Ipex: Action speaks louder than words

For some, it might feel like an age since Ipex was last resident in its long-term home at the NEC in Birmingham – seven years can certainly feel like an age in such a fast-moving industry, especially when Ipex returns to the NEC this month in a radically altered form.


Venue NEC Birmingham

Dates 31 October-3 November

Opening times 31 October-2 November 10am - 5.30pm 3 November 10am to 3.30pm

Special features Extensive conference programme (see box); Print in Performance: A series of ground-breaking artistic performances everyday to open visitors’ minds and push the boundaries of print, in collaboration with the London College of Fashion.

Following a one-off appearance at Excel in London in 2014, the exhibition will enjoy its “homecoming”, as event director Rob Fisher describes it, from 31 October to 3 November.

Fisher, heading up the plans with organiser Informa, says the event is “tracking positively” in advance, compared with the 2014 exhibition, as his team sets out the scope of the exhibition, its roster of conferences and speakers, and attractions for the four-day event.

The focus of the expo in 2017 is technology and innovation in action, meaning active demonstrations and an emphasis on exhibitors bringing their machines on-site for customers to see. “As our main focus is on print in action, we are encouraging exhibitors to bring along as much tech as they can in order to carry out demonstrations on the floor,” Fisher says.

“The thing about print is that you can only really understand it when you see it with your own eyes. It’s often the things you aren’t expecting that capture people’s imagination, which is what we hope our visitors will take from this event.”

HP user group Dscoop are collaborating with Ipex to host an “event within an event” which will include networking, education and tutorial sessions hosted by industry experts and solution providers, but only open to Dscoop members. Chair Aaron Archer, who in his day job is business development director for Pureprint, describes the event as “mutually beneficial” for both Dscoop and Ipex.

“Dscoop will bring the colour to Ipex,” he says. “By taking up a significant space we are giving our members the chance to come together, to collaborate and learn in our exclusive lounge and discussion areas.

“While we have been running our own events around the world, and continue to grow, the main feedback we get from our UK members is that there should be more localised events for them to attend, so they can get more face-to-face guidance and interaction rather than only using our online resources.”

Ipex will also benefit from the boost in numbers as Dscoop draws in attendees from its more than 400 UK and Ireland members, who will also hope to benefit from mingling with manufacturers and distributors that will have their technology on display.

Exhibitors in action

Among the exhibitors showcasing technology for the event will be Apex Digital Graphics, which will debut the RMGT Ryobi 928P press, which is equipped with LED-UV curing. It will also premiere three new CTP systems from Cron, including a B1 UV device that will be producing plates for the 928P.

For Apex’s managing director Bob Usher, the draw of Ipex is still its reputation – as an event that dates back to the 19th century. For most, including Usher, the Ipex story began in earnest at the first NEC event in 1980, since then Apex has “always gone along and enjoyed great success with customers”.

Watkiss Automation and Xerox reseller Zerographic are set to collaborate on a technology demonstration that will showcase a full production journey from job input to finished booklet output. The display will include a new Watkiss PowerSquare PSQ160X bookletmaker and a Xerox Versant 3100 Press.

Paul Attew, sales director for Watkiss, says he is excited to see the latest innovation in the industry, as well as showing what his company has put together. “Ipex is all about going out there and showing off your very best,” he says.

“All sorts of visitors from all over the world come to the event, and the ones who get the most out of it come along with an open mind. You don’t go to Ipex for things you already know about. You go to be surprised, and we hope we can surprise everyone this year.”

Ricoh has also just signed up to exhibit, but details of its plans were unavailable at the time of writing.

The line-up of conference speakers includes independent senior graphic industry consultant and former HP worldwide marketing leader for digital graphics solutions Francois Martin. In a keynote address, Martin will talk about how digital advances have affected print, providing “a roadmap for print into the future”.

Other high-profile exhibitors will include Friedheim International, launching the MBO K80 high-speed combination folder and the Bograma Servo 550 Basic short-run die-cutter for the first time in the UK. Duplo’s stand will host the international launch of its DuSense DDC-810 sensory coater that uses inkjet technology to print clear UV spot varnish and create a variety of effects.

Fisher hopes that Ipex’s return to Birmingham will entice visitors back who strayed in 2014. Informa is aiming to have 20,000 visitors across the four days. Registrations have already been received from organisations in Africa, Asia and Europe, though Fisher says “around 70%” of visitors were likely to be from the UK. Informa says, so far, 140 exhibitors have signed up.

After taking place every four years for as long as many can remember (bar a five-year shimmy around the turn of the millennium), Ipex switched to a triennial schedule after the 2014 show to avoid potential clashes with Drupa. Fisher is hoping exhibitors and visitors can be engaged in an “ongoing conversation with everyone to decide what pattern is best for Ipex” in the future. 

For now, the focus remains on the big homecoming. “We are thrilled to see so many exhibitors bringing new products and revealing exclusive launches,” says Informa’s Fisher. “Visitors will experience quality and productivity from pre-press to printing and finishing, the latest print technologies, and unmissable equipment on show. We can’t wait to share it all with you.” 


Apex Digital Graphics Stand B200

apex-ryobiApex is claiming an Ipex first for its stand: the supplier says it will be the first company to show an eight-colour SRA1 perfecting press with LED-UV drying in the form of an RMGT 928P.

The press features two LED-UV curing units, one over the perfecting device and the other at the delivery end of the machine, enabling one-pass, 16-up, instant-curing perfecting . The machine, which costs around £1.3m to £1.4m depending on specification. 

