drupa 2024: Digitalization and Innovation Drive Printing Industry Forward

The last drupa took place in 2016. Credits: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

The printing industry is on a growth trajectory, heading into a rosy future. With drupa, Messe Düsseldorf offers the sector the world’s largest market platform. It’s the place to experience all the latest trends in digitalization, AI and sustainability – face to face again for the first time in eight years. New technologies are revolutionizing printing industry processes and products. Here’s an outlook.

The printing industry is heading into a new era of innovation. Digital technologies, from AI-driven systems to advanced printing methods, are driving the industry forward. Particularly noteworthy is the use of AI-based systems to automate prepress tasks, monitor equipment and ensure quality control. From May 28 to June 7, drupa 2024 in Düsseldorf will offer the ideal platform to experience these technological advances and learn about the latest developments in the industry.

“Digitalization is driving the future of the printing industry and opening up new opportunities. Technological innovations, including AI, serve as a catalyst, and the ever-greater individualization of print products creates new customer experiences. What’s more, new sales markets are emerging, and the level of internationalization is increasing,” explains Sabine Geldermann, Director drupa, Portfolio Print Technologies. She contends that economic growth and the strong consumer goods market in Southeast Asia are the main demand boosters in the print sector, a statement that is confirmed by the drupa Global Trends Report 2023, a survey of the business expectations of more than 600 print services providers and suppliers. In the Asian region, 62% of printing companies expect higher order volumes and increased sales in 2024.

A Spirit of Optimism – The New Era Starts at drupa

Digitalization is providing an enormous boost to the future development of the printing industry. Digital technologies are helping to optimize processes, reduce costs, conserve resources and cut emissions.

“A strong spirit of optimism prevails in the international printing industry about the start of this new era,” says Sabine Geldermann. “Everyone will be able to feel that when drupa returns to Düsseldorf for the first time in eight years following the interruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.” The world’s largest market platform for printing technologies offers an overview of all the trends that are affecting the industry now and in the coming years.

More than 1600 companies from 52 countries exhibit at the world’s leading trade fair drupa. Credits: Messe Düsseldorf/ctillmann

Like most industries, the print sector is also engaged in a heated debate about the opportunities arising from the use of artificial intelligence. AI-based systems can automate prepress tasks, monitor equipment, ensure predictive maintenance and quality control, individualize prints, and optimize a slew of other processes. Artificial intelligence is also revolutionizing the way images are created, and many consumers are fascinated by this new aesthetic. The growing flood of AI-generated images will permanently boost demand for the printing of those images in 2D, 3D and 4D.

Other technological innovation drivers in print and packaging are applications and solutions in the field of digital printing and computer-to-cut (CTC). Innovations like that shape the trade show activities at drupa, where some 1,640 exhibitors from 52 nations and from more than a dozen different business areas along the entire value chain will be presenting themselves. Among them will be Esko, a global player of AI-powered preproduction software. Hybrid Software Group will present solutions for industrial print production, including additive manufacturing processes and 3D printing applications. With CIP4 Organization, an NGO that promotes standards for automated printing will also be represented at the show. Another major theme at drupa is the availability and processing of print data. CloudLab Web to Print Solutions will showcase cloud-based solutions to the sector’s experts.

Networking for up-and-coming talents

With “drupa next age,” the trade show will also host a special forum for the young talents and startups that are revolutionizing the printing industry with their innovative ideas. Exhibitors will include the recently founded digital companies XMPie (Israel), Aurigma (U.S.) and Ventumprint (Ukraine).

Another industry trend personally excites drupa director Sabine Geldermann: the development towards more and more individualized printing solutions aimed at meeting highly specific customer needs from personalized packaging to custom-tailored marketing materials. It’s another indicator that shows how print and digitalization go hand in hand, leading the way forward. “The use of augmented reality holds particularly great potential for the future,” she says. Using their smartphones or AR glasses, customers can scan printed materials and receive further relevant information in real time. Companies, meanwhile, can leverage AR to integrate interactive and immersive content – and update it continuously. Sabine Geldermann is convinced that “exhibitors who focus on future-oriented innovations at drupa are positioning themselves for continued success in a dynamic industry landscape.”

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