Has this long-established annual event still got pulling power? Glimpse its attractions then make your mind up.
Are the oldies the goodies? When it comes to a show with a 26-year history, Sign and Digital UK event director Rudi Blackett believes this industry stalwart still has plenty to offer – and that 2013 will be proof positive of that.
At a glance
Where: NEC, Birmingham
When: 30 April – 2 May, 2013
Cost: Free, but pre-register online to save time at: http://www.signuk.com
“We are a well established event that delivers year on year for exhibitors and visitors alike and exhibitors have not hesitated to sign up for this year’s event despite many pulling out of other shows recently. Booked exhibitors include: Hewlett-Packard, Canon, Agfa Graphics and many more ….” says Blackett.
“Like last year, despite the inevitable pressure on pricing, we expect a lot of business to be conducted at the show. The event will continue to be a showcase for all the latest wide-format print, imaging and finishing products, as well as great place to find out how to get more from existing equipment, learn about new applications, network with other industry colleagues, and ask the experts for advice.
“Whether you are looking to get into wide-format printing, or want to learn how to really fulfill the potential of existing equipment, the show is a great way to find out how to add value to your business.
New Business Tour and New Business Theatre
The 2013 show will see the introduction of a new business development learning zone, which will contain a number of niche areas, focusing on developing markets in the UK and dedicated to helping signmakers and graphic display professionals make more money.
Alan Caddick, senior marketing manager for Sign and Digital UK, explains: “The idea is for business professionals to come and learn about new business opportunities available in the UK with our industry specialists.” At the time of going to press those signed up included Roland, Clarity Software, DPI, HP, Hybrid and Sihl.
There will be a New Business Cafe where you can pick up more detailed information about the tour and theatre sessions outlined above – and where you can grab a coffee to chat over what you’ve seen.
The Green Trail
Following its introduction at last year’s show, the Green Trail returns, again highlighting a range of stands and products that can display either an eco-friendly, environmental or ethical element. Those involved include Oce, DPI and Clarity.
“There will be a good mix of products on the Green Trail list including ink and media manufacturers, printers, and recyclable display products,” said Caddick, “not to mention sustainable solutions from the digital signage sector.”
Adobe theatre and Corel Seminars
These seminar programmes run throughout the show. Full details are online but each session is approximately 45 minutes long.
Note that the Sign and Digital UK Awards will not this year be presented at the show. The event organisers say they will be presented at a later date still to be confirmed at the time of going to press.
AG/CAD Stand F10
At the show a Gen4 DYSS Apollo Hybrid GH2200 UV printer will be shown working alongside a DYSS X7-2616C cutter. Also on view will be the latest version of AG/CAD's Kasemake 2D/3D structural design software.
The Apollo GH2200 that will be exhibited uses 16 Ricoh Gen4 printheads offering CMYK light cyan and light magenta, white and clear inks. It uses variable droplet sizes from 7pl up at a maximum resolution of 1,270 x 1,220dpi. The range includes machines in both hybrid and flatbed configurations in widths from 1.6m to 2.6m wide and is available with between eight and 24 printheads with a maximum throughput of 110m2/hr.
Version 10 of the KaseMake software includes a new IN3D store visualiser feature to enable clients to see a representation of their packages and displays units in-situ. Other new features include additions to the library of 3D design templates for packaging and display units, in particular more free-standing display units (FSDU) and templates optimised for honeycomb boards such as Hexacomb and Re-board.
AXYZ International Stand L8
AXYZ International will be demonstrating one of its larger-format AXYZ 8010 machines with twin routing heads and an enlarged multi-station ATC (Automatic Tool Change) system together with the latest A2MC machine control system and AVS for optimum material alignment and more precise cutting. The 8010 router has a 263cm processing width capable of handling two oversize sheets of material simultaneously.
Colourgen Stand H50
Colourgenwill introduce its ‘Building Blocks for Business’ product portfolio and be giving the 2.6m Mutoh ValueJet 2638 its first public showing in the UK. Also showing will the new Mutoh ValueJet 1628W water-based dye sublimation machine and a new range of Mutoh cutters.
Digital Print Innovations Stand H60
DPI is using the show for the UK introduction of the MTEX1800, the smaller 1.8m wide brother of the 3.2m wide MTEX3200 complete direct to textile/fixation solution for the sign and display market.
The printer, from Portuguese manufacturer POD, has inline infrared fixation, is built on the Mimaki chassis and has Epson DX6 piezo printheads arranged in a two-head staggered array. It has quoted speeds of up to 65m2/hr in standard mode and 35m2/hr in high quality mode.
Available with a four-colour ink set (which come in two-litre bulk packs), the MTEX 1800 has three variable dot sizes at a maximum resolution of 1,440dpi. Blue replaces cyan in the standard set to provide particular vibrancy.
"We're anticipating a growth in the British soft signage market of between 30% and 35% this year, and the MTEX 1800 provides an accessible entry point for those seeing the profit-making opportunities offered by direct-to-textile production,” says Stewart Bell, managing director, DPI. “Our stand will show customers how to successfully Rip, print and finish textile, including sewing – demystifying and presenting a complete solution.”
DPI will also be showcasing UV print technology from Novus Imaging, the Synergia H a new production true greyscale 3.2m hybrid printer (180m2/h), the Jetrix range including the Jetrix 2513FRQ, the Jetrix 1212 and the Winjet Colour range using Memjet Technology.
