Australian Printer editor Wayne Robinson outlines the key trends printers can expect at this year’s drupa trade show.
The 300,000 print experts about to converge at global mega show drupa will be introduced to a whole new world in the print industry. The analogue world of heavy metal, human craft and industrial chemistry that has been the print industry for the past 500 years will recede into the background, while the digital world of process automation, software in the cloud and hands-free operation will come to the fore.
As the print industry grapples with profound structural change, the 31 May to 10 June drupa exhibition, which has been showing every four years since 1950, will likely mark the wholesale move of print from analogue to the digital world, with IT centre stage and the focus on client solutions.
The mega trend at drupa 2016 will be Print 4.0, meaning individualisation and personalisation in digital printing, coming from an integrated digital networking of machines and systems.
Under the banner ‘touch the future’, drupa this year will highlight a range of new opportunities, new methods of production and new technologies for print business owners. It will be a much broader show than in previous years, with the 162,000 sqm packed with the latest developments.
The focus is especially on next-generation printing technology and highlights themes including print and packaging production, multichannel, 3D printing, functional printing and green printing.
Process digitisation or Print 4.0, which underpins print production, is clearly going to be the route to the future for printers. We know the more times a job is touched by humans, the more it costs. Visitors to drupa will get to see the wide array of vendors keeping this to a minimum as much as possible.
Process digitisation also allows the automated integration of multiple software solutions, and online connection with customers and suppliers.
Integrated digital solutions enable print businesses to offer far more in a much shorter timeframe, with far greater growth opportunities, for far less investment than traditional analogue solutions.
Canon’s digital print solution, for example, allows customers to upload their own job file, send it into a print queue, have it checked for accuracy, downloaded, printed, folded and stitched without a single human intervention – with management receiving an automated report of the job. And importantly, with no waste – it will print exactly the number of copies required. This is changing the business of print.
Printing in the cloud, plus Inkjet
The drupa exhibitors are virtually unanimous in their aim to get their software off individual printers’ servers and into the cloud. They say it will be less expensive for printers, which means they will never need to upgrade, there are no version clashes, it is more secure and it enables printers to access software previously out of reach, and on a job-by-job basis if required.
Inkjet printing for commercial print, for packaging, labels, wide format and an expanding range of media and applications will take centre stage at drupa. Canon itself is launching its first inkjet cut-sheet press, the A3-sized VarioPrint i300.
This year’s drupa is an opportunity for printers to think far beyond just offering their clients ink on paper and print product manufacturing. With new technologies coming out, now is the time to push ahead into the future of printing.