Volume 2 No. 2 – DRUPA 2004’s Wunderbar!

By David Callif, President of BCM INKS

By now you’ve read recaps and articles about this year’s DRUPA in Dusseldorf, Germany.  Most pundits said DRUPA 2004 was evolutionary rather than revolutionary.  This is true.  However, my experience was exhilarating and educational.

What did I learn that could have an impact on your business? 

  1. JDF -This is a data exchange format.  It includes 3 primary components:  The JDF itself, the Job Messaging Format (JMF) and the MIS system.  JDF will soon be the industry standard.  JDF will become the platform to implement the full integration of multi-vendor production workflows.  This “open system” will enable plants to integrate end to end printing processes which involve equipment from different vendors.  For more information visit:  www.cip4.org or www.artwork-systems.com or others.
  2. Digital Wide Format Printers -This arena has grown tremendously since the 2000 DRUPA.  I counted over 15 companies with wide format digital printers.  Print quality on many of the printers was impressive but printer speed is still an issue.  Several companies had printer offerings for under $20,000 (i.e. Kodak Encad, Epson, and McDermid).  In my opinion, the two most interesting printers were the roll format the.factory by Agfa Dotrix and the sheet fed Sun/Inca Fast Jet.  The Sun/Inca Fast Jet was just a prototype but it could attain speeds over 10,000 sq.ft./hr. with variable print (i.e. you could change the design on every sheet!).  I was told this printer is about 18 months from commercialization.  Digital is definitely an area to watch as it will impact the small quantity run market. 
  3. RFID – Surprisingly there was little emphasis on this technology.  Precisia is working on potential ink solutions.  Melzer addressed the issue of transponder (tag) testing with an in-line inspection system.  It appears companies that may have solutions chose not to exhibit or were unable to get exhibit space based upon the relative newness of the Wal-Mart initiative.  For more information visit:  www.precisia.net and www.melzer-germany.com
  4. Lightweight Recycled Papers -European paper manufacturers are touting light basis weight papers.  The papers offer the same stack strength but slightly less burst strength. 
  5. Large Offset Printers -KBA introduced an 80″ offset printer that can easily handle corrugated paper.  This will offer another competitive print choice.

Another view of DRUPA is offered by Christian Heusch, President of ARCH, Inc.  Chris is one of the leading consultants in the corrugated industry.  His edited views are included in this newsletter.

In my opinion, DRUPA is always worth the time and effort.  Besides the education, it was an opportunity to network and exchange ideas with printers and suppliers from around the world.  I’ll remember the exhilarating days as I prepare for SuperCorr in Atlanta.  I look forward to seeing you there on Nov. 8-12, 2004.  If you would like more information about the technologies I observed, please feel free to email me at dave@bcminks.com

Regards,

David Callif


My DRUPA 2004 Journal

By Christian Heusch of ARCH, Inc.

chris@ARCHlogic.com

I spent a full week with a group of seven visiting and reflecting the 2004 print and paper trade fair.  All seemed to agree that there was disappointingly little new technology to be seen.  Improvements were either lateral or incremental.  My overview and analysis of the equipment shown at DRUPA are as follows:

1.    Sheetfed Lithographic Offset – Both Koening & Bauer AG and MAN Roland have increased format sizes of their large litho presses; KBA offering the Rapida in up to 205 cm and Roland’s 900 being available in up to 1800 mm.  This may have some impact on the corrugated industry with regard to large label availability and single face lamination applications.  MAN Roland also continues to pursue corrugated direct print; experimental runs of B-flute (!) were promising.  Heidelberg showed a 40″ press dedicated to printing of carton stock along with a modernization platen die cutter and Jagenberg Diana specialty gluers.  Since Diana gluers and cutters are available in larger formats (up to 160 cm?) than printing presses, I anticipate some move to a larger format carton press.

2.    Label and Singleface Lamination -Lamina and Stock had good showings of their sheet-to-sheet laminators.  However, Stock made it very clear that they will not pursue a fully automated single face laminator in the near future.  Lunex GmbH does pursue automatic SFL machines and will offer formats up to 80″.  Bobst did not show actual Asitrade equipment but presented literature and product run off that machine. 

3.    Automatic Platen Die Cutting; Specialty Gluing – The clear winner in this field was Bobst, who demonstrated their new SP 145 PER Sprintera, a 9000/hr. platen press with fast tool changes and power register control.  Lunex caught my attention with their multi-piece display gluing, semi-automatic machine’s interesting for specialties. 

4.    Large Format Digital Print – The shake out in digital printing technology has happened.  There is digital offset (Indigo) for web and small format flexible substrate and there is ink jet for larger format applications; the number of suppliers for both has mushroomed.  With that, price pressures sets in and I’m convinced numerous of machinery companies seen here will not be around for DRUPA 2008.  The quality differences between the large format ink jet machines were miniscule.  Vutek, Inca, Scitex Vision, and Leggett & Platt had strong showings.  There are still minor tiling problems and reverses still show jagged edges.  The UV cured process does seem to have an advantage as it can apply ink to a wider variety of substrates.  Leggett & Platt might win the “bang for the buck” category right now (that was this week but who knows next week). 

5.    Flexo Printing – TRESU showed their new chamber doctor blade system.  Also, water-washable, fast exposure, sheet photopolymer printing plates are getting closer to offering sufficient relief for our corrugated applications.

6.    Pre-Press – Agfa made a big splash with their new combination screen, Sublima.  However, I’m still a little skeptical.  I also saw several new color profile test strips printed underneath the usual GATF strip.  Apparently people are now using table spectrophotometers on press for profiling the color gamut. 

7.    RFID – While radio frequency identification was a big topic here, the mass confusion as to what type of RFID (intelligent/re-programmable or read-only) and where to be applied seems to continue.