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"Write this in ink: It will be the Inkjet Drupa. Look for at least eight high-speed, high-quality roll-fed inkjet printers, initially for transpromo but also to challenge another level of offset litho."

Aug 17, 2007 12:00 AM

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Messe Dusseldorf reports Drupa 2008 will break all of its previous records. With some 170,000 sq. m. of net exhibition space and exhibitor numbers topping 1,800, this will be the biggest Drupa ever in its more than 50-year history. The print media fair will take place from May 29 to June 11, 2008, in Dusseldorf, Germany.

Previous shows have ushered in direct imaging presses. CTP, digital presses and many other technical breakthroughs. The 2008 show will include new large-format offset presses and inkjet innovations.

We’re asking printers, vendors and consultants to share their Drupa reflections and predictions. Write to

Frank Romano, professor emeritus, RIT, will attend his ninth Drupa in 2008. “I may have two more in me before I go to that great Drupa in the sky,” says Romano. “Hopefully, the hotels will be cheaper.”

When did you first go?


Why did you go? What keeps you coming back?

"The first time I was the marketing communications manager for Compugraphic and we introduced the CompuWriter phototypesetter. After that, I covered the show for various media. Now it is the place to go to see the newest technologies first."

Most recent show you attended?


Looking back at the first Drupa you attended, what are your most vivid recollections?

"In 1972, most of the show was in the old fairgrounds near Old Town. Heidelberg was in the first building at the new fairgrounds. I recall a sea of the just-introduced GTO presses and a wall of images generated by hundreds of 35mm slide projectors."

What did you enjoy about going to Dusseldorf?

"I was like a kid at the circus; it was wicked awesome."

Where do you typically stay?

"Anywhere on the tram line to the fairgrounds, but the hotel mafia now overcharge like crazy."

Any thoughts on what we might see at Drupa 2008?

"Write this in ink:  It will be the Inkjet Drupa. Look for at least eight high-speed, high-quality roll-fed inkjet printers, initially for transpromo but also to challenge another level of offset litho."

Frank Romano is professor emeritus, Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), and a fixture in the graphic arts industry. He has written hundreds of articles and more than 40 books. He has addressed virtually every printing association, professional organization, club and group.

First-timers cannot imagine the immensity

John Ovid Bell, CEO of The Ovid Bell Press (Fulton, MO) (OBP) has attended two Drupas. “My first was 1990 when we began our quest to become a web printer,” he recalls. “My other visit came in 1995, just prior to the purchase and installation of our second web press. I had planned on going in 2000, but my wife and I moved to a new home and that became the priority. I don’t recall why I didn’t go in 2004.”

Looking back at the first Drupa you attended, what are your most vivid recollections?

White asparagus (“spargel”) stands out in my mind. Nothing can be better than being in Europe for the season. The show was spectacular, as well.

Where do you typically stay?

I stayed in Koln (Cologne) both times.

What keeps you coming back?

Drupa offers the opportunity to see everything available to our industry. I will be focusing on the digital front when I visit in 2008.

Any advice for the first-time attendee? My advice: Wear comfortable shoes and be sure to have enough time at the show. First-timers cannot imagine the immensity of the show.

OBP is a third-generation family business specializing in heavy coverage, tight-registration magazines and journals with print runs ranging from 5,000 to 125,000. To learn how the company transitioned from sheetfed to web printing, see

It’s a little-known Drupa fact

“Spargel” is the German name for asparagus. Most asparagus in Germany is white, as it is grown covered in soil to prevent photosynthesis. This process prevents the asparagus from turning green and reportedly results in a sweeter and more tender taste. It is generally harvested from late April to early June.

Germany produces 57,000 tons of asparagus a year, but that is only enough to meet 61 percent of its consumption demands.

Drupa is later than in years past (May 29-June 11), so let’s hope there’s still some left!


Go to all the halls, if possible

This is the fourth Drupa for Jim Thrush, president of Xitron (Ann, Arbor, MI).

When did you first go?

"My first was Drupa 1985, or 1984."

Why did you go?

"My job. The first Drupa I was with Gerber (product manager of the AutoPrep); the second and third shows I was with Xitron."

Looking back at the first Drupa you attended, what are your most vivid recollections? "There were no Macintosh computers at the show. I also remember what a nice, peaceful town Düsseldorf was."

What do you enjoy about going to Dusseldorf?

"The friendly Germans, the great beer, the great outside restaurants, how well organized everything is, the great beer..."

Any favorite haunts in Dusseldorf or nearby?

"Any outside restaurant. Going to Köln to see the Cathedral. Sitting in a beer garden on the Rhine, watching the boats cruise by."

Where do you typically stay?

"Different hotels. Always a trolley ride to the Messe."

Any advice for the first-time attendee?

"Walk around the show. Go to all the halls, if possible. Enjoy the great sausages on the fair grounds at lunch. Go to Altstadt ('Old Town') as often as possible. Enjoy the beer! Bring you wife, husband, loved one over for the latter past of the show, then tour Germany or any great European country."

Xitron manufactures workflow systems and interfaces designed to drive the prepress industry’s most popular new output devices as well as legacy systems. Xitron’s Navigator RIP, Raster Blaster TIFF Catcher, and Xenith Workflow solutions are recognized as pre-press standards. Built around core technology from Global Graphics and Adobe Systems, Xitron engineers continue to develop stable, yet flexible solutions for the graphic arts market, driving over 250 different models of imagesetters, proofers, platesetters, and digital presses.

Work out what to see before you go

This is Drupa No. 7 for industry consultant Andy Tribute. “I’m one behind Frank Romano,” he notes.

When did you first go?

