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Tue, Apr

Go explore all that digital wide-format has to offer at Fespa Digital 2012

Fespa is expanding to explore the wider opportunities afforded by the new visual landscape.

According to MD Neil Felton, speaking at the pre-show Fespa Fest event towards the end of 2011, “Fespa will always be print focussed, but we do need to embrace other technologies and Fespa’s focus will change to encompass wider imaging specialisms.” Hence at Fespa Digital 2012 in February you will see not just the integration of the Fespa Fabric ‘show within a show’ focussing on garment printing/decoration, but a space for narrow format/labelling too.

Fespa 2012Some may see this broadening of interest as a watering down of what has been the key wide-format graphic print show for some time, but it does mirror what Fespa sees as exploratory territory for extending business, hence the show tag: ‘Explore the wider opportunities’. It’s a call that fits with the diversification message of the last couple of years as mainstream wide-format has become more commoditised. Only a visit to the show will prove whether the directions in which Fespa has chosen to diversify this year’s event are considered relevant/viable by the large-format community. Felton certainly thinks the event is spot on target. “The Hamburg show in 2011 was good, but Barcelona has got to be better” admits Felton, who was just coming on board with Fespa at the time of the last show and thinks “mistakes” were made with that event. But he believes this year Fespa has got it right with a programme of educational activities and live features that entice printers to explore the wider opportunities. As well as the 400 exhibitors on hand to show you how their innovations can speed your progress, bear in mind the following show features which, in themselves, could prove worth your journey.

HALL OF FAME

Fespa has been running a campaign for some time to get the industry to nominate printers for this gallery of stars, the intention being to honour those who their peers hold up as inspirational role models in the print community. Nominees might have pioneered a new approach or technology or demonstrated innovation in other ways. They may simply stand out on print skill or service, for a leading stance on sustainability for example. Members of the Hall of Fame will be recognised in a champagne reception at the show, during which the Printer of the Year will be announced.

EXPLORE CONFERENCE

A series of half-day conferences and workshops addressing key areas of opportunity. Each day will offer two free sessions. The morning sessions will run from 11am -1.30pm and the afternoon sessions will run from 2.30pm - 4pm. Topics include business building, integrating print into other media channels, colour management, technology issues etc.

PLANET FRIENDLY PRINTING PROGRAMME

Fespa has made an abridged version of its Planet Friendly Printing Guide available to all printers ahead of Fespa Digital 2012, which will incorporate a Planet Friendly Printing programme including presentations from environmental experts; case studies from printers who are enjoying improved business results due to adopting sustainable practices; workshops on pursuing certification under schemes such as ISO 1400, led by accredited assessors; and consultation in the Fespa Planet Friendly Printing Clinic.

On the second day of the show (22 February) environmental consultant Paul Machin will oversee a series of free to attend sustainability workshops and provide practical direction and information on certifications etc.

1.30pm - 2.30pm Certification- ISO14001 2.30pm- 3.30pm Carbon Footprint measurement 3.30pm – 4.30pm Energy conservation If you would like to attend one of these sessions or for more information email info@fespa.com

BIG BUCK$ CAFÉ

Take a coffee break in the Big Buck$ Café where almost everything is printed, showcasing the range of possibilities on different substrates to create unique environments and integrated marketing campaigns.

PRINT SHOP LIVE

This is a new feature that allows you to experience each element of the production process first-hand in a live and interactive forum. Test and try your own artwork file on wide and narrow format technologies, from pre-press through to finishing on a range of substrates.

WRAP CUP

Round five of the ‘Wrap Cup Masters Series’ will take place each day during the show, featuring a host of vehicle wrapping superstars. Contestants will battle it out through several rounds across four days, to be crowned the Fespa Wrap Cup Master Barcelona champion. The winner will receive prizes as well as a trip to the Grand Finale at Fespa 2013 in London, where they will go headto- head against 28 other regional winners to be crowned the ultimate Fespa Global Wrap Cup Masters Champion.

EXPLORE ROUTES

Once the final floorplans have been drafted mini-maps will be available that highlight different technologies or consumables on display around the show.

TECHNOLOGY UPDATE

IN THE WORLD of wide-format print Fespa is regarded as the main event. That said, this year’s gathering in Barcelona will have to shine brightly to dissipate the shadow being cast by the giant Drupa show which takes place in Dusseldorf in May. At the time of going to press few vendors were talking of having anything new to show at Fespa – perhaps because of plans for Drupa, but in all fairness, probably largely because of timing issues (i.e. decisions about on-stand kit being put off until the start of the new year) or simply because the biggest growth area in wideformat is soft signage and many vendors announced new textile printers fairly recently at the ITMA show last September. Nonetheless, you can bank on there being plenty to see in terms of new technology.

