Wednesday, 30 Jul 2014 17:11 GMT

Graph Expo 2014 Preview

Billed as one of the major wide-format print events in the US, Rob Fletcher looks ahead to this year’s edition of Graph Expo and finds out what we can expect from the popular exhibition

Welcome to the Windy City

It is fair to say we are quite lucky here in Europe with the high calibre of industry events we are treated to. While Drupa and Ipex have been seen historically as the  market’s show-piece exhibitions, smaller, more personal events help keep the industry ticking along in the quieter periods.

However, our transatlantic cousins across the pond are also more than capable of hosting effective and thought-provoking events of their own, and, as it often is the case with our US counterparts, the bigger the better. This year’s Graph Expo promises to be no different, with a whole host of companies signed up ready to showcase their latest innovations to the industry at McCormick Place in Chicago from September 28th until October 1st.

Although the event may be taking place over shores in Chicago, there are still plenty of reasons for UK-based companies to make the trip to the Windy City.

Adapt for the future

Ralph Nappi, president of show producer the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC), believes there are many reasons why UK should cross the pond this year, describing the show as a truly international event.

“With Graph Expo ‘14 recognised as ‘the’ industry event of the year, during show week it will be the one place, and one time that industry thought leaders, experts, and peers will gather together for an unsurpassed business networking forum,” Nappi enthuses, adding: “This connectivity will be further enhanced with more than 50 co-located print industry events, welcoming the broadest spectrum of Graphic Communications professionals.

Danny Morris, director of sales at EFI, believes that despite the event being located in the US, Graph Expo can serve as an international event

“Graph Expo visitors from the UK have the added advantage of resources provided exclusively to our international visitors, such as the International Business Centre in which to conduct business and explore new business relationships.

“A key focus at the year’s integrate-themed event involves the very latest applications. Demonstrations featuring the newest most unique applications for wide-format, package printing, crossmedia, photo imaging, and direct mail will engage, inspire and educate show goers about key strategies and ‘how-to’ tactics for entering, or expanding into new profit pathways.

“As attendees explore the hundreds of innovative technologies, products, and services that will be introduced at Graph Expo 14—many seen here for the first time anywhere—the message is about adapting for the future.”

With this in mind, Nappi draws attention to the many different show features that visitors can look forward to this year, including the debuting Plastic Print pavilion that features 3D printing technology. This will be co-sponsored by the GASC and the co-located converting and packaging print CPP Expo show.

As attendees explore the hundreds of innovative technologies, products, and services that will be introduced at Graph Expo ‘14—many seen here for the first time anywhere—the message is about adapting for the future

Nappi comments: “Inside Plastic Print, the new worlds of package printing, commercial printing and industrial manufacturing will converge. Here, attendees will experience live demonstrations of 3D printing options and the profit-building applications they create to sell now.”

Elsewhere, visitors can also look forward to a host of other show features including the Inkjet Candy Store, the ‘BIG’ Wide-Format Pavilion, the Marketing Pavilion, the Newspaper Pavilion, the ‘Deliver’ Mailing and Fulfilment Centre and the GREEN-space, in addition to the show’s cornerstone areas—software, and press and finishing.
Nappi adds: “This year’s show will be a highly interactive learning exper-ience designed to help attendees maximise the potential within their current markets, and proactively exp-lore innovative new ways and service offerings to succeed for the future.”

International event

One company that will have a major presence at this summer’s event is EFI, with the industry giant having taken out one of the larger stands at McCormick Place. Danny Morris, director of sales at EFI, believes that while the event may be based in the US, it is relevant to a wider audience.

Bruce Cozens, Vivid’s export manager, says the company has identified Graph Expo as a valuable way of connecting with the US print industry

He explains: “Although this is an American exhibition, it is an event which rates highly in the calendars for all sectors of the printing industry and, increasingly, for the wide-format sector. Graph Expo typically draws businesses of all sizes from the analogue and digital sectors, with many looking to invest in new equipment or software to boost their productivity and make them more profitable. For EFI, it is an important exhibition in the calendar as it gives the company the opportunity to concentrate primarily on its ‘local’ audience, although it welcomes its overseas customers and visitors, too.

“This is an exhibition that has worldwide appeal so, as well as being able to see new arrivals in the form of productivity software and printers, visitors can also take the opportunity of networking with users from other countries with a strong focus on the American market. This is valuable for businesses wanting to determine new methods for becoming more productive, and enables them to make comparisons with how European companies work with the same technologies as those from the US.”

With this in mind, Morris sets out what visitors can expect from EFI at this year’s show. He explains that the company’s primary intention is to demonstrate to both new and existing customers how its expanding range of products can not only help them grow, but also save on money, time and waste. EFI will also focus on the efficient running of operations by showcasing its management information software, enterprise resource planning and web-to-print software, in addition to its Jetrion narrow-web, EFI wide-format and VUTEk portfolio of inkjet printers.

