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Casual Observations from China

While wandering around the printing exhibition in Shanghai, China last week, I noticed some interesting developments. As with Print 18 and LabelExpo in Chicago a couple weeks previous, high speed inkjet presses of every size and application were prevalent. Unlike the other two venues, however, commercial offset had a bigger presence than I had anticipated.

I visited several booths with thermal CTP units, which is something that has been noticeably missing from other shows. In fact, there were more than ten separate vendors showing new thermal and flexo CTP machines, one with an incredible 9600 dpi resolution capability. While digital is definitely staking a claim in the commercial and label markets, it’s obvious from this show that the traditional means of getting ink on paper has not given up too much ground.

Still, digital’s early successes have resulted in widespread adoption of the technology. Oftentimes it’s found coexisting with traditional presses as printers are able to determine which process offers the highest margins for their work. That being said, it’s important to note that if you choose the right provider, coexistence of digital and traditional can be made easier through the use of transitional workflow software.

The Navigator Harlequin RIP has been driving virtually every CTP device on the market for the last 20 years. That tradition continues as I confirmed Navigator will drive all the new engines shown by the 10 vendors I mentioned earlier. What’s just as important, though, is the number of digital presses Navigator drives. Presses using inkjet heads by Memjet, Kyocera, Fuji Dimatix, Ricoh, XAAR, Konica Minolta, Toshiba, and SII are all supported.

This means that Navigator is the perfect transitional workflow for anybody looking to add digital options to their traditional production lines. By offering connectivity, speed, familiarity, and interpretive accuracy Navigator drives the shop; not just a single engine.

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