of the Color 1000i can be noticed – although digital metallic print remains far less shiny than foiling or the like.

A unique feature of the Iridesse is being able to print hues of metallic tones in one pass, by printing silver or gold first and overprinting it with CMYK. Other toner printers would need multi-pass printing, and in offset printing each of the metallic hues would need to be mixed first. This can reduce the effort drastically in hitting metallic effects beyond plain silver or gold. The press supports metallic colours found in colour catalogues such as Pantone Metallic and Pantone Premium Metallic. By using these colour swatches, the operator can reproduce colours similar to Pantone metallic colours by simply designating the colour codes. Also, since the press offers more hues than found in the Pantone swatches, Fuji Xerox has a range of predefined metallic colours on top.

Print sample showing metallic overprinted with CMYK


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IPEX 2017 – feeling the pulse

Ralf Schlozer
 Nov 2, 2017

Many print industry pundits will still eagerly remember IPEX as the second most important trade show for the graphic arts industry. Held at mid-term between two drupa trade shows, IPEX was the show to kick the tyres of new products that just reached the market after being previewed at drupa as technology demo.

That held true until IPEX 2014, when the show essentially imploded. Most major exhibitors pulled out leading to a much smaller footprint with 15,000 m², down from 50,000 m² in 2010. Declining margins in the printing industry did take their toll, with exhibitors questioning the return for a costly trade show presence. The show’s move to London did not help IPEX either. The hope of addressing new overseas visitors failed, and UK printers shunned the travel into central London. Although plans for IPEX 2018 to take place from 19 to 24 March 2018 at the Excel, London were announced, everybody expected this to be the end of IPEX.

As a bit of a surprise came the announcement of IPEX 2017, back again in Birmingham. The timing for autumn 2017 was set as the drupa organisers were still aiming for a three-year cycle, so that IPEX would again fall in the middle between two drupa shows. Certainly, the return of IPEX was not on the big scale it once had. IPEX 2017 occupied just parts of one hall of the NEC exhibition centre, instead of 11 of them in 2010, with ample space left to squeeze in more booths. Most equipment vendors did not join the IPEX bandwagon in 2017 either, with Ricoh being the only major digital print equipment manufacturer exhibiting. Other vendors were present via dealers or driving finishing equipment in the booths of finishing equipment vendors. It is noteworthy that finishing vendors did contribute most to the footprint of the show, complemented by software and supplies vendors.

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