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Sign and Digital UK 2019

With this year’s edition of Sign and Digital UK just around the corner, Rob Fletcher looks ahead to the event and finds out what visitors can expect in Birmingham

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Sign and Digital UK has been running as an industry event for more than 30 years

Setting the stage for success

One of the annual highlights for sign-makers and wide-format print businesses, Sign and Digital UK returns to the NEC in Birmingham this April. A part of the UK sign and print calendar for more than 30 years now, the event regularly attracts visitors and exhibitors from a whole host of backgrounds.

From wide-format print giants and finishing specialists, through to suppliers of the key sign-making tools and vehicle wrap experts, Sign and Digital UK is one of the most expansive events for the UK industry.

Factoid: Sign and Digital UK has been a key event on the UK’s wide-format print and sign-making calendars for more than 30 years.O

Here, we pick out some of the key highlights that you do not want to miss at the NEC from April 2nd to 4th.

Inspire and educate

Who better to speak to about the show than long-serving event director Rudi Blackett? He says every element is designed to inspire and educate visitors, to help with the growth and success of their business.

Visitors will be able to learn about sign-making techniques at the returning Signmakers’ Workshop

“We’ll be showcasing more than 185 exhibitors with some of the major brands planning big product launches at the event,” he says, adding: “We’ve got a host of free, interactive features on offer including panel debates and key note talks, practical live demonstrations, workshops and software theatres.”

So what’s new this year? A lot, according to Blackett, who outlines some of the highlights visitors can look forward to at the NEC. These include the ‘Hexis Battle UK Wrap Contest’, where participants will compete to be crowned the best UK installer, with £5,500 worth of prizes up for grabs.

Also new is the Digital Signage Zone, offering attendees the chance to meet with potential partners that can help them expand into digital signage. There will also be a dedicated theatre and accompanying Digital Café.

There is also a new live demonstration area: ‘Retail is Detail’. This programme on the ArtSystems stand will run through the techniques for better workflow featuring HP and Summa equipment.

In terms of returning features, the Main Stage theatre will feature new, expert speakers, covering key industry topics such as finishing, personalisation and textiles.

“There will also be discussions around signage for buildings and interiors, the business case for the use of sustainable products, and how to get into wide-format print,” Blackett says, adding: “We will also be announcing a keynote speaker who will shed some light on how the industry can prepare itself to run a successful business in the world of Brexit.”

Returning to Sign and Digital UK this year are the Adobe and Corel theatres, offering visitors new tips and advice on the latest software

Also returning this year is the popular Signmakers’ Workshop, the Adobe and Corel theatres to give visitors tips and advice on the latest programmes, as well as Décor Live Demonstrations, presented by Antalis.

Innovative approach

Switching focus to exhibitors, one of the stand-out names at the show this year will be Mimaki, which will be represented by Hybrid Services at the NEC. The manufacturer’s UK and Irish distributor will be displaying three new Mimaki products on its stand.

Mimaki’s new metallic LED UV ink can be used to print on a wide range of surfaces, including glass

Mimaki’s recently announced metallic LED UV ink will be on show for the first time on a Mimaki UJF-7151plus, which Hybrid says enables the production of high-end graphics for packaging, small to mid-format signage and bespoke décor and giftware.

Also due to feature will be the new clear ink option for the UCJV300 Series LED UV printer/cutters. Hybrid says the addition of this ink to the Mimaki portfolio offers a host of new design possibilities and expands business opportunities, by allowing customers to use gloss, matte or textured finishes with their work.

Visitors will also be able to see the new Mimaki TS55 dye-sublimation printer for the first time at a UK exhibition. Hybrid says the 1.9m transfer paper printer is suited to companies producing soft signage, retail graphics fashion and sportswear.

Brett Newman, chief operations manager at Hybrid, says production printing will be a core theme for the supplier this year at the event, with plans to show how the new developments can help customers with this type of work.

Newman comments: “Across Mimaki’s range of solvent printers and integrated printer/cutters, LED UV roll to roll and flatbed machines and a host of textile and dye-sublimation technology, we’re able to deliver a production solution for print companies, whatever their volume requirements.

“Reducing lead times, increasing profitability, removing barriers to entry and delivering high quality output with the minimum of user intervention – all run centrally to Mimaki’s innovative approach to technology development.”

We’re here to help visitors make the right choices for their print or manufacturing business

He adds: “With the range of Mimaki hardware on the Hybrid stand – and shown throughout the exhibition on the stands of our reseller partners, we’re here to help visitors make the right choices for their print or manufacturing business.”

