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FESPA 2018: where print took off

Berlin was this year’s home for the FESPA Global Print Expo and the European Sign Expo, and Messe Berlin was buzzing with energy.

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This year’s event took place at Messe Berlin in Germany

The first day literally started with a bang, as balloons cascaded down from the rooftops, signifying the official opening of FESPA 2018.

From a manufacturer’s point of view, the benefits of exhibiting at an event like this is palpable. The visitors there are genuinely excited about print and signage, and the prospects that companies can offer their business. FESPA is not an event designed specifically to sell kit, but it also provides the perfect opportunity to meet with partners, existing customers, and offering an education and inspiration to new clients.

As demonstrated by the entrance of the show, FESPA ran a scheme this year called Printeriors, which saw entrants from around the globe submit designs. The winners were chosen, and the final designs were showcased for visitors. The competition highlighted this year’s trend with fashion, interior design, and textiles. Prior to the exhibition, organisers, along with Smithers Pira, researched the key trends in the market, and the most significant growth could be seen in this area.

What we were trying to do, as well as obviously displaying Epson products and printers, is actually to show the diversity of them, especially with textile and different things they can do

The resulting motif influenced exhibitors, with most major manufacturers including Mimaki, Epson, and HP demonstrating wall and floor graphics, which could be created using their technology. Mimaki showcased its Tiger 1800B, while the Epson stand included designs from Richard Quinn and an Ikea-style room displaying the applications that could be achieved.

Chris Davies, European signage product manager, explains that floor graphics are an important aspect of the interior boom. He says: “The interior market is growing massively. On the stand we have the Sure Color S60600, our most productive printer. It’s a 2x CMYK printer, and it’s perfect for applications where colour accuracy isn’t quite as important, but you still want incredible detail and repeatability.” 

On the textile and fashion side, Epson proudly showcased Richard Quinn designs, and a picture of internationally acclaimed human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, who recently wore one of Quinn’s designs to the iconic Met Gala. The Monna Lisa Evo Tre 16, Epson’s latest digital fabric printer, was also on display.

Neil Greenhalgh, European product manager, explains: “What we were trying to do, as well as obviously displaying Epson products and printers, is actually to show the diversity of them, especially with textile and different things they can do. There are sublimation opportunities out there from low-end start-up businesses to do cups and photographic through to the high-end printing of mass production of fabric.”

The European Sign Expo, co-located with FESPA, also welcomed visitors from around the globe

While textile and interior design was a running theme, Canon chose to focus on productivity and display a diverse applications portfolio. A robotic arm dominated the Canon stand and was the result of a partnership between Rolan Robotics and the major manufacturer. The robot was part of the print-and-cut workflow which linked the Océ Arizona 6170 XTS flat-bed printer with the Océ Pro Cut cutting table. The robot is programmed where to place the substrate and can work unattended, improving productivity and cutting down shift times for workers and the need for multiple operator shifts. It was described as the future of the print industry.

Mark Lawn, director, graphic and communications group, comments: “We’ve introduced the prototype situation that allows a business to go from print all the way through to finish without hands-on operation.”

Offering customers the ability to diversify into new markets to increase customer drive is something manufacturers strive for. Mutoh debuted their latest offering, the Performance Jet and the Value Jet, which can offer short-run printing on most substrates. Fujifilm also presented the Acuity B1 and Acuity Ultra, a super wide-format printer that is available in 3.2 and 5m. HP debuted the Latex R200 which is its first hybrid solution for rigid and flexible sign printing in one machine, and also includes HP’s breakthrough white ink technology.

We’ve introduced the prototype situation that allows a business to go from print all the way through to finish without hands-on operation

Massivit 3D showcased one of the most impressive stands, which included Marvel comic character the Hulk and a surfer girl, created on the flagship 1800 machine. Massivit also used FESPA as the ground to introduce the 1500 Exploration 3D printer, which was also in action on the stand.

Isabelle Marelly, marketing director at Massivit 3D, explains: “PSPs are trying to find new ways to make business and to differentiate themselves from the competition. We are trying to give our customers a net value to combine 2D and 3D and optimise 2D. When you look around outside, you don’t notice the billboards anymore. By bringing 3D and combining 2D and 3D we give a new dimension to visual communication.”

FESPA has clearly cemented its position as one of the top print exhibitions in the world, and as Canon’s Lawn pointed out that it is many exhibitors’ biggest exhibition of the year, with Canon taking a whole year to prepare for the event. A number of manufacturers mentioned that it is an exciting time for print, and FESPA demonstrates that this is, indeed, very true.



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