Berlin: Shorter Ifra WPE/DCX a more intense affair

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Ifra World Publishing Expo, now part of the Berlin Publishing Days, closed tonight after two days of surprisingly intense activity.

No-one knew what to expect when the longstanding annual event moved to a two-day format, least of all regulars accustomed to the show coming apart, literally, at the middle of the final day.

There were none of the press conferences of past years, rare timed announcements and predictably few new projects to talk about.

But the underlying picture was of exhibitors happy with the number and quality of visitors - in some cases, much more so than last year - and with orders and projects, even if they weren't able to talk about them.

Around the stands of the print-orientated Ifra WPE, I learned of press upgrades in Bangkok and the South Pacific, as well as a big press ancilliaries order in Austria and even a digital printing installation in France. In the DCX Digital Content Expo on the other side of the Berlin Messe's Hall 21, exhibitors were talking software upgrades and new products, auto-fill page layout systems and content monetisation among hot topics.

Instead of two large stands, manroland Goss web systems had one small one, and new chief executive Franz Kriechbaum told me press orders were coming in, but most notably for the Varioman packaging line, one of which has been installed with letters of interest for four more. Orders for the "price spoiled" former Goss range were few and far between.

With interest in 3D-printed parts a subject during Monday's World Printers Forum conference (see Wishful thinking or a print and paper industry in denial?)

Kriechbaum reported that manroland Goss had sold its parts 'knowledge book' to a company related to joint parent the Possehl Group.

Companies on the 'heavy metal' side of the newsmedia industry using their expertise to turn a Euro from non-print activities is nothing new, and both Kriechbaum and Ferag's Marcel Binder had stories to tell, the latter of a major logistics project to deliver car components from several sources to an assembly point. It's not printing, but it helps keep the wheels turning.

In the associated conference, DCX, start-up, content services and content marketing stages, publishers and vendors told of their own initiatives - see upcoming reports - and organisers arranged guided tours across the two days. Additionally, winners of WAN-Ifra's Print Innovation competition were honoured during a social event on the first evening.

There will be no IfraExpo next year - chief operating officer Thomas Jacob reporting that exhibitors were keen for an interregnum in the upcoming DRUPA year - but a date (October 13-14 at Berlin Arena) has been set for 2021.

Peter Coleman

Pictured: manroland Goss web systems chief executive Franz Kriechbaum

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