Fespa 2017 preview: Wide-format wins for those who dare

Hannah Jordan
Monday, April 24, 2017

With just days to go before the doors open on what is perhaps now the world’s biggest global annual print show, visitors and exhibitors alike will be gathering their thoughts on what they hope to achieve.

Commandeering 10 halls at the Messe Hamburg, Germany from 8-12 May, with over 700 exhibitors covering around 68,000m2 of floorspace, Fespa 2017 is set to trump its 2015 edition on size and, according to the organisers, attendance. 

The formerly biennial, now annual event – after Fespa announced it was doing away with Fespa Digital with which this main event has alternated for the past decade – is a celebration of all that is innovative in technology and materials for the screen, digital wide format, textile printing and signage community and this year is no different.

With a strap line that tells visitors to ‘Dare to Print Different’ the event’s focus, says Fespa divisional director Roz McGuinness, is on injecting fresh ideas and “real-world business guidance” for printers to take away and use to their advantage.

“When printers head to Hamburg, we want them to arrive with the ambition to explore and identify something that can expand their boundaries and provide them with inspiration. 

“We also want to encourage print service providers and signmakers to think about the diversification routes that they haven’t yet explored to find new ways to be different,” she says. 

In this day and age delivering new ideas is a big ask, so what can this year’s visitors expect to find on offer?

Back by popular demand will be the highly successful Printeriors, the hotel-themed exhibit launched in 2015, designed to showcase the use of print for interior applications including wallpaper, decals, wall decor, art, flooring, furniture, lighting, ceramic tiles, glass and textiles to name but a few. It is a discipline that McGuinness thinks will be a major trend and hot topic this year across the shows three segments: screen, digital and textile. 

“Over the last couple of years we’ve seen textile and print for interior decor grow with new inks, technology and substrates coming into the market to serve these purposes. To date 23% of our new exhibitors are involved in textile printing, showing that this is still a growing area,” she explains.

Also located within the main show again will be the European Sign Expo, the annual trade show for non-printed signage and visual communications, which will boast more than 170 exhibitors.

Another regular feature will be the ever-popular World Wrap Masters that will culminate in a live final during which contestants will be wrapping a speedboat set to be used by the HaugaardRacing Team in the 2017 World Formula 4 UIM Powerboat Championship.

Those hungry for education will find a broad range of seminars, debates and workshops from which to choose, however this year rather than being held at various locations across the event, all educational content has been consolidated into one ‘hub’, which according to McGuinness will allow people to more easily plan their visit. 

Among those not to be missed, she says, are talks from McGowans Print owner Mal McGowan on how brands can maximise the retail experience, Printeriors’ curator and Trendease chief executive and creative director Jennifer Castoldi on the print and pattern directions for 2018, while Simon Pless, general manager of Hamburg-based OOH specialist Erler & Pless, will talk specifics about his experience in the sector.

Aside from these regular features there is of course no show without exhibitors and this year, aside from the growth in textiles-related exhibits, McGuinness expects notable trends to be technologies that will improve efficiency, enable faster job turnaround times and versioning and personalisation.

Of those receiving their European unveilings will be the Vutek 5r and Vutek FabriVU 520 printers from EFI, a headline sponsor along with HP. Durst’s Rhotex 325 3.2m-wide eco-friendly, dual-purpose direct-to textile and paper printer will also make its European debut as well as the new 3.2m Avinci DX3200 soft signage printer from Agfa. 

Show debut

Cambridge-based inkjet printer manufacturer Inca Digital meanwhile will be exhibiting at Fespa for the first time, and plans to show its latest SpyderX as well as launch a new pre-press workflow package, IncaConnect.

Inca Digital chief executive John Mills said the show was an ideal opportunity to showcase “the depth and breadth” of innovations being developed at the firm: “We felt Fespa was the right platform to introduce the Inca Digital brand in its own right. It gives us the opportunity to showcase our technologies to a wide audience and engage with visitors across multiple markets – from signage and graphics to packaging, décor and industrial.”

OKI Europe, a show partner for the first time, will unveil new white toner desktop technology aimed at the creative and graphics arts markets, as well as showing the E-64S ColorPainter wide-format device that it launched in October last year. 

OKI wide-format general marketing manager Frank Jänschke says customers these days want to be able to do everything from indoor to outdoor print media. “They don’t want to lose out in any area and we want to meet those needs and we want to act as a consultant to our customers. “

He adds: “Fespa has always been very important to us and as a sponsor this year for the first time, we want to show the audience that, although we aren’t as big as Mimaki, HP or Roland, we are partners for end customers of large format printing and we have a value proposition that customers are looking for.”

OKI’s next generation wide-format technology, announced at Drupa, will not be unveiled at Fespa, although Jänschke said the launch was expected towards the end of this fiscal year.

Substrate manufacturers too will show and launch their increasingly innovative ranges with Arjowiggins set to launch its new DigiPeel HD heat transfer paper for digital and screen applications, while Belgian manufacturer Lampe Textiles will give self-adhesive window fabric Squid its Fespa debut.

With hundreds more names all offering cutting edge technologies and insight into developments of the future, Fespa 2017’s organisers are confident they’ve created a strong exhibition and hope visitors will take up the show challenge.

Perhaps the trends on show at Fespa 2018 and 2019, set for Berlin and Munich respectively, will reveal the answer: Did they dare to print different?


When 8-12 May, 2017

Where Hamburg Messe, Hamburg 

Opening times Monday-Thursday: 10am to 6pm; Friday: 10am to 4pm

Costs Free if you pre-register before 7 May using one of the promotional codes found on adverts and marketing promotions. Visitors who do not pre-register without a code will be charged €40 online or €70 on the door

More information here 

Key attractions Extensive free seminar programme 

Fespa Wrap Masters competitionThis contest will test contestants’ skills by challenging them to wrap a Formula 4S speed boat which will be used by the Racing Team in the World Formula 4 UIM Powerboat 2017 Championship

Co-located events

European Sign ExpoEuropean Sign Expo is Europe’s largest annual exhibition dedicated to the signage and visual communications industry 

Printeriors Printeriors 2017 delves into the various applications and vast possibilities of bringing print to life 

Fespa Awards On show will be over 100 shortlisted award entries for this year’s awards


© MA Business Limited 2021. Published by MA Business Limited, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PB, a company registered in England and Wales no. 06779864. MA Business is part of the Mark Allen Group .