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Held over 11 days in Düsseldorf, drupa 2016 is a classic example of the pulling power of the city’s, and indeed Germany’s, international trade fairs. Exporter was there.
When a city of just 600,000 opens its doors to around 260,000 mostly foreign visitors for one of six major international trade fairs, you’d expect to see the evidence all around you. And that’s exactly the case with drupa 2016. 
The world’s biggest and most important trade fair for print and crossmedia solutions is vital for the economy of Dusseldorf. It’s presence is everywhere – in the bright red flags that fly from the city’s lamp-posts, and the drupa passes around the necks of people in the streets and on the trains.
Everything about this 11-day fair is super-sized – from the number of exhibitors (1,837 from 54 countries) and journalists (1,900 from 74 countries) to the size of the digital printing presses in the exhibition mega-halls of Messe Düsseldorf. And let’s not forget the 260,000 visitors from 190 countries. There were 14,000 visitors from India alone, because that country (along with China and Africa) is experiencing a boom in print volumes.
drupa is practically a city within a city – a city where almost every machine on display is a working exhibition, and where doing business is the name of the game. Sales at the fair are worth many millions of euros – exceeding all expectations according to the organisers. Even the largest of presses displayed ‘sold’ stickers right from the early days, and to buyers from all over the world.
drupa 2016 provided plenty of evidence that the global print industry is still alive and well – although evolving fast. And the fair has evolved in line with industry trends.
drupa director Sabine Geldermann points out that consolidation of the print industry over recent years resulted in 600 new exhibitors at this year’s fair. She says drupa 2016 has been labelled the ‘transformation drupa’ and is a “completely different dynamic to previous drupas”.
“In the past there was resistance to multi-channel technology, but this year they’ve embraced the ‘enemy’. 
“The graphics industry is still the heart of drupa, but this year we enlarged the product nomenclature and portfolio and highlighted themes such as 3D printing, functional printing, multi-channel printing, green printing and packaging printing.” 
There was a much greater emphasis on packaging, she says, with touchpoints to explore the future of packaging and a number of workshops. 
The focus was not just printing on paper, but glass, metal, plastics, wood, ceramics and textiles. 
It is 65 years since the first drupa was staged in Düsseldorf. Continuing the four-year cycle, the next is scheduled for 2020, but already the heavyweights of the print and crossmedia world have committed to the event. With 22 other world-leading events staged by Messe Düsselfdorf (ProWein, boot, interpack, MEDICA and K) dates have to be locked in many years in advance.
Held over 11 days, and with 39 days to set it up and another 14 to break it down, there’s no doubting drupa is a colossal undertaking. With typical German efficiency, it ran like a well-oiled machine.
But one is left wondering just how different again the print and crossmedia industries will be come 2020.
For more information about visiting or exhibiting at Messe Düsseldorf trade fairs contact the New Zealand representative, Robert Laing, at Messe Reps. & Travel. Email [email protected] or visit 
Glenn Baker

Glenn is a professional writer/editor with 50-plus years’ experience across radio, television and magazine publishing.


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