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Trade Shows, Conferences Show Signs of Improvement

By David Savastano, Ink World Editor | 06.17.10

As the global recession heavily impacted the printing and ink industries, trade shows and conferences also felt the downturn. In fact, the recession started right after drupa 2008, which was held in May and June, but the shows that followed showed signs of the economic downturn, as attendance and exhibitor participation declined.

In particular, Graph Expo 2008 and Print 09 suffered, but even smaller shows and conferences felt the burden of the recession. Some of that can be attributed to the printing industry’s troubles, but there was a clear sense that companies were cutting back on the number of participants they were sending to shows.

However, as the economy has rebounded somewhat, there does seem to be growing interest in trade shows this year. From anecdotal reports, Ipex 2010, which concluded last month in Birmingham, UK, fared very well.

“It’s like a light has been switched on and everybody in the industry has just woken up,” noted George Clarke, Ipex 2010 president and Heidelberg UK’s managing director.

“We’re delighted with the visitor numbers which are roughly in line with 2006, despite considerable industry consolidation,” said Trevor Crawford, Ipex 2010’s event director.

The National Association of Printing Ink Manufacturers (NAPIM) offers an excellent case in point. Attendance for NAPIM’s 2010 Annual Convention, which was held in April in Phoenix, AZ, was up 30 percent, and the attendance for the annual summer course on Printing Ink Technology, which will be held at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, WI, in July, is already 20 percent above last year’s total.

“My overall sense is that business is gradually improving,” said Jim Coleman, NAPIM’s executive director.

There was more good news from other shows. The Foundation of Flexographic Technical Association (FFTA) Annual Forum, held in Las Vegas, NV, in May, also showed marked improvement, with attendance growing 25 percent over 2009. Attendance for the American Coatings Show & Conference 2010, held in Charlotte, NC in April, grew from 5,600 in 2008 to nearly 6,700 in 2010. RadTech UV/EB Technology Conference & Expo 2010, held at the Baltimore Convention Center, also reported good attendance.

The next major trade show starts next week in Brazil, as ExpoPrint opens its doors from June 23-29. Sun Chemical, Flint Group, Toyo Ink Brasil Ltda., Hostmann-Steinberg Brasil, Van Son and Cromos are among the major exhibitors at the show, which will be held at the Transamerica Expo Center. South America is clearly seen as a growth area for ink and printing; Toyo Ink’s decision to open a new subsidiary, Toyo Ink Brasil Ltda., in May 2010 attests to the opportunities there.

While the growth of each of these show can be analyzed individually, it seems that as a whole, attendance is increasing, which is a positive sign for the printing and ink industries.