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Print 13 exhibitor list (“Graph Expo 2013”) Print E-mail

FLAAR has attended Graph Expo for many years. We had been at Print '01 when the World Trade Centers in New York were attacked on 9/11 (fortunately I had returned to my home in St Louis the day before).

Courtesy of the organizers of Graph Expo, FLAAR was a sponsor of the large format pavilion for several years. But gradually, year by year, one-by-one, several wide-format manufacturers and distributors pulled out. With fewer inkjet products, there was less each year to attract us. The final reason we ourselves pulled out (as exhibitors) was because the lecture program switched over to offset printing and related non-digital non-inkjet topics (plus the wide-format pavilion shriveled). And the expo was kept at four days (which is one day too long).

FLAAR lectures, seminars, trade shows, wide-format inkjet printers, UV-curable, solvent, eco-solvent printers
Vies from above looking down Graph expo 2011

Any show longer than three days makes no sense in today's economy. DRUPA 2012 is the best example of an obsolete delusion: a trade show that was great ten years ago at 12 to 14 days, but even for DRUPA, anything more than 8 days is inappropriate. FESPA more than five days would be too much (and sometimes three days is even better).

So FLAAR did not have a booth, nor attend, Graph Expo 2010. I doubt we will exhibit again unless they merge or co-locate with another expo, reduce the number of excess days, and if they offer total innovation that will attract wide-format printer crowds. Otherwise, too expensive for airfare, hotel, meals and time spent. SGIA is the same month or at most a few weeks difference, and SGIA has more of the wide-format inkjet printer companies. Plus SGIA has more of the ink, media, substrate, and RIP manufacturers and distributors.

Nonetheless, we do wish to present both sides: we did hear several exhibitors say they had a great result from exhibiting at Graph Expo 2010 (we always try to find positive things to say). But the cost of having staff to handle a booth is not cost-effective for studying the world of wide-format inkjet if there are not enough exhibitors of wide-format inkjet products. It is more efficient to concentrate on SGIA for that time of year; to concentrate on FLAAR Europe during the summer; to attend VISCOM to see the European markets in the autumn; and to attend Graphics of the Americas early in the year and ISA for the spring.

FLAAR also attends trade shows elsewhere around the world: we add one or two new countries every year. In 2009 we went to a signage expo in Ukraine. In 2010 we added Reklama Moscow and SIM in Abu Dhabi. In most cases a sponsor or host brings us to the venue, as did Graph Expo in the past.

In 2011 we have added the Serigrafia, Sign, Future Textil summer expo in Brazil and two co-located sign expos in Australia. For Australia two print shop owners are flying me there; for Brazil and ink company is flying two of us there (we are translating the reports into Portuguese). Logically we tend to attend an expo if a client or sponsor covers at least the airfare and hotel.

One major difference between Graph Expo and SGIA (and ISA and GoA) is that Graph Expo offers more offset press companies. SGIA offers the remains of the screen printing industry. So Graph Expo does indeed attract a different kind of printshop owner and manager than do the other expos. We wish each trade show success, but with companies like Heidelberg pulling out, (in a past year) it would help for each printing expo to offer more to attract back visitors (and exhibitors) that they have lost.

A combination of an inkjet signage focus+Graph Expo, co-locating in the same city, same expo center, same days, would make much more sense. Graph Expo could concentrate on copiers, offset, flexo, label printing: so narrow format. the wide-format partner could concentrate on wide-format, signage, textile printers, media, inks, LED, LCD signage, and all the things that UV-cured printers do well (which is a lot more than just signage).

This is an event that FLAAR Reports would feel worth returning to. I would also add that Chicago is an acceptable city for a venue and the expo was well organized by GASC in the early years. I can still remember it occupying both sides of the expo center! Since Print ’09 it has probably shrunk significantly but is still large enough as Print 13 to have a presence in the industry. It would be ironic if Print 13 has many of the exhibitors who have conspicuously withdrawn from IPEX 2014.

But Graph Expo allied with ISA for Print 13: September 8-12, 2013

At ISA 2013 I did not hear one single soul mention that ISA was sponsoring the Wide Format Pavilion. But by coincidence I landed on a web page which suggested that ISA would operate the Wide Format Pavilion at Print 13. This is quite a surprise (but partnership is what it takes to succeed).