Epson Stand N10
Epson will show its SureColor SC-F7000 and SC-F6000 dye-sublimation printers for the firsttime in the UK. The mid-high volume 64in SureColor SC-F7000 and low-medium volume 44in SureColor SC-F6000 have been developed for the production of quality soft signage, sportswear, apparel, accessories, customised promotional items and decorated gadgets
The SureColor SC-F prints at speeds of 16 - 57m2/hr, depending upon application, and features an integral and easily refillable 1.5l ink system. The printer uses Epson UltraChrome DS ink and the textile print is light- and wash-fast and resistant to abrasion and perspiration.
The SureColor SC-F printers are the first dye sublimation models from Epson and the first in this sector in which every component, from ink and printhead, to printer chassis and optional accessories, are all designed and manufactured by one company.
Also on the stand will be models from Epson’s new SureColor SC-S range of 64in wide-format printers. The eight- and ten-colour SureColor SC-S70600 is Epson’s first printer to support white and metallic inks simultaneously.
Esko Stand H12
“How can sign and display operations ensure no production second or penny is wasted?” That’s the question Esko aims to answer on it stand where its offerings will include
WebCenter and Suite 12,which focuses on adding value by introducing new productivity and efficiency benefits.
Also on display will be the Kongsberg i-XP 24cutting table equipped with the i-cut Vision Pro control system andi-cut Automate - the latest addition to Esko's i-cut Suite of pre-production software that automates the entire production process.
Friedheim International Stand L30
Launched at Drupa, the Lasercomb ProDigi Neo cutting table will get its first UK exhibition showing. Developed for the signage, display and packaging sectors, it comes in three sizes: the 0813, 1613 and 2113, which provide working formats of 800 x 1300 mm, 1600 x 1300 mm and 2100 x 1300 mm respectively. It’s the 1613 that you’ll see on the stand.
Expect to see a new front-end PC with a colour touchscreen that allows the operator to choose between automatic or manual modes, as well as accessing the tool database. The PC also provides operational diagnosis.
The ProDigi Neo features three tangentially controlled tool holders that are capable of handling up to seven different tools, and these can be quickly changed over as required. The alternative tools include cutting/creasing/ drawing units, a 3D milling unit, and a conveyor system.
Operating at up to 100m per minute, the new Neo also includes divided vacuum sections with electronic adjustment, automatic digital compensation of table flatness, digitally controlled Z-axis, data transfer via network (RJ45), and full digital drive.
GPT Stand D30
Centre stage will be the GPT190s, a 1.9m solvent printer based on a Mimaki textile machine and said to be twice the speed of the JV33.The printer, adapted by GPT, can print high quality SA Vinyl at 24m2/hr and high quality banner at 35m2/hr.
Also on the stand will be the latest Mimaki JV400 160LX 1.6m latex printer running full speed.
GPT will also have information, videos and interviews on the new Mimaki JFX500 2131 UV cure flatbed printer, the forthcoming Mimaki JV400 SUV printer and the rest of the Mimaki range plus Epson and Canon printers, finishing kit and consumables.
Hybrid Stand D10
Hybrid Services will showcase all the latest Mimaki wide-format solutions for the sign, graphics, industrial products and textile markets.
Kaye-Dee Stand M8
It’s worth mentioning that Kaye-Dee will be introducing a new range of UV-digital printers developed with industrial applications in mind. The BE300-LED-series has a 42 x 30cm print area and product loading height up to 30cm. The BE-TS-1 is a tray/pallet system where the BE-HS-1 uses a conveyor to move the components under the print head. Both types of printer are custom made to meet the specific need of each application and can be designed as single, two-, three- or four-colour options with white undercoat if required.
Océ Stand E10
Océ will showcase the latest developments in its Arizona series UV flatbed printers for the display graphics market. Systems on display will include the Océ Arizona 460 and 480 GT UV flatbed models, the Océ CS9360 (printing at up to 29 m² an hour) and the Canon imagePrograf iPF8400, a 12-colour pigment 44in printer.
In addition, expect to find an Océ ColorWave 650 poster printer on the stand and demos of the Onyx Thrive workflow software, a scalable print production solution based on Adobe PDF Print Engine technology.
Roland Stand G30
Roland has confirmed it will unveil its new flagship printer, the SolJet Pro 4 XF-640 (labelled in the UK as ‘the big red beast’) at Sign and Digital UK. At the time of going to press only outline details of the new 64in wide printer were available, but it’s fast, with a top speed of 100m2/hr (billboard mode). It uses Eco-Sol Max 2 CMYK ink – loaded in the front rather than the back/top as a space saving feature and ease of use. Price is yet to be confirmed but indications are that it will sit at the £20,000 mark.
Roland will also dedicate a section of its stand to its warranty scheme, RolandCare, and the Roland Academy.
Sihl Stand K32
Following its launch last year, Sihl is looking to build its position as a supplier of media for large-format digital inkjet printing and at the show will be highlighting some of its most popular products, decorating the stand to look like a modern apartment. This layout will demonstrate the company’s Persomural wallpaper media, as well as its range of canvas and backlit media for all printer types.
Summa/ArtSystems Stand M31
The joint Summa/ArtSystems stand will have the F Series as its centrepiece with the new routing tool module being put through its paces.
The new Summa S Class second generation will also get its first UK show debut with its improved speed, media handling and connectivity and demonstrating how it can improve the whole workflow for print and cut when driven by an Onyx Rip.
Ultima Displays Stand E60
Staff will be on hand to talk about key services for trade partners such as a 3D design service for exhibition stands and specialist textile printing and finishing.