Intense development

Another wide-format print giant getting set for the NEC is Roland DG, which will be displaying a number of solutions on it stand. Among the highlights will be the VersaEXPRESS RF-640 eight-colour printer, which was first previewed at last year’s event and had proved popular in the market over the past 12 months.

Roland DG will demonstrate a range of kit at Sign and Digital UK this year. Pictured: the LEJ-640S from the manufacturer’s VersaUV Series

Rob Goleniowski, head of sales for UK and Ireland at Roland DG, comments: “RF-640, this device incorporates an additional 4 ink channels, including CMYK plus light black, red, green and orange ink. At only £12,999, this printer achieves the widest colour gamut in its class, with the ability to accurately hit up to 99% Pantone+ solid coated colours.”

Also due to feature on the Roland DG booth is the company’s first ever desktop direct-to-garment device in the form of the VersaSTUDIO BT-12. Goleniowski says the machine’s price and small footprint makes it an ideal addition to a print workshop, allowing sign specialists to branch into customised textiles with a relatively low investment.

Elsewhere, Roland DG will showcase its VersaUV S-Series, offering the versatility of UV printing technology and the continuous suction belt, and its TrueVIS VG Series print-and-cut technology.

We’re aiming to put these new products in front of the sign and graphics community

Goleniowski adds: “2018 was a year of intense product development for Roland DG. This year, we’re aiming to put these new products in front of the sign and graphics community and give business owners a chance to get answers to their questions from the people who built the machines.”

Meanwhile, OKI will also have a presence at Sign and Digital UK this year via its partner AM Labels. The digital print giant will focus on its label printing options at the show, with a particular focus on its Pro1050 label printer.

OKI will feature its Pro1050 label printer on partner AM Labels’ stand at Sign and Digital UK 2019

The Pro1050 uses digital LED together with dry toner technology to offer users what OKI bills as a ‘unique fifth colour’ or ‘CMUK-plus-one’ option. According to the manufacturer, this will grant more flexibility to users, with the ability to print on an opaque white background under the CMYK image.

Available from Graphtec GB, the FCX2000 flatbed cutter features a specially configured cutting head that incorporates two tool holders

In a statement, OKI says: “OKI’s Pro1050 helps businesses develop versatile, professional labels that capture maximum impact. Perfect for on demand, high quality label printing, the OKI Pro1050 is easy to set up and requires minimal training to use.”

Cutting to the point

Elsewhere at the event, cutting solutions provider Graphtec GB will showcase models from both its CE and FC series of cutting/plotters, as well as its F-Mark automatic digital die-cutting system.

The CE6000 series of vinyl cutters includes the latest Lite-50 and Plus machines are billed as ideal, low-cost entry-level solutions, and visitor can find out more about the solutions at the show.

Also on display, the FCX2000 flatbed cutter features a specially configured cutting head that incorporates two tool holders. Both can be used for cutting, while the second enables combined cutting and creasing or drafting with a pen.

Visitors can also see the FC8600 vinyl cutter, with a cutting speed 1,485mm/sec and cutting force of 600gf. The machine is available in a choice of five models to accommodate different production requirements.

In addition, the F-Mark combined automatic sheet-feeding and digital die-cutting system is based on the CE6000-40 cutter incorporating the dedicated F-Mark software. It can accommodate multiple print-and-cut applications, including short-run label production, digital prints and packaging applications.

Meanwhile, CNC machining solutions specialist AXYZ Automation Group plans to demonstrate its Trident print finishing system at the event. The Trident features a triple-head configuration comprising a high-performance routing spindle and tangential/oscillating knife-cutting units.

The Trident from AXYZ Automation features a triple-head configuration, comprising a high-performance routing spindle and tangential/oscillating knife-cutting units

Other design features on the Trident include a rigid solid steel frame, which the manufacturer says will better accommodate more vigorous machine operation, as well as an exclusive live vacuum deck for optimum material hold-down efficiency and an integrated helical rack and pinion drive system.

Trident also has the ability to handle a diverse range of both rigid and flexible materials, including aluminium and other non-ferrous metals, aluminium composites, acrylic and plastics, foamed and corrugated board, vinyl, cardboard and paper.

AXYZ will also promote its 24/7 online spare parts, accessories and software facility, available not only to AXYZ router owners but also those of any other make of machine, regardless of type and country of origin.

With such an array of brands and suppliers set to feature at the show, Sign and Digital UK is an event not to be missed. The show is the first opportunity of the year for the industry to come together and view the latest technologies under one roof. So, if you are on the lookout for new kit or are seeking advice on how to expand into new markets, a trip to the NEC might be in order.

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