Exhibitor List for Print 13 (GRAPH EXPO 2013)

We will keep track of the exhibitor list of printer distributors and manufacturers for Graph Expo 2012. But wide-format inkjet workflow is much more than just printers: inks, media, substrates, cutters, RIP software, laminators, coaters are all crucial. If the Graph Expo 2012 exhibitors list has

  • Minimum of two exhibitors of honeycomb sandwich board materials
  • Five major distributors of roll-fed media and/or substrates
  • Five after-market ink manufacturers (wide-format ink: not just screen printing or offset or flexo).
  • Three different technologies or options for textile printing
  • a minimum of three major manufacturers of
    • flat printable substrates (in addition to honeycomb)
    • flatbed cutters or CNC routers,
    • RIP software (for signage; which means more than just proofing),
    • laminators, and coaters,

then this is an adequate exhibitor list for a wide-format printshop or substantial in-house print service department if the expo also has all five major Japanese printer manufacturers: Epson, Canon, Seiko II, Mimaki, Mutoh, Roland; HP, and at least five UV-cured printer manufacturers.

It is also essential to have at least two manufacturers of alternative and innovative inks (and we don’t mean just latex ink: the really innovative inks are resin chemistry). If an expo has only the old-fashioned wide-format ink chemistry, then the print shop owner, managers, printer operators, distributors, and other industry people are not being informed or exposed to the future of our industry.

The other reality check is that the major players in today's world of wide-format inkjet are the Chinese manufacturers. So far the Chinese tend to exhibit at signage expos (meaning ISA, SGIA, and GOA), not offset printing expos. But if you are interested in offset printers, copiers, and office equipment, you can potentially find products in the Graph Expo 2013 exhibitor list that will be helpful for you and your company.

Print '09 Exhibitor list, trade show for wide-format UV-curable flatbed printers
People at the GRAPH EXPO trade show 2008.

Graph Expo trade shows, UV-curable printers, eco-solvent printers, mild-solvent printers, laminators, inkjet media
Several companies offer different products in these trade shows.

Summary: Print 13 is Digital, offset and hybrid technologies

The following list is taken from the GASC web site; it provides a good summary:

Corporate/Education/In-Plant Print Centers

I was research professor at BGSU and was fully aware of the pros and cons of an on-site in-plant print center. Actually the FLAAR research institute served as a wide-format print shop for about five years (then the building was torn down for expanding an art school). The benefits for the campus, as well as the downsides (of an ingrown, in-house system) are multiple. So we are cognizant of aspects of in-plant print centers. Plus, among our huge readership are in-house print centers from universities and Fortune 500 companies all across the 50 States.

Transactional Printers

Kodak flew two of us from FLAAR to the Athens Olympics in Greece and housed us in the hotel rented by Kodak for the entire event. This trip was a prize we won at DRUPA earlier that year. So we have a tad of experience with transactional printers. Rather obviously a lot of this is “going digital.”

Package & Speciality Printers

Short run packaging is a field we know, especially since a number of packaging printing companies have hired FLAAR as consultants. Plus we have been flown to the manufacturing factory of one of the most modern digital packaging printers already five years ago.

We at FLAAR have also visited the printing companies that work for both short-run digital packaging and prototyping, as well as companies which use traditional flexo or other older processes for mass production of packaging.

Speciality Printers have no relationship to Package applications. I would list Speciality Printers totally separately. We at FLAAR are consultants to both manufacturers and distributors and end-users of speciality printers (which is why we know these applications are best in a separate category).

My spelling check on MS Word asks to change the spelling of speciality to specialty, but my own spelling has a few errors and what counts is that we understand the meaning of both spellings.

Quick/Small Commercial Printers, and Commercial Printers

For offset, flexo, and screen printing, there are plenty of specialists in these fields, especially at universities. We prefer to concentrate on learning and understanding the TRENDs in inkjet in general and wide-format in particular. Most universities do not yet have senior professors whose training and experience is wide-format inkjet in its diverse workflow.

Mailing & Fullfillment, Books, Newspapers, etc.

These are traditional fields. And it is precisely in these fields where Graph Expo (and every for years, “Print”) offers products not visible at a “signage expo.” Yet we have been to WIFAG (a Swiss manufacturer of newspaper offset printing presses). We have been at the HP Indigo factory plus the factory for the ink used by HP Indigo. Plus I have been brought as a guest to the factory of Polytype, a remarkable printing technology again in Switzerland (I lived in Zurich for three years and my brother studied at the ETH, their equivalent of MIT in the USA). As you would expect for either a university research professor or an analyst in the evolving world of printing, we do keep an eye on other aspects.