Apex managing director Bob Usher said: “This machine is sold in anything from two-colour to 10-colour configurations. The eight-colour version is very popular with trade printers because it can print 16 pages of A4 at 14,000 sheets per hour. And the sheet is completely dry.”

Duplo Stand F300

duplo-ipexPost-press manufacturer Duplo will be giving its new DuSense DDC-810 sensory coater, a compact embellishment inkjet device used to print clear UV spot varnish with the option of raised and textured finishes that resemble embossing. It can take sheets up to long B3 format and register the spot coating to pre-printed images. According to Duplo it is designed for digital print with highly creative and intricate special effects, at a fraction of the cost of alternative analogue technologies. 

It has a list price of around £130,000 and is intended to help customers diversify and attract new business streams.

Also on show will be the iSaddle 2 Pro Duetto saddle-stitcher, which is designed to streamline workflows and accelerate turnarounds. Duplo said the iSaddle 2 Pro Duetto opens up new application possibilities, such as A4 landscape, for improved profitability and business growth.

Friedheim International Stand F350

mbo-k80Friedheim is using Ipex to launch the new MBO K80 high-speed combination folder and the Bograma Servo 550 Basic short run die-cutter to the UK market.

Friedheim post-press sales specialist Tom Baker said: “This is a mid-range folder, which would sit in the middle of our B1 folder range. It is based on tried and tested technology from MBO and is incorporating the M1 control system with optional high levels of automation.”

The Bograma Servo 550 Basic is an offline die-cutter designed specifically for users who want to produce short and medium-length runs economically and efficiently.

The machine can handle sheets in formats of between 550x750mm and 210x210mm at up to 8,000cph.

Intelligent Finishing Systems Stand G450

ifs-taurusIntelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) will use Ipex to host the global launch of a new double-sided B2 laminating system, the Taurus 530SF 4x4 from Czech manufacturer Foliant.

The machine has been developed off the back of the success of the Foliant Mercury 530SF 4x4 laminator and is described as a compact and fast industrial laminating machine. It is constructed for heavy-duty usage and features an integrated suction feeder and a high-speed bump separator and an optional pallet feeder and pallet stacker. 

According to Foliant, it is suitable for laminating all kinds of digitally printed sheets in high volumes, and of offset printed sheets in sizes up to B2-plus. It has a top speed of 35m/min or 2,900sph (B2).

IFS will also be showing the Slimbox laser cutter from Belgian firm Fit Things. The Slimbox can be used to produce on demand packaging quickly, easily and cost-effectively, according to IFS.

Cardboard sheets can be between 1mm and 5mm thick and up to 30 boxes of any dimensions up to 2.5x1m can be created per hour.

Morgana Stand B300

morgana-ipexMorgana will be showing the latest addition to its line-up of post-press kit, the new DigiBook 300XLPro PUR binder. The new machine is a larger-format version of its DigiBook 300 PUR binder intended for handling A3 landscape books.

The DigiBook 300XLPro binder has an increased input cover size of 450x1,000mm, compared with the 350x700mm maximum format of its predecessor. It can now produce landscape A3 jobs, a feature previously unavailable in the DigiBook 300 binder.

The new machine has a list price of around £39,000.

Pixartprinting Stand D440

pixart-ipexItalian web-to-print business Pixartprinting will be exhibiting at Ipex for the first time and will be promoting its PixartPro loyalty programme, which is targeted at marketing agencies, design studios and printing businesses, and rewards regular customers with vouchers and money-off offers.

The company said the programme has more than 50,000 graphic arts professionals signed up.

Tharstern Stand H320

tharstern-ipexUK management information systems developer Tharstern will be showing off the latest version of its MIS, including two new modules: Business intelligence and Advanced Imposition.

Business Intelligence gives users improved access to and analyse of MIS data, enabling them to uncover trends and opportunities, while Advanced Imposition offers a “quick and easy” way to create complex imposition plans from jobs of different shapes and sizes, according to Tharstern.

Tharstern’s technical staff will be on stand to explain to attendees how the latest modules, and the MIS as a whole, can improve productivity and can be integrated with other essential software systems. 

The developer will also be explaining in more depth its new initiative with web-to-print specialist Infigo. Integration between Infigo’s Catfish platform and Tharstern’s MIS can automate functions such as product mapping, job specification and submission, estimating, reporting, imposition, stock management, billing and shipping into a streamlined workflow.

Infigo said the biggest development facilitated by the partnership is integrated live pricing through Tharstern’s new API, which enables pricing to be pulled automatically from the Tharstern MIS into Catfish.

Vivid Laminating Systems Stand F200

vivid-ipexVivid Laminating Technologies will be introducing its new Omni-Flow modular deep pile feeder for the award-winning Matrix Systems at the show.

The Omni-Flow is modular and retrofits to current Matrix Systems. Vivid has designed the feeder to run in-line with the Matrix, utilising custom Swiss Feed head technology exclusively for the Omni-Flow. The new system will also feed long sheet stock of 1,050mm plus in length.

Vivid sales director Richard Marlow said: “The new Omni-Flow will laminate and foil up to 1,000 SRA3 sheets unattended, saving both time and money. It’s a truly revolutionary product and can be set-up in seconds, at least 5 times quicker than traditional feeders.”

The company will also use the show to introduce its new Printable White Foil. “This is a brilliant solution for digital printers who want to print white, but don’t have the engine to print a fifth colour,” said Marlowe.


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