PRINT 17 was held from September 10-14 in Chicago, and I had the pleasure of attending. It was impressive. The biannual show and mirror to Graph Expo was a who’s who of the graphic communications industry. All of the major players packed McCormick Place’s South Hall to show off their latest and greatest technology — and to make some announcements, too — while exhibition-goers were welcome to sit in on a number of educational seminars, hands-on labs, and panel discussions. I thought I’d share an abridged version of “my” PRINT 17.

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One of the busiest booths on the floor the entire event was Konica Minolta. They have truly arrived as a major player in the production print space and it was clearly evident at the show. Rivaling luxurious, lakefront estates in size, Booth 2031 needed every inch of its 16,000 square feet to fit all of the heavy artillery they had in tow. But don’t take it from me; click the link to see firsthand what Konica Minolta had in store. We’ll have more on Konica Minolta and what they are doing in the label space in a separate piece, so we’ll let the highlights video do the talking for now.

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At booth 831, the folks from Epson were showing off the SureColor P5000 Commercial Edition with SpectroProofer, which enables commercial and flexographic designers the to reach an expanded color gamut and quickly automate profile creation to help simplify contract proofing and color applications. The latest technology features a 10-channel PrecisionCore TFP printhead with new ink-repellant surface coating, plus improved dust and static control that reduces nozzle clogging and maintenance. The device supports printless nozzle checks, too, to optimize time, production, and resource efficiency.  The device also leverages “the UltraChrome HDX pigment ink set with violet ink, to deliver output with an industry-best 99 percent PANTONE PLUS FORMULA GUIDE solid-coated color matching.” 

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HP scored some prime real estate right near the exhibition's entrance at booth 613 and the company used it to show off some new equipment. The Indigo 12000 HD Digital Press made its debut in Chicago, “doubling print resolution” and promising “sharper, smoother, finer print.” The company had plenty of devices on display, including the Indigo 7900, WS6800, and 5900 digital presses, Latex 3600 and 570 printers, PageWideXL 8000 printer, DesignJet Z6800 photo production printer, and specialty printing systems solutions using thermal inkjet technology. We also got a peek at HP’s PrintOS workflow solutions in action. Show-goers could send photographs from the MomentCam mobile app via HP’s PrintOS Site Flow to the HP Indigo 12000. I was intrigued by the HP Link technology, in which printed pages have embedded hyperlinks, so that once the page is scanned, users can click to access the linked material or interactive experiences. Basically, it’s like footnotes for the future. Finally, we saw HP’s SmartEdge and Spine printing technology, which enables printing on the front edge or side edge of a book.

The company also had a few announcements. In a press release, HP reported “double-digit growth in its graphics customers’ commercial page volume,” —15 percent to be precise —”alongside accelerated adoption of its digital presses by leading print service providers worldwide.” HP also shared some sales news, including the 600th placement of its Indigo Series 4 large format digital press, and a new five-year deal to be Shutterfly’s preferred digital press provider. The company also discussed their relationship with Chatbooks, Hudson Printing, Webcom, and Nulab.

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At booth #3213 RISO had their latest offerings on display: the ComColor GD and FW Series, plus the SF Digital Duplicator. The GD Series, which debuted in 2016 during last year’s Graph Expo 16, is touted as the “Professional Inkjet Printer” and delivers full-color prints as fast as 160 ppm. The device offered some impressive upgrades from its previous model, including the addition of gray ink as a fifth color, which, according to the company, improves the “reproduction of pastels, skin tones, and an exceptional grayscale print quality.” The device also features new ink formulations for black and magenta, the latter for an expanded, more vibrant gamut of colors, and the former for increased density.

We also saw the ComColor FW Series — the “Business Inkjet Printer” — which offered full-color prints at 120 ppm, plus 100 ppm scanning.  Both lines utilize RISO’s proprietary FORCEJET technology, which employs wide, in-line inkjet heads for each color, in parallel. The company also had their line of SF Digital Duplicators on display. We were told that the latest iteration is faster than its predecessor, improving its output speed to 150 sheets per minutes (spm), up from 130 spm, and decreasing its Master Making time by 10 percent. 

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No discussion of the graphic communications industry would be complete without bringing EFI into the conversation, and I found them at booth 2302, where they had a mix of unique devices and exciting announcements to share. First, we spoke with executives about the Fiery NX and XB servers. The NX features the Fiery QuickTouch Interface, and leverages Fiery Navigator Cloud Platform, Job Editor, and the newly announced Command Workstation 6 to deliver high efficiency and quality printing for commercial printers, in-plant shops, and digital printers. We also briefly discussed the Fiery XB, which uses a blade-based platform to power high-speed inkjet presses.

