drupa 2016 Awaits
Perhaps the most surreal moment at the recent pre-drupa 2016 International Media Conference came not an hour into the event, when two musicians took to the stage to perform a live rendition of the drupa 2016 theme song, “drupa is in Town Again.” As the singer flailed her arms and strutted down the center aisle as if the room were filled with screaming concert fans, the 100 or so international graphic arts journalists in the room dutifully snapped pictures of the spectacle, glancing somewhat awkwardly at one another as if to ask, “is this really happening?”
Yes, drupa is in town again, that town being Düsseldorf, Germany, where the world’s largest printing industry trade show is set to begin next month, from May 31-June 10. This city on the Rhine River has been hosting drupa since 1951 — at first every five years, then every four, and after this year every three. Its usual two-week span will be shortened this year to 11 days. Its scope, however, is as broad as ever, with 1,650 exhibitors from 50 countries set to fill all 19 halls with their wares.
And in case you’re still stuck on the concept that drupa has an actual theme song, you should know that every drupa since 2000 has had one; attendees get to hear it at the end of each day of the show. (Fun fact: the first drupa theme song in 1986 was nominated as one of the worst corporate anthems ever.)
The Mega Trend: End-to-End Workflow
By all accounts, the mega trend at drupa this year will be the concept of “Print 4.0,” the end-to-end digital workflow enabled by the networking of machines and systems. This was noted several times by speakers at the pre-drupa International Media Conference. During the three-day event, which took place on the drupa site in Düsseldorf, 15 graphic arts vendors took turns announcing new products and dropping hints about what they will reveal at the show.
Among the highlights:
- Xerox will debut a cut-sheet production inkjet press, the Brenva HD, able to print 194 A4 images per minute. A second new inkjet press, the roll-fed Trivor 2400, will print 551 feet per minute (fpm) in color.
- Canon will greatly increase the number of substrates its own i300 cut-sheet inkjet press can handle with the new ColorGrip in-line paper conditioning option; also new will be the Océ ColorStream 6000 Chroma continuous-feed inkjet press, with a new ink set that boasts reduced ink show-through.
- Epson got everyone’s attention by announcing an office paper recycling machine that uses no water and can produce 14 sheets/min. What’s more, Epson will show 13 new printers at drupa.
- Kodak revealed a host of new offerings to be shown at drupa, including its next-generation inkjet technology platform, Kodak Ultrastream, the new Kodak NexPress ZX3900 and a new addition to the Sonora plate portfolio for UV applications.
- Konica Minolta will use drupa to launch its KM-1 UV sheetfed digital press.
- Ricoh announced enhancements to its Pro VC60000 continuous-feed inkjet printer that enable it to reach speeds of 150 meters/min.
Trends at drupa
In opening the pre-drupa International Media Conference, Claus Bolza-Schünemann, chairman of the drupa committee and chief executive of Koenig & Bauer AG noted that exhibitors will be showcasing the intelligent networking of machines and systems at drupa 2016. 3D printing will also be an area of strong focus, he said, with live demonstrations all over the event. Packaging production, functional printing (such as printed electronics) and textile printing will be other drupa highlights. Based on the announcements that followed, though, production inkjet will be the talk of drupa 2016.
The first company to take the stage at the conference was Kodak, and it did not disappoint. The company revealed a long list of new products it will unveil next month.
The most significant announcement was of Kodak’s next-generation inkjet technology platform, Kodak UltraStream, with smaller drop sizes and precise placement accuracy. The writing system includes a modular printhead that can be implemented in varying widths ranging from 8˝ up to 97˝. UltraStream will enable high resolution printing at 600x1,800 dpi at speeds of up to 500 fpm. (Note: two weeks after this event, Kodak announced it was in discussions to sell its Prosper enterprise inkjet business.)
Also launching will be the new Kodak NexPress ZX3900 digital production color press, an enhanced version of the Kodak NexPress SX Platform, which supports thicker paper and the use of synthetic substrates and features a new multi-bit LED writing system.
Kodak will also preview a new Kodak NexPress Platform, with commercial availability in 2017. The platform will feature a new multi-bit LED writing system and switchable color stations that allow for colors to be printed in different sequences and combinations. Kodak will also launch an Opaque White Dry Ink for NexPress presses for the fifth imaging unit.
Also new at drupa will be:
- A new Sonora process-free plate designed to meet the rigorous demands of UV print applications.
- A new high-speed Kodak Trendsetter platesetter, which significantly increases throughput to 68 plates /hr. imaging Kodak Sonora XP Plates to create the world’s fastest process-free CTP in the world.
- A new multi-cassette unit, single-cassette unit and in-line punch system for the Kodak Trendsetter and Kodak Achieve platesetters to deliver better functionality and performance.
