PRINTING United Expo: A Hot Time in Atlanta
The 2023 PRINTING United Expo started with a “boom.” The hard smack of a mallet against the big bass drum of the Morehouse College marching band served as a clarion call, a strong signifier that the Expo was open for business.
And a whole lot of business got done at the show. Attendees came to the Expo prepared to buy; everywhere you looked, machines sported “SOLD” signs. In-plant managers brought checklists to the show, with specific equipment they intended to inspect, ranging from flatbed printers to automated bindery equipment to workflow solutions.
When they weren’t busy kicking tires, in-plant managers had plenty of other activities to keep them busy, from in-plant-specific educational forums, to VIP tours, to happy hours in the In-plant Hub. Managers had a ton of opportunities to talk with one another and share their show observations.
“I can’t believe how many exhibitors have come to PRINTING United 2023, and I’m very impressed with the information that I’m able to learn,” said Carla Nutter with the Tulsa Health Department’s in-plant.
“The show has been magnificent because there’s so much to see and learn, and I’ve really had a great time,” remarked Julio Rosado of NYPD’s in-plant.
“I am so impressed with the large variety of automation and bindery equipment that will solve a lot of your labor issues,” noted Christopher Donlon of Kohler Co.
With more than a million sq. ft. of floor space showcasing more than 800 exhibitors, it’s impossible to highlight all the amazing innovation that was on display. A few quick examples:
The Canon imagePRESS V1350 made its North American debut at the Expo. It prints up to 135 ipm at a resolution of 2,400 dpi and supports media weights up to 450 gsm, providing a great opportunity for printers looking at packaging applications.
Ricoh debuted its Auto Color Adjuster, which can calibrate ICC profiles across an entire fleet — no matter the manufacturer. As highlighted during the IPMA luncheon at the Expo, it delivers precise color matching without the time, expense and expertise that goes with it.
Sharp launched the BP-1200S Color Press Series, which boasts speeds of up to 120 ppm and can print up to six colors in one pass, including CMYK, gold, silver, bright pink, textured, and clear toners. It features real-time color stabilization.
Kyocera upped its production inkjet game by showing the new TaskAlfa Pro 55000c, targeted at commercial print applications like books, brochures, and direct mail. It can print onto standard coated paper stocks, and uses Kyocera’s 1,200-dpi printheads and edge-smoothing technology.
The new Mimaki JFX600-2513 UV flatbed press features 16 printheads, with a maximum media size of 98.4x51.2". It uses the MAPS system for variable dot output, to improve print quality and reduce banding, and it uses six inks, plus slots for white, clear, and primer.
Printware introduced the iJetColor 1175 color envelope press, which incorporates HP’s Page-Wide Thermal inkjet technology. It features envelope autoloading that improves feed accuracy and output handling in higher volumes.
Xanté entered the garment printing business with the launch of its F-24 direct-to-film printer, which prints color and white at the same time using wear-resistant ink, which won’t fade or crack.
Roland DGA showcased the new VersaSTUDIO BN2, the first update to it’s entry-level desktop wide-format printer/cutter system in a decade. With speeds four times faster than the original, plus a more compact footprint, it can print on a variety of substrates, making it a great option for stickers, labels, small posters, and even heat transfers.
On the software side, Enfocus launched it’s Review module, the first of what the company said will be a series of cloud apps. The module, with a streamlined user interface, is designed to make the process of creating, sharing, and approving pages and projects faster and easier.
Ricoh and Scodix announced a new partnership at the Expo, where Ricoh USA has become a distributor for Scodix’s line of digital embellishment solutions. The companies noted that 90% of printers cite digital embellishments as a technology that will play a vital role in the future of their business, on everything from books to direct mail to packaging prototypes.
Canon USA and Kongsberg collaborated to demonstrate a turnkey print-and-cut solution that used a Canon Texas LT/X2 UV flatbed printer in-line with the Kongsberg C64 flatbed cutter, making for a fast, automated solution.
Serious About Buying
Exhibitors were enthusiastic about the crowds at the show and noted that attendees were serious about buying.
"The first two days have been excellent,” said Roland DGA President Amado Lara. “Awesome show — looking forward to doing the business that’s going follow this. A lot of customers [are] coming to see the new technology and check it out. It’s been amazing for us to be able to connect with them.” Numerous machines in the company’s booth were festooned with “sold” signs.
Asked about sales levels for offset press manufacturer Koenig & Bauer, Eric Frank, senior vice president of marketing, said the long sales process for equipment of that size means sales are often finalized or celebrated in the booth. The market for such equipment, he says, is looking good. “We’re seeing cautiously optimistic signals out there — quotes are up. We have a huge backlog for production.”
At SCREEN, vice president of Marketing Mark Schlimme said, “We celebrated some deals that we brought here with us. It’s been very positive. Five years ago, [we] were doing a lot of evangelizing [about inkjet], but now our sales teams are bringing customers here to celebrate business or finish business. They still like to come to a show environment … there’s still something about coming to a central show.”
Dustin Graupman, senior director, of Kyocera Document Solutions’ Inkjet Division, said, “Sales have been great in the booth, and the two TASKalfa Pro 15000c printers featured in the booth had been sold.”
‘Sold’ Signs Everywhere
In the Fujifilm booth, a large, bold sign announced that its J Press 750 HS had been sold, and Fujifilm booth staff said interest was very strong for its Revoria GC12500. They reported several visitors had “intent to buy” on 20 of the machines, 16 in the U. S. and four in Canada.
At the MBM booth, what was most striking was that nearly all the machines along the periphery featured the same sign: a bright burst of red with a single word, “SOLD!” Dan Radovanic, a regional sales manager, noted, “People have been just putting off decisions, putting off buying equipment, and now they just have to buy new equipment.”
EFI had “sold” signs on most of the equipment in its booth, including an EFI Pro 30h LED-cured flatbed printer and an EFI VUTEk FabriVU 340i+ textile printing unit. Ken Hanulec, vice president of worldwide marketing, was loath to share the number of machines EFI had sold, but he summed it all up with, “It’s been a really good show so far.”
If the Expo can be viewed as a loud “boom,” then the many days to follow are its reverberations. Its echoes will be heard until the next PRINTING United Expo, which will take place Sept. 10-12 in Las Vegas.
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.