Above: Walk-ins waiting to register on the first day of the conference.
Why you should feel guilty for missing out on a conference that was bigger, busier, and better.
No doubt, RISO’s tagline at PRINTING United nailed it: “Printers for Endless Possibilities.” And that’s what PRINTING United is about; printing in 2023 hardly knows any limits.
Exhibitors from around the world came to Atlanta, October 18–20, to show their latest and finest developments in printing and well, anything—a rug, a tile, a bottle, on paper, a carton, labels… you name it. They brought their devices, teams of experts, and partners not just to impress but also to make it clear to anyone with any doubt: Print is going strong; it’s creative and it’s here to stay.
The RISO booth showcased innovations in inkjet technology.
With more than 800 exhibitors and close to 30,000 visitors, PRINTING United 2023 broke records for anyone selling or buying a printer. But let me warn you, this show is not for the fainthearted. Not only were two halls of the impressive Atlanta World Congress Center packed with hardware, software, and experts to inspect and interview, but the parallel-running educational sessions were also to be noticed. And there were a lot of sessions!
So, with suggestions from my editor at The Cannata Report, I had to pick and choose: What are we curious about? What is vital to our audience? We ruled out interior design printing, textile printing, and large format printing, as these might be a little bit too far away from what’s currently in demand at an average dealership. Instead, I did the rounds to understand from:
- Solimar Systems
- Rochester Software Associates (RSA)
I focused on how their latest releases can help you and your customers become successful print production users.
RISO: The “Ideal” Printing Partner
RISO is one of my all-time favorites. Whether looking at office, envelope, or high-speed inkjet printing, RISO delivers consistent quality with an attractive price tag. The VALEZUS T2200 and VALEZUS T1200 are its high-volume, high-speed workhorses, picking up not only peaks in any print room but also serving as backup presses in in-plants and some of the largest print services providers in the U.S. and around the world. Its recent partnership with one of the most experienced solutions providers in this segment, Solimar Systems, adds professional data stream conversion, piece-level tracking, document re-engineering, accessibility, and PDF optimization pretty much off the shelf to its customer experience program.
RISO’s Andre D’Urbano espouses the benefits of inkjet technology to an attentive audience.
In my conversation with Andre D’Urbano, RISO’s vice president of sales, it became pretty clear that in his sales operation, solutions that support their customers in reaching the potential of their printers have become a crucial sales accelerator.
New Kid on the Block
But on to new adventures and a “new kid” on the production print floor: Sharp. We’ve all heard the news. Some of you may have already had a chance to take a closer look at its first true production printers, and I have to say, I was impressed. For decades, I had Sharp in my office/workplace printer drawer. Solid, but nothing that got me overly excited. The BP-1200S Color Press Series is everything to get a foot in the door of a production room. And I’d like to applaud the company for its approach to working with reliable solutions partners from before the challenges drown a sales team–you can never be too well equipped with a successful software partner when you launch into new territories. Neither Naeran Rubio, associate director, content and communications at Sharp, nor Frank Mallozzi, Sharp’s strategy consultant, could share additional details, such as pricing, ahead of the official announcements. Still, it became clear that Sharp is all about being competitive with these new devices, whether we’re looking at technology, quality, pricing, or how it plans to get its distribution channel ready.
Sharp’s first true production print device made its PRINTING United debut.
Bold New Technologies at PRINTING United Expo
Almost across the aisle from my starting point, RISO, I ran into some old friends at Ricoh and something that could very quickly become your new best friends: The RICOH Pro C9500 and the Pro C7500 (enriching its cut-sheet fleet and complementing its continuous feed presses).
The Ricoh Pro C9500 was one of the many production print devices displayed at the Ricoh USA booth.
As Mark Little, senior director, global product marketing, explained, Ricoh’s hardware comes with a bucket full of matching and largely agnostic software tools (Ricoh Process Director, Ricoh Supervisor, Ricoh Total Flow Producer), from print job onboarding and color matching, Avanti Slingshot as its preferred MIS System to composition, data stream conversion, and variable data printing. Ricoh has it all lined up and ready to go to support even the most complex printing environments and processes. My highlight at Ricoh is automation. Whether you’re looking at job onboarding, job improvement, or color matching, Ricoh has added artificial intelligence to its tools to get ahead of human interaction in many production steps.
Expanding the Footprint and Technology Partners
Over the past decade, SCREEN has seriously expanded its footprint in the inkjet printing landscape. In North America, its roll-fed presses are one of the top-quality household names; in Europe, they are en route to dominate the label printing market.
And there’s more to come. Celebrating its 80th birthday this year, SCREEN is reaching for new market segments. Collaborating with Kyocera, SCREEN presented the prototype of a new cut-sheet device during PRINTING United. With top-of-the-line printing quality, this cut-sheet printer, in particular for coated paper, will allow users to move jobs between a Truepress and the new collaboratively-developed press—for smaller jobs, for jobs that fit better on cut sheet, as a backup printer–anything is possible.
Trusted Technology and Innovation Partner for over 30 Years
Hardware without software is a no-go in the 21st century. And taking the next step into production printing demands reliable partners. I met with one of them during PRINTING United: Solimar Systems. There aren’t many OEMs in the production space that are not, one way or the other, working with Solimar Systems to bring optimized production print workflows to their clients. Over the decades, Solimar has become the go-to address for PDF optimization, document re-engineering, data stream conversion, print job monitoring and routing, and piece-level tracking. If you already are or are planning to go high-speed, high-volume, look at how Solimar Systems can add even more value to your offerings.
Print Workflow A-Z
Another trusted partner in the industry is Rochester Software Associates (RSA)—if you are looking for a well-established partner that can manage, optimize, and automate, for example, in-plant print operations. Web-to-print, output management, and transformations are at the core of its offerings. Like most other software companies, RSA is completely vendor-agnostic. Most notable in my conversation with Ben Parker, director of sales, is the company’s effort to support the dealer channel and equip them with software that supports their sales efforts.
Looking Back/Looking Forward
Whether I spoke with Andre D’Urbano, RISO; Mary Ann Rowan, Solimar Systems; Mark Schlimme, SCREEN; David Spencer, Spencer Metrics; Ben Parker, RSA; Mark Little, Ricoh; or Frank Mallozzi, Sharp’s strategy consultant, to name but a few, they all agreed that PRINTING United 2022 was “OK,” but PRINTING United 2023 was what they were looking and hoping for. Guests came to PRINTING United to shop. And their expectations for PRINTING United 2024, opening only a few weeks after a very highly anticipated drupa 2024, are incredibly high. Sales must go on!
Author’s note: Solimar Systems, RISO, and SCREEN made this article possible by sponsoring my trip to Atlanta. Thanks, everyone, for your contribution to spreading the word!