Arriving back from IPEX just as this issue was going to press I reasoned this column to be the best place to give an executive summary of IPEX 2002. For those who don’t know much about IPEX, it is the second-largest printing show in the world, after Drupa, and the largest show held this year. It took place in Birmingham, England, earlier in April.
Attendance from Canada was almost non-existent. In the week I was there, I only ran into five Canadian visitors. The poor Canadian showing can be explained in part by the fact that IPEX really was not promoted in Canada compared to Drupa. Canadian exhibitors were well represented, however, by CREO, Gateway Binding, RDP Marathon, Escher-Grad, Graphic Whizard and several other smaller companies.
Several trends stood out at the show regarding the equipment on the floor. The long presses, or 40" machines with eight or more units, have come into their own. Heidelberg, MAN Roland, KBA, Komori and Shinohara all featured these large presses on display. KBA’s longest press measured 105' in length.
But new press development was evident largely on the 20" to 29" presses. Ryobi had a new 23" x 29" press—the 524HE, for the short-run, four-colour market. MAN Roland took the 200 up to 15 units. KBA, known primarily for large presses, has ventured into the 20" market with two new presses, the Karat 46 DI and the Genius 52. The Karat 46 DI is the 2-up little-brother to the Karat 74. The Genius 52 is a very compact, space-age looking, four-colour press that uses waterless ink and prints 7,000 sheets per hour.
In CTP equipment, the trend is toward less expensive devices and 4-up units. CREO will push towards the mid-size or 4-up market and assembling affordable packages that smaller printers can afford. Escher-Grad of Montreal broke the $100,000 barrier with the Cobalt 4 violet-light platesetter for about $73,000. With platesetters moving down to, or below, the cost of imagesetters we are going to see an explosion in CTP installations.
Xerox, the largest single exhibitor, occupied the better part of two halls. Its star attraction was the new iGen3, a third-generation digital press which Xerox claims runs almost twice a fast as its nearest competitor at 6,000 copies per minute. Digital printers were prominent throughout the show, including Heidelberg’s NexPress, and HP Indigo models.
Under the very interesting or isn’t-that-neat, category, Heidelberg had a Speedmaster 52 with an in-line die-cutting unit. MAN Roland had its Roland 505 press running board at 18,000 sheets per hour.
On the news front, Punch, the new owner of Xeikon killed the company’s sheefed digital press (which also killed MAN Roland’s DICOpage, OEMed from Xeikon). Heidelberg is getting out of the bottom-end scanner market but it is looking for another acquisition or some partnering arrangement.
Purup-Eskofot and Barco, who merged last Fall, finally announced a new name for the company—Esko Graphics.
In general, the atmosphere among exhibitors and visitors seemed upbeat. Most believed that the downturn in the printing industry is over and better times are ahead.