Print is “alive and kicking” – LIA Drupa in Review dinner
Liquid toner press competition, the nanographic revolution and the continued necessity of offset in the printing industry were just some of the talking points at the Lithographic Institute of Australia’s post-drupa dinner held in Sydney this week.
The LIA-Printing Industries ‘drupa in review’ dinner, held in Sydney’s North Ryde on 19 June, featured presentations by some of the local industry’s foremost representatives at drupa 2012 in Germany.
Offset Alpine Printing general manager, Craig Dunsford, and SOS Print and Media general manager, Michael Schulz both reflected upon their visit to this year’s drupa, as did Print21’s own ‘Drupa Snooper’, Andy McCourt, and the LIA NSW Graduate of the Year winner, Scott Mohammed.
It was a full house at the North Ryde RSL, where the dinner was held, with the local industry well represented. First to speak was Graduate of the Year, Sony DADC’s Scott Mohammed, who shared a brief account of his first impressions of the huge trade fair at Messe Düsseldorf. According to Mohammed, the experience injected a sense of faith in the industry that has lately been shaky on home ground.
“Over the past few years you hear about the printing industry dying,” said Mohammed, “and digital is making a lot ground, but going to the show and seeing the sheet fed at the show, it is clear both of them have a place in the market. Printing is definitely not dead, it’s alive and kicking.”
From L-R: Print21‘s Andy McCourt, Michael Schulz of SOS Print & Media, Offset Alpine’s Craig Dunsford, and LIA Graduate of the Year Scott Mohammed.
Offset Alpine’s Craig Dunsford highlighted how much of technology and equipment on show at this year’s event was helping to close the gap between long-run offset and short-run digital capacities.
“Hybrid presses – small format presses combined with anilox rollers and UV options are bridging the gap between offset and short-run,” he said. “No doubt, inkjet would be keen for a piece of the action too.”
SOS Printing’s Michael Schulz also lingered on the subject of inkjet, saying that, once again, this year’s fair had been called the ‘inkjet drupa’. While there were much faster inkjet web presses on display this time around at the fair, he believes offset still has the edge for some sectors of the market.
“There were faster web presses from HP. For all the web presses the speeds are just amazing,” he said. “However, it hasn’t taken over offset as much as I had thought. You still need to be able to print on such a range of stock and I think they [inkjet web presses] are still a bit slow there. It is better with offset.”
Print21’s intrepid ‘Drupa Snooper’, Andy McCourt closed the evening with a detailed reflection on what impact the technologies on display at drupa 2012 will have on the market. One area McCourt looked at closely was the emergence of cloud-to-web printing, a step further along the evolutionary tree from the now widespread web-to-print phenomenon.
“Cloud-to-print is subscription-based not purchase-based. It’s web-to-print without the capital expenditure,” said McCourt. “It’s always up to date in the cloud. You can still customise it though, and it will still look like your business.”
McCourt also looked closely at the burgeoning liquid toner sector of the market, saying that, while the technology is not exactly new, its commercial application is. He went on to suggest that, with so many manufacturers developing liquid toner presses, the local industry will see a glut of suppliers vying for a very limited portion of the market. “It is a crowded market, and I think there’s going to be a shake-up,” he said.
Needless to say, there was a fair amount of talk about Benny Landa’s much-hyped nanographic technology. McCourt, who had an in-depth one-on-one conversation at drupa with the man himself, said Landa believes there is enough room in the market for digital to continue expanding without stealing too much away from offset.
“Benny’s a believer in offset,” said McCourt. “He knows there are some physical limitations to the speeds digital can go to…so he doesn’t believe offset’s going to die. Digital accounts for two per cent of the one trillion pages printed daily, so Benny’s still confident about the amount of growth in digital that is still possible in the market.”
McCourt signed off with the comment that by the next drupa (in 2016) he expects the industry will be markedly different. “I really don’t think we’re going to recognise our industry by the time the next drupa rolls around. There will be big changes,” he said.