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Tue, Feb

Well done to TheMagicTouch for stepping up to the plate and putting print in front of youngsters as a possible career choice at the upcoming Skills Show at the NEC later this week. Working with Proskills and the National Apprenticeship Service the company is helping showcase what the industry can offer – certainly a step the in the right direction and one to be applauded – but it’s a shame we aren’t making more noise given the industry’s size and scope. Maybe next time…

Has Itma 2015 enticed you? If so, let me know what you think of the multitude of new large-format textile printers making their first appearance at the specialist textile show. What developments have turned you on? And where is there still necessary R&D work to be done before you are convinced you should enter the market?

Last week Image Reports held its annual Widthwise Round Table on the state of the UK and Ireland’s wide-format digital print sector - a wonderful discussion - so I want to take this opportunity to say a public thank you to those who took part. For those of you who didn’t, we’ll deliver the highlights in the next issue of the magazine.

Are you reading this newsletter in Atlanta as you walk the halls of the SGIA Expo? If so I’d be interested in hearing whether you think the trip has been worthwhile, and what the US show delivers that perhaps European shows do not.

It’s November so you’re thinking Christmas shopping right? Well plenty are, and I’m not just talking present buying, but getting the house ready for the festivities with a new sofa here, seasonal throw there. What we can expect in both instances is that customisation/personalisation will play a significant role – just look at the upsurge of such gift and homewares offerings online. Accepting that ‘bespoke’ product demand is one of the most notable consumer trends, the question has got to be, how/when will the large-format digital inkjet sector really profit from it?

Image Reports is holding its annual Widthwise Round Table this week, with leading PSPs discussing the state of the wide-format print sector and how to do better business within it. The Fespa Global Summit next month will do something similar on a bigger stage. The great thing about both is that they get people knowledge sharing, which has got to be good. See the upcoming December issue of Image Reports to benefit from the Round Table debate. The Fespa Global Summit will be covered in the following issue.

News of the BPIF’s formation of an Apprentice Council has me wondering just what the wide-format inkjet sector can do to make sure the apprentices within it get their voices heard - and how doing so can help in the development of appropriate sector-wide training programmes. Any ideas?

Are we at the point where some PSPs are actually looking at replacing their first generation UV flatbeds? If your company is doing so, what’s your investment criteria? Or are you looking to benefit from an emerging secondhand market for the kit? It’s a situation I’ll be looking into in the 2016 Widthwise survey and report but it would be good to get a heads-up.

I don’t mean are you handy with your digits and mobile phone – more whether you have got it nailed when it comes to digital textile print? I’m compiling a gallery of the most eye-catching and unusual fabric print jobs that I can upload to the magazine’s Think Bigger Pinterest site for designers – so if you have images of jobs that will get them talking, you know where to email them (along with a few words of explanation!).

The ‘Urban Jungle’ kaleidoscopic effect achieved by SignAway’s bespoke printed carpet and mirror structure for the walkway between London Waterloo train station and the South Bank wowed commuters. This is what the sector needs, more stand-out works that show off its capabilities to a wide audience. Shout if you’ve done anything recently that stretches the boundaries and makes an impact.

Let me know what your thoughts are on the Ipex situation following news that it will move forward from 2018 to 2017, that it will now happen every three years, and that it will return to the NEC.

What would you say to an independent body collecting wide-format print related data on an anonymous basis for public dissemination? I’m talking about suppliers providing information on the number of various inkjet printers they sell, the amount of ink sold, vinyl shipped etc. Then there’s the more difficult to track stats from PSPs relating to volume of digitally printed wallpaper produced, POP/POS materials handled etc. I get contacted all the time for this kind of information so I know it would be a valuable resource. In an increasingly metrics-based world we’re expected to know this stuff – and to be able to quote figures. What’s your take?

I’ll be brief - do you still outsource much large-format digital inkjet print? If so, why? I’m pulling together a national picture of trade work across the sector so please drop me a line if you sub-contract – I’d be interest in hearing the what’s and why’s!

Should the print sector be making more noise at events like The Skills Show, which takes place at the NEC in Birmingham on 19 – 21 November? We make plenty of noise about our skill’s shortages, so shouldn’t we doing more to resolve the problem by getting our potential in front of youngsters!