PRINTERS

HP will be bringing its two newest latex printers, the Designjet L28500 and Designjet L26500. The Fespa show will be their first outing at a major international exhibition. The L28500 is a 2.64m-wide machine said to be up to 70% faster than the older Designjet L25500. The 1.55m L26500 is targeted at the soft-signage market. HP will also exhibit some of its more heavy-duty Scitex latex printers, including the 3.2m-wide LX850.

Océ will be demonstrating why it dominates the midrange flatbed printer market with its Arizona range. It will also show its ProCut 2500 L digital cutting tables, which are rebadged Zund tables complete with Océ’s own modular tool system and workflow software.

Also on the stand will be the Océ CS9160, a roll-fed ecosolvent machine, and at least one of Canon’s ImagePrograf aqueous ink wide-format printers. On top of this Océ will show off its ColorWave 600 which uses the innovative TonerPearl technology – literally small balls of toner, that look a lot like M&M sweets - which being solid are very easy to handle. The technology was originally intended for the CAD market but the quality is good enough for poster printing.

Fujifilm has said that it will concentrate on software, particularly its colour control solutions which can help to maintain consistent colour across multiple devices. Fujifilm will also demonstrate its cloud-based XMF Print Centre, a Web-to-print solution to help customers order and track jobs and reprints.

Pride of place on the Fujifilm stand will go to the Inca Onset S40, a high-speed flatbed printer with optional automatic loading, which aims to be a digital alternative to many flexo printers. Fujifilm will also show its Acuity LED 1600, a hybrid printer using UV inks and LED curing, which takes roll-fed materials and has tables for rigid substrates. There will also be the Uvistar II, a superwide roll-to-roll printer designed primarily for the POP market. Also expect to see Fujifilm’s Acuity Advance HS, a rebadged Océ Arizona. Agfa will be showing a number of its printers, including the Anapurna M2540FB, announced a few months ago and making its first appearance at a Fespa event. This is a six colour UV printer, which also includes a separate ink management system for white inks. It takes media up to 2.5 x 1.5m wide and 45mm thick and can print at a production speed of up to 28m2/hr.

Agfa will also have the M2050 hybrid UV printer, which also uses six colours plus white, with the same Konica Minolta heads. This takes media up to 207cm wide and can print at production speed up to 32m2/hr. On show will be the Jeti 3320 Titan, a large flatbed printer with a number of upgrade options, including up to 48 printheads for additional colours and higher speeds. There’s also a flat-to-roll option to handle flexible media. Resolution is 600dpi but this looks closer to 1200dpi thanks to the greyscale Ricoh printheads.

For those of you interested in textile printing, Agfa will be presenting the Jeti 3324 AquaJet. This is a 3m wide dye sub printer which can run at up to 60m2/hr. It has a built-in venting system and comes with three high temperature slitting units on rewind rollers to slit and seal the fabric.

Mutoh will be featuring a number of its ValueJet printers, including the recently launched 1324 and 1624 which feature new Epson head technology plus new electronics to get the best speed and print quality from those heads. There's also a good chance that Mutoh will show the ValueJet 1638 recently announced in the US. This is a CMYK 1.6m wide eco-solvent printer capable of printing at up to 165m per minute, thanks to a staggered dual head print technology. Mutoh’s optional SpectroVue spectrophotometer can be paired with its built-in ColorVerify colour management systems.

Mutoh will also show off its TD 1628 which has been designed to print direct to fabric, and features an integrated gutter system, but can also be used for dye sublimation. It contains two heads aligned for dual use so it can easily switch between printing to fabric or paper. Mimaki will be showing its new dye sub printer, the TS34- 1800A, which has just been announced, and is expected to make its first public outing at Fespa. This 1.8m wide unit can print up to 32m2/hr at 540 x 720dpi. There's also a sixcolour mode that produces 17.7m2/hr at the same resolution. It's aimed at both soft signage and apparel markets. There's a bulk ink option which can reduce ink costs and an optional drying fan that enables continuous media take-up at high speed.

