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The Print Show

With The Print Show 2019 just around the corner, Rob Fletcher looks ahead to the event and finds out what’s on offer to sign-makers at the fifth edition of the annual exhibition

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Showcase of innovation

Widely regarded as the most important event on the UK print calendar, The Print Show returns to the NEC in Birmingham this year for its fifth anniversary edition. Taking place from September 17th to 19th, The Print Show will once again open its doors to innovation, with some of the leading names in print set to appear.

The Print Show 2019 takes place in Hall 9 of the NEC from September 17th to 19th

Much as it has done in previous years, The Print Show 2019 will offer plenty to the sign-making sector, with wide-format to feature heavily across Hall 9 at the NEC.

Here, we pick out some of the key sign-related highlights at the show and find out more about what some of the leading brands, suppliers and manufacturers are planning to showcase at the NEC this September.

Key growth markets

Event director Chris Davies has been at the helm of The Print Show since its first edition back in 2015. Davies says that while the event is marketed as being print-focused, there is plenty of offer to whet the appetite of sign-makers, with a focus on diversifying into new markets.

O Factoid: The Print Show 2018 attracted a record 5,976 attendees from a wide range of backgrounds. O

“It’s no secret that a lot of commercial print companies have expanded into wide-format print in recent years, which is why we focus on this area so heavily at the show,” Davies says, adding: “Many sign-making companies also have the skills and attributes to make the move and The Print Show will put them in touch with the manufacturers and suppliers to support such a venture.

“In years gone by, we’ve had some of the leading wide-format manufacturers use The Print Show as a platform to launch new kit, and this year we’ll see a whole host of new solutions being demonstrated at the NEC. I’m looking forward to speaking with visitors from the sign industry and hearing about their plans to expand into wide-format.”

Step forward Epson, which will this year be showcasing new solutions in the UK for the first time. Visitors can see the new bulk ink system for the SureSolor S series eco-solvent printer, which Epson says will deliver significant productivity gains and enhanced profitability for volume users.

Also due to feature at the show is the EcoTex synthetic leather print solution, utilising the SureColor S60600 printer. Visitors can also learn about the latest developments in the Epson dye-sublimation offering and an expansion of its CAD printer range.

Alongside this new kit, Epson will be demonstrating a number of its established solutions, including its full portfolio of SureColor large-format printer models, as it seeks to appeal to visitors from a wide range of backgrounds.

Epson will be one of a number of leading wide-format print manufacturers with a major presence at The Print Show 2019

Phil McMullin, sales manager for ProGraphics at Epson UK, says Epson and The Print Show will help visitors from all backgrounds identify the solutions they need to grow their business in what is a highly competitive market.

McMullin expands: “In this challenging business climate of uncertainty and squeezed margins, we are aiming to show visitors how, with relatively low investment, they can win more of the branding opportunities within their existing customer base.

The Print Show is a shop window on new opportunities that visitors will not see just on the web or in a brochure

“These new branding opportunities not only represent additional margin but help to protect existing business from competitors by offering a one stop shop service. The Print Show is a shop window on new opportunities that visitors will not see just on the web or in a brochure.”

Boost growth

Another global printing brand that will also have a heavy presence in Hall 9 this year is HP, which is returning to The Print Show for the third consecutive year. Much like fellow digital heavyweight Epson, HP will be demonstrating new kit on its stand this September, with several machines set to make their first appearance in the UK.

HP will be exhibiting at The Print Show for a third consecutive year

Visitors can see the new Stitch S series digital textile printing technology for the first time on UK shores. The Stitch S series, which was only unveiled to the market in April this year, will be the main attraction on the HP stand, as the manufacturer seeks to spread the word about its digital textile print capabilities.

The range comprises the HP Stitch S300 and HP Stitch S500 64” models, as well as the larger HP Stitch S1000 126” option. Each printer couples HP’s Thermal Inkjet technology with industry-standard dyes for superior colour durability, and also features the first-ever built-in spectrophotometer to enable fast and exact colour matching.

Phil Oakley, regional business manager, large-format printing at HP, comments: “The HP Stitch S series is a portfolio of digital textile printers that deliver precise colour-matching, designed to boost growth via décor and apparel applications, as well as enabling on-demand production and personalisation. Stitch represents HP’s entry into the dye-sublimation textile market, delivering the world’s fastest colour match capabilities.”

Other new solutions on display will include the new HP DesignJet for the first time at a UK trade show, while visitors will be able to see established HP Latex technology in action throughout the event. Oakley says the main message for HP at the show will be to promote how its various machines can help visitors access work in market that they may not have considered in the past.

Oakley says: “Visitors will have access to a VIP tour of the stand to discover new soft signage, apparel, décor and large-format capabilities for engineering, public sector and enterprise markets.” Visitors can book their tour in advance in order to beat the crowds at the show.

