Was Ipex worthy of a visit by those involved in narrow-web technology?
As with most exhibitions, the answer as to whether it was a success or not largely depends on whom you ask. For the organisers of Ipex 2014, there were rather more hurdles to jump than usual: new location; change of focus; and reduction in size, to name a few. Traditionally a sheet fed offset show (imagine a mini Drupa and you can visualise what Ipex was like 30 years ago), this year’s event was as much a reflection of how much and how fast the print industry is changing, as a sign that exhibitions, as part of the media mix, now play a different part in a company’s promotional activity to that played in the past, and mostly thanks to advent of the Internet. So, where did that leave the ‘class of 2014’?
For many, the absence of the major offset and digital press manufacturers was seen as a big blow to the expo’s appeal – big names and lots of moving machinery attract big audiences, which then work their way around the halls to view the other stands. But, as one digital press manufacturer told me: “we are one of the big players now – the pecking order has changed,” while another exhibitor positively welcomed the increased aisle traffic that resulted from the stand sizes being smaller. The question of how relevant Ipex was to NarrowWebTech readers is difficult to assess. On the one hand, it lacked the focus of a Labelexpo, but on the other, it did bring a greater element of diversification and product application.
If success is judged by numbers, then most stand-holders would have welcomed the news that 23,000 attended the six-day event, which retained its international appeal by attracting almost 11,000 overseas visitors. The comprehensive daily seminar programme attracted 170 of the industry’s top speakers, who gave their opinions on a variety of subjects from Cross Media to Ecology and Innovation. There were the inevitable announcements of ‘machine sold to…’ that populate all shows, but as ever these merely reflect an order held back for a special publicity occasion. More interesting were the conversations I had with a variety of exhibitors who made positive noises about the quality of enquiries received during the expo. The real proof of course will be the conversion rate of enquiry to sale, but that’s another story, and not part of Ipex’s brief.
Paul Briggs, speaking for Xeikon UK, reported a good level of enquiries from the outset. “We had quiet periods, but were generally well pleased with the number of visitors and serious enquiries.” Asked about the split between commercial and package printers he commented: “Subjectively, I’d say there were more packaging than commercial, but even those involved in commercial work wanted to know how they could diversify into package printing, which fully justified our decision to exhibit a carton press, and shows where the growth is coming from.”
During Ipex, Denny Brothers signed up for a Xeikon 3500, which will allow them to offer new products to their pharmaceutical and health care customers with its 513 mm (20.19″) web width. The press uses Xeikon’s low temperature ICE toner, which was actually developed for heat sensitive flexible packaging substrates.
Sales successes were also notched up at Konica Minolta, which sees great potential growth for its technology in the label market and exhibited one of its new C70RLC presses. Shown as a technology prototype in Brussels last September, and here as a working prototype, the CMYK press is aimed at the middle sector of the label market, with a price tag of around EUR150,000 and a speed of up to 19 m/min (62.33 ft/min) on a 330 mm (13″) web width. The company promises to show a production machine at Labelexpo Americas in Chicago later in the year. Edoardo Cotichini, Business Development Manager within the International Marketing Division commented: “Ipex has been a good focal point for digital technology, and highlighted the new opportunities in today’s changing print world.”
Claiming that Ipex had fulfilled all the company’s objectives, Olaf Lorenz, General Manager of the International Marketing Division added: “We have had significant qualified leads, collected more than 40 letters of intent, and closed some sales. Based on our experience of these types of shows, we estimate Ipex will net us over EU3.5 million worth of new business.”