Precision and craftsmanship since 1977

DRUPA diary – day four

Day Four – Sunday

More rain and a lack of buses on a Sunday morning meant a brisk 20 minute walk to the Hauptbahnhopf. At least I remembered to wear a heavier coat, so my teeth and face felt normal when I arrived at the Messe.

As I did on Friday, I arrived early. But this time I was armed with experience, and waited for the herd of elephants to pass me by, before I ventured into the exhibition halls.

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A much longer demonstration of Chilli Publisher has convinced me that its feature set is much, much greater than any other online editing software suite we have contemplated (such as Taopix), but that with rich features and flexibility comes complexity and a steeper integration curve. It is cheaper than, say, Taopix, but would require a web-developer to integrate it into an overall eCommerce or W2P solution. However, a single license would allow unlimited usage, with extraordinary customisation. It will be worth keeping an eye on this product, as our needs expand.

I revisited the Caslon stand to look at their range of finishing equipment and was very glad that I did so. The newest machine they offer (the Zip-TS2L from Thermotype in the US) is amazingly versatile – it will cut, slit, perforate, diecut, emboss, and score in-line, simultaneously. It is fully programmable and to switch between jobs is a push-button selection process. The product has only been available for a month or so, and the inventor is still dreaming up new ways to use it. He has posted 72 YouTube videos of this, and his other products, each showcasing a different application. You can watch them all here. It really is the complete copy-shop finishing tool. Thermotype’s other products also appear to be good value for money. Unfortunately there is no distributor in Australia. Perhaps we should offer to represent the company, and acquire show-room versions of the entire range, to use at Colours?

A quick return visit to the KM stand allowed me to confirm that they have agreed to meet on my return to Australia, to discuss upgrading our range of equipment. I also learned that KM is keen to start offering 3rd-party solutions for both finishing equipment and software solutions.

Two of the devices they are considering are an in-line UV coater and an in-line die-cutter.

The UV coater is from TEC-Lighting in the US. The machine is inexpensive and compact, and from what I saw, is capable of an even coat, without the problems of orange-peel effect or patchiness, which have plagued other solutions I have been aware of.

The die-cutter is from Nagel, and uses magnetically attached flexo cutting plates. I saw, and reviewed, this product at drupa 2008, but two things deterred me at that time – the initial investment was over AU$100k and there was no-one in Australia capable of manufacturing the flexo plates – it required a three-day turnaround to the US. Both of these issues have been addressed, to make the machine more appealing.

I realised at this stage, that there were several halls into which I had not ventured, so, despite the rain, I determined to use my last half day to get an overview of the entire DRUPA experience.

Hall 1 is completely and only Heidelberg – all black and red, with mood lighting, loud music, light shows and thousands of visitors at any one time – probably just as many Heidelberg employees. The scope and size of the company is incredible.

Halls 2, 3, 4 and 6 were all offset oriented, with a large presence from Asian manufacturers of both heavy equipment and small solutions.

In the corner of Hall 6, I came across a reminder of where it all began – a stand for the Gutenberg Museum of printing. Here, a press operator, dressed in period costume, operated a fully-functional reproduction, wood-cut press, to produce pages from the Gutenberg Bible, which were then hand coloured and embellished, allowed to dry and offered for sale. It was fascinating and refreshing to watch a manufacturing process that was (a) not linked to the web (b) not under time-pressure from customers and (c) not subject to banding, patchiness or mis-registration!

Having started early and seen everything on my agenda for the day, and then some, I decided to say my good-byes to Messe Düsseldorf for 2012 and make my way back to the hotel.

Little did I know that today the local football team Fortuna Düsseldorf, was playing at the Football stadium right next to the Messe. And, of course, the game finished just as I decided to leave, to catch my train! 51,000 German football fans (rather exuberant because the local team won) surged out of the arena and looked for ways to get home – walking, bicycle, bus and train. However, German efficiency came to the fore and although I couldn’t get onto the first U-bahn to arrive, the fact that they ran every 4 minutes meant that I got a seat and the journey was not delayed at all by the traffic congestion.

Sunday buses, however, were a little rarer than on weekdays, and I missed my connection – a half-hour walk in the rain back to our hotel was an unfortunate way to end the day.

A stiff, but non-alcoholic (unfortunately it clashes with my medication) drink – a Goldeneye – helped relax me before a delightful dinner in the hotel.

Speaking of drinks, I talked with several Australian printers over my four days at DRUPA and one of the regular topics of conversation was the amount of alcohol consumed, both by the locals, even in public, and by the Aussies. It appears that a favourite haunt, in the Altstadt (“old town”) is the Brauerei Zum Schiffchen (“The Little Ship Tavern”). After a large number of drinking sessions here, Aussie bawdy humour combined with a lack of familiarity of the german language has resulted in the name of this establishment being bastardised to “Bum Sniffer”.[/one_half]
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The fact that the typeface used in the restaurant’s logo makes the “Z” look like a “B” didn’t help. However, when the product packaging shown above was seen in a local store, the drunken laughter could not be constrained.

I will endeavour to write one more diary entry, to summarise the highlights of DRUPA 2012, but for now, I am off to southern Germany and Switzerland for some R&R.

Auf wiedersehen.



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