PRINT 17 should be an essential destination this September for any dealer selling or thinking about selling production print technology.
Every four years, the Graph Expo trade show grows in size and becomes the PRINT show. That will happen again this year, when, on September 10–14 in Chicago, the industry will once again convene to share new technologies, best practices, networking, and educational opportunities.
Returning to McCormick Place after being held in Orlando, Florida, last year, PRINT 17 promises to have something for everyone. Sometimes called the “American drupa,” PRINT 17 is a place where every printer, in every niche, can find something to help them grow their business. And this year, the focus is all about the attendee, with a lofty goal of ensuring that everybody who attends will walk away with two to three new ideas they can use in their own business.
Whether you are a traditional dealer, you are looking to expand into offering production print equipment, you have some equipment but now want to start offering more services that compliment it, or you are somewhere in between, this is a show you won’t want to miss.
“I think the No. 1 reason to come to Print 2017 is to stay informed about what is happening in the market, trends, new technologies, new approaches to business,” said Kent Villarreal, senior product manager, Product Planning and Marketing, Sharp. “For dealers, this is the perfect time to see what your competitors are bringing to market and are focusing on. This is vital for their approach to competitive situations and will allow them to better prepare themselves and their company, or at least be educated in what their competition has to offer.”
“Other trade shows focus on what’s coming down the line, sometimes even years ahead into the future, which is certainly important, but what makes PRINT 17 different is that it provides an excellent opportunity for attendees to see what’s available for you now to improve your business today,” noted Francis McMahon, vice president, BISG Océ Products PPS Marketing & Support, Canon U.S.A., Inc. “It’s one thing to go to an event hosted by a specific company and see their products, but this event provides guests with the opportunity to take a look at the totality of the world of printing. By seeing the context of our products and their applications, we’re able to illustrate how they’re able to address the growing demands of the marketplace.”
Before we can look at some of the technology and services you won’t want to miss, it’s important to understand some of the context driving the specific product launches and educational sessions that will be front and center at the show.
Andrew Copley, president, Graphic Communications Solutions, Xerox Corporation, broke it down into a few broad categories: inkjet technology and omnichannel communications. “Today, print providers have access to more affordable options for inkjet entry than ever before. These new offerings mean inkjet is now more affordable to more print shops. We’ve seen an overwhelming response to our entry-level inkjet presses and envision that this will be a huge growth area for the industry. We believe with the economics of inkjet and its great image quality, there are tremendous growth opportunities to capture high value pages and profit in new ways. And in this era of digital transformation, print providers are challenged with the need to offer new services. Being able to offer personalized customer communications and journeys that span across multiple media channels (both print and digital) with a single integrated view of the customer is one way to expand into new and lucrative services.”
“As we all know, there are many facets to production that range from entry to light production, to very high production volumes in cut-sheet and continuous feed,” added Villarreal. “The technology to watch is inkjet at the high end. As the technology advances and ink and substrates become more readily available to the masses, we will start to see this technology come downstream to the lighter production market where volumes are sub-50 to 100,000 cut-sheet clicks/prints. Another hot area to stay aware of is package printing. This provides another revenue stream for PFP professionals to differentiate from their competitors. There are continuing to be more options available for equipment focused on this area.”
I’ve said it before in this space, and I will say it again: Printers can no longer afford to be “one trick ponies.” They have to diversify their offerings and find unique niches to cultivate, and they have to look beyond ink on paper, transforming themselves from “printers” to “partners” in the eyes of their customers. Inkjet technology is hastening that shift. As it continues to improve to the point where in some cases it is beginning to be indistinguishable from traditional offset, print buyers will expect their communications to be more flawless and more creative at the same time.
As the demands of the print buyers continue to evolve, the needs of the printers will shift to meet them—which means dealers who want to remain relevant will need to change as well. PRINT 17 is an amazing opportunity to take the pulse of the market and get a good feel for what is coming, which in turn will make it easier to determine what products and services should be added—or removed.
Just a Sample
As of writing this piece in July, there are more than 400 exhibitors and counting, so it would be impossible to list every single technology, seminar, or networking opportunity you should plan to check out in Chicago. At press time, many exhibitors were still not prepared to share their specific plans for Print 17 with us. For now, here’s just a small taste of what to expect.
Canon U.S.A., Inc.
At PRINT 17, Canon U.S.A. (booth #1213) will celebrate the advancements it is making to push the boundaries of the graphic arts market and demonstrate what it describes as its leadership in inkjet technology. Canon will showcase the latest from imagePRESS, imagePROGRAF, ColorStream, and varioPRINT iSeries line-ups in addition to the brand new 64-inch roll-to-roll Océ Colorado 1640, which it unveiled this past spring and is reportedly designed to deliver exceptional productivity for high quality indoor and outdoor graphics. An exciting new feature in the booth, according to Canon, will be a gallery of output samples from a wide variety of Canon devices, as well as the North American debut of print samples from the Océ ProStream 1000.
Sharp [ST1] will be exhibiting with Formax in booth #3625, a top reseller that sells and supports the full lineup of Sharp document systems and professional displays. Formax also manufactures and sells its own line of offline equipment for the printing and graphics market. Sharp’s focus this year is on the new MX-6580N and MX-7580N models that are at the entry level of light production. These models are packed with new innovative features and options such as the MX-PE12 Fiery Print Sever that is new to this engine family and appeals to customers requiring support for graphic intensive environments and workflows. These will also be configured with the GBC Smartpunch Pro, which offers 10 different dies with various hole patterns, including three heavy-duty (HD) dies for high volume demands. These document systems will also be shown with the triple air-feed LCTs that are unique in the entry-level light production market, where precise media handling of various substrates is required.
In booth #1302, Xerox will showcase its next generation digital printing technologies, including inkjet and xerographic presses, revenue generating applications, and workflow and personalization solutions. Print providers will learn how to produce high-value applications and take advantage of the best opportunities in today’s competitive graphic communications marketplace. An array of production print devices will be on display in the Xerox booth, including the Brenva HD Production Inkjet Press, the Rialto 900 Inkjet Press, the Trivor 2400 Inkjet Press with High Fusion Ink, the iGen 5 Press, and the Xerox Versant 3100 Press. Xerox will also feature a variety of workflow solutions and business development resources. XMPie, A Xerox Company will also highlight solutions that it says delivers highly effective, personalized cross-media communications and web-to-print portals.
You Can’t Afford to Miss This
If you only attend one event this year, PRINT 17 should be it. Sure, it might require a bit more travel and planning than going to the local open-house event in your city or state, but while those are great for getting intensive, hands-on experience with one vendor’s technology, or being educated about one specific subject, there is no other event that will allow you to experience it all in one place the way you can at this show. If you haven’t booked your tickets now, what are you waiting for? And make sure you find me on the show floor to tell me what tips you plan to take home and put into action!
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