But, we are more successful when we focus; when we deliberately limit ourselves to digital in general, inkjet in particular, and wide-format in its complete and diverse workflows.

Past History of Graph Expo (and Print ’09, Print ’11)

PRINT 2009 was the first large version of GRAPH EXPO which I experienced. GRAPH EXPO is held every year in Chicago, but every four years it doubles in size just for that fourth year and changes its name (just for that fourth year) to “Print.”

Offset printers, copiers and variable data short run digital presses are one strong point of PRINT '09, but FLAAR focuses primarily on UV-cured flatbeds, solvent printers, laminators, and cutters (XY contour cutters and CNC routers).

Since there is a separate report on GRAPH EXPO and PRINT '09, we do not have further description on this introductory page since all the material is in the full-color PDF. We also have a report on GRAPH EXPO 2011 if you wish a private report.

For several years FLAAR was a sponsor of the Wide Format Pavilion. But then the person in charge at Graph Expo was no longer there so the inkjet pavilion disappeared. The same year the entire expo shifted away from wide-format inkjet, especially the entire lecture program.

  • If the lecture program would return to focus on wide format…
  • If the Wide Format Pavilion has really a diverse (“wide”) range of workflow products.
  • If the expo organizers have a team which understands the reality of wide-format inkjet trends….

Then we at FLAAR would enjoy considering to feature this expo again (to assist our one million readers to understand which expos are recommended for wide-format inkjet). One good example would be FESPA Digital. We recommend FESPA digital because it is a great experience with plenty of options.

Some expos are still tooooo long (too many days)

SGIA intelligently changed its 4-day tradition to 3-day expo (three days is much better for a USA expo).

ISA has always had three days. Five days is too much; four days is stretching it in the world economy since 2008. Three days is best; four would be max for a “print” version; with three days for the normal version.

We have experience with attendees (print shop owners), with distributors and with manufacturers. We are fully aware that offset printer machine manufacturers whine and complain that it takes them a week to set up and tune their giant offset printers at an expo booth so they demand a week to showcase them.

But inkjet companies do not need that much set-up time. It is too expensive to have your entire managerial and booth staff in expo city hotels for FIVE ENTIRE DAYS (plus pre-show time in addition).

And then expo organizers wonder why fewer people bother to attend, and why many manufacturers and distributors drop out. Duh! Look at what happened with Drupa: they have tried to use offset printer set-up complaints to require that all exhibitors rot for 14 days in over-priced Duesseldorf.

Finally attendance dropped so much (for Drupa 2012) that they woke up (slightly) and shortened it to 11 days for Drupa 2016. FLAAR had written clearly worded editorials indicating that 14 days was far far far too many days. So it least they listened with half of one ear. After Drupa 2016 drops a bit more in attendance perhaps they will wake up and shorten it to 8 or 9 days. 8 days would be the best solution. Having a show more days does NOT attract more people.

When the expo is too long, the final days are EMPTY. EMPTY AISLES, and the exhibitors see and remember this view of acres of empty aisles.

Summary for Print 13 (the special enhancement of “Graph Expo 2013”)

The alliance of Gasc (the expo organizer) with a wide-format signage expo organizer (ISA) is a daring, bold, and innovative step. Logically I would have expected an autumn offset printer expo to ally with an autumn-timed inkjet+signage expo (such as SGIA). So the alliance of Gasc with ISA (a springtime venue) is a surprise (but I can also see the advantages for ISA).

However FESPA’s alliance with Graphics of the Americas lasted less than one year. And IRgA’s alliance seems to have evaporated. Zilch about this co-located convention is on the IRgA web site. Thus we hope that the alliance of Gasc and their new partner works well for both (and for more than one year).

FLAAR lectures, seminars, trade shows, wide-format inkjet printers, UV-curable, solvent, eco-solvent printers
Each year for several years FLAAR had a space at GRAPH EXPO trade show. Here Dr. Hellmuth in the booth FLAAR, GRAPH EXPO 2008.


Most recently updated April 18, 2013

Previously updated January 4, 2012, April 14, 2011 and January 12, 2011.

First posted August 19, 2009



After-market Ink


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