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Back from the Ipex

04 April 2014

The Ipex 2014 was held in London last month, at the Excel.  Even this smaller venue was not full.  Big names pulled out 18 months ago:  Ricoh, Kodak, Heidelberg, Canon, HP, Agfa and Xerox.  Two points: the world economy, and particularly that of the UK, looked bleak in 2012; and Ipex 2014 was billed more to cover cross-media options for the print industry.  But these brands’ absence was keenly felt, and overall attendance in 2014 was only about half that of 2010, with about half the footfall from overseas.

It was still a great show, and the exhibitors in attendance made the most of their presence in the newly optimistic economic situation.  FujiFilm sold a Jet Press 720; Xerox resellers Xeretec made up for their brand’s absence with an exciting stand, and they sold an iGen 150 Press!

The breadth of Web2Print and production workflow systems is impressive.   This is an area which has undergone a revolution since Ipex 2010.  As well as some 50 stands held by developers of such software systems, there were training sessions throughout the venue.  The largest was the World Press Summit.  The message of Ipex 2014 was that printers need to adapt to the post-internet world, and remain agile enough to exploit new revenue streams as they come along.  Key to this is being prepared to adapt and retrain - and to intensify business relationships with customers and marketing providers to become key partners in their customers’ cross-media marketing efforts.  Print remains the only way to communicate quality, and is still the lead item in marketing campaigns.  The new ranges of Web2Print systems provide not only the means to design and to produce printed products but also utilize the same design for email and web campaigns – which several of the Web2Print providers also offer, hooking up to “Big Data” providers to deliver one-stop shops for focused multimedia marketing.  “Focused” implies short runs with variable data: digital.

Konica Minolta had the defining stand of the whole show.  They capitalized on their competitors’ reticence.  Their  1200 m² included the KM-1 “B2+” cut sheet inkjet press, which should be in beta testing by the end of 2014.  The KM-1 has been jointly designed with Komori, employs a specific UV-cured ink and thus so can print on any paper (up to 0.6 mm) without bleed – and is designed to allow a maximum of maintenance by the operator.  The new bizhub PRESS C1100 with its new low-temperature toner will surely become the lead machine in the color press portfolio.  They also showed the bizhub PRESS 2250P monochrome SRA3+ digital press (250 ppm) which will be launched in May, the bizhub PRESS C1060/C1070 with its near-offset quality and the new bizhub PRESS C70hc (high chroma) machines – among others.  The French company MGI has contracted to provide the Jetvarnish 3DS exclusively to Konica Minolta, and output from this device was one of the main takeaways we saw in the surrounding pubs and on the DLR. 

The full breadth of Konica Minolta’s software portfolio was on show and being ably demonstrated.  To name but a few:  vPress looks set to become the new Web2Print suite, and conforms to the new “less touch” approach.  Downstream there is PrintGroove JT Compile and JT Man 5, and the impressive Color Care 2 suite.  Other Konica Partners with a substantial presence included VDP providers DirectSmile and PlanetPress.

Oki’s stand was impressive, and the selection of 5-color devices was going down well with the print professionals attending the show.   The benefits of low-cost digital printing in white (or clear) have been well understood by printers – and the challenge for Oki is to keep up with demand!

Analyses of the new machines and the software tools on display at Ipex 2014 will be available to subscribers to DataMaster Online in the coming days and weeks.  Check out www.Printer-Benchmark.com for more details.

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