Mon, Jul

Fespa 2013

If you haven’t already made plans to visit this bonanza of a wide-format print show, do so right now or you’ll miss out on technological developments and business insight.

‘Your destination for print’ is this year’s show strapline, and though the aeronautical themed marketing collateral might be more targeted at the international visitor, the overall message remains valid wherever you’re based - if you’re involved in wide-format print, you need get yourself to the ExCeL in London at the end of June to take in all that is Fespa 2013 with its 650+ exhibitors, show features, forums, seminars etc. Not only that, you get entrance to the co-located Fespa Fabric and European Sign Expo.

At a glance                          

Where:          ExCeL, London

When:            25 – 29 June 2013

Cost:              Free if you pre-register before 24 June. £55 on the day.

Image Reports is the media partner for Fespa London 2013 VIP visitors’ campaign in conjunction with Xaar. It means that as a reader of Image Reports you can receive VIP visitor status at the event – for details go to: http://www.fespa.com/london/en/component/content/article/334

Expect this event to hone in on all the developments - technical and otherwise – that are, and potentially will, impact upon wide-format and the businesses operating within it. Within this feature you’ll be signposted to the key event features, and we’ve highlighted what Image Reports considers to be some of the main technical launches/innovations being exhibited, from which you will garner that this is a show that demands time and attention. So be advised, especially those of you that have perhaps never before attended one of these Fespa shows, that to get the most out of it you should draw up a personalised visitor plan covering not just the exhibitor stands you want to visit but the seminar sessions you’ve identified as relevant.

At which point it makes sense, to walk you though the Jet Set Conference (taking place in B75N). This will run throughout the show, and the full line-up of speakers and sessions is available online at www.fespa.com/ london/en/seminars?view=seminars. There’s not the space, nor a whole lot of point in running through the whole programme here too, but it’s worth pointing out that free talks have been grouped by theme. So there’ll be a focus on sustainability and the ‘Fespa Flight Briefing’, which is a look at Fespa’s Profit for Purpose initiative, on 25 June. Other days will have other themes: digital textile printing (26 June); digital printing (27 June); screen-printing (29 June); business building (28 June).

Image Reports is getting actively involved in the Digital Conference on 27 June, with editor Lesley Simpson chairing a debate at 3pm on ‘Futureproofing’ and what that means and necessitates. The panel will comprise speakers from the across the digital print sessions and the debate will draw on the their talks - plus the newly published Widthwise Survey and Report, the theme of which this year is futureproofing.

Given that, here’s a low-down on that part of the conference:


10.30 – 11am           Trendspotting in Digital 

                                    Tim Green, InfoTrends


11 – 11.30am           Digital Business Leaders at Work – How

                                  to Grow a Digital Wide-format Business

                                  Neil Falconer, Printfuture


11.30 – noon            The Digital Blueprint – Business Planning                                          

                                    for a Digital Environment

                                    Richard Gray, Printfuture


Noon – 12.30pm     How to Grow Added Value Digital Sales

                                   Nick Devine, The Print Coach


12.30 – 1pm Workflow – The Key to Digital Efficiency

                                            and Growth

                                   Paul Sherfield, Missing Horse Consultancy


2 – 2.30pm   Going for Gold at London 2012

                        Andrew Hodson, Icon-World


2.30 – 3pm   Creating a Digital Value proposition

                        Graham Reed, Global Print Strategies


3 – 3.30pm   The Digital Debate: Futureproofing

                        Panel chaired by Lesley Simpson,

                        Image Reports


At which point it’s probably timely to remind you that running alongside Fespa 2013 from 25 to 27 June is the European Sign Expo (encompassing Screenmedia Expo). Fespa has partnered with the European Sign Federation (ESF) to run this event, which aims to bring together trends and innovations in all areas of non-printed signage, from conventional display systems to digital signage and DOOH. Fespa visitors will have access to a Sign Forum seminar theatre, which will host presentations on management, sales and marketing, design and installation, innovation and technology, and future trends. Full details can be found at http://www.fespa.com/ eurosignexpo/

Back in the Fespa show proper, your eye shouldn’t miss the Print Inspiration Runway, a real attempt by the organisers to put the sector’s creative potential in front of existing and potential wide-format specifiers and customers – and in turn stimulate the reach of the technology into vibrant and profitable markets.

