Frankly Speaking: Drupa is All About Hope

Frank Romano
May 11, 2012

Drupa is the largest print-related exhibition in the world. It is a cross between a world’s fair and the storming of the Bastille. It is the place where new printing technology is introduced. And much of that technology is years away.

The first thing that hits you is the sheer size of it all. It takes almost an hour to walk from one side of the messe (fairgrounds) to the other (well, at my age it does). There are the equivalent of 20 buildings filled with every kind of printing and related device on earth. And there were 170,000 people from all over the world by the mid-point of the show.

The day before the formal opening is when Heidelberg (HEI) has their traditional press conference. But they were usurped by Landa, a company that revealed a new nano graphic printing technology. In fact, HEI is partnering with Landa on a future printing device.

The Landa news became the hottest topic at the show. Benny Landa invented the HP Indigo digital printers. His new nano ink can print on any substrate from plain paper to film without any special coating. The ink is delivered by inkjet heads and it lays down a thickness half that of offset which means less ink cost. The ink will be shipped as a concentrate and you just add tap water. For sophisticated printing, add Perrier.

Landa has also partnered with Komori and manroland. Two of Landa’s own presses were shown, a cut-sheet B2-format Landa S7 and a web-fed (52 centimeter/20.47 inch) Landa W50. These printers are part of a seven-product portfolio of Landa-branded products, most of which support up to eight colors.

Landa nanoink is comprised of pigment particles a fraction of the size of a human hair. As absorbers of light, these tiny particles deliver high-quality images that are resistant to abrasion. Most importantly, nanoink can print on flexible packaging films. Landa overshadowed everyone else even though digital printing was the hottest technology at Drupa.

The Landa user interface looks and acts like a giant iPhone. Manroland also had one as interesting, but Landa got all the attention.

Some other thoughts:

  • Xeikon introduced a new liquid toner machine that does not create VOCs. That machine is two years away. Myakoshi has had one for years.
  • Several companies announced machines using Memjet inkjet heads–Canon and Delphax among them.  Fuji-Xerox showed an unnamed prototype operating at 500m2/hr. Memjet was first announced at Drupa 2008.
  • 4-up or B2 digital printers were in abundance. Packaging is a defined application. At Drupa 2008, there were two: Screen and FujiFilm. There are now nine companies with 4-up sheetfed inkjet presses. The HP Indigo large format printer is a winner. A version was first shown in 1998.
  • Sheeted or roll-fed, digital printing was the key process at Drupa. Most of the suppliers upped the speed; some increased the sheet size. All have high-dpi quality. Agfa dropped the Dotrix but I expect a replacement.
  • The reason for all the digital activity is short runs and longer short runs. A new offset press can handle short runs effectively but 99 percent of all presses cannot. Users of legacy equipment will probably leapfrog into new technology at some point.
  • Wide format inkjet, roll and flatbed was everywhere.
  • Packaging was the key product focus. Every print machine provider was moving or moved to heavier stocks.
  • All suppliers were also focusing on emerging markets: Brazil, Asia, Russia among them.
  • The finishing folks were all over the show–offline or integrated into the digital printer. I think that integrated finishing has been one of the reasons for the success of digital printing.
  • There was a lot of built-in quality control and automated workflow software. And lots of “cloud” activity. Yes, it rained a lot in Dusseldorf.
  • Hybrid printing was everywhere. That’s when you put an inkjet system at the tail-end of the offset or flexo press. Presstek and all offset manufacturers use this inkjet printing for spot personalization.

I attended 22 press conferences. All of them announced something new but in many cases that something is a year or more away. Printers should keep making money with what they have so they can afford the new stuff…sometime in the future.

The show confirms what we already know–digital printing is slowly but surely encroaching on offset. Offset will not go away but it is seeing and will see reduced volume. Print buyers will have more choice in printing processes.

Well, what was it?

  • “The Landa Drupa” – I think that is how many of us will think of it.
  • “The Hybrid Drupa” – Lots of offset/digital, flexo/digital, but not digital/digital. I want to see a toner printer with inkjet heads on the back end. I want to see an inkjet printer with inkjet heads on the backend.
  • “The Asia/Pacific Drupa” – Jim Hamilton put this one forward at the InfoTrends breakfast. If you look at technology development and the place where print is thriving, he is onto something.
  • “The Inkjet on Steroids Drupa” – They may be putting steroids in some of the inks, but it was definitely an inkjet event.
  • “The Big Party Drupa” – The parties were generally lackluster. Xerox had a great Cirque de Soleil act. The best place to see it was the FujiFilm booth.

Call it what you will, it was Drupa 2012 and another step into the future of print. See you at Drupa 2016.

New InfoTrends Studies

More blogs from

2016 InfoTrends, Inc.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux