Technology advances are a driving force in any industry. Innovations create opportunity for new products and services, more efficiencies, faster turnaround time, and improved quality. Printing has had plenty of momentous technology shifts since Gutenberg invented moveable metal type and converted a wine press to the world’s first printing press.
The InterTech Technology Awards, sponsored by Printing Industries of America (now part of PRINTING United Alliance), have been a harbinger of technology shifts since their introduction in 1978. The annual awards seek to highlight innovative technologies that are judged as likely to cause a significant change on at least a sector of the graphic communications world. The awards are not given to technologies with excellent engineering or widespread adoption, but instead to those expected to go down in our industry’s history as a technological marvel.
A sampling of awarded technologies tells the story of how the InterTech judges have recognized the importance of a technology years before its general approach became an industry mainstay.
1979—Automated imposition (Opti-Copy Imposer)
1980—Electronic scanning technology (Hell Chromacom and Crosfield Magnascan 570)
1983—Color management system (System Brunner)
1988—Scanning densitometer (Cosar AutoSmart)
1990—Computer-to-plate (Printware 1440 Platesetter)
1991—Image editing software (Adobe Photoshop)
1993—Digital color proofing (Kodak APPROVAL)
1995—Digital color press (Xeikon DCP-1)
1996—Closed loop color control (Graphics Microsystems ColorQuick)
1999—Automated plate mounting (Heidelberg Sunday 4000 Press with Autoplate)
1999—PDF workflow (Agfa Apogee)
2000—Print e-commerce (Collabria)
2003—Dynamic scheduling software (Printcafe PrintFlow)
2008—Digital flexo platemaking (KODAK FLEXCEL NX)
The last decade saw a spate of awards for production-level inkjet presses, starting with the KODAK PROSPER S10 in 2010 through the Canon Océ ProStream 1000 and Ricoh Pro VC 70000 in 2019. The judges quickly recognized the significance of digital enhancement presses, choosing to honor Scodix Metallic with Scodix SENSE and MGI JETvarnish 3D in the same year. Cross-media software (EFI DirectSmile) debuted on the award list, as did workflow automation software (Enfocus Switch).
Dozens of InterTech Technology Awards have been bestowed on offset presses and associated technologies over the years; however, awards for automation solutions, digital and hybrid presses, cloud-based applications, flexo systems, and package-related software are now more common.
Of course, a technology must be submitted to be eligible for an award and the resulting publicity. Suppliers that want to enter a technology this year need to do so before July 31. Visit printing.org/intertech or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.