A 300m2 space has been earmarked for what is in essence an applications showcase of inspirational print, and where you too can learn about the business opportunities offered by such applications.

To also address, stimulate, educate and generally enthuse the creative element, Fespa 2013 will host a Creative Corner. As the name suggests, this free conference is specifically for creatives and will provide tips on design for particular print applications including instore, textiles, outdoor, and extra wide, as well as a VIP day for advertising creatives and brand owners where these groups will learn about what print can offer when deployed effectively. Among the line up are some of the biggest names in advertising and design including a keynote presentation from; Peter Souter, chairman and chief Creative Officer, TBWA London as well as senior level executives from Coca Cola, Ogilvy and McCann NY.

And, as if all that, on top of the exhibitors themselves weren’t enough of a draw, bear in mind that there’s also the Wrap Masters World Cup and a chance to check out the Fespa Hall of Fame. Something else to aspire to!


A new print organisation will be formally launched at Fespa 2013. ‘Gama’ is intended to be the umbrella organisation representing the majority of companies in the printing sector through their print associations.

These associations represent varied, different and even disparate facets and views within the print sector. Gama’s aim will be to represent the interests that these associations have in common for a common purpose.

Gama aims to lift the traditional craft image of print into the truly innovative and forward thinking industry that is at the leading edge of advanced communication and manufacturing technologies. Dispelling once and for all the perception of it being a dirty industry that has little no opportunities for able and ambitious young people.

There are 1,000 printing companies with £11bn in sales employing 150,000 people. This figure does not include companies who use printing as part of their production process, for example bio-medical sensors, printed electronics, printed containers and packaging. Printing is an enabling process that reaches into all sectors of industry. Gama will work with the diverse associations to represent them all to government and funding agencies.

This alliance is becoming increasingly important as industry support is devolved locally to Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEP’s.) GAMA will provide a broader view that will help LEP’s to understand the key role that print and printing companies play in the local area.

Gama will aim to shape the thinking of funding providers who can feed the development of the industry. The alliance will also work with industry and regulators in matters of health and safety and environmental regulations.

Gama also aims to revitalise the education and training elements of the industry by building links between providers and industry and assisting in the creation of relevant education and training structures.

Fespa 2013 has been chosen as the launch pad for Gama as it demonstrates the vibrancy and dynamism that is the future of printing. 



Fespa has traditionally been a launch pad for new kit, showing the direction that the wide-format industry is headed in and this year’s no exception. Conveniently, some visitors will have already had a sneak peak courtesy of this year’s recent Sign and Digital UK show, but many vendors have held something back for Fespa as you might expect.

Fujifilm will be showing a brand new printer, the Q40i Onset, developed by Inca Digital. Tudor Morgan, systems marketing manager for Fujifilm Speciality Ink Systems, describes the new model as bringing the high image quality of the Acuity range to the high productivity of the Onset line.

The Q40i uses a new printhead from Fujifilm Dimatix that delivers a 10 picolitre drop size, which Morgan says can be viewed from close up with good image detail and clear text, noting: “You can view the prints from very close and it takes a very discerning eye to tell which printer has produced it.”

The Q40i is built on the same architecture as the Onset, and will have the same 1.6 x 3.2m flatbed. It will be sold with the same three-quarter semi-automatic media handling system. It will be capable of producing 310m2/hr, not quite up to the 475m2/hr of the S-series Onsets but considerably faster than mid-range printers like the Acuity. If Morgan is right about the image quality at that sort of speed then seeing  this machine in action should itself be worth the trip   to London.

