Paul Haglich, marketing manager, production systems group, Xerox division at Bytes Document Solutions, gives insight into drupa, or as he calls it, the greatest printing show on Earth and the printing industry itself.

The marketing trapeze artistes of all the ‘equipe de stampa’ companies are furiously preparing their acts of techno stunts to impress and entice the ‘capitaines’ of the world’s printing industry.

It hardly seems like four years have (almost) passed since the last Drupa ‘Circue’, but soon we will be doing final bookings and preparations to head for the city near the birthplace of the first printing press and where, after many days of exploration of all the ‘circue tents’ we rest our weary feet and enjoy a roast eisbein and sauerkraut (or two) and naturally wash it down with copious amounts of the local brewery produce!

Johannes Gutenberg would turn in his grave once again if he saw the printing and finishing apparatus available today! What with the advances of digital technology and automated finishing solutions, one of the worlds greatest inventions ever has spurned an industry that never ceases to innovate, excite and re-invent itself to essentially produce the humble printed product.

Its odd to think that the problem that Gutenberg experienced with water-based inks is similar to the problem that inkjet printing machines have: ink soaking into the paper.

Wikipedia notes: After much experimentation, Gutenberg managed to overcome the difficulties which traditional water-based inks caused by soaking the paper, and found the formula for an oil-based ink suitable for high-quality printing with metal type.

Today, we overcome the problem in high-speed inkjet printing devices with special paper or use alternative inks such as gel ink that cures as it is jetted in very fine droplets onto the paper surface.

Of course, the legions of ‘poster scavengers’ that descend on the ‘circue’, go absolutely moggy collecting as many posters as possible and departing from drupa lugging their bazooka tubes slung on their backs. I would love to know what happens to all these freebies after they get to their destinations: the recycle bin or File 13?

What is going on in the minds of the marketing ‘trapeze artistes’? Even if they do not have a new competitor-defying routine to present at their booths, they will no doubt ‘re-package’ their act designed to give us the noble impression that they have a new product to astound us with.

The presses will no doubt go faster, the pre-press systems will be super-automated, the finishing devices will do just about everything they can do to put the humble humanoid out of a job!

One wonders if this is the right direction in these times of worldwide job losses and rising unemployment. And not to ignore the latest industry buzz, the cloud computing angels will also flap their wings at us to entice us to join their ultimate bits and bytes paradiso. They will proudly proclaim: Don’t buy – just give us a ‘small monthly subscription’ and hey presto, you too can join our spirit in the sky!

Then, not forgetting ‘the clowns’: they keep us amused at various booths with acts and ultra-slick presentations, arty body painting, card tricks; that seem like magic and at the same time provide some needed relief for your sore feet as you sojourn as long as possible in the seats at these booths and listen attentively or perhaps even a sneak a snooze while mastering the art of snoozing with eyes open.

You are even sometimes fortunate enough to get a cup of coffee or other goody to enjoy while you pay your undivided attention to the ‘clown act’. You probably have no intention of buying the product at the booth but what the heck – it’s fun anyway!

Many ‘capitaines de industrie’ wait for the ‘drupa circue’ to pull out their cheque books and buy ‘equipe’ that they have had an eye on for some time and the vendors booths rapidly begin to display sold to signs on their equipment trying to outdo each other as the ‘circue d’ stampa’ wears on during the two weeks.

Vendors have sales rah-rahs with oompah bands at the end of each day, loudly proclaiming the millions of sheckles that have been signed that particular day.

Everyone seems to build up to a frenzy towards the end of the spectacle and looks a touch weary by the last day, but thankful that another successful ‘circue’ has come to an end. When each long day is over, you find you are attracted like a magnet to the festive Altstadt where the fun really begins, and you ‘recharge your batteries’.

Its definitely all well worthwhile! See you at drupa again and again!

Danke Schon, Herr Gutenberg!

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