CHICAGO–The theme at this year’s PRINT 13 was “Integrate, Innovate, Communicate.” It could have also been called “A Hot Time in the City.”

That’s because this show, which brings together the hottest new technologies in the printing industry under one very large roof called McCormick Place in the heart of Chicago, sparked record crowds and interest like never before. In fact, this year’s PRINT 13 show opened on a very warm September 8, the same day the Chicago Bears opened the NFL season with a game against the Cincinnati Bengals, just down the railroad tracks at Soldier Field. (The Bears won and that evening the streets filled with football fans and PRINT 13 attendees, all celebrating a good show).

Indeed, Chicago was lit up with excitement.

And, at PRINT 13, it wasn’t limited to the big commercial printing companies, but also to production companies and suppliers to the newspaper industry.  From digital presses to offset presses, from hybrid production to UV and heatset technology, a myriad of technologies were on display for the newspaper set.

A few of the highlights for me while attending the show was Pressline Services’ 3Volution plate cylinder, capable of printing three sheets in a single revolution. It creates a compact sectional newspaper format with cutoffs between 15.75 and 14.5 inches. That’s convenient for Columbus Dispatch readers, who can easily place their copies into their briefcases or knapsacks without even having to fold them.

Another company that caught my attention was RBP Chemical Technology, which debuted at the show its line of Intellicon ultra-concentrated fountain solutions. One, affectionately known as Liquid Gold, is designed to reduce consumption by an estimated 50-80 percent for coldest, heatset and UV sheetfed printers.

I also got a charge out of ProImage’s MediaWay integrated CMS and TabellaNews, its cloud-based app for the creation of digital publications for tablets and other mobile devices.

Meanwhile, Hal Hinderliter, president of Hinderliter Consulting Services, had his own take on what were “must sees” at the show. Among the technologies he touted during a session featuring newspaper executives, was the Goss International Magnum Compact Press Autoplate System, the first automatic plate changing unit for a single-width offset newspaper press, allowing the changing of all plates automatically in less than four minutes.

He also suggested audience members look at the Bourg BB3202 In-Line Perfect Binder and Muller Martini Presto II Digital Saddler for postpress, as well as Enfocus’ Connect ALL for prepress and premedia and the Ricoh Clickable Paper, a cross-media technology that recognizes hotspots on any printer surface.

As if there wasn’t enough going on to keep everyone’s interest during the five days of PRINT 13, a small but scary incident occurred on the show floor Wednesday afternoon. While E&P Sales Manager Ana Manzo and I chatted with the folks at Konica Minolta in their booth space at the far northeast end of the hall, a large bang was heard and then sparks began cascading from a transformer directly above us. Those sparks turned into a very small fire that shot toward the roof from the transformer box. Soon, firefighters were on the scene to put out the fire and no one was hurt.

It was a hot time at PRINT 13, all right.

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