Drupa 2012 is sending out key impulses for the worldwide print and media industry. The most important signal: print has potential and the sector is investing heavily in its future. Despite an expected decrease in visitors, numerous business ideas and innovations were showcased that all led to high investment.

Drupa was a resounding success for the sector. The trade fair sent out key impulses. What the 1850 exhibitors presented here over the past two weeks will strengthen the development potential of the print and media industry long term, said Bernhard Schreier, President of drupa 2012 and Board Chairman at Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, summing up the drupa 2012 result. Here in Dusseldorf business was done and points were set for the future of the sector.

314,500 experts from more than 130 countries came to drupa in Dusseldorf, 75,500 less than in 2008. This drop does not come as a surprise for us and the sector as a whole. In Germany alone the printing industry lost some 3,900 operations with over 61000 employees between 2000 and 2011. In the USA over the same period more than 7700 printing operations closed, explained Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, President & CEO of Messe Dusseldorf. Against this backdrop it is not surprising that fewer visitors came to drupa 2012. However – and this is the key point – customers now no longer come to drupa as large delegations or on group corporate trips; it is more top managers who travel to Dusseldorf. drupa is clearly the decision-makers trade fair and the trade fair for business.

drupa sent out key impulses in this difficult climate for our sector. This gives us optimism that the backlog in investment on many markets around the world is now gradually being overcome, said Dr Markus Heering, Managing Director of the Print and Paper Technology Association within the German Engineering Federation VDMA. Numerous orders were placed during the fair. Both large printing machinery manufacturers and their suppliers posted orders. The number of enquiries also rose continually over the course of the trade fair which is why many exhibitors are now also looking forward to good post-fair business.

This shows how drupa 2012 is defending its position as the worlds most important and largest B2B trade fair in its sector – a fact also illustrated by the results of the visitor survey. drupa visitors come to drupa with specific investment intentions. Nearly 50% of all visitors place specific orders – and most of these right at the trade fair itself. This comes as no surprise as, after all, the proportion of top managers among visitors has grown significantly since 2008 (50.8% compared with 44.4% in 2008).

With more than 190000 foreign visitors the international focus of drupa continues at a very high level. What is striking here is the high number of trade visitors from India which, now reaching some 15,000, ranks as the second largest visitor nation after Germany (123000 visitors). Following behind these two in the country ranking are: Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Great Britain, the USA, Switzerland and Italy. It is particularly gratifying to see the rising proportion of visitors from South and Central America (8.8% in 2012 compared to 7% in 2008) – and more specifically from Brazil. The press checking in at drupa 2012 was also highly international in nature, with approximately 2400 journalists from 75 countries.

The dominating themes at drupa 2012 were automation, packaging printing, digital printing, hybrid technologies, web-to-print applications and environmentally sound printing. For instance, 40% of visitors said they were interested in digital printing machinery and digital printing systems. Also attracting great attention was the future theme printed electronics which was highlighted at drupa in a variety of fields: at the drupa innovation park, drupa cube, in a Highlight Tour and at many stands of drupa exhibitors.

Technologically, drupa 2012 was a fair of superlatives. It demonstrated that printing is more alive than ever! said Rolf Schwarz, President of the German Print and Media Association Bundesverband Druck und Medien. There were impressive innovations in all printing processes. I was particularly excited by suppliers and machinery manufacturers from upstream supplies, printing and further processing who jointly convinced visitors with workflow and production solutions and outstanding products. Offset and digital print solutions complement rather than compete with each other here.

Also producing a positive result was the specialist supporting programme. Over 20% of visitors were interested in the drupa innovation park and drupa cube presented by digi:media. With its over 130 exhibitors in Hall 7.0 the drupa innovation park (dip) was a hub and focal point for innovations in the digital supplies sector and reported a very successful drupa. The innovation park at drupa 2012 is one of the most unique areas because it focuses on new ideas. Many new ideas are not worthy of a huge stand, but they must be presented in some way that people can see and understand them, explained Frank Romano, Professor of Meritus, Rochester Institute of Technology/USA. drupa is one of the most interesting trade shows because it does this. It finds areas which are not in the mainstream, but will be. So the drupa innovation park is an innovative idea in and for itself.

While the focus at the dip was technology, at drupa cube, the trendy congress location, everything revolved around trends in cross-media, print-based communication. The 13-day German-English congress programme featuring over 80 speakers was specifically aimed at print buyers, marketing decision-makers, advertisers, publishing houses and designers. Over the differently themed days some 1,000 specialists from 55 countries gathered information here on cross-media campaigns, corporate publishing, trends in newspaper, book and magazine production, out-of-home applications, dialogue marketing, packaging, electronic printing and media production.

The next drupa will be held from 2 to 15 June 2016.