- Kodak Aqua-Image pressroom chemicals, including more than 20 press washes, plate cleaners, ink roller maintenance chemicals and storage gums.
Enhanced Inkjet Press
“I think this will be the most exciting drupa ever,” began Ricoh’s Peter Williams as he announced some of what Ricoh has in store at drupa 2016. The -company will be demonstrating a Ricoh Pro VC60000 running a variety of media roll-to-roll and roll-to-sheet. The enhanced inkjet press will feature a 25% speed increase and will run at 150 meters/min.
Ricoh will show the Watkiss PowerSquare 224 booklet maker running in-line with the Pro C9100 series, the Pro C7100x series and the Ricoh Pro 8100 series digital presses. The Pro C7100x and Pro C9100 digital presses will also feature a new, enhanced banner option.
At drupa, Ricoh will introduce the TotalFlow Cloud Suite, a hosted portfolio of cloud-based services comprising Ricoh software and Ricoh-endorsed third-party solutions. These solutions will include data cleansing, Web-to-print, marketing asset management, cross-media services and workflow automation.
New Cut-Sheet Inkjet Press
Though its presentation came at the end of a long day, Xerox woke the room with its announcement of a new cut-sheet production inkjet press, the Brenva HD, named after a mountain in Italy. Able to print 194 A4 images/min., the press incorporates paper-path components of the Xerox iGen, the stacker from the Xerox Nuvera and the inkjet marking module from the Impika. It boasts an in-line spectrophotometer to assist with calibration and profiling; object-oriented color management to distinguish text, graphics and images; and K-only mode so it will run as a cost effective monochrome press. The Xerox Brenva HD Production Inkjet Press will be available in North America in September 2016. Shipments will begin in June 2016. The list price starts at $649,000.
A second new Xerox inkjet press, the roll-fed Trivor 2400, will print 551 fpm in color (656 fpm in monochrome). Engineered-in automation ensures superb, reliable image quality including in-line density optimization, clear pixel technology and missing jet detection and correction.
A new print server developed in partnership with EFI, the Xerox IJ Print Server powered by Fiery, will handle multiple data streams for various application types. The IJ Print Server will simplify integration, provide comprehensive color management and integrate seamlessly with customers’ workflows.
Enhancements to Inkjet Press
Front and center in the Canon booth at drupa will be the Océ VarioPrint i300 inkjet sheetfed press, with some new features to bring it even more attention. The new ColorGrip in-line paper conditioning option will greatly increase the number of substrates the press can print on, to include standard uncoated and offset-coated media. Canon will also introduce an enhanced ink set for the i300.
Two new finishing options will be added to the i300 to support booklet making and perforating. The BLM600 booklet making system combines stitching, folding, spine forming and trimming in a single machine to produce square-back booklets up to 224 pages thick. Also new will be the Tecnau TC1530 Dynamic Cut Sheet Perforator. This device dynamically creates horizontal and vertical micro perforations, allowing the perforation pattern to be turned on and off on a page-by-page basis.
Also new at drupa will be the Canon ColorStream 6000 Chroma continuous-feed inkjet press, featuring the new Chromera ink set, which boasts reduced ink show-through, for use on lighter weight media. Océ HeadSafe technology will enable straightforward switching between mono and full-color printing. The Color-Stream 6000 will use advanced image processing technologies and a new “pre-fire” function that will ensure consistent droplet size and positioning.
Canon will also show the new imagePRESS C8000VP production press. Running at 80 ppm, it has a recommended monthly volume of 80,000 to 400,000 pages. Offering all the quality, color consistency and productivity benefits delivered by the C10000VP, the C8000VP also runs a wide range of media — from 60 gsm (uncoated) up to 350 gsm — and delivers high quality output even on long-run or mixed media jobs, including specialty stocks such as vellum, film and synthetics.
First UV Inkjet Customer
Konica Minolta will use drupa to launch the KM-1 UV sheetfed digital inkjet press. While the company offered few new details on the press, past releases boast of its 1,200x1,200-dpi resolution, 23x29.5˝ media size and print speeds of up to 3,000 sph.
At the event, Konica Minolta named PLS Print Logistic Services Germany GmbH in Markkleeberg as the first European beta site customer for the KM-1 UV digital press. The company, a subsidiary of the American online printing service Overnight Prints, says that using UV inks enables it to move work quickly and easily to finishing, with offset quality on standard offset stock without having to pre-coat or use a digital stock.
Other highlights of Konica Minolta’s drupa booth will include the bizhub PRO 1100 black-and-white printer, the bizhub PRESS C71cf label printer and the MGI JetVarnish 3DS with iFoil-S.