“My first drupa (when it was spelt with a capital ‘D’) was I think in 1976. I did however start my European print events earlier than this with IPEX in 1964 in my final year at the London College of Printing. I have been to most IPEX since then.”

What keeps you coming back?

“My first drupa was when I worked for the software company Software Sciences Comprite selling mini computer based text and ad systems for newspapers. I don’t know why we went to drupa as it did not cover newspapers.

“I spent a week manning the stand seeing almost no visitors. I did however find the show very interesting. I then came back for all the rest of drupa events. My next one was as director of marketing for Monotype and we had a large presence to bring our Lasercomp imagesetter to market where it had good success in Germany.

“My first drupa as a non-vendor was the next event when I had recently started both my consulting and writing career. The highlight of the event was blowing the electrics in a large section of Düsseldorf when I was trying to plug in my computer in the hotel room.”

Most recent show you attended?

"The last drupa I attended was 2004."

Looking back at the first Drupa you attended, what are your most vivid recollections?

“The most vivid recollection was the size of the show and how many attendees there were. At this event there were also extra tented pavilions to cater for overspill companies and the U.S. Pavilion. There was no air conditioning in this and the tent was being hosed down with water to cool it. It was like a Turkish bath inside.  Also for me as a person who had spent most of his print career after graduating in working in the digital prepress and media side of the business I was amazed at how much development had gone on in presses. This however was before presses got automated with electronics.”

What do you enjoy about going to Dusseldorf for this show?

“I enjoy the superb hospitality of Messe Düsseldorf. No other show organizers look after you like they do. I also enjoy the networking and meeting people I have not seen for a long time.”

Where do you typically stay?

“I have stayed at all sorts of places. My first drupa I stayed in Munchen Gladbag (or however you spell it). This is about 90 minutes by car or train from Düsseldorf. At that after a hard day at the show we developed a liking for a glass of Mossel wine as soon as we got to the hotel, in fact we didn’t even have to ask for it. We then had a few more glasses throughout the evening. My boss did not like the German coffee so he also had Mossel for breakfast. I have stayed on riverboats on the Rhine, both high and low quality, and in hotels in the center and outside of the city.

Last drupa and at the next one my accommodation is a converted hospital run by nuns. This is ideal as it is just four tram stops from the Messe and is in a nice little town with excellent restaurants. A friend of mine who has been to at least as many drupas as Frank Romano has always stayed in a private house with a local family. Many people open their houses to visitors, and if you can find a good one, you book for the next drupa while you stay there.”

Any advice for the first-time attendee?

“Work out what is important to see before you go. Unless you are going for a week you cannot see everything. Plan the most important items and companies first and then work out what else you can see. Also find time to go in one evening to the Old Town. This is incredibly busy and very touristy. Lots of drupa attendees spend time there with the bars and restaurants. The European journalists and many English visitors appear to live in the two Irish bars where you will be sure of a great welcome.”

Any thoughts on what we might see at Drupa 2008?

In the area of offset presses expect to see even more automation to shorten makeready times, reduce waste and simplify operations with low manning levels. Also expect to see much more automation within the bindery. In the digital area, it will be the first show where inkjet digital presses will be taking a center stage position where their quality can start to challenge xerographic presses. This will be seen in high-speed presses for offset replacement and transaction type work, but also in specialized applications like labels and packaging.”

Andrew Tribute is the Managing Partner of Attributes Associates, an internationally oriented consulting company specializing in marketing and technology issues for the printing, publishing and media markets. Andy is recognized internationally as one of the world's leading authorities on these industries and subjects.

Bring comfortable shoes

George Ryan, president/CEO of Printing Assn. of Florida (PAF) attended his first Drupa in 1995. “That was the year there were 42 CTP vendors,” he recalls.

What keeps you coming back?

“Product introductions and technology surprises.”

Most recent show you attended?


Looking back at the first Drupa you attended, what are your most vivid recollections?

“Here’s my list:

  • Forty-two computer-to-plate vendors in 1995.
  • Indigo show by Benny Landa in 1995.
  • Xerox hall across the street in 2000.
  • Plate flying off Heidelberg Sunday Press in 2004.”

What do you enjoy about going to Dusseldorf for this show?

"The atmosphere in the old city is very enjoyable. People are friendly."

Where do you typically stay?

“I rent a room from local residents. Met some very interesting people that way.”

Any advice for the first-time attendee?

“Bring comfortable shoes. You will do a lot of walking.”

Any thoughts on what we might see at Drupa 2008?

“Again, I’ve made a list:

  • Plethora of automated workflow systems.
  • More process-less plates.
  • Heidelberg large format presses.
  • Higher speeds and better quality in ink jet.  
  • More artificial intelligence in color management.
  • Closed loop color control for sheetfed presses.
  • MAN Roland direct-drive sheetfed press.
  • Frank Romano eating Wiener Schnitzel.”

The Printing Assn. of Florida (PAF) is a trade association for the printing and graphic arts industry in Florida. It is a member-driven organization governed by an all-volunteer Board of Directors elected by the membership. Serving the needs of Florida's graphic arts companies since 1937, the Association draws on its experience and expertise in offering over sixty services—all aimed at improving the profitability and professional growth of its members. PAF is affiliated with the Printing Industries of America/Graphic Arts Technical Foundation—the largest national graphic arts association in the world.

'Offset is fighting back'

State Street Consultants Inc. (Boston) sent in this essay sharing Drupa experiences and predictions for Drupa 2008.

State Street Consultants has provided general business management consulting and strategic planning resources for the graphic arts industry since 1973. Devoted to uncovering market share opportunities through market intelligence, the firm offers an array of customizable market research tools.