Bruce Cozens, Vivid’s export manager, says the company has identified Graph Expo as a valuable way of connecting with the US print industry

Morris continues: “Typical visitor profiles at Graph Expo include the commercial print sector, digital specialists, wide-format businesses and display producers, plus companies wanting to venture into this market sector for the first time. With such a broad portfolio that accommodates users of all sizes, from entry-level and small-to medium-sized enterprises, through to large multi-site organisations, EFI expects to cater for every budgetary and production requirement at this exhibition.

“For those outside the US, it is an event well worth visiting as it puts a different, valuable perspective on the different types of production operations.”

Global audience

Finishing specialist Vivid Laminating Technologies will also be looking to take advantage of the event’s international audience. Vivid’s export manager Bruce Cozens explains that attendance at previous editions of the show helped it identify the event’s value to the firm.

He explains: “We first exhibited at Graph Expo in 2011. On the back of our attendance, we had already begun to make contacts and generate new leads in the US. We then exhibited at SGIA in 2012 with more resellers signing up and we are now back in Chicago for Graph Expo in 2014. It is of great importance to Vivid, as our current resellers have already confirmed that they will be attending the show.

Vivid’s Easymount Sign EM-S1600H wide-format laminator and the Matrix MX-530P pneumatic laminating system will both be on display at the show

“This means we get to catch-up and continue to build our relationships with our resellers, introduce our newest laminating systems to them and get their feedback on the US print industry and how we can continue to support them in selling our products. This is also a great platform for their customers to view our full range of finishing solutions.

“The US print industry is the biggest employer in the States, eclipsing car manufacturers in terms of employment and profit. We have taken what we have learnt as a global exporter and applied the same logic to exporting to the US.”

Outlining the firm’s plans for the event, Cozens explains that Vivid will aim to continue the message portrayed during its attendance at Brazil’s ExpoPrint show in July.

The US print industry is the biggest employer in the States, eclipsing car manufacturers in terms of employment and profit

He continues: “For the ExpoPrint show, we have produced some fantastic wall graphics using both Portuguese and Spanish languages to focus the show visitors to our stand. We will reproduce these in English for Graph Expo as part of the overall stand design. The focus of the text centres on both the Easymount wide-format laminators, the Matrix laminating systems, and their uses and benefits, as well as the advantages of becoming an authorised Vivid reseller.”

In addition to this focus, Cozens says Vivid will use Graph Expo to debut its Matrix pneumatic and duplex double-sided options for the first time in the US, in addition to gaining new authorised sellers in the country.

He adds: “Graph Expo will give Vivid the prospect to increase the numbers of authorised resellers in states where we do not currently have distributors.”

Diversify and prosper

Integrated solutions supplier Esko will also be in attendance at the event in order to showcase a number of its new products. Tim Zula, director, marketing communications North America, says the show will help demonstrate to visitors how they can diversify their business into new industry sectors.

This year’s event will welcome back a number of popular show features, such as the Inkjet Candy Store

Zula explains: “Esko has been attending the GraphExpo events for many, many years. We critically evaluate trade shows, so it would not be on our calendar if we did not find merit in it. We believe it provides us opportunities to not only greet the printing community in general, but to specifically offer commercial printers an idea of how to diversify into wide-format, or packaging.

“Esko is specifically looking to meet commercial printers who are interested in learning how they can diversify their businesses. We have both the hardware and software tools to help printers make this happen.

“After an event like Ipex, it is difficult to determine how many companies will be introducing new technologies for review. That said, since Ipex, Esko has launched two major products. So, there are going to be opportunities to see something new, as well as to review technologies that were seen for the first time in London this spring.”

O Factoid: Factoid: Although Chicago is colloquially known as the ‘Windy City’, it is not significantly windier than any other city in the US. Chicago has an average annual wind speed of 10.3mph, while Milton in Massachusetts is regarded as the country’s windiest city with an average speed of 15.4mph.

With this in mind, Zula moves on to discuss some of the technology that will be on show in Chicago. This will include the Suite 14 collection of new and updated software that Zula says has been designed to give brand owners, premedia houses, converters, sign and display producers, and commercial printers the resources they need to manage the modern complex preproduction environment.

Esko will also be showing off its new Kongsberg V series cutting tables that Zula says are suited to companies that require an entry-level cutting solution for packaging or signs and displays, but do not want to compromise on ‘quality, precision or reliability’.

Despite the event taking place across the pond, it seems there are plenty of good reasons for UK-based firms to attend. Whether you are interested in diversifying your company into new areas or hoping to adapt your business for the future, it seems the solutions could well be waiting for you in Chicago.