Fespa preview: Get a seat in business class as London show takes off

PrintWeek Team
Monday, June 10, 2013

Flight attendants at the entrance and then all manner of flight related-paraphernalia throughout the show. This year's Fespa, held at London's ExCel centre, seems determined to compensate those UK printers deprived this time around of the excuse for a spot of globetrotting.

But this is not in fact the aim of the show’s jet-setty look. As anyone who attended last year’s smaller digital-only show in Barcelona or perhaps 2011’s show in Hamburg, will know, Fespa is all about the themes. And this year’s? You guessed it: ‘Your Destination for Print’.

This new motif very much builds on the previous three shows’ themes of revolution, evolution and then application, explains Neil Felton, managing director of exhibitions and events. "First there were revolutionary new technologies, and then they evolved, then people became very much focused on applications and looking at the vast array of ways wide-format print could be used," he says. "Now people are actually solidifying further what the revolution and evolution means to them so they’re deciding where the destination is."

Many of the show’s new features are geared around helping people understand how to apply the innovations of recent years to their own businesses, explains Felton.

First there’s the new Jet Set Conference schedule. This will address key areas of opportunity for printers including those in digital textile, digital printing, business building skills and industrial printing, and has a confirmed line-up of industry figure-heads such as Paul Noble of Banner Box, Nick Del Verme of Advanced Digital Textiles, Nick Devine (AKA The Print Coach) and Melanie Bowles from Chelsea College of Art.

Then printers would be well-advised to take a stroll down the show’s new Inspiration Runway, says Felton, where they‘ll see examples of innovative print, along with case study details of how they were created in a whole range of formats, including interior design, garments, printed electronics, outdoor, screen print effects, instore and augmented reality. "There’s going to be a massive array of different types of applications there; some really interesting things," promises Felton.

On-hand to offer more specific inspiration will be the Pilot’s Briefing Zone and Fespa Fabric, both providing expert advice for those considering branching out into garment production.

 

Inspiring exhibits

But it won’t all be about printers gaining application advice. Many of the show’s features are also geared towards inspiring brand owners about what sorts of innovative print they might harness to enhance their brands. Joining the Inspiration Runway in doing this will be the Creative Corner area it leads into, where a range of seminars on packaging, instore graphics, interiors, outdoor and super large-format print will aim to inspire designers, creatives and brand owners and open up relationships between them and printing companies.

"Our biggest frustration as a federation is that often creatives don’t realise there are so many different ways print can be used," says Felton. "So the Creative Corner is where we as a federation are trying to engage with the printer’s customer and the wider market out there to say ‘print can be inspiring, there are so any fascinating ways you can involve print.’ We’ve got Coca-Cola, Unilever, TBWA, some really leading agencies talking about how print can be used."

Fespa’s aim, then, is that no one –whether printer or brand owner – leave the show without renewed faith in innovative print. Hopefully really sealing the deal will be the more entertaining aspects of the show, the Wrap Cup Masters Series and Fespa’s Hall of Fame. The former will see vehicle wrappers from around the world go head to head. The latter will include inspirational details about those such as Rich Thompson, credited with the idea of perforating vinyl for graphic application purposes.

Of course while the Hall of Fame celebrates printing legends, there’ll be plenty of printing history made each day in the exhibition halls. While the show theme might have moved on from ‘revolution’ some time ago, there’ll as ever be no shortage of –hopefully revolutionary- product launches.

Many of these are still under wraps until show kick-off. Press launches that are already creating a buzz though, are a new Screen Truepress Jet wide-format printer, two new additions to the Agfa Anapurna and Jeti families, and a new Skyjet UV Flatmaster flatbed Model 3020.

And there’ll be plenty of new and recent launches on show elsewhere. Zünd will no doubt as usual be creating a stir, this time around with the introduction of the Zünd Cut Center 2.0 software suite. And fellow post-press vendors Graphtec will be introducing new additions to its Silhouette desktop cutter range.

Though there’s always a danger that presses will steal the show, those showcasing consumable wares should also be given a look. Lightbox acrylics, laser transfer paper, wall fleeces and fluorescent inks: the list of new ink and substrate developments is pretty much endless, and could prove key to satisfying particularly ambitious and creative clients.

Taking stock of all of this, printers will be starting to get a sense of the scale of the show. "The main show is an absolutely massive event. Barcelona was pretty big, but this is almost double the size so it’s a different type of event," confirms Felton.

"It’s also going to be bigger than last time we did a big, not-just-digital show, in Munich," he adds, reporting that visitor registration is currently up 8% on 2010’s show.

Particularly large crowds are expected thanks to the show’s handy location, he adds. Though UK printers might have welcomed the chance to jet abroad for this year’s Fespa, a London location has apparently helped secure a genuinely international crowd.

"London is truly international because it’s so easy to get to from so many places," says Felton.

"India is prominent in the pre-registrations; the Asian region is very prominent; the US is very prominent because they see the UK as a stepping stone into Europe. So it’s a very broad church with regard to visitors compared to what it has been before."

UK printers should, then, be feeling pretty excited about this international extravaganza happening right on their doorsteps. For Felton, this brings a certain other recent high-profile event to mind.

"UK printers have the opportunity to come and see the number-one show in this field in the world," he sums up. "You’ve finally got something like the print Olympics coming to London."


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