The base system will offer CMYK with options for six colours, with the addition of light cyan and light magenta, and for white ink. Pricing will be similar to the current S40 Onset machines and there will be the same choice of Caldera, Colorgate or Wasatch Rips. Inca has already started building the printers so customers will be able to order one at Fespa with the first machines delivered straight after the show.  

HP will be launching a brand new latex printer, the Latex 3000. Up until now the latex machines have effectively been scaled up DesignJets but this will be the first industrial latex printer. It’s a 3.2m wide roll-fed machine, with a newly designed printhead offering 1200dpi native resolution.

Product manager Jordi Casas says that HP has reduced the amount of energy the machine uses by up to 15°C though this is still around 50°C for drying and 90°C for curing. This also means that the materials are exposed to heat for a shorter period and therefore the printer can handle thinner more delicate materials.

It will use a new third generation latex ink, though this won't be backwards compatible with existing machines because of the difference in temperature. It has a six-colour inkset, using CMYK plus light cyan and light magenta. HP is also adding an ink optimiser, effectively a clear ink that acts as a pre-treatment, which will run through a seventh ink channel and is  laid down just ahead of the colour. Casas explains:  “Its main function is to ensure a high accuracy of the drop placement so the ink colours are charged negatively and the optimiser is charged positively so this is to maintain the high level of image quality at a higher speed.”

He adds: “We do not want to trade off the image quality even though we are improving the speed.” It will print in six-pass mode at 72m2/hr and up to 180m2/hr for lower quality modes.

Mimaki also has a new range of printers, all of which use the same basic print engine with Ricoh Gen5 printheads. The ink for these printers is supplied in a non-degassed form, with the printers themselves have the facility to degas the ink once it is loaded. This makes the ink cheaper than previous models.

Mimaki has already shown two of these printers at the Sign and Digital UK show. This includes a textile printer, the TS500, which is clearly designed for production environments, and which illustrates another trend in textile printing towards more heavy-duty production machines. This machine has a maximum print width of 1890mm and a maximum throughput of 150m2/hr. It uses Mimaki’s dye sub inks and is suitable for soft signage and interior decoration as well as some clothing.

The second of these new printers is the JFX500, a flatbed printer designed to be fast enough to compete against the newer Canon Arizonas. It is capable of 1200 x 1200dpi resolution and up to 60m2/hr.

At Fespa, Mimaki will introduce a third model, a roll to roll UV printer, again using the same print engine, and presumably with the same resolution as the flatbed model.

Mimaki will also show off its new A2 UV LED flatbed, the UJF-6042. This is designed for printing promotional items such as pens, and for producing packaging proofs. A couple of similar printers have appeared recently, with two new models from the Italian company DPI DG Printing due to be launched at Fespa. These are both UV LED flatbeds: the Eagle 30 has a 300 x 1000mm printable area and is designed for fast turnaround work; the Eagle 60 boasts 600 x 1500mm and is meant for production environments. Both print CMYK plus White as standard and will take media up to 25mm thick. They use Epson DX5 printheads, which offer a very small three-picolitre drop size. The printers come with a dedicated Rip, called WhiteRip, developed specifically for these machines.

SwissQprint will be bringing two of its flatbed UV printers to Fespa. This includes the Impala, which will be shown with a recently announced tandem option that prints alternately on the front and back areas of the printing table to cut down on time between different jobs. The machine on the stand will be set up with nine colour channels, each separately configurable. The second printer will be the 3.2m wide Nyala, with a strengthened roll-to-roll option. It will be configured with four sets of CMYK for faster speeds and a board option that allows printing to outsize formats up to 3.2 x 4m.

EFI will be showing off its SmartSign Analytics, a system announced earlier this year for analysing data on how signs are viewed. The system consists of a webcam attached to a sign and connected to a computer or tablet running facial recognition software as well as the SSA software, to capture data on whether or not people are viewing that sign, and how much time they spend viewing it. The system can also work out the gender and age range of each viewer, allowing it to quickly collect a treasure trove of demographic information directly linked to a particular location or sign.

