Automation took centre stage at this year’s drupa, with a strong focus on AI and smart workflows, including software solutions.

Organisers say it became clear that digital and analogue technologies ideally complement and benefit from each other. Traditional industry leaders presented a wide range of digital solutions, while digital pioneers integrated conventional components into their offerings. Robotics played an important role in the exhibition halls and illustrated the path towards the smart factory. 

Sabine Geldermann, director drupa, Portfolio Print Technologies, says that drupa made it abundantly clear that the industry has great potential for the future, even against the backdrop of many challenges, and that the prospects are promising. Smithers reports that, in the last financial year, the global printing industry achieved a turnover of around EUR 840 billion (source: Smithers) and continues to develop at varying pace worldwide.

She says, “At drupa 2024, we experienced how relevant and resilient this industry is. The community is determined to set the course for the future together. Exchanging ideas with people from all continents and from all areas of the industry was extremely enriching and inspiring. We were able to welcome around 50 large delegations from various nations, and numerous globally active associations and organisations chose drupa as the ideal setting for their conferences and board meetings.”

Many new strategic alliances concluded at the trade fair reflected the opportunities that are only possible in such a concentrated form at drupa: meeting market players from other countries around the world in person, using core competences as synergy effects, forming networks and driving the market forward together

Sustainable technologies

For many, technology holds the key to achieving sustainability goals. Exhibitors at drupa illustrated this with numerous practice orientated developments and concrete solutions.

They gave top priority to resource efficiency and the path to a functioning circular economy. In addition, Touchpoint Sustainability from the VDMA, the German Machinery and Equipment Manufacturers’ Association, showcased current state of the art innovations, presented best-practice use cases and gave a far-reaching outlook into the future of a sustainable printing industry.

The extensive supporting programme offered five special forums: drupa cube, drupa next age (dna), Touchpoint Packaging, Touchpoint Textile, and Touchpoint Sustainability. They delivered an intensive transfer of knowledge and provided important guidance. Together with its partners, drupa focused on impressive industry expertise and the future topics of its target groups. Guided tours on various key topics rounded off the trade fair experience.

Decision makers achieve their goals

Decision makers at drupa 2024 have reported overwhelming success in achieving their objectives at the show.

In total, 170,000 trade visitors attended drupa 2024 and around 96 per cent of those interviewed have confirmed that they fully achieved the objectives associated with their visit. At over 50 per cent, most of them came from the printing industry, followed by the packaging industry, whose share has increased significantly, and which was the focus of many exhibitors as a growth driver. Many well-known brand owners were welcomed at the trade fair stands.

Exhibitors praised the high level of decision making competence of visitors. They, in turn, gave top marks to the range of products and services on offer in the 18 exhibition halls.

Christoph Gamper, chief executive and co-owner, Durst Group, says, “Digitalisation has fully arrived in the printing industry, not to replace traditional methods, but to offer automated production processes through hybrid systems on demand, and to complement existing technologies. We are thrilled with the response from the high-quality professional audience and say thank you, drupa. We will see you again in Düsseldorf in four years.”

Dr David Schmedding, head of sales and marketing, Heidelberg, says, “Heidelberg is very pleased with its showing at the drupa trade fair in Düsseldorf. Our stand attracted a great deal of interest from customers around the world, who also invested in the innovations on display. Our drupa team won over customers with a fabulous stand and future-proof innovations.

The positive spirit among customers and staff alike was simply mind-blowing. Heidelberg is a true partner of the printing and packaging industry. The large number of orders placed across all technologies during the trade show emphasises our customers’ trust in the company as a leading system provider. We offer the entire spectrum – from toner to inkjet and from offset to flexo printing, all controlled from a common Prinect workflow.”

Olaf Lorenz, general manager international marketing, Konica Minolta Business Solutions Europe, adds, “After eight long years, drupa has been a perfect platform to meet customers, partners, journalists and analysts as well as friends and help customers to see the potential in print, packaging and the unstoppable digital transformation of our industry.

drupa has certainly met and exceeded our expectations. Our must-see stand was extremely busy every day, and the feedback from our customers and partners has been fantastic. Visitors told us that our stand, covering world firsts in software and machine demonstrations, complete print factory set-ups, as well as advanced Industry 5.0 and AI advances – was inspiring and holistic.

The icing on the cake was that we have had an unprecedented number of show sales, plus new business leads that we know will lead to more customer announcement stories soon. We look forward to drupa 2028.”

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