This article appeared in the November/December, 2018 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.

The era of the large, regional, multi-hall print trade show may be over. Today, regional shows are finding a new “right size” that allows print providers of all types to meet with all the vendors they know and meet new vendors who can help them flourish. It was in that vein that the Association for Printing Technology (APT) convened at PRINT 18, the rebranded GraphExpo, in Chicago from September 30 to October 2. The three-day show started with a brand-name keynote, Seth Godin, and featured a variety of learning experiences in dedicated education sessions and on the show floor. Replacing the perennial Must See ‘Em awards this year was the Red Hot Technology Recognition Program, which was a chance to focus attention on the vendors supporting PRINT 18 and their new technology. Vanguard Awards are the new recognition for game changers in the market in three categories: Breakthrough, Collaborations, and Pioneer.

What Was on the Show Floor?

The stars of the show are always the hardware, software, and services vendors who bring their best solutions. BlueCrest, Canon, Epson, HP, Konica Minolta with MGI, Ricoh, RISO, Xerox, and others were all present with print solutions focused on creating innovative print. Memjet was well-represented across the show floor, including the Superweb WebJet in the Konica Minolta booth, and their own booth where they were demonstrating the difference between their original VersaPass technology and their new DuraLink platform. Missing this year were regular exhibitors EFI and SCREEN. Whether you were looking for a new electrophotographic device or curious about inkjet, there were vendors to talk to, print samples to review, and connections to make.

If finishing and mailing solutions were on your shopping list, there were dozens of options to review. Standard Finishing always brings a large contingent of Hunkeler and Horizon equipment, and this year the new entrant, BlueCrest (formerly the DMT group at Pitney Bowes) brought their mailing and inserting solutions.

Software was well represented, with teams from Rochester Software Associates, Enfocus, Chili Publish, Solimar, and many others showing software for every step in both transaction and commercial print, both in-plant and print for pay. Software platforms are becoming more common. They give their developers opportunities for more partnerships and open the door to expanding into new markets. Both Enfocus SWITCH and HP’s PrintOS have been in the market long enough to gain a following, and indications are that they will continue to grow as they expand their marketplaces and gain more partners.

What Should You Do Next?

Even if you could not make it to Chicago, there are action items to pursue. Start by reading as many of the show reviews as you can find. What solutions gained a mention? Could you improve you business by adding a new device with expanded gamuts or a new finishing or mailing device to add differentiation to your products? Have you done a workflow assessment or production assessment lately? If you have, you may have discovered gaps in your toolset. Check the list of exhibitors at to see who was there. You may still be able to take advantage of show specials while upgrading your capabilties.

And, finally, make plans to get to PRINT 19, next year in Chicago. The show is changing things up by moving to a Thursday to Saturday format from the Sunday start we’ve seen for so many years. The Association for Print Technologies is making strides in creating a platform for learning and networking that will be worth you time.

If you have stories to share, reach out to me! @PatMcGrew on Twitter, on LinkedIn, or all reach me.

Sidebar: Vanguard Winners

Breakthrough: Color-Logic Touch7 Neon Suite for working with extended gamuts.

Enfocus PitStop Pro 2018 for capturing and displaying user analytics.

Ricoh USA RICOH Pro VC70000 for 1200 x 1200 dpi inkjet printing with new inks that boost the gamut.

Tilia Labs Phoenix 7.0 for print and post-print management from a single source for roll-fed and sheet-fed print.

Collaboration: Avanti Systems Slingshot Integration with BCC Mail Manager for linking Mail and Print MIS.

ChromaChecker Corp for Connectivity to HP Indigo ColorBeat, the new HP monitoring tool for color.

Pioneer: AccuZIP AccuEngage for enabling USPS Informed Delivery

Xerox Iridesse Production Press for six color printing including gold, silver, and clear iridescent effects.