EFI will also show the Vutek HS100 Pro, a heavy-duty printer first announced last year. This uses LED to pin the inks and then cures them with conventional UV lamps, which delivers fairly good image quality at high speed – up to 100 boards per hour or 60 in a higher quality POP mode. It’s a 3.2m machine with an eight-colour inkset and a grey scale printhead.

Durst recently announced two new wide-format printers, the Rho 1012 and 1030, both based on the successful Rho 1000 platform. The Rho 1012 boasts a 12 picolitre dot size, which is fairly small compared with other high production flatbeds. It has 1000dpi resolution and runs at up to 490m2/hr.?The Rho 1030 is faster, reaching speeds up to 1000m2/hr. It can be fully automated with autoloading and unloading tables and there are also roll-to-roll and roll-to-sheet options.?Furthermore, existing Rho 1000 machines can be upgraded in the field to either of these specs.

Beside the heavy-duty UV machines, there’s also a clear trend towards solvent printers, with several new machines announced recently. Solvent printing is still a highly capable technology and considerably cheaper than the alternatives. So, for example, Roland will show off its recent Soljet Pro4 XF-640, a fast eco-solvent printer using Epson’s latest generation DX7 printhead. It can produce 102m2/hr in billboard mode, dropping to a fairly respectable 63m2/hr in a high quality mode. Resolution is 1440dpi and it runs two sets of CMYK inks.

Mutoh will show off most of its range, but with three new ValueJet printers also on the stand. These include the ValueJet Hybrid VJ-1617H, a roll-to-roll printer than can also handle rigid materials. It uses Mutoh’s bio-based inks, including a white ink, and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Mutoh will also show a high production dye sub printer, the ValueJet 1624W. This is a 162cm wide printer capable of 9 - 38m2/hr. It is complemented by the DraftStation RJ900x, a new 108cm wide entry-level dye sub printer. It uses an eight-channel Epson printhead capable of resolution from 360x360 dpi up to 1440dpi.

Mutoh will also have the new ValueCut series of cutting plotters on its stand. These are available in three widths – 610mm, 1320mm and 1830mm. The main difference between this and the older Kona series is that this range has been entirely designed in Japan, following Mutoh’s decision a few years ago to reorganise itself.

Epson is to demonstrate its entire range of industrial wide format machines, including two new dye sub printers that were announced at the end of last year but are only just about to start shipping. The F6000 is a 44in wide entry-level machine. The F7000 is a more heavy-duty beast with a 64ins print width. Both can print up to 1440dpi resolution and use Epson’s water-based Ultrachrome DS inks.

Xerox will be launching a brand new wide-format printer into the European market. This was first shown as a prototype at last year’s Drupa and most recently at Sign and Digital UK. It’s a Memjet device, and as such uses Memjet’s standard wide-format array with five heads stitched together for a 42in print width. As with all Memjet printers, it’s very fast with up to 1600dpi resolution and a maximum speed of 18mpm.

This makes three wide-format Memjet printers that we’ve seen in the UK so far this year. Image Reports has already covered the Vortex 4200, as developed by Own-X and Winjet Color and distributed in the UK by RTI, in the April issue. There’s also the Excelagraphix 4200 from Xante.

All of which reminds us that Océ showed off a Memjet-powered prototype at last year’s Drupa show. And given that Xerox has now released its Drupa prototype, it seems highly likely that Canon will show the Velocity at Fespa.

Canon has said that it will be showing off both the Canon and Océ range including the latest Arizona flatbed, the 480GT, which has a 2.5x1.25m bed. This is an eight-colour UV printer that can produce up to 32.8m2/hr. Canon will also show the CS9360, a roll-fed eco solvent machine, and the ImagePrograf 6450, which comes with an integrated spectrophotometer for colour consistency and uses aqueous inks.

