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Signlink Live

Excitement is high as the team at Signlink Live polish the show for its grand unveiling. Jo Golding looks at the exhibitors and special areas created to capture your imagination

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Signlink Live will focus specifically on the UK sign-making industry’s supply chain from engraving technology through to built-up letters and sign-making tools

The finishing touches

Having opened for visitor registration in June, and been in the works many months before then, new exhibition Signlink Live has certainly come a long way—and excitement ahead of the first event is high. I know what you are thinking; there are so many exhibitions around, in the UK and abroad, so what is one more?

Well, the concept behind Signlink Live is something quite different, as it will focus specifically on the nuts and bolts of the sign-making industry. Think built-up letters, LED lighting technology, banners, tapes, and other tools—the event will cover all of the components, big and small, that make up this highly creative industry.

Event director, Chris Davies, says of the exhibition: “What is unique about Signlink Live is that exhibitors will not have to compete for footfall with wide-format print companies, as they would at other industry events.”

What is unique about Signlink Live is that exhibitors will not have to compete for footfall with wide-format print companies, as they would at other industry events

Organisers opted to roll out a fresh new website for the event, developed in partnership with Nettl, which features CGI animation clips on the home page. Davies notes how it is “critical” to have a strong online presence and that the organising team were “delighted” with the work done by Nettl. You can check out Nettl’s services at co-located event, The Print Show, on stand D06b.

Showing support

Back to Signlink Live and it was Grafityp that became the first company to sign up to exhibit at the event, as well as signing up to exhibit at The Print Show, as its products and services are so diverse. Grafityp is one of the leading film manufacturers and distributors of self-adhesive sign-making films, laminates, and digital print media.

“I am feeling very positive; I have always said that Link Exhibitions, wherever it was, would put on a very good exhibition,” says Neil Stevenson, sales director for Grafityp UK, adding: “We really are happy with the performance of the team behind Link Exhibitions, which we have experienced from the co-located Print Show for the last two years.”

Grafityp have supported The Print Show every year and this year will exhibit at The Print Show and Signlink Live, where it will showcase the profit generating potential of its colour change and special effect vinyl films

Stevenson explains how the company’s previous success at The Print Show was a big part of their decision to support Signlink Live. He says: “The first year of The Print Show was very good, and 2016 was even better. You might have thought in the first year ‘was it a fluke?’, but the second year was even stronger, and a lot of our reason for signing up for the 2017 event and taking a stand at Signlink Live is based on those results and how the shows have been positioned together. Fingers crossed things have gone really well so far, and I think it will carry on for many years.”

More names on the floor plan this year include Spirit Displays, Nova Aluminium, Merlin Tools, Welwyn Tool Group, Castle Tape Holdings, and Applelec.

Applelec says the autumn show is good timing for a product launch it is planning

Speaking about the decision to sign up for the debut show, Andy Armitage, head of signage sales at Applelec, says that the company sees the exhibition as a good opportunity to launch a new product to the market.

“Signlink Live presents a fresh opportunity to promote what’s new from Applelec and the autumn timing looks good for a product launch we’re planning,” Armitage says, adding: “It feels like the show is already gathering momentum in the industry and there’s a good deal of interest in attending from many of our customers.

“I think Signlink Live has the potential to be very important. Exhibitions are a fantastic platform for product launches and can help educate the industry, particularly as technology advances, through seminar and talk programmes.
“As producers of a monthly signage magazine, the Signlink team really understand the industry, and I think this will translate into a well-produced show that offers something genuinely interesting to visitors. The Signlink team have always supported Applelec and so we were keen to be part of this new venture with them.”

As well as its revealing its top-secret launch at the show, Applelec will highlight some of its most popular Sloan LED products and recent developments in the Prism module range.

Make a profit

It is not just exhibitors you have to look forward to meeting in October, you can also visit a range of special areas to gain insight into different areas of the sign industry.

