A lot of Digital toys, but not much for Offset
A lot of Digital toys, but not much for Offset

Graph Expo is the premier printing & graphics show held at McCormick Place in Chicago every year. It’s the hot spot to see whats new & revelant in our industry.

So we headed to Chi-Town last week, and found some interesting happenings: Graph Expo 2010 had a lot more quiet, eerie sound than in the past. Missing was the sound of full dressed 6 color and 8 color offset presses running at full speed (no Heidelberg or Komori), and although there was some bindery equipment there, it did not dominate by any means. What everybody has talked about for years has happened, the graphics and print show has gone digital. Now I didn’t walk the whole the whole floor to every booth, so I don’t have the official overall view, but it was very obvious that the big press vendors did not see it in their best interest to spend the cash to bring the big metal in, and all the software and high tech stuff did.

What was hot was wide format and digital printing, variable data, cross media, work flows and so on. I guess you could call it the Print and Graphic digital technology show. I think the next 3 to 5 years will usher in a sea of change as printers change their focus from traditional printing to a business model that contains lots of new products and services, from signage, to 1 to 1 marketing and a whole lot in between. Our favorite destinations were:

  • Efi (Electronics for imaging), who makes both Fiery Rips for digital print and MIS Solutions for graphics industry
  • Cannon, wide format ink jet solutions, among everything else Cannon does
  • Epson, all sizes of ink jet printers and proofers
  • Xitron, the Work Flow and Rip that we use in our prepress. Love these folks.
  • Easy Purl and MindFire, 1 to 1 direct marketing tools through web based, licensed software for Purls (Personalized URL’s) and QR (Quick Response) Codes
  • Direct Smile, variable data & image print solutions
  • XMPie (A Xerox company), 1 to 1 marketing solutions that tie all the above  into an integrated adobe CS5 plug in. We were really impressed with this one.

A great thing about these shows is meeting & talking with your peers from around the country. We did some hanging out with Brad & Todd Warren, who own MPI Printing of Louisville, and a Sal Passasoni, a consulting engineer from Florida for Mac Prepress. After hanging with these guys all day (+ dinner and some cocktails) as well as talking to everybody at the above booths, we digested an awful lot, (plus shared a lot)  about how jobs can go through all of our shops faster, cleaner and more accurate (plus we got to pick on Ron Teller of Efi Printsmith at their booth. How’s that demo doin’ Ron?)

And of course Chicago is such a cool city, we walked around a while, found a cool Irish Pub on Rush Street, had a great dinner a the Tilted Kilt and got up early Monday and went to the top of the John Hancock building. And of course, there was the taxie driver who couldn’t speak english and his cab just died in the middle of the street, I think that was profanity in another language. I’ll save that for another time.

A few sights
A few sights