Drupa 2020 is history – that never happened. Drupa 2021 fell victim to the pandemic as well. But there is still virtual drupa in 2021 and we are all curious on how this experiment is going to work out. After all, a virtual event is almost the opposite to the live, meet and touch drupa we all know. Virtual drupa 2021 is going to take place next week on four days on your screen, from the 20th of April to the 23rd.
Virtual drupa will have several elements:
- An exhibition space
- A networking plaza
- A conference area
Printing is not all about inkjet, but this is the most dynamic type of technology, with the potential to drive new applications and markets. Therefore, some inkjet events to watch out for are lining up.
Inkjet Insight is having an Innovation Week. This is series of webinars to educate the industry on the latest inkjet technology coming to the market, across document, labels, packaging and industrial segments. Technology coverage includes presses, press components, software and finishing. Different experts will share their knowledge and are available for Q&A. The webinars will run from June 14th to 18th.
Also, at Inkjet Insight a monthly overview on the latest inkjet production press installations gives readers an overview on which company installed which device into which company. It will be interesting to see how markets and demand develop. We started this series in January 2021 and will have a monthly update. January was a strong month with 16 installs, followed by 11 in February. You would need to become a member, but this is definitely worth it. Naturally we will miss some installations, as there was no press release or other public mention. If you know of any installs, please let me know.
There will be some more inkjet events to watch out for this year. A lot will still be virtual, but I hope on-site events will resume. I certainly have marked my calendar for the Hunkeler Innovationdays 2022, starting on the 21st of February 2022. Hopefully there will be opportunities to see the latest launches even before that.
Trade fairs have been under pressure in recent years. Cancelling most events in 2020 is making vendors considering their stance towards trade shows once more. So far drupa has been beyond discussion as the one trade show in which a vendor needs to exhibit to be taken seriously in the printing industry. Product and technology development plans have been timed for this show to maximise impact. Now drupa being moved to 2021 wreaks havoc to many plans and a good share of vendors decided to hold virtual launch events instead.
Two major vendors bailed out of drupa 2021 recently and opted for virtual events. Xerox cited insecurity around large events during a pandemic. Bobst announced that it was cancelling its participation at most trade shows, including Drupa, citing several reasons: A change in strategy to forego trade shows (except selected few in Far East) in favour of virtual events and experience centers, environmental reasons and that 2021 is already “full” for Bobst.
Virtual press conferences
As the first of the major vendors which cancelled their drupa participation for 2021 Bobst held an international press conference on the 9th of June. Several articles have been written on the launches presented, but I would like to focus on the underlaying question: how well does a virtual event as a substitute for a trade show participation.
First kudos to the event organisers. According to Bobst more than 100 journalists and analysts joined. The virtual press conference was well organized. The stream contained a mix of CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst talking, mixed with slides and him drawing on a flip chart (you still remember what this is?) to explain some workflow details. There was ample time for questions, also expertly moderated by Francois Martin.
Still – getting technology developments explained via a couple of slides always gives me the feel that I want to walk over and kick the tires of the new product at the booth or demo site. Given the wide range of listeners to a call it is impossible to give enough detail for the exports while not to overextend the ones that dabble in this field of expertise (or in the print industry as a whole). Crucially, as an analyst I want to learn about the important points that are not on polished vendor presentation slides, like pricing, availability, tech details, pros and cons and more. I find being able to stand in front of a piece of technology and talking to product managers, sales guys and technicians incredibly helpful. This is usually the opportunity to examine print samples as well. And you have a bit of time to let the first information settle and recall the points you want clarified.
When judging applications being in demand during and just after the Covid crisis, antibacterial print is certainly high on the growth list. Even beyond the current crisis there will be usage for antimicrobial print and paper to fight germs as consumers become more health conscious. Applications are found everywhere where print products change hands frequently: from paper money, restaurant menus, key cards, safety documents, playing cards and packaging.
Paper itself is a pretty low risk material. Erwin Busselot from Ricoh already laid out some arguments on paper and board reducing transmission risks. He states that tests have found that the Coronovirus survives the shortest on board, when compared to other surfaces. According to the WHO the likelihood of spreading the virus on packaging is low. Also, the paper manufacturing and printing processes do reduce the number of viable particles required to infect someone. Paper packaging or wrapping can also be used reduce transmission risks. Even paper towels are efficient in reducing germs, while hot air driers spread them around.
Coating to fight germs
Paper and print can even go beyond just having a low risk potential of spreading viruses to become a material to fight germs. Antimicrobial paper has been in use for years. There are solutions available adding copper or silver compounds to the paper, to the paper coating or to apply as print. Both are relatively expensive materials however and I am not sure whether they interfere with existing paper recycling processes. But there is more.
A lot has been talked about Xerox’ intent to buy HP and the stock value created. But I have not seen reports comparing the technologies and device line-up and whether there are synergies to be found. However, this is the area that interests users and employees most. Let’s have a quick comparison by the main segments (and I know this could be 30 page report even without considering the PC business, but let’s keep it simple here) on where both companies stand.