The Profit Factory will serve as a key feature at this inaugural event, providing four ‘shops’ run by specialists in their field—Let’s Go Outside (Grafenia), Enterprise Engraving (One to One Engravers), Promo Print Alley (Printmax), and The Curiosity Shop (Applelec)—that give visitors insight into businesses in a box that require low capital investment. The latter covers weird and wonderful bespoke signage and how it can be offered as a commercial service, while Promo Print Alley will look at 3D object printing. Let’s Go Outside will focus on the opportunities that outdoor soft signage and event branding holds for the sign-maker. And Enterprise Engraving, sponsored by HPC Laser, will showcase the business opportunities available to sign-makers in expanding their product and service capabilities in this area.
The Swap Shop is another special visitor zone, run and sponsored by Grafityp, which will pay tribute to the intricate art of vinyl wrapping and its business merits. Be it a decoration on a high-powered motor-sports car, wrapping a mountain bike, or even wrapping the tables of a new coffee shop to go with its marketing theme, this area of the show will allow visitors to learn more about the profit potential of being able to carry out a quality wrap job using colour change or special effects films.

For The Love of Neon meanwhile, run by highly-acclaimed Neon Workshops, will be dedicated to this iconic sign-making discipline, raising awareness of its current practitioners, and its continued value to the UK sign-making industry.

Green Horizons will be run by Zeta Specialist Lighting and will focus on sign solutions that not only have a low environmental impact, but can help a sign-maker win new business from high-end clients that have a specific set of corporate social responsibility targets to meet. In addition, the stand will showcase the cutting-edge technology available for solar powered signage, ultra-bright but low power consuming lighting solutions, and highly innovative illuminated wayfinding systems.

Also at the event will be the Business Seminar Theatre, for targeted business advice and free sales training. The Training Theatre meanwhile will offer free training on everything from Adobe Photoshop through to key insights into the benefits that the latest MIS systems could bring to your business in terms of reducing wastage and inefficiency to increase your profit margins.

Last but not least is Craftsman’s Corner, which celebrates traditional sign-making skills and showcases the companies that still, to this day, provide these artisan services. On show will be live demonstrations and the chance to get hands on with gold leaf gilding (PKM Signs), sign-writing (The Pub Sign Co), pinstriping (Pinstriping and Kustom Graphics Magazine), and bas- relief carving (Carving With Stories). But this is not just a cultural curiosity, these firms will also be showcasing how modern sign-makers can offer something unique and special to their customers through the white labelling of such services.

No brainer

Another well respected brand in attendance this year will be The Sign Group, which was among the first companies to commit to the show. The firm will be showcasing its main trade sign manufacturing brand, as well as its We Love LEDs and Neon Plus divisions.

The Sign Group says exhibiting at Signlink Live was a “no brainer”, and it will use the exhibition to showcase an exciting range of its built-up and illuminated sign systems which it supplies as a trade-only service

Graeme Hoole, managing director at The Sign Group, says: “We have new products and marketing strategies that have been developed over the last year that we are about to put into action, it’s exciting, and we’re looking forward to see if it pans out how we expected.

“With all that in mind the opportunity to exhibit at a new show dedicated to the nuts and bolts suppliers in the sign trade, rather than heavy equipment, was very attractive. It seems to fit neatly with what we’re trying to achieve this year, so was a no brainer.

“For 90 percent of all sign-makers in the UK, this has to be the exhibition to visit if no other. It will give them invaluable contacts, great insight into what’s available, and the chance to speak to more people working in a similar environment than any other show.”

For 90 percent of all sign-makers in the UK, this has to be the exhibition to visit if no other

Exhibitor NCS Trade Signs has highlighted how it believes Signlink has an understanding of the trade sector and the missing link that has previously put off trade fabricators from exhibiting at other events. NCS has served the industry for more than 28 years and is excited to offer new ideas for signage, bespoke projects, and ongoing roll-out schemes at the show.

