Sat, Aug

Do you invest in experimentation? By that I mean, do you actively set aside time and resources to ‘play with’ substrates etc. to see what new applications you can use them for. I’ve been talking to a few companies that do just that with the expectation that sooner or later they will hit upon a novel product that they can sell at high margin and I’m wondering just how strong that development streak is within the wide-format sector.

If you’re buying a new wide-format printer you’re buying one with more than four colour channels it seems – so is the ROI what you expected from having those extra colour capabilities? Let me know if much of your work incorporates white ink and or varnishes etc., or whether you just feel you need to have the capability to keep up with the Jones’s.

It’s not cheap to attend the Fespa Global Summit but having been to previous versions of this annual event I would suggest that it could be money well spent, given the usual scope and depth of this think tank event. Hopefully I’ll see you there in January 2013...

Have you noticed many new wide-format players getting in on your act – and if so, where are they coming from? Is the diversification by screen and litho printers into the digital wide-format arena something that you are noticing locally, and how is that manifesting itself? Have you seen the migration you had been warned to expect over the last couple of years as manufacturers began to target their inkjet kit at those sectors?

I’m currently in the process of putting together this year’s Round Table discussion panel on the state of the UK’s wide-format print sector. If you think you have valuable insight and you’re willing to share then please get in touch.

What has been the best media development you’ve seen this year? I ask that simply because I’ve had lots of product launch information in this area over the last few weeks but, actually, I’d be interested in hearing from you about any favourite product launched this year in the wide-format space – be it consumable, software or hardware. It’ll all go in the knowledge bank as I start thinking about who deserves the Image Reports Angel Awards this year…

If so, EcoPrint would have tackled some of your greatest fears head on – and if you missed the event in Berlin last week, you missed a cracker. The seminar content was superb – which is why it’s such a shame there were so few UK printers there (apart from those on the various panels). But the organisers have confirmed that the event will definitely run again next year – alongside Ifra in Berlin on 8 – 9 October. That may have people thinking it’s going to be newspaper focussed, but I’ve been promised that won’t be the case and that it will be relevant to all in the print space. Personally, what I would also like to see at that second show would be a tweaking of the exhibition part of the event – to include more involvement from the likes of ‘green’ energy companies, telephone suppliers, HR experts, eco consultants etc. – representatives from all involved in the various parts of the sustainability chain.

When you receive this I’ll be gearing up to host a debate among printers and print buyers at the new EcoPrint event in Berlin this afternoon on the question: Can you sell your sustainability USP as a printer? From a Round Table panel discussion on sustainability run by Image Reports in London a few weeks ago (see Aug/Sept issue) the feeling was ‘no’. It will be interesting to see what kind of response we get from a broader European panel …

According to one printer I spoke to recently, software developers are considered the really influential players in today’s marketplace. Software’s certainly where we’re seeing oodles of development as vendors recognise they can strike it rich by providing printers with the efficiency and flexibility tools they crave to get the most out of their capital investments. Given one wish, what software development would you ask for?

We know from the Widthwise 2012 survey and soon to be published EDP survey of the European digital print market that latex printers are top of the investment priority list. So has HP got it right by running mini-events like the Latex Application Tour this October – events brought closer to you and with a focus on applications rather than the actual kit that produces them (though one necessarily requires the other)?

What should be top of printer manufacturers’ R&D lists these days? News of the speedy SolJet Pro4 XR-640 Roland machine has made me ponder the question given my visits to various other machine makers, where much is still being been made of developing faster printers. But should that be their priority. In the Widthwise Survey conducted by Image Reports in the spring, lower machine running costs came out top of the innovation wish list  – and in terms of the biggest technical issue being faced, it was machine reliability! So is there a better way for the grassroots to feed back to the manufacturers?

Are we all going soft? The amount of news coming in to me in regards to printed textiles would have me believe so if I didn’t know otherwise. Last month I asked why you thought the UK wide-format market was still dragging its feet in a sector that must surely provide some decent return on investment. So far, I’ve not heard any really weighty argument. Is that because, finally, there isn’t one?

It works with bells on for Pixartprint - Web-to-print that is. But does it work for you? Have you even considered it as part of your wide-format offering? In a post-presentation chat with a printer at Cross Media last week one of the speakers – himself a print buyer – mentioned that W2P was core to cross channel development for any print business. I’d love to hear what you think about that…

Ipex organiser Informa Exhibitions is doing all in its power to bolster confidence in the 2014 event following news that some high profile companies will not be exhibiting. Speaking at another of its shows this this week – the new Cross Media – Trevor Crawford made the comment that Ipex “is an experience, and event, not just a big exhibition”. And to my mind there’s the key to its future success – ensuring that visitors have some real reason to attend other than to see companies and solutions. Cross Media proved that really timely, well-targeted and well-positioned seminar content can draw the crowds. We already know that Cross Media will be incorporated into Ipex 2014 so I wait with some eagerness to see what the organisers will have drawn from this new event and how they marry that with all Ipex has grown to be.

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