This manufacturer will also show the UJF 3042FX, an A3 desktop printer that can jet primer onto a substrate just ahead of the UV inks to guarantee ink adhesion to just about any surface including glass and aluminium. Chinese company Maxunion will bring its textile printer, the Itten, which uses Epson printheads and can run at a production speed of 48m2/hr at 720dpi resolution. D.gen inc is to show a new version of its Telios Grande textile printer. This 3.3m-wide machine boasts a top speed of 180m2/hr. It uses disperse dye inks and is aimed at the soft signage market.

A number of companies will be showing textile printers that have been designed primarily for the apparel market rather than for soft signage. Anajet will be showing its recently-released mPower inkjet, a textile printer specifically aimed at the apparel market and which it claims is the world's fastest direct to garment printer. This can print a typical light shirt graphic in about 16 seconds as well as dark shirt graphics.

DTG has revamped its M2 apparel printer for printing direct to garments. This new model eliminates banding at low resolution increasing print speed and productivity. It also has an extra-large print area allowing two T-shirts to be printed side by side and can produce up to 70 shirts per hour. It will be demonstrated by its European distributors, Impression Technology Europe.

CONSUMABLES

Afford inks will be launching its own bulk ink solution for HP’s latex printers. Afford will also bring its Eres family of waterbased anti-graffiti varnishes, the first time these have been shown at Fespa. These varnishes also include UV absorbers to help prolong the life of a print. Alongside these Afford will also demonstrate its range of Eco-solvent and textile inks, including a new white ink for DTG printers.

Aslan, which specialises in printable self-adhesive solutions, will be demonstrating a floor graphics film for outdoor applications on asphalt and a new film for applications on carpets. Aslan will also have a new product range for glass decoration films including various self-adhesive films for dry and wet applications, printable films in many different effects and a wide range of coloured etch glass films. Grafityp will show several of its media ranges, including the Graficast Automotive and Deco range, made up of various cast decorative films, such as carbon, brushed metallic, colour wave, matt, leather-look and other decoeffect films for car wrapping and interior decoration. There will also be Grafitack GEF, a non-PVC film that promises the performance of a polymeric films at the price of a monomeric PVC film. GEF comes as a cutting film, a laminate and a digital print film. There’s also the GrafiWrap Vehicle Wrapping system, a combination of two self adhesive vinyls: a white cast Grafiprint vinyl for solvent printing and an ultrathin Grafiprint laminate. This results in a soft flexible 90 micron film that will protect vehicles against scratches, stone chips and dirt.

SOFTWARE

It's easy to get carried away looking at new printers, but the market is now well aware that a relatively small investment in software can lead to a much more efficient workflow and greatly increasing the bottom line. Hence, expect to see various software developments coming on stream. Amongst the new software to be demonstrated in Barcelona will be SAi's PixelBlaster print production software. This modular system is xcapable of dealing with every aspect of super-wide, high-volume print production and specialty printing. It can operate in a mixed Mac and PC environment and includes everything from file verification and contour cutting, to automated finishing options for grommets, Fotoba marks, hems, pockets or sewn-in webbing.

A number of stands will be demonstrating the EasiSign sign making program, which has just been upgraded to version 6. There's a new merge feature to handle batch production of vectors, bitmaps and text files. It can also handle CSV files. Any lines in a design can be designated for different uses such as print-and-cut lines. There have also been improvements to the nesting and the estimating functions. This is now compatible with Windows 7, Vista and XP. Optimus will introduce Optimus Cloud for integrated online trading. This integrates with Optimus dash and Optimus 2020 MIS systems and takes a holistic approach to viewing stock availability and ordering items, the raising of fully specified production jobs, the automated production of quotes and the automatic receipt of orders. It also allows customers to view previous jobs and invoices, plus the status of active jobs.

Finally, colour management is becoming more important to the wide-format sector, and so Barbieri will be showing its new Spectropad, a portable spectrophotometer specifically for professional digital printing. This has a 6mm measuring aperture and can handle most media used in wide format. It’s a completely standalone, hand held solution, battery operated and using Wifi to communicate with a computer so it’s easy to use around a sign shop.

OVERVIEW

This is by no means an exhaustive round-up of new technologies you can expect to see at Fespa Digital - we expect to hear a lot more announcements of new kit to be shown at Fespa in the next few weeks. But it’s obvious that textile and dye sublimation are going to continue to grow in popularity. It also seems likely that we’ll see more automation through software, particularly in colour management, as well as more web-based ordering. But of course the real benefit of a show like this is the chance to see what other people are doing and to come up with new ideas.
 

 

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