Laura Hoult, marketing director at NCS Trade Signs, comments: “As an approved Spandex Sign Systems Centre, we are able to offer solutions for all of your wayfinding requirements. Not only can we supply the Spandex System that we all know and love, with bespoke manufacturing at the heart of our business, we are able to modify and customise the Spandex System to create unique and exciting alternatives.”

If you are in the market for the right tools, Sign Making Tools is another company that has signed up to exhibit that can help you through any questions.

Co-founder of the company, Paul Hughes, says: “Sign Making Tools are open to suggestions and if you are stuck on a specific job, contact us and we may be able to help with the tools required. One main theme runs through our product range, we want to make your work easier and save you time, even if it is just for an extra cup of tea at the end of the day.”

Zeta Specialist Lighting, manufacturers of bespoke LED lighting solutions to the sign industry, has also shown its support for Signlink Live. Managing director Adrian Dennis says the show will be a “great opportunity” to connect with the sign-making community and show off its latest products.

He also notes environmentally-friendly options are popular at the moment, saying: “Our environmentally-friendly LED and solar-powered signage products are more in demand than ever. Signlink Live provides us with a great opportunity to engage with sign-makers face-to-face, and demonstrate how they can leverage the benefits of our innovative solutions for a wide range of signage applications.

Exhibitor Zeta Specialist Lighting’s Bespoke Solar Signage Kit illuminates a wayfinding solution at the University of Wolverhampton

“LEDs offer sign-makers an eco-friendly solution to illuminate signage and have become the lighting of choice across many signage applications. When used on-grid, Zeta’s LED signage solutions such as the new Light Guide Panel, consume up to 70 percent less power than traditional lighting systems, which positively impacts on both the bottom and the green line. However, when used in conjunction with Zeta’s intelligent solar technology, the real economies kick in.”

At the time of writing this, Zeta revealed on Twitter that it was working with The Sign Group for something “very special” for its stand, so keep your eyes peeled.

Zeta is not the only brand to use Twitter to let people know its plans for the show. Nova Dura will use Signlink Live as a platform to introduce its new Prima Dura Glow photoluminescent durable signage. The company says it is the only anti-vandal and anti-grafitti photoluminescent signage that meets the requirements of S1085: Issue A4: 2016 for Fire Safety Performance of Materials in Rail Stations and Tunnels Infrastructure. This means underground stations can now use photoluminescent signage systems to evacuate passengers in emergencies.

Even UK industry trade body, the British Sign and Graphics Association (BSGA) has pledged its support to Signlink Live. It will exhibit at the show and David Catanach, director of the BSGA, explains why: “The BSGA firmly believes that trade shows are vital in helping the sign industry move forward. The Council of the BSGA is keen that sign-makers make the most of any opportunity to discover new equipment and processes that will add to their capabilities. The BSGA sees this show as one of those that should not be missed.

The BSGA has thrown its backing behind Signlink Live, encouraging sign-makers to make the most of opportunities to add to their capabilities. Pictured: David Catanach, director of the BSGA

“Being at the show will give also us the opportunity to network, provide advice to visitors about the sign industry and the Association and to see for ourselves the new opportunities that are opening up to an ever diversifying industry. And of course we will be happy to discuss membership applications and the benefits of being a member.”

The companies mentioned in this feature are obviously just a handful of the 50+ exhibitors that will be at the show, so make sure to check out the exhibitor list for all the details and start planning your day out without delay.

O Factoid: The International Centre in Telford has over 15,000sq m of event space and caters for anything from small boardroom meetings through to large-scale conferences and exhibitions. O

The Signlink team will be at the event uncovering the latest products and exclusive news, so let us know if there is anything you want us to shout about. We look forward to seeing you there.

Signlink Live and The Print Show will take place at the International Centre in Telford, a beautiful purpose built venue where visitors can enjoy free parking and lunch

Signlink Live and The Print Show will take place at the International Centre in Telford from October 11th to 13th 2017.

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