On the 11th, the company announced the new Fiery FS300 Pro Platform. Built for driving presses across sheet-fed, high-speed continuous feed, B1 folding carton, and corrugated production systems, John Henze, VP of marketing at EFI said “shops can double the processing speed on more types of job with Fiery HyperRIP enhancements and the FIery NX Premium Print server.”

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We also had a visit with OKI Data Americas at booth 3218. The company had quite a few devices in tow, lead by its proColor C942dn. During a demonstration, I was told that the device lays down high-density white toner under color in a single pass, which improves color image quality, especially on dark colored media. Oki claims that the device’s toner is superior to the competition, and available at a lower cost, and supports all sorts of media (one representative told me the device supports magnetic media — now that IS kinda cool!).

Also on display was the ColorPainter with the E-64s and M-64s, both of which promise fast speeds and high-quality output for indoor and outdoor use. Executives explained how both devices used eco-solvent SX inks, which covers a wider color gamut and offers higher color vividness and density at a lower cost, and most importantly, isn’t too hard on the nostrils. We also got to see the company’s Pro8432 WT and Pro6410 NeonColor models. The former is a new tablet-sized textile printer that employs “HD-quality color heat transfers for apparel, hard goods, and a wide range of materials,” and a similar mechanism for enhancing color on dark-colored media to the C942dn. The latter does the same, but with neon colors, and “frees creative businesses from the limits of the standard color spectrum.”

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There was too much to see at PRINT 17 — I couldn’t possibly tell you about everything.  But before I go, I do want to direct your attention towards a few more major players who had some exciting news to announce and technology to show off:

Canon was a gracious host, not only throwing an incredible party on the top floor of the John Hancock Center on Monday night, but also hosting the industry at their booth #1213. Canon had a large and impressive display of digital production, production inkjet, and large format devices, along with PRISMA Workflow solutions and the Canon Application Gallery. The company also announced their newest monochrome digital press, the Océ VarioPrint 6000 Series Platform, and the new imagePROGRAF TX Series. 

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Xerox had so much going on it was hard to schedule everything in. From an exclusive and fabulous dinner at a top Chicago restaurant, to analyst one-on-ones and VIP tours of their large booth, they were a force to be reckoned with at PRINT 17. Xerox had all their top executives on hand and they were accessible throughout the event, which was impressive. At their booth 1302, show-goers had the opportunity to see Xerox’s Brenva HD Production Inkjet Press, Trivor 2400 HD Inkjet Press, and a number of automated workflow solutions. Stay tuned because we have an interview with Andrew Copley, President of Graphic Communications Solutions at Xerox coming soon.

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Fuji Film: At booth 2013, the OnsetM, B1 format sheetfed digital UV inkjet printer and the long run, processless Superia ZD offset plate technology, made their North American debut. In addition, they showed off the new super-wide format printer, the Acuity LED 3200R, and fountain solutions Superia PressMax JRDC-AB and PressMax PPF-DC. The company also demonstrated the J Press 720S Sheetfed Inkjet press.  

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Avanti: The company held one-on-one consultations and demonstrated how Avanti Slingshot’s new scheduling reservation system, mail and postage accounting, bidirectional certified integration with Avalara AvaTax, and wireless warehouse management features contribute to faster ROI. 

And let’s not forget our friends at Ricoh. You can take a video tour of booth 2022, where Ricoh displayed its Pro C7110X, C9110, 8220, VC60000, VC40000 and L4160. I met with Ryan Kiley from the commercial and industrial printing group who talked workflow with us and explained Ricoh’s differentiating approach to customer engagement. Their goal is to help customers identify, quantify and deliver against ROI targets. 

Ricoh had plenty of wide format on display, positioned as a low cost of entry and high return on investment for commercial printers. They see it as a product driven opportunity to bring new technology into businesses. And then there was the ProC7100 – Ricoh was able to show off new infrared technology, which they mentioned has great applications for security, authentication of certificates, ticketing, and special events passes. And if you just want to go invisible – this machine has that capability as well. Invisible infrared, anyone? 

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It was a fascinating week. I needed an extended visit to a sensory deprivation tank after that show. There is a concerted effort by almost all of the major OEMs in the space to extend the ability to reach out to the customer using levels of personalization and on terms never seen before, including multiple dimensions and augmented reality. But that’s another blog entirely. I’ll see you all at GRAPH Expo!

 

Patricia Ames
Patricia Ames

is senior analyst for BPO Media, which publishes The Imaging Channel and Workflow magazines. As a market analyst and industry consultant, Ames has worked for prominent consulting firms including KPMG and has more than 10 years experience in the imaging industry covering technology and business sectors. Ames has lived and worked in the United States, Southeast Asia and Europe and enjoys being a part of a global industry and community. Follow her on Twitter at @OTGPublisher or contact her by email at patricia@bpomedia.com.