In the context of Print 4.0, I cast a rather skeptical eye over drupa before the show. The whole issue of online print seemed to fall by the wayside – I say seemed, because a few exhibitors did indeed bring innovative solutions with them and managed to persuade me of their merits.
There’s a good reason why real innovation seekers stopped by the Hybrid booth during the course of drupa. The software service provider, whose core business is packaging and label print solutions, put on a performance in Hall 7A that certainly won me over. The company showcased a large number of possible ideas at its booth and unveiled a range of very interesting solutions that could also benefit the online print sector. Of course Hybrid also works for and partners with other online label print providers. For example, Hybrid designed the entire store back end for a major German label specialist; this solution enables store data to be communicated to production interfaces with the aid of the software, and an important section of the full production chain is therefore based on the software company’s know-how. Overall, development of these software solutions is very much customer-driven. And since customers are focusing in turn more and more on online print, Hybrid is going down the same road and applying its substantial grasp of IT and technology to developing solutions for online print providers. Hybrid’s innovators have justifiably won plenty of orders from major customers and entered a number of strategic partnerships since the last drupa. In my opinion this company has some serious potential now and in the future, which is why Hybrid is one of my highlights of drupa 2016.
I shall be going into more detail about the W2P software solutions that were launched at drupa in a separate series of articles, which are to follow shortly here at beyond-print – but I should like to show the 3D warping function in Hybrid’s PACKZ PDF Editor here briefly.
I believe that 2Imagine‘s online editing environment is also one of the show’s genuine highlights. During the course of drupa, even the “real innovation seekers” identified this system solution for editing Adobe InDesign and Illustrator documents as being a promising innovation.
The editor specialist based in Hasselt in Belgium thus provides a SaaS solution, with the aid of which customers can add section-specific comments and undertake amendments and corrections to documents online. An InDesign server helps to manage these change processes. The practical thing about it is that the customer can see the end result via the live editing function (WYSIWYG) – this reduces the correction input required and saves both parties valuable time.
I am also curious as to how 2Imagine’s Chimpra (Check – Improve – Rate) solution, billed to be launched on October 20, 2016, will get on. It is set not only to feature a responsive design, but also facilitate even faster communication on the subject of content between agency and customer, especially where InDesign is involved. This highlight together with the other software innovations aimed at the online print sector will be explained in greater detail in the next few weeks.
The developer of a flexible online document editor from Aalst in Belgium quite rightly got plenty of visitors to its booth at drupa. The comprehensive document editing functions, with which Chili Publish has kitted out the fifth version of its online editor, not only provide an import option for various source formats, but also enable even the subtlest product changes to be made. This online editing solution is based on HTML5 and so can be simply incorporated into existing workflows via an open API and used in web portals – in other words it is eminently suitable for sophisticated W2P solutions. The various functions in the web browser can be provided in user-specific format; for less experienced users simple templates of limited scope can also be provided.
I was also delighted to see the preview of the yet-to-be-launched Chili Rendro solution, which is also based on HTML5. Featuring a special layout, this tool is set to provide platform-independent access to and enable rendering of PDF documents from January 2017 onwards. Accurate browser previews of PDF print data are also set to appear on mobile devices – I will definitely take a closer look at this once Rendro has been launched.
“There were a number of innovations on show at drupa, but only a few providers persuaded me of their merits. Loud or conspicuous showcases weren’t always required to get a message across – even unprepossessing providers had brought innovative solutions, which I regarded as highlight material, with them.” – Bernd Zipper
Once again Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG and its collaborative partners filled up an entire hall at drupa to showcase proven and innovative technologies. For example, one of the presses on show was the Speedmaster XL 106-8-P-LED, which is very much geared to the needs of online print providers, who process “simple” double-sided 4C job printing jobs using gang runs, and it can indeed handle up to three small-print-run jobs within eight minutes, including fully automatic plate changeover. The large sheet format facilitates a high rate of throughput.
But the Primefire 106+L, a product of the partnership between Fuji and Heidelberg, which was unveiled at drupa for the first time, appealed to me in particular. This digital printing press, the design of which is partially based on established Speedmaster models (feeder, sheet guiding, coating unit, delivery etc.) and which features piezo inkjet print heads from Fuji for direct print purposes, delivers superb output quality. Given its concept, this press is certain to be an addition to some packaging print providers’ stock of machinery that makes commercial sense. And I also see potential for the online packaging print segment here, because the ability to incorporate purely digital printing presses into workflows quickly and resultant production flexibility are potential advantages of the new system compared to competitor offerings. In other words I clearly regard the Primefire as one of the highlights of drupa 2016.
My drupa 2016 highlights definitely include the portfolio of a finishing specialist from Israel. Highcon’s machinery and web-to-pack platform provides the market for packaging and 3D stand-up cartons with a range of creative digital finishing options. Thus, for example, the Highcon Euclid III with its versatile range of finishing options makes fully digital finishing, from label cutting to molding of corrugated board, a feasible option, although this is not the only model that is suitable for providers of sophisticated packaging. In my opinion, the potential that Highcon’s machines have can meet the creative requirements of, for example, on-demand or made-to-order production. At least Highcon’s drupa showcase gave me hope to the effect that in future we can expect few barriers to creative packaging designs (except for sheet format), because VDP is now being joined by variable data cutting! I will revisit the technical details of Highcon’s innovative offering in comparison to other finishing solutions and in relation to web-to-packaging at another time here in my blog.
My Take: Based on my highlights, the show was indeed a mine of interesting information on both the machinery and software fronts. Some of it is geared towards the packaging market, which is driving growth in this industry, so that’s the reason why I shall be taking a close look at these innovations on your behalf in the near future. For the benefit of the online print segment ….