New workflow programs

On the software side, there is a clear trend towards more workflow related products. The main advantage of these programs is that they allow for better management of multiple machines and as such the key aspect is the colour management, which allows jobs to be switched from one machine to another without drastic changes in the colour or image quality.

Agfa will be using Fespa to launch a new workflow, essentially a wide-format version of its Apogee system that is widely used in commercial printing. Agfa hasn’t given much away so far other than to say that it will include Apogee Storefront, which is a cloud-based Web-to-print solution. However, it won’t include a Rip but will instead be able to work with most other Rips currently available, albeit it that these will be reduced to providing the screening and driving the printer, with the Agfa software providing tiling and nesting functions. Naturally, given that one of Agfa’s great strengths is its colour management capabilities, this new system will also manage the colour profiles across multiple devices.

Fujifilm will also be unveiling a version of its XMF workflow that has been tweaked for wide-format. This too will work with wide-format printers from other vendors, relying on those devices existing Rips to handle the screening, with XMF dealing with the file preparation, colour management and finishing.

SAi will also be demonstrating its PixelBlaster workflow system. This was launched last year but has not been marketed in the UK, so this year’s Fespa marks somewhat of a UK launch for this product. As with other workflows, PixelBlaster aims to step jobs through every stage of the production process, from file verification, job preparation and colour management through to Ripping, printing and automated finishing.

SAi will also be showing off two recently announced cloud-based tools, Flexi Cloud and PhotoPrint Cloud, neatly illustrating another trend towards cloud-based computing. Both of these tools come with 1GB of free storage space, which bureaux could use to allow customers to upload artwork. Flexi Cloud is an add-on to the Flexi family of sign design programs while PhotoPrint Cloud is an add on to the PhotoPrint Rip. The software itself will sit on users’ computers but the cloud will host extra features available to both of these such as FlexiQuote, which can be used to calculate quotes automatically, and Job Reports, which can give an idea of the cost of a job in terms of materials used and time spent. There’s a mobile app so that company directors can keep track of costs whilst away from the office.

Hybrid Software will be showing a new workflow system, for online soft proofing, collaboration and approvals. Named Proofscope Live, this builds on Hybrid’s existing Proofscope and lets users view and edit files online. It has been designed to work with HTML 5 and JavaScript, without recourse to Flash or Java applets so the viewer can be used with any tablet or mobile. Hybrid will also demonstrate its Order Lifecycle Management concept, which deals with the problem of managing orders throughout the production lifecycle by integrating existing hardware, software and workflows.


Antalis will show off substrates from its Coala, Orafol and 3A Composites ranges. The Coala collection, which includes media for aqueous ink printers as well as solvent, UV and latex ink, will be showcased on its stand as table wrapping, exhibition and display materials, and window and floor graphics. The Orafol range will be decorating parts of the floor, windows and wall. Antalis will also show some of the 3A Composite substrates, including the Smart-X, Dibond, KAPA and Forex ranges.

Guandong will demonstrate its latest banners, including FusionFlex, suitable for latex. Guandong will also demonstrate its One Way Vision Night and Day window film, which uses a backlit effect so that it’s viewable in both night and daylight.

Lintec has said that it will show a new range of PVC-free films for window graphics, said to offer excellent see-through vision, and allows for images of photographic quality to be printed in vibrant colours. The range includes media for UV and eco-solvent printers, as well as a clear matched overlaminating film. There’s also a Lumisty window film, which changes from translucent to transparent depending on the viewing angle.

Inevitably there will be more announcements, as we get closer to the show. However, it’s worth reflecting on what is missing so far – any great emphasis on environmentally friendly products. This reflects another trend in wide-format, namely that although customers are interested in green solutions, they aren’t willing to pay a price for it. Nonetheless there’s a good mix of new production-orientated machines and entry-level models which should satisfy most people’s needs. In addition, most vendors we’ve spoken to have stressed that they will be using their stands to demonstrate new applications and to talk about how their customers can add value and improve margins, exactly as one would expect at a trade show such as this.



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