This approach will be supported by HP theming its stand around ‘Yes Unlimited’, with the idea of showcasing how its broad and versatile portfolio enables customers to say ‘Yes’ to any request, regardless of the schedule or applications. This follows on from last year when HP named its stand ‘Yesville’, encouraging visitors to seek out new markets.

HP will theme its stand around ‘Yes Unlimited’ to help showcase how its print portfolio helps customers to say ‘Yes’ to any request

Make the difference

Elsewhere, Hybrid Services, the exclusive distributor of Mimaki print technology in the UK and Ireland, will demonstrate the new Mimaki JFX200-2513EX flatbed LED UV printer for the first time in public on its stand at The Print Show 2019.

Featuring on the Hybrid Services stand, the new Mimaki JFX200-2513EX flatbed LED UV model has a top printing speed of 35sq m/h

Featuring a new printhead configuration, Mimaki says it will double output speeds when printing with white ink in all print modes. In addition, a new draft mode will help users to achieve a 280% increase in speed, resulting in a maximum speed of 35sq m/h.

Brett Newman, chief operations manager at Hybrid Services, says: “Higher print speeds take the pressure off time-sensitive jobs and help our customers reduce lead times. With the majority of existing JFX200 printers being commissioned with white ink, the new ‘EX’ model will deliver a powerful solution that will make a difference right at the heart of the graphics printing industry.

“Mimaki’s JFX200 range has always offered print providers the perfect flatbed printing solution, hence its enduring popularity in the UK and Ireland. Now, with the launch of the new JFX200-2513EX, Mimaki has made substantial speed improvements, as well as adding some highly useful functionality.

“With the broader adoption of flatbed printers within the commercial printing sector, The Print Show offers us the ideal opportunity to introduce the new printer and we look forward to demonstrating its impressive speed and creative capabilities during the exhibition.”

Other highlights on the Hybrid Services stand include the Mimaki CJV150 wide-format solvent printer/cutter. Featuring orange, white and light black inks that add both gamut and detail to a standard four- or six-colour inkset, the machine is billed as being a “highly versatile solution” for print professionals looking for a creative and productive edge.

In addition, Hybrid Services will be showing off the Mimaki UJF-MkII direct-to-object printers and demonstrating how these machines can produce creative and highly customisable prints onto many items.

Trading up

If you’re looking to move into wide-format print but do not want to commit to investment at this stage, then forming a partnership with a trade supplier might be the best way to go. Venture Banners will be at The Print Show this year and director Scott Conway says the company will be looking to speak with sign-makers about how it can help with their expansion plans.

Scott Conway, director of Venture Banners, will speak with visitors about how his trade company can help them access work such as  soft signage

Conway says: “Business in general and our business in particular is becoming more internet-based – from online order systems to artwork uploads – so the opportunities to actually talk to customers are becoming fewer and further apart. The Print Show is a great platform to meet existing and prospective customers and put a face to Venture Banners.”

Venture Banners will be placing a major emphasis on soft signage at the show this year, having identified this market as a key growth sector for both print companies and sign-makers. Last year, the company took delivery of a new FabriVu dye-sublimation printer to support this growing part of its business.

Conway comments: “At The Print Show 2019, we will be showcasing the soft signage products that we are able to produce on the FabriVu so that visitors are aware of the type of work we can assist them with.

“As trade-only suppliers, we are all about giving us customers a quality product they can make a tidy margin on and we provide an easy route to market for the lucrative soft signage sector.”

Sustainable solutions

On the subject of soft signage and similar print applications, Soyang Europe will exhibit in order to raise awareness of its print waste recycling partnership with Blue Castle Group.

The scheme offers what the two parties believe is a much sought-after solution to the industry’s PVC waste dilemma, with the aim of pioneering the use of PVC banner material as an environmentally sustainable substrate. Blue Castle Group, a waste and energy consultancy, has developed and tested the machinery and processes needed to convert PVC banner into a reusable format.

Mark Mashiter, managing director of Soyang Europe, says: “The launch of the scheme brings an unprecedented opportunity to assist companies with their waste management, specifically looking at PVC recycling."

The launch of the scheme brings an unprecedented opportunity to assist companies with their waste management, specifically looking at PVC recycling

“The Print Show is an ideal opportunity to introduce the PVC Banner Recycling Scheme to a wider audience and for visitors to discuss its merits face-to-face with members of our and Blue Castle’s team.”

Visitors can see examples of recycled PVC material on the Soyang Europe stand, as well as discuss the process and how it can fit into their existing workflow. Additionally, media experts at printable material manufacturer and distributor Soyang Europe will be on hand to talk about the various environmental material options that exist within the company’s product portfolio.

The Print Show is far more than your standard print event; it is designed to help visitors from all backgrounds identify markets where they can access new work and improve their profit margins as a result. With wide-format a running theme throughout the show floor, the exhibition could hold the key to help you unlock new business.

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