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FESPA Preview

FESPA’s Global Print Expo is known the world over as a hive of activity for printers and sign-makers alike. Summer Brooks delves into the world of speciality print ahead of this year’s event

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FESPA returns to Munich for 2019

The possibilities of print

It is one of the most talked about events of the year in the industry, and this year FESPA is returning to Messe Munich to bring together screen, digital and textile print in one location.

“Global Print Expo 2019 is really the best and biggest opportunity for visitors in the speciality print community to see the biggest variety of suppliers under one roof,” says Sarah Farrell, head of marketing at FESPA. “So, really the world of speciality print will be there, and we are expecting some exciting product launches this year and a wide range of exhibitors with lots of new faces as well that they perhaps haven’t seen before.”

Sarah Farrell, head of marketing at FESPA

This year’s event will see exhibitors take over six halls at the Messe Munich, offering an ‘explosion of possibilities’ – the theme for the 2019 exhibition. “This year we’re really focusing on new opportunities that are open to print-service-providers, looking at new technologies and also trying to inspire our community. So, all of the features on the floor are focused on really inspiring people on what print can do and then giving that practical support of how they can bring those ideas to life in their business.”

The event welcomes those in graphics, sign-making, textiles and interior design to discover the latest

The event returns to Munich in Germany this year, a decision the organisers say was a result of visitor consultation. “We’ve been to Munich before and the reaction has always been incredibly positive, Munich lends itself very well in terms of the venue and its symmetrical design,” says Farrell. “The reality is that we don’t randomly choose venues, we always consult with our audience and we work to try and return to popular destinations and Munich definitely is one of the most popular destinations we can take the show to.”


Print Make Wear takes on the form of a live production environment, demonstrating to visitors every step in the garment production process.  This feature is twice as big as last year according to organisers and will be showing a wider range of technology. Visitors can book onto tours around the area dependent upon which applications interested in, covering everything from planning and design to welding and embellishment.

Print Make Wear is a popular feature for visitors

Printeriors returns again this year and with it is a showcase of opportunities within the interior and exterior décor applications. New this year is an outdoor area, allowing visitors to see and experience the full scope of applications and signage solutions within a designated hospitality area (hopefully) in the German sunshine.

The Printeriors feature is returning for another year

“As well as showcasing interior applications, as we have done for the past few years, we’re also going to be using the beer garden area within [the] venue to showcase exterior applications as well,” says Farrell. “Be it printed tables, printed deck chairs or printed umbrellas, there will be some really exciting new exterior applications on show in a nice, usable area that visitors can go to and relax, have a drink, and check their emails, but also be inspired by print as well.”

Illustrator and photographer Jasper Goodall has created a series of exclusive designs on the theme of elements with the tagline: ‘Inspired by Nature – Powered by Print’.

“The focus will really be on sustainability, so that’s another growth area and we’re seeing that across the board – PSPs are becoming ever more conscious of the environmental and sustainable implications of their business,” says Farrell. “We’ll be looking at water-based inks, low water consumption technology and organic and sustainable fabric – anything we can to improve the sustainability credentials of textile production.”

The focus will really be on sustainability, so that’s another growth area and we’re seeing that across the board

Another new feature for this year is the Colour L*A*B*. Part of FESPA’s initiative Profit for Purpose, the colour management section has been developed to offer technical education and advice as well as promoting operational best practice for the global speciality print community. “Customers, from brand owners to interior designers, have high expectations of consistent colour appearance, regardless of the printing process or material used,” says Graeme Richardson-Locke, head of technical support at FESPA. “Importantly, once you’ve invested in the process and it is up and running, good colour management delivers tangible business benefits for PSPs – better predictability, greater production flexibility, reduced waste and improved customer satisfaction and retention. It allows PSPs to quantify their capability, print efficiently and save money while producing better work.”

Graeme Richardson-Locke, technical support manager at FESPA

On hand will be colour management consultant Paul Sherfield, who will be guiding visitors through tours, offering detailed explanations of the process and answers to the industry’s burning questions.

“Within the speciality print community, there is also the challenge created by the diversity in the range of materials and processes,” adds Richardson-Locke. “This makes it a much more complex environment because there are so many applications, which complicates the colour management process. We know that the speciality print industry has proactively embraced many of the production advantages of digital technology, reaping the benefits of improved productivity and applications diversity and investing to manage sustained volume growth.” However, quality control remains an area where PSPs are yet to optimise their operations.

According to FESPA’s latest Print Census, one in three respondents say they intend to invest in colour management technology and training within the next two years. In response to this, organisers have established a new feature this year with the Colour L*A*B*, with the aim of arming print-service-providers (PSPs)with guidance and education to improve colour accuracy and consistency across various applications and multiple substrates.

“We wanted to showcase a structured end-to-end overview of all of the individual elements that contribute to good colour management,” adds Richardson-Locke. “With this in mind, we wanted to ensure that Colour L*A*B* included both conference sessions and demonstrations, so visitors can hear from a range of subject matter experts while also being able to explore the tools required for good colour management including monitors, measurement and calibration tools, lightboxes, software solutions and print output devices.”

He adds: “Through Colour L*A*B*, we want to offer PSPs an insight into what they can do themselves to build their knowledge, competence and confidence to make the most of the colour management tools available, identify any gaps in their practices and optimise their workflows to deliver right-first-time colour for every job. The aim is for the entire community to better understand what opportunities colour management brings in terms of improved job acceptance and consistent workflow, from soft proof through to production.”

Product launches

Epson has revealed it will be launching some new products at the event and whilst the details are being kept under wraps for now, the firm has hinted there will be new models in its large-format range. “We will unveil two new products at the show but will not give details at this stage. Visitors will be able to see the benefit Epson can offer by having control of the print engine, printhead and inks and how open minds and R&D can help us bring new ideas to the development of printers. We recognise that the printing industry needs productive and cost-effective solutions that are flexible and versatile in what they can do.”

Making the most of its close connection to the fashion industry, Epson will be showcasing the capabilities of its technology with work produced by fashion and textiles students, reflecting its ongoing relationships with Central St Martins, University of Westminster and Birmingham City University. 

Mimaki has revealed it will be taking its largest ever presence at the event, encompassing four key areas: sign graphics; industrial products; textiles and 3D. The firm will be bringing its latest dye sublimation printer, the TS55-1800, as well as its full-colour 3D printer, the 3DUJ-553, currently the only 3D printer capable of printing more than ten million colours. “By showing the smartest portfolio of cutting-edge technologies at our largest FESPA ever, we aim to demonstrate our clear commitment to the industry,” comments Danna Drion, marketing manager at Mimaki EMEA. “In part, this is enabled by some of Mimaki’s key business strengths – our flexibility and R&D expertise.”

O Factoid: The 2018 Global Print Expo welcomed 20,000 individual visitors, attending from a record 142 countries for a FESPA event. O

Ricoh will be showcasing its ever-expanding portfolio at the show, including its latest direct-to-garment printer, the Ri 1000. The latest printer in the DTG range allows for a broader range of applications due to a new pre-treatment liquid, suitable for light polyester and polycotton blends. Ricoh will also be unveiling its new large-format flatbed printer, the Ricoh Pro TF6250, aimed at the sign, graphics and décor markets.

“This is our fourth FESPA and each year our stand gets bigger and bigger to make room for our expanding portfolio,” says Graham Kennedy, head of commercial inkjet business, commercial and industrial printing group at Ricoh Europe. “The latest additions have been developed to ensure the functionality, quality and capability to match clients’ developing needs. We are also excited to show how the latest technologies enhance and complement each other. In turn they allow our clients to investigate new markets and pursue new ventures, confident they can deliver and safe in the knowledge that Ricoh’s expertise is on hand if required.”

FESPA Global Print Expo and the dual-located European Sign Expo takes place at Messe Munich, May 14 – 17th, 2019.

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