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GASC is convinced that convergence between packaging and commercial print will give focus to this September's Print 05 and Converting 05 exhibition

The USA’s printing and converting industry is on the rebound, investing significantly in new technologies to fuel growth, and looking ahead to the international Print 05 and Converting 05 to be held on September 9-15, 2005 at McCormick Place, Chicago.

Those are the key conclusions to be drawn from last October’s Graph Expo and Converting Expo, says organizer the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC).

It reported that a total of over 600 exhibitors occupied over 392,000ft2 net, making the 2004 show the largest since Print 01. This year’s exhibition was 12 per cent larger than in 2003. And attendance was nearly 40,000, also an increase over the previous year.

Hans Rasmussen, vice president/sales at Kongskilde said: “This year has brought a much higher quality and quantity of lead than we have seen in the past. Our traffic level is up from what we anticipated, but more significant to us is the calibre of lead we’re seeing,” he added. “People are in our booth not only to see the equipment, but also to actually buy systems.”

Now exhibitors are planning for this year. “The new event’s aggressive attention to opportunities for printers in package printing will offer additional insights for commercial printers seeing diversification,” boasts GASC. This was reinforced by Rochester Institute of Technology Prof. Frank Romano who spoke at a presentation on ‘The New Printing Industry’. Packaging applications, and especially radio frequency ID tags, offer an enormous potential growth market for America’s commercial printers in the next several years, he said. “Over time, commercial printers are really going to be printing packaging on a regular basis. A lot of people think this work is only being done by specialists, but that is not so.” He forecast: “Folding cartons and labels are really going to open up for commercial printers.” In many segments of the packaging industry ‘printable electronics’ promises to be “the next gigantic growth market.” And digital printing will grow from about 10 per cent of all volume in 2002 to more than 20 per cent in 2010.

This year’s show, claimed to be the largest in the world in 2005, combines “one of the strongest and most respected graphic arts events in the world, the four yearly Print, with a new exhibition devoted to packaging printing and converting – Converting 05.” Says GASC: “The logic behind this strategy is simple: the specialities of converting and commercial printing share many technologies and processes. Their practitioners’ customer lists are converging as well. And each offers important advantages to companies traditionally focused on the “other” market. Some 80,000 industry professionals from all over the world are expected to attend.

Package printing can be a strong growth market for commercial printers, but is not without hazards, as Newth Morris, president of Dixie Printing and Packaging, warns. “There’s no point in going from being a good printer to being a so-so folding carton converter. The question is how to be a top-notch converter. For us, it’s a matter of focusing on what we already do well and doing it even better.” He predicts: “it is going to take a high level of automation and sophisticated customer relations for us to survive in the future.”

Dave Kornbau, vice president/operations at Strine Printing, York, PA, says his company evolved into converting in answer to a clear opportunity. “We have a large customer who was happy with the work they were getting from us, but unhappy with their packaging printer. They wanted Strine to become their packaging printer. The commercial printer can add a lot of quality to short run packaging work. We have pressmen, for example, printing an annual report cover one day and a children’s crayon box the next, and they treat them the same way.” Today, about 20 per cent of the company’s annual US$60M business is made up of packaging work.

“The convergence of the printing and converting markets is advancing, and having these two events in one place at the same time makes good business sense for us,” says Heidelberg ceo Niels Winther. Hank Brandtjen III, president of Brandtjen & Kluge, agrees. “We see the merging of our traditional print market with our converting market. Now we can reach out to all of our customers with one show.”

“The launch of Converting 05 is the latest example of the strategy of continuous enhancement that has characterized Print shows since the first one was staged in 1968,” says president of GASC Regis J Delmontagne.

GASC recently announced a partnership with Seybold Seminars’ new event Seybold Chicago 2005, to offer additional educational sessions during the show. “Print 05 and Converting 05 will be the premier exhibition event for our industry in 2005. Now, with this addition it will also be the most prestigious educational opportunity in the world,” said Regis J Delmontagne.



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