For those in the commercial and industrial print business, the only place to be Sept. 10-14 was Print 17 in Chicago. This is a big show with a huge footprint—more than 450 exhibitors—that serves as a magnet for graphic communications professionals from across the U.S. and globally. For readers of The Cannata Report who want to up their game and sell to this market, a visit to Print 17 is highly recommended.
This was my first trip to Print 17 after attending Graph Expo, a smaller version of the Print show, last year. While traditional office technology dealers bemoan the declining clicks within the traditional office, rest assured, print is alive and well in the commercial and industrial print space. That was evident on the show floor at Print 17, in the messaging at the press conferences, and during the many educational sessions occurring throughout the five-day conference.
You’ll find extensive coverage of Print 17 in our November production print issue. Until then, allow me to share with you five take homes from this year’s show that should also validate why traditional office technology dealers should be paying more attention to this show than they do now.
- Inkjet was everywhere. In the commercial and industrial space, high-speed inkjet is gaining traction and you couldn’t walk ten feet without bumping into one of these inkjet devices at Print 17. You name it, somebody, somewhere on the show floor was demonstrating an inkjet machine. And while some of these machines are monsters, others are smaller and suitable for the quick print market. Among the vendors showcasing their inkjet machines were Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta with its MGI product, Ricoh, Riso, and Xerox.
- Many familiar names exhibiting. A traditional office technology dealer who steps onto the exhibit hall floor at Print 17 shouldn’t feel like a stranger in a strange land as there were many companies most dealers know intimately displaying their products. Among the hardware manufacturers showcasing their wares at Print 17 were Canon, EFI, HP, KIP, Konica Minolta, OKI, Ricoh, Riso, Sharp, and Xerox. Finishing is critical within many segments of the print world, and for any dealer who has ever attended one of the BTA annual shows of days gone by there were companies showcasing at Print 17 who were staples at those old BTA events, including Duplo USA, Formax, and MBM, Martin Yale, and Neopost. Another name dealers should know by now, PrintReleaf, was also there talking about their reforestation efforts and their latest partnership in the commercial printing space with EFI.
- Label printers are starting to stick. Labels and packaging. Those are two words you hear a lot at Print 17. No wonder companies like Afinia Label, Epson, Konica Minolta/Muratec, and New Solution, a company whose products Muratec will be relabeling, among others were showcasing label printers in various sizes and configurations at the show. The applications for label printers are diverse with one of the hottest applications emerging, according to the folks I visited with at Afinia Label, are labels for the cannabis market.
- The media is the message. If you’re going to talk to an exhibitor at Print 17 about the hardware on display at their booth, somewhere in that conversation will be a discussion of the media that those devices output on along with demonstrations and samples of that output. If your world primarily revolves around putting monochrome or color toner on a cut-sheet page let me tell you there’s another world out there that takes printed output to levels well beyond what you may be familiar with even if you’ve only been selling high-end color copiers and wide format devices. Substrates, textiles, wood, metal, whatever, many of the devices on display print on a wider array of media than ever before. Dealers who decide to get into the commercial and industrial print space, will need to understand the media that gets the message across and what better place to learn than Print 17.
- Wide format goes deeper – If you have customers who need to create banners and signage, you already know the only way to go is wide format. There was a host of wide format products on display from the likes of Canon/Océ, Epson, HP, KIP, Ricoh, and others. An article in the Print 17 show daily cited a recent Keypoint Intelligence report that sees huge improvements in store for this technology, including improved productivity, greater media support, and enhanced workflow. When it comes to output, the two things to remember within the wide format signage and display segments are UV inks and latex, which are fast becoming the go-to inks/materials for more wide format printing applications.
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