Drupa or the pain of going virtual

I do feel that drupa is an important event for the printing industry, likely the most important one. Sadly, there have been many exhibitors pulling out of drupa 2021 – which is understandable in the face of rising Covid numbers all over Europe currently and increasing travel restrictions.  Still I – and many others – want to hear about the latest products and technologies.

With a great number of vendors resorting to virtual events in the meantime I believed it to be a smart move of the drupa organizers to have a virtual platform for news and announcements as well as recently posted. Drupa is still THE brand for exhibitions around print, gets worldwide attention and has immediately a large reach.

Today was supposed to be the day for the platform to go live with several panels and supplier presentations. I was prepared to cover it. Admittedly the registration process was lengthy, and I did not get any notification e-mails for sessions booked. I also missed any promotion on social media like LinkedIn to prep for the day. I must be in the wrong groups then and/or use the wrong hashtags – but if I missed it, I wonder who else missed it?

Trying to login today I have never seen so many forms for cookies and privacy notes to click through. I also failed to login into the live stream. More logins, more popups, more dead ends but no stream. Maybe it is just me. Maybe I have not been in enough webinars yet …

I spent some time to make it work. The site looks sleek, but I constantly got lost and for every action a new tab pops up. Since my income depends on covering printing industry events, I was prepared to make an effort. Compared to webinars I have listened or presented in previously, this was by a factor more complicated that rivals the Düsseldorf hotel price multipliers during drupa. I wonder what customers whose main line of business is to keep machines running or designing and producing these machines did.

On the website there is a replay of the opening session announced. I might be able to report eventually on drupa or the pain of going virtual.

Putting (some) Excitement into virtual events

Yes, we know drupa 2020 has been moved and Covid restrictions mean that there will be no trade shows for 2020 at least. Still vendors want to launch new products and since even open houses are out of question for now the last resort is virtual events. There have been a few in the last couple of months.

There are pundits that extol the virtue of virtual, but I find them somewhat unsatisfying – and I know that I am not alone. There are big differences in the quality of the virtual events as well, in terms of content, presentation and getting the attendants enthusiastic. But the main point is that marketing anything around print, which distinguishes itself as something multi-sensory and tactile, only virtually is a bit dicey.

Heidelberg to cancel drupa 2021

Heidelberg today announced that the company is to cancel its participation in drupa 2021. After Bobst and Xerox the third printing industry heavyweight dropped out now. Industry experts will feel a déjà vu with the last days of IPEX in 2014, with almost all major exhibitors dropping out before the show – one after another. This sealed the fate of IPEX, the second largest print trade show at its time.

Heidelberg to cancel drupa 2021 participation

Heidelberg justifies the decision of not exhibiting at drupa with the shortening innovation cycles and emerging digital business models. Heidelberg plans to customize its activities in regional markets and segments as well. Plans are to replace trade shows with events at their Print Media Centers (5 globally) and virtual events. Heidelberg pulled out of trade shows in developed countries many years ago, citing they know all customers already and rather invite them to the open house event. As the only exception drupa remained, as “the trade show you need to exhibit to be taken seriously in the graphic arts industry” and as the show that sets the mark for trends and technology developments.

Xerox Baltoro – a new platform for inkjet

The model choice for SRA3 based inkjet production printers is still quite limited, especially when compared to the choice in colour toner devices. While the sales of toner-based systems in high-end SRA3 are levelling off however, inkjet can extend the market by bringing its own strengths to the table, like: highest speeds, lower consumable cost – especially for low coverage – and a simplified marking engine. Inkjet will not make toner obsolete, but it will enlarge the scope of digital cut-sheet production presses noticeably.

Baltoro

Accordingly, it should lift some eyebrows when Xerox is launching a new model with the Baltoro HF. It is not the first foray for Xerox, having launched the Brenva HD at drupa 2016. On the 17th of October 2019 the Baltoro was shown publicly in Europe for the first time after having had its launch in Rochester in June already. On the first appearance the Baltoro and Brenva look quite similar – both use the tried & tested paper transport of the iGen5. This includes a wide range of paper decks and in-line finishers, which become available for the Baltoro. The drier is a very compact NIR drier.