Inkjet Takes Center Stage
Fujifilm announced that it’s two main innovations at drupa would focus on resource savings and inkjet technology. Its J Press 720S will take center stage, and the company announced several enhancements: Press up-time has been improved by 20% thanks to software upgrades that have bolstered the efficiency and job-handling capability of the press; the ability of the J Press 720S to print on canvas media has now been approved, widening the application capability of the press even further; Fujifilm’s XMF Workflow has been improved to more effectively communicate with online ordering and management information systems and more efficiently manage the J Press 720S alongside existing offset presses.
At drupa, Fujifilm will launch the Uvistar Hybrid 320, a 3.2 meter combination flatbed and roll printer, capable of producing high quality output at speeds of up to 195 sq. meters/hr., using Fujifilm’s Dimatix Q-Class printheads and Uvijet UV inks.
Fujifilm will also unveil a new UV LED inkjet press suitable for flexible packaging applications. This new press is ideally suited for printing on the underside of flexible packaging, and is powered by proprietary new Fujifilm image forming technology called “EUCON” (Enhanced Under Coating and Nitrogen purging technology).
Office Paper Recycling Machine
Though Epson had previously announced the PaperLab office paper recycling machine, when COO Sunao Murata introduced it in Düsseldorf, everyone in the room took notice. Using no water, the system securely shreds waste paper, then turns it into new paper at a rate of 14 A4 sheets/min., or 6,720 sheets in an eight-hour shift. A video animation showed the three separate processes PaperLab uses: fiberizing, binding and forming. It removes both toner and inkjet ink.
Murata said it was designed for use in government offices, financial institutions and other enterprises that use large volumes of paper. Users can produce a variety of types of paper, from A4 and A3 office papers of various thicknesses to paper for business cards. PaperLab will even produce colored and scented paper.
Epson also announced it will show 13 new printing devices at drupa, such as the SureColor SC-S series of 64˝ signage printers, which use Epson’s new formulation UltraChrome GS3 ink set and boast significantly lower ink consumption — up to 50% less ink than latex technology.
The new 44˝ SC-P10000 incorporates the PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead to produce outstanding results, even in lower quality modes. It uses a newly developed camera-based paper feed stabilizer and media inductive roller system as well as the new UltraChrome Pro 10-color ink set.
The new 64˝ SC-P20000 also uses the PrecisionCore MicroTFP printhead for producing 2,400x1,200 dpi, even at the highest print speeds.
Bringing Clarity to Print and Mail
Pitney Bowes announced a new SaaS-based product designed to bring the power of the Industrial Internet to the production mail industry. The Clarity solutions suite will integrate and organize data collected from sensors on production mail machines to support real-time insight, predictive analytics and prescriptive maintenance. The insights derived from Clarity can identify strengths and weaknesses in users’ print and mail operations and allow Pitney Bowes to recommend solutions to improve both productivity and capability.
Clarity Advisor offers an intelligent view into equipment performance to help drive machine efficiency. Clarity Optimizer leverages actionable insights and industry benchmarks to identify an optimal combination of jobs, machines and operators. Clarity Scheduler provides real-time adaptive scheduling to help clients meet critical service-level agreements and drive productivity.
Pitney Bowes will also introduce a new low-end, entry-level inserter at drupa called Pulse, along with enhancements to its Epic inserter.
More Announcements Ahead
HP dropped hints in its presentation that it would potentially have the broadest portfolio of digital printing solutions at drupa, with one of the largest exhibit areas of any digital print company, but at the pre-drupa event, it only announced a new cloud-based operating system called HP PrintOS, an open, secure and integrated platform for print production management. Featuring a suite of intuitive Web-based and mobile applications, PrintOS helps simplify and automate print production, enabling customers to start printing jobs, faster. Additionally, cloud connectivity allows customers to monitor print status remotely as well as track and improve production performance over time.
Coming so soon after EFI Connect, there was not much new pre-drupa news for EFI CEO Guy Gecht to report on (though the timing was perfect for him to announce EFI’s acquisition of Rialco Ltd., a supplier of dye powders and color products for digital print and industrial manufacturing).
Gecht said the biggest announcement at drupa would be a new platform combining Cretaprint technology for ceramic tiles, the Jetrion label printing technology and Vutek wide-format technology to create a system for packaging.
At drupa, EFI will expand its Productivity Suite with the new Publication Suite, Corrugated Suite and Midmarket Suite for Superwide format.
Though the pre-drupa 2016 International Media Conference was packed with drupa product announcements, there are many more to come. Another pre-drupa press conference took place last month in Bruges, Belgium, featuring announcements from Agfa, Xeikon and others. And HP brought journalists to Israel to detail some of the printing systems it plans to show at drupa. Watch for this news next month.
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions 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 170 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, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.