Reinventing Print -- drupa - 2028 - Messe Düsseldorf

Reinventing Print

by Paul Hudson – CEO Hudson Printing Company - Salt Lake City, Utah, USA

drupa has a decisive influence on the development of our industry. drupa is THE display platform for industry ideas.  On display are the evolutionary stages of products and product ideas that will shape the production lines of the future.

As an interested observer, it seems to me that truly disruptive technologies take at least three drupa cycles to progress from idea to productive equipment. R&D gets dressed up into an early product protype that is not close to market viability, but interest at Drupa reinforces the vision. The next drupa must show progress and be in - or appear to be - on the verge of real market tests in real environments. By the third drupa cycle the product must be productive and survive the deep examination of entrenched and skeptical buyers or the market will likely move on.

Technology adjacencies may likewise take two drupa cycles and all other products that wish to remain viable must show some evolutionary changes with every cycle.  As an end consumer, I appreciate the intense 4-year pressure on manufacturers to deliver something new each Drupa – it moves us all along.

Hudson Printing has had a tag line for over a decade now of “Reinvent Print.”  While we’ve never been and never will be the inventors of new machines and technologies in our industry and we employ no scientists or engineers, we proudly carry this “reinvent” banner as the ultimate test of those ideas, machines, and technologies. We are the contact point where industry ideas and new technologies interact with the needs of real customers.  Our results are the real test of any new print technology and if we are able to deliver re-imagined printed products to the marketers, creatives, and businesses that we serve, the entire technology development cycle continues to work.

A neat print trick is not meaningful unless it more effectively carries out the purpose for which our customers chose to print a product in the first place. If a new technology can help my customers fill more theatre seats, preserve memories in more meaningful ways, sell more cars, make spaces more beautiful, entice more potential donors to contribute, or make products more irresistible, then that technology has a place at my shop. If it doesn’t carry out my customers wishes better than the previous technology, than it’s only of interest to the marketing and selling efforts of print equipment companies.

For a decade our “Reinvent Print” tagline has been informed by a simple strategy denoted by the simple venn diagram below. 

Print / data / digital – each of the areas represented by these circles make print more valuable to users of print.  Where they overlap, the print becomes increasingly valuable. The intersection of all three is “Reinvent Print” for us.  All investments of time and capital over the last decade have been evaluated against this simple model. Doing so has been a continual focusing exercise and has resulted in better automation, advanced personalization tools, data enhancement strategies, and a gradual switch from outbound to inbound sales strategies for Hudson Printing.  We’re not perfect and the path has been circuitous, but this simple strategy tool has given us our heading.

Breaking this down:


This is our medium.  Any enhancement to the beautiful manifestation of words and images on paper improves our craft.  In our market, print must be beautiful – nothing else will do.  Any way to enhance that beauty with textures, coatings, vivid inks and finishes, brilliant colors, or other additive or transformative characteristics are critical to the future in which print becomes more and more a luxury product.  Luxury products are emotional and deliver experiences.  Each of these added elements enhances the beautiful experience of consuming print.  I believe that print as a communication medium will continue to wane and that the most valuable print will primarily be used as an excellent way to convey emotion.  


Any print not already informed and shaped by information about the intended end consumer of that print is vulnerable to digital replacement or irrelevance.  Data-driven print requires smart people and workflow tools to achieve; privacy concerns and fast production flows demand it.  This is print’s new trick and levels the field with and in many ways exceeds the impact of digital alternatives.


This is not a reference to digital print but to print’s interactions with the digital world.  In the future all print will be expected to have a digital overlay.  We’ll buy, donate, link, and explore directly from print triggers – similar to how we do now, but it will be ubiquitous.  From product packaging to brochures to catalogs to this summer’s hot paperback novel, print will connect.  Print is a launching pad for transactions and enhanced experiences.

Any piece of print that is good or great in all three of these categories is well positioned to succeed in the modern world and any printer that can execute with excellence in all three of these disciplines is, likewise, well positioned for the future.  Finding customers will not be a problem.

Our “reinvent print” model guided the transition we have made over the last decade, but it is not perfect or complete in-and-of itself.  Overlaying this framework are business basics that shouldn’t surprise anyone in the 2020s such as:  speed to market wins, privacy is paramount, and sustainability is not optional. Without the pressure felt by every company that sells into our industry to deliver at drupa every 4 years, our ability to deliver new and better products to our customers would be limited and much slower. Products that help us print more vividly, get to market more quickly, focus the message using data, or enhance the personal appeal to each end recipient is what keeps printing vibrant and essential.

While I’m firmly in the commercial print space with deep roots in digital workflows, this invention cycle works across our industry segments.  New advances spur new adjacent segment improvements and that invention fueled by competition drives even more invention. I’m a believer in digital print technologies but am also incredibly impressed by what I see in response from the makers of offset presses. The same is true in other print segments. It’s not right and wrong but yes and yes. Any single industry manufacturer or service provider alone doesn’t win in such a scenario, we all win, particularly our customers to whom we can introduce new and innovative products that help them achieve their goals.

I’m not an engineer, but I’m glad that someone is. I’m glad that our industry is vibrant and attractive enough to attract many smart engineers and scientists who push every day to bring something revolutionary or evolutionary to market that I can use with my customers.  The cycle and pressure of drupa is, in no small way, responsible for that innovation. At Hudson, we don’t “reinvent print” with every drupa cycle but we do “reinvent print” every day with each customer interaction. Manufacturers and printers together form a vibrant community of inventors who deliver results for the world’s people.

About the author

Since 2012, Paul Hudson is the CEO of Hudson Printing Company, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA. Paul is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the printing industry. Skilled in Pre-press, Business Development, Digital Printing, Offset Printing, and Variable Data Printing. Strong entrepreneurship making Hudson Printing a unique company.

Paul can be reached under LinkedIn


“A neat print trick is not meaningful unless it more effectively carries out the purpose for which our customers chose to print a product in the first place.”

“I’m a believer in digital print technologies but am also incredibly impressed by what I see in response from the makers of offset presses.”

“At Hudson, we don’t “reinvent print” with every drupa cycle but we do “reinvent print” every day with each customer interaction”

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