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drupa reinforces the power of meeting in person

Updated: Jun 14

It was great to be back at drupa, after all the preamble, preparation and predictions. No-one knew what to expect from the event, but it turned out to be all that we and the rest of the industry could have asked of it. For us, it was fertile ground to meet with customers, colleagues and industry friends, to build new contacts, cement existing relationships and plan for the future.

 

Back home in the UK after our short stay in Düsseldorf – three days is short by drupa standards – and we’ve debriefed, digested and deliberated on what was seen and learnt during our time at the show. The seeds have been sown and the wheels are now in motion to build for the future.

 

Could and would this have happened without drupa? That’s the question many were asking before the doors opened, and the answer is probably “yes”. But for me, that misses the point. drupa has and continues to serve an important role to all in print and packaging, far beyond the hardware and software on show. It is the people that help make it such a success.

 

Meeting with international colleagues and friends, customers, suppliers and even competitors all under one roof was invaluable and that is what struck me most. Not the size and scale of the show, the diversity of print present at the show or the many technology innovations on show, but the interpersonal connections that took place on stands and down aisles, the impromptu exchanges and fleeting handshakes that laid the groundwork for long-term partnership, and the planned meetings that directly resulted in business. No offence is meant to those who shouldered the cost of exhibiting and endured 11 days on a stand, but none of these could be achieved without the attendees that took the time out of their everyday schedules to descend on Düsseldorf and embrace the “drupa life”.

 

Of course, without the exhibitors, the lure of Düsseldorf would be far less, almost non-existent. Within those, flexo continued to be a big draw. If you’d read the pre-show coverage and much of the post-show analysis, you’d believe drupa 2024 was a digital-only show. The reality was quite different. Yes digital-native vendors, and even flexo and litho suppliers, brought digital technologies to draw attendees to their stand, but across the 18 halls, flexo was present in a big enough volume to remind the industry that analogue technologies have far from had their day. Digital might be the new kid on the block, certainly when it comes to corrugated and carton packaging, but old dogs have learnt new tricks and are bringing to market the latest and greatest innovations to improve the efficiency, capability and sustainability of flexo and futureproof the process.

 

Like digital seeks to impact the flexo market there are also specific and defined changes to the source of industrial materials. The major change here is the implementation of bio products. LeadEdge Flexo are one of the only companies globally to implement bio-based polymers into the flexo supply chain. cbak evolve uses revolutionary material science to replace fossil polymers with plant based polymers.

 

When you mix in the presence of people from across the flexo supply chain – the machine builders, anilox specialists, ink mixers and converters themselves – it made for a potent mix to keep flexo at the forefront of print. The entire supply chain’s eagerness to push the process forward is infectious and made our drupa 2024 experience all the more enjoyable. People are the heartbeat of all that we do in print, so the ability to engage firsthand with as many as possible is an opportunity that should never be overlooked or undervalued. This is not something unique to drupa, rather an undercurrent of all industry events and gatherings. That makes it easy to overlook as there’s a tendency to focus on visitor numbers and immediate financial returns to validate exhibiting and attending. Focus on quality over quantity, perhaps? A hackneyed saying but often very true.

 

It’s hard not to be amazed and daunted by the sheer size and scale of an industry gathering such as drupa. My hat is off to all those who physically and mentally endured the entirety of the show. We were only there for three days so can only imagine almost two weeks navigating all those halls and stands.

 

For our part, did we have valuable and meaningful experiences? Yes, many. Did we leave the exhibition centre exhausted and with aching feet? For sure. Was it all worth it? You bet. And will we do it again? In a heartbeat. drupa 2024 was awesome. In my mind, there’s no better way to bring together the best and brightest minds and plan for the future of flexo. We were and are delighted to be part of the conversation and to be doing our bit to keep flexo at the leading edge!

 

We can’t wait to do it all again in 2028, as well as at the many other industry shows and events between now and then. June has continued to be a busy month in the aftermath of drupa, with awards and golf days aplenty. This looks set to be repeated across the rest of the year. Nonetheless, we come off the back of drupa enthused for the future of flexo, eager to get going, and look forward to sharing the journey with the entire industry.

 

Get in touch with our team today to learn more about our range of quality corrugated printing and flexographic products.

 

* Comments from Michael Owen, managing director at LeadEdge Flexo

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