Press release -

International Exhibition, IPEX, Reveals Major Shifts in the Global Printing Industry

For the eighth time now, Birmingham National Exhibition Centre (NEC) in the UK plays host to the International IPEX Exhibition; the printing industry’s opportunity to come together, demonstrate new products and innovations and explore future business opportunities. This year, IPEX will be taking place slightly later than usual, between 18th and the 25th of May 2010, to avoid any possible collision with UK and international holidays. And with no reason to miss it, IPEX 2010 is looking like it could be the largest yet, with over 1000 exhibiting companies, from more than 40 different countries. Between them, they’ll be occupying an impressive gross floor space of 100,000 square metres, across 11 adjoining exhibition halls. But what should really get the industry talking about this year, is the quite unprecedented explosion of exhibitors from the digital printing sector, with ‘Digital Print’ now occupying an astonishing 38% of the IPEX’ total floor space. Here, we’ll take a look at the changing face of IPEX and assess just what this increasingly influential global showcase can tell us about the state of the printing industry today.

In days gone by, it was generally the rule that the big money and the big focus at IPEX was on ‘Press’. The largest and most expensive stands would typically be occupied by companies from the commercial print industry, whose products and services demonstrate the technological pinnacle of what the printing industry has to offer. The ‘Press’ category is composed of commercial press makers, advertising insert presses manufacturers, newspaper press companies, magazine press producers and all those other kinds of offset press makers that the industry requires. And if we look back to IPEX 2006, not surprisingly, the most significant sector by representation was ‘Press’ taking up over 40% of the exhibition’s stands.

Well, fast-forward to IPEX 2010 and the picture is very different indeed. Looking at the breakdown of exhibitors from Event Director, Trevor Crawford, Digital Printing and Pre-Production, as a category, has now clearly usurped the No.1 spot. In 2006, the sector represented just 26% of exhibition space, with Post Press – that’s all those finishing solutions, franking machine manufacturers, binding companies – taking 33% and as noted, Press occupying around 41%. Well, this May, the figures are almost exactly the reverse. Post Production sees a slight increase of exhibitors – with around 36% of the floor space. But there’s been a big switch, with the digital sector increasing from 26% to a staggering 38% and ‘Press’ shrinking from 41%, the largest in 2006, to just 26%.

What’s really interesting is that these figures seem to confirm copier manufacturer, Canon’s findings from its recent Canon Insight Study,‘Redefinition of the Digital Printer’. The research, conducted by Professor Emeritus, Frank Romano, looked into the state of the printing industry under the impact of the current economic climate. The key insight was how important the adoption of digital printing has been to the survival of professional printers and that digital printing would likely be key to print businesses emerging from the recession to enjoy more prosperous times. As demand for printing declined during 2008 and print runs typically became much shorter, those companies which had implemented digital printing systems were much better prepared. As a result, sales of digital machines dramatically outstripped those of other printers during 2009. While sales of offset lithographic presses declined by 18.1% in Western Europe during 2009, revenues from digital printing, increased by 27.2%.

So it would appear, we are witnessing at IPEX, at least a significant short-to-medium term shift in the printing industry. As digital printing becomes the preferred choice for many print businesses around the globe, it’s quite understandable that major digital print solutions manufacturers have been able to wrest possession of key stands away from the larger offset press manufacturers, who have been suffering from dwindling sales. But perhaps the digital printing industry will be able to hold on to this leading position as the industry moves into happier economic climes. With major qualitative improvements to digital print technology over the last year or so and printers increasingly aware of their vulnerability to the vagaries of the economy, like never before, there’s a chance that at IPEX 2010, we're looking at the future of the printing industry.


  • Business enterprise


  • ipex
  • canon
  • printer
  • photocopier
  • digital
  • press
  • exhibition