All Eyes on PRINT 13

Jim Hamilton
Sep 6, 2013

PRINT 13 (September 8th through 12th at McCormick Place in Chicago) will test the validity of print trade shows in an era of always connected mobile access. Combined with the CPP EXPO (Converting & Package Printing) EXPO, the show runs once every four years and is a day longer than Graph Expo. The show used to be massive. It has contracted and now is about the size of a Graph Expo from the days of yore. In light of the sad decline of IPEX (March 24th to 29th, 2014, London), which virtually all of the possible major exhibitors are avoiding, all eyes will be on PRINT 13 this year as a test of the level that the industry will support a large printing trade show.

Early signs are positive for the show. Last year the Graphic Arts Show Company (the PRINT 13 organizer) noted that attendance at Graph Expo was up from 2011 to 2012. (Graph Expo Attendance Up Compared to 2011) And though some big names will not be there (Agfa, Heidelberg, Kodak, and Screen), otherwise the show floor is well represented and a number of early announcements indicate that this could be an exciting event. The biggest question, which won’t be answered until the show ends, is whether attendance will be strong. Attendance is a driving factor in an era of shrinking marketing budgets and more attractive alternatives to win potential buyers. Particularly for more expensive purchases, system vendors repeatedly say that they know where the large buyers are and they often prefer to fly them in to demo centers where they can wine and dine them while getting their focused attention. End user events, such as Dscoop (the HP Graphic Arts Users cooperative), EFI’s Connect, and Kodak’s GUA (Graphic Users’ Association) are also seeing increasing levels of investment.

The lack of big names at IPEX will undermine that show. A few missing big names at PRINT 13 is not a big problem and is not symptomatic of other issues. Heidelberg’s absence at PRINT 13 follows similar withdrawals at Graph Expo in 2008 and 2010 and did not come as a huge surprise. Similarly, Kodak, which just this week announced its emergence from Chapter 11, had reasons for avoiding a 2013 investment in this show, though it will have a small meeting space on the show floor.

So which exhibitors are making the biggest investment in PRINT 13? An analysis of the show floor map reveals the following top 10 listing of exhibitors based on the square footage of their booth. InfoTrends has conducted similar exercises in the past (see Tracking the Digital Market through Graph Expo Booth Space) and repeated it this year.

PRINT 13 Exhibitor Rank by Booth Size

Rank Company
1 Xerox
2 Canon
3 (tie) Fujifilm
3 (tie) Konica Minolta
5 (tie) Agfa*
5 (tie) HP
7 (tie) Standard Finishing
7 (tie) Ricoh
10 Komori

*Agfa pulled out of PRINT 13 in the weeks leading up to the show

Not far out of the top ten are Bell & Howell, Muller Martini, Pitney Bowes, Epson, KBA, Xeikon, Duplo, and Kern.

It is interesting to note, and this has been the trend over the past decade, the predominance of production digital print solution providers on this list. Also notable on this list is HP’s position. The second largest exhibitor at drupa 2012, HP was one of the first to pull out of IPEX 2014 and appears to be focusing its marketing dollars more and more on Dscoop events.

Despite the high value of workflow for the purpose of automation, trade show visitors love a nice piece of hardware spitting out pages at a show like PRINT 13. With Heidelberg not in attendance and only one press vendor (Komori) in the top ten, the hardware excitement is likely to be around production digital print. Here are a few production hardware examples:

  • B2 format digital print (and larger) — drupa 2012 was the place for many product announcements and technology demonstrations related to B2-format digital print. One exciting aspect of PRINT 13 is that the Konica Minolta KM-1/Komori IS29 will be in the Konica Minolta booth. In addition, Benny Landa will be at PRINT 13 and will likely be showing press and analysts some new print samples of the technology his company is developing. Of particular interest in regard to Landa is that the company is focusing on its B1-format model (the S10C for commercial printing and the S10FC for folding carton) and expects to be in beta test with them in the first quarter of 2014.
  • Cut-sheet production digital inkjet — Canon’s technology demonstration of “Niagara,” a B3-format cut-sheet inkjet printer, was announced shortly before the show and will certainly draw a lot of attention. The cut-sheet market in B3-format is almost exclusively toner based, so it will be interesting to see what Canon has to offer. RISO, which was the first to offer production speed inkjet devices, will also have news about finishing and other options for its ComColor series.
  • Effects beyond four-color — MGI and Scodix have both been building momentum with their UV inkjet value-add product offerings and PRINT 13 will be a great venue to see these improvements. As for previous shows, InfoTrends will be gathering samples for a post-show video and it is already clear that spot-coat and dimensional effects produced by these products will be at the top of the list. Oki Data’s announcement of five-color capability (CMYK plus clear or white) for its C941dn will be another new example of how vendors are expanding the capabilities beyond four color. HP Indigo and Xeikon extensive four-color plus options will also be on display.
  • Offset/inkjet imprinting — High-speed monochrome and color imprinting heads from companies like HP, Kodak, MCS, Xerox/Impika and others can leverage the manufacturing capabilities of offset while providing personalization capability. PRINT 13 is a great place to see these products in action. (Kodak heads will be shown via partner Adphos.) Another interesting development in the inkjet imprinting space is Collins’ news that it is expanding into printer upgrades, parts, and support for its customers.
  • Integrated in-line finishing— One of the big values of digital print is the ability to perform multiple functions with a single operator. Nowhere is this clearer than with integrated in-line finishing. There will be many examples of this across the show floor from exhibitors such as Bell & Howell, Duplo, Kern, Muller Martini, Pitney Bowes, Standard, and others. The concept of edge-to-edge digital printing is an attractive one, as it would eliminate the need to trim after printing. Keep an eye out on the show floor for this capability, which will be announced when the show opens.

There will be a lot happening at PRINT 13, and there will be more to come. In fact, some news items are still under embargo until the start of the show. InfoTrends will revisit these in our post show coverage. For the latest on PRINT 13 show announcements, InfoTrends clients can go to the news portion of the client site and use the title search to identify “PRINT 13” news. Another good place to look for products to see at PRINT 13 are the Must See Ems awards. And if you are not already following me on Twitter, you can find me at @jrhinfotrends for my tweets during the show.

Update: This blog has been updated to reflect the fact that Agfa pulled out of show. The space where the Agfa booth would have been was split into two parts. Taking advantage of this, Epson moved its booth up closer to the front of the show floor. A space called the “Inkjet Candy Store” (large-format images of colorful candies) took up the remaining space. The space where Epson’s booth was originally supposed to be was turned into meeting rooms.

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