The biennial Fespa Digital shows had been smaller affairs than their bigger brother – both in terms of exhibitors and visitors – due in part to the missing presence of the screen community. This sector was vocal about wanting an equal chance to participate in the event every year and changes to the format have now duly been made.
Fespa chief executive Neil Felton says there were a number of other factors behind the format shake-up. “This change is about making sure that the brand is consistent. It also enables a consistent development of new initiatives and helps planning for our exhibitors as well.”
With only a matter of weeks until the 2017 edition opens its doors, at the end of last month the Fespa Fest show preview event was held in Hamburg, the German city that will host the main event from 8 to 12 May.
A plethora of details about the upcoming show were announced, with Fespa and some of its event sponsors and key exhibitors revealing some of the content and kit we can expect to see at Messe Hamburg in two months’ time.
Felton says five of the show’s 10 halls – set to take up a total of around 68,000m2 space – have already sold out and some of the others are on the verge of doing so.
“We’re in a good place and it’s an exciting time. In terms of floorspace it’s going to be slightly bigger than Cologne [the previous main Fespa event, held in 2015]. We always focus on filling the halls and making sure we have enough visitors for those halls.
“We’re going to have between 23,000 and 25,000 unique visitors to the show and over 700 exhibitors. We expect to be slightly up on Cologne and the indications are that we’ll have the most visited show that we’ve ever had.”
A number of popular features are set to return, including the World Wrap Masters, the co-located European Sign Expo event for non-printed signage, and the Printeriors showcase, a hotel-themed exhibit featuring printed décor created using a range of technologies and materials. The annual Fespa Awards and Gala Dinner will also take place once again.
“We’re focusing on our strapline, which is ‘Dare to print different’, and with everything we’ve done, and every feature, we’re looking at ways in which we can do things differently,” says Felton.
“So that could be the World Wrap Masters for example, where we’re going to wrap a powerboat, or our conferences, which will be very much focused on ways in which you can look at new applications to go into new markets.”
In terms of exhibitor news, EFI says it will show its new Vutek 5r and Vutek FabriVU 520 printers, both announced at EFI Connect in January, for the first time in Europe.
“We will also make sure that the latest version of Fiery is at the show as well as our MIS software packages, our web-to-print solution, Digital StoreFront, and DirectSmile for cross media,” says EFI vice-president of corporate marketing Frank Tückmantel.
Kornit Digital, meanwhile, will show a raft of direct-to-garment printers on its stand, including the Vulcan, which has previously been shown as a prototype and is now commercially available.
The new R-Series model of the Avalanche Hexa, which features a recirculating ink system, will also be shown along with the Storm Duo, which has a dual-CMYK configuration but no white ink. The manufacturer says this machine is therefore suitable for printing at high speeds onto white items such as tea towels and t-shirts.
Other exhibitors are keeping their cards closer to their chests for now but are nevertheless expecting big things from the show.
Mimaki is set to show a 3D printer for the first time, but is yet to reveal specific details. The company will also have two stands at the show for the first time ever; one dedicated solely to its growing portfolio of textile printers.
Mimaki Europe event/tradeshow co-ordinator Ivan Lesmana says: “Fespa has always been our most important show and is our biggest event every year. We always show something new and it’s really important for [our customers] to see what we have launched.”
Durst will show four printers on its stand; two UV and two based on its Durst Water Technology.
It has not yet disclosed further details about the UV machines, but said the water-based machines on show will be the Rho WT 250 HS and – receiving its European show debut – the Rhotex 325 3.2m-wide eco-friendly, dual-purpose printer, which combines direct-to-textile printing and transfer paper printing technology.
“Fespa is definitely the biggest show on the planet for us and the most important with the key people that we see there,” says Durst product manager for large-format printing Fabian Sottsas.
Fespa and its exhibitors, then, are confident that Fespa 2017 will be another major success and show organisers have already set the ball rolling for the future by revealing the host cities for the next two years: Berlin in 2018 and Munich in 2019.
A venue outside Germany is promised for 2020 but, while the locations will continue to change – just as they have since the show was launched more than half a century ago – the enthusiasm from exhibitors and visitors alike seems likely to remain high as Fespa continues to take its ever-evolving and now unified offering around the continent.