Fespa’s first-again physical show stimulates wide-format industry

Bringing color back to the industry

Mimaki Amsterdam,
The Mimaki Experience Centre showroom at Mimaki Europe’s Amsterdam headquarters. Photo: Mimaki

Fespa Global Print Expo was one of the first international events suffering from multiple cancellations in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. This past week, at the RAI Expo Center in Amsterdam, its organizers were the first to reinstate a physical show that has been overdue for almost two years. Two years – that left their marks on the exhibition industry worldwide, and, in a nutshell, Fespa showed us that nothing will ever be the same again in this business.

It is increasingly difficult for large international exhibitions to assemble a comprehensive range of participants, and the pandemic only served as a catalyst, limiting their involvement to an extent that will hardly change once the actual pandemic may reach its end. Neverthelesss, with all the restrictions and sanitary precautions in place, Fespa managed to stage a compact four-day show in four halls, bringing together 200 exhibitors in its digital, textile and screen printing areas and 30 exhibitors in the ancillary European Sign Expo part. Signage, display, interior design, industrial and textile printing were the main areas of interest.

Agfa, Canon, Durst and Mimaki occupied the largest space. Other wide-format printer manufacturers present at the show included Aroja, Brother, D-Gen, EFI Reggiani, GCC, MBA, MS Korea, Riso, Roland DG, Roque, Seiko and SwissQprint. Software demos took place at the booths of Caldera, Enfocus, Hybrid, OneVision, Onyx and SAi, whereas Elitron, Hasler, Kongsberg, Summa, Trotec and Zünd showcased their latest cutting tables. Anatol, CST, Exile, Extris, Minerva, Riso and Roque brought screen printing equipment to the show. Most of the other products presented at the Global Print and Sign exhibitions were consumables, from the likes of Ahlstrom, Mondi, Neenah and Sappi to numerous Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Turkish and East-European brands.

Mimaki used its presence at the show to invite visitors to Mimaki Europe’s Amsterdam headquarters, offering detailed insights into the company’s full range of 3D and textile applications. At its Fespa exhibition space, Mimaki presented the recently released JFX600-2513, a high-volume, high-speed large-format LED-UV flatbed printer accommodating a large range of media and ink types, as well as its latest UJF series of printers, among which the UJF-7151+II, a high-quality industrial printer capable of handling heavy media such as wood, metal or glass, and the UJF-6042MkIIe series announced earlier this month, available in A3 and A2 format. Mimaki also introduced the 3DUJ-2207, a full-color scalable desktop 3D printer, and for the first time exhibited the solvent-based JV100-160 and its UV version UJV100-160, launched last year as well as its latest TS100-1600 dye-sublimation printer.

Canon’s highlights at Fespa were the Arizona 135 GT flatbed printer launched in June this year, the UVgel Wallpaper Factory for mass-customised automated wallpaper production, the modular UVgel Colorado 1630 roll-to-roll printer, and the hybrid Arizona 2380 XTF/RMO. In addition, a Colorado 1650 with ‘jumbo roll in’ and ‘jumbo roll out’ was running at the Fotoba booth just across the Canon booth.

The Durst P5 Automat. Photo Durst
The Durst P5 Automat. Photo Durst

Durst focused its presentations on the latest versions of its P5 series launched in 2018, with the hybrid 3.5 meter wide P5 350/HS, the P5 TEX iSUB dye-sublimation printer, and the Durst Automat feeder and stacker system on show, as well as on the Vanguard VR6D and VK300D-HS flatbed printers manufactured by Vanguard Digital Printing Systems, in which Durst acquired a majority stake last year.

Agfa came to Fespa with a 2020 Product of the Year award winner, the Oberon RTR3300, and two new developments, the Avinci CX3200 and the Jeti Tauro H3300 LED. The Oberon is a high-volume 3.3m wide roll-to-roll printer for a large range of media and ink types, whereas the Jeti Tauro H3300 UHS LED, a high-volume 3.3m wide hybrid machine, is Agfa’s new flagship inkjet printer for the high end of the sign and display market. The Avinci CX3200 is a 3.2m wide dye-sublimation soft signage printer capable of handling a wide range of polyester-based fabrics.

Roland DG brought four systems in different sizes to the show, the flatbed VersaUV LEC2-330/640, the roll-to-roll CAMM-1 GR2-640/540 and TrueVIS VG2 series, and the hybrid Texart XT-640S-F. In addition to Roland’s latest three print-and-cut systems, the TrueVIS VG2, available in three bed sizes, is geared at on-demand printing on garments and fabrics, including cotton, white polyester, denim, and leather.

EFI Reggiani launched a high-speed textile printer series at Fespa, the Terra Silver, a 180 cm wide printer at speeds of up to 190 sqm per hour using EFI Reggiani’s Terra pigment inks on woven and knitted fabrics. The company also had its high-speed Hyper and entry-level Blaze printing systems on show.

Brother showcased its GTXpro and GTXpro Bulk high-end direct-to-garment printers.

SwissQprint had the latest versions of its Karibu S high-volume press and its Nyala 4 flatbed press on show.

A large majority of exhibitors represented Asian and emerging East-European brands. Most of the Asian manufacturers of machinery and consumables relied on sales executives and suppliers based in Europe. Fespa’s organizers seemed to be surprised and encouraged by the fact that in spite of the pandemic’s lasting repercussions the show was relatively well attended, commenting that the show, “has already welcomed thousands of professionals after a long 18 months, ‘bringing color back’ to the industry.”

The next Fespa Global Print Expo and European Sign Expo are to take place from 31 May to 3 June 2022 in Berlin.

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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