That’s a wrap! Fespa ties up debut Wrapfest

Wrapfest was Europe's first dedicated trade show for vehicle wrapping
Wrapfest was Europe's first dedicated trade show for vehicle wrapping

Vehicle wrapping enthusiasts descended upon Silverstone race circuit on 26 and 27 April to meet, network, and learn new skills in one of print’s freshest applications.

More than 1,500 attendees joined 40 exhibitors from all over the world to enjoy a series of talks and live demonstrations held over the two-day event, which was held by Fespa.

Talks from vehicle wrapping celebrities like Yianni Charalambous were held alongside business-focused sessions like Fespa UK director Suzi Ward's presentation on recycling in a PVC-heavy industry.

Below the event’s two exhibition halls, more than 80 live wrapping demonstrations were held in Silverstone’s pit garages, with sports cars and supercars bedecked in flashy new trims.

One exhibitor, Italian manufacturer of cast and calendered vinyl, APA, had even developed a pearlescent grey-purple wrap especially for the event, called ‘Silverstone Blue’ (pictured below), which was displayed over a Ford Mustang muscle car at the event’s entrance.

APA was not the only Italian company to display at Wrapfest. Neolt Factory, a €4.5m (£3.96m) turnover machine manufacturer, was showing off a cutting machine and pneumatic laminator at a stall with its UK distributor, Stanford Marsh.

Ettore Briccoli Pontiggia, director and international sales manager, told Printweek that the event had been good value for money for the firm, which had not attended a vehicle wrapping show before.

“It’s a first time for us,” he said.

“We’re happy, because we have seen quality people, quality customers compared to other exhibitions with more attendees, but a lesser quality of customer.

“For companies like us, it’s the most important thing, because we spend money to attend, to transport [the kit], and then we have a good result back.”

Neolt was not the only exhibitor to share those sentiments, with many others welcoming the first dedicated show for the wrapping industry in Europe.

While a significantly bigger concern, with a worldwide presence, print supplier Antalis is a newcomer to the wrapping scene.

Chris Green, the firm’s director of visual communications in the UK and Ireland, said that the event had presented the team with a fantastic learning curve.

Speaking to Printweek, he said: “Obviously, we’re a very large company. Here in the UK, we have a great level of business, but this community – vehicle wrapping – is somewhere we really don’t operate, so we’re here to learn today.”

He added that the young, vibrant wrapping community’s energy had been infectious.

“What I’ve noticed today is that there’s a very young, enthusiastic vibe. I have to say, that’s what our industry needs - young people being really interested and enthusiastic about the products. It’s great to see.

“We’re here to learn, we’ll take the learnings away, and if this is here next year, we’ll probably be in a different phase: hopefully, it’ll be of interest to the people walking around.”

Another big name, HP, was likewise taking its first step into the industry.

Showing off the company’s Latex wide-format presses, and white water-based inks, HP’s large-format business developer Stuart Thomas said the event had been a fantastic warm-up to Fespa’s Global Print Expo in May.

He said: “It’s not been about sales, it’s more about networking and showing that HP has a presence in vehicle wrapping: the last few days have been about showing what HP has to offer.

“Fespa has done a really good job.”

Organising the event, Fespa’s head of marketing and events, Duncan MacOwan, said he was thrilled to see the event come together.

“We’ve had such good feedback from all corners, so we’re really excited to see where we can take it.”

Much smaller than Fespa’s other events, Wrapfest was also unique in extending beyond purely the printed world.

“There is a whole myriad of aspects ot the wrapping world – so it’s really nice to have all of that focus on paint protection and colour-change wraps, as well as the printed wraps.

“It has just been brilliant, as well, being able to provide that chance for visitors to get hands-on with the materials, see what they’re like and try them with different surfaces.

“From an installer perspective, that’s absolutely key, and I’m delighted with the efforts our partners have gone to [for the live-wrap demonstrations].”