Despite a slow Monday and a potentially disruptive train strike on Wednesday, Fespa, which ran in Cologne from 18 to 22 May, recorded its best show ever, as exhibitors and visitors alike showed confidence in both the wide-format sector and the show itself.
Now an international phenomenon, with seven different global iterations, the daddy of the franchise, Fespa Global Expo, seemed to settle into its Drupa-avoiding two-year cycle with aplomb.
Numbers were the best yet recorded, with 770 exhibitors, 23,137 individual visitors and 43,775 visits, not including exhibitors and staff, over the five-day show, an increase of 17% on the last flagship Fespa in London in 2013.
Towards the end of the week exhibitors spoke of bumper sales and visitors said they were inspired by new ideas.
“It was the best show we’ve done without question,” said Fespa chief executive Neil Felton.
“Everyone I spoke to said it was the best show they’d ever done, or the best show in Europe, or the best Fespa show they’d ever done. Only one said it was other than the best.”
Felton said that organisers had no idea how the Deutsche Bahn strike would affect the show but were pleasantly surprised at the lack of disruption. Exhibitors said they saw good attendance on strike day, with replacement buses from airports and other transport hubs laid on.
“I heard of one visitor from the United Arab Emirates who took a taxi from Frankfurt airport to the show. It never fails to surprise me how powerful the Fespa brand is,” Felton said.
The secret of Fespa’s success is that “it’s a show for printers run by printers” according to Felton. “They know it’s heavyweight. It’s not a media organisation that’s there to make a profit.”
Exhibitors were there to make a profit, however, and they told the PrintWeek team, at the show to produce the FespaDaily, that in this they had great success.
Marketing manager for Fujifilm Tudor Morgan said: “We sold more than I anticipated and more than we targeted for. We had a lot more business from overseas companies than we normally would. Asia in particular, and South Africa.”
Vice-president of marketing for wide-format printer manufacturer Matan Erez Zimmerman agreed: “Monday was very slow but the other days were tremendous. It was very busy and we have sold more than we were expecting.”
For Canon’s European marketing manager wide format group Matthew Faulkner, the show was “really fantastic”.
“Splitting our stand into three zones really worked, it gave our customers inspiration,” he said.
Executive manager at Italian doming machine manufacturer Demak Silvia Gastaldi added: “Fespa is always the best show for us. It is focused on our customers.”
While for Ben Zhou, chief executive of first-time exhibitor GLM Digital Techonolgy, China: “Fespa was really exciting. It’s been successful and we’ve made our money back – it’s good value.”
Another first-time exhibitor, David Ives of US-based papermaker FiberMark, said the show had exceeded expectations.
“Our objective was to target potential European distributors and we identified in excess of 50 in 31 different countries, so we clearly achieved this. We had a total number in excess of 200 visitors to our booth, in fact at peak times we were overwhelmed, a great problem to have.”
Mimaki general manager marketing Mike Horsten said it had “been a very successful show” for Mimaki, which celebrated its 40th birthday at the show, with the surprise announcement of a move into 3D printing. HP also mentioned that its PageWide technology would be used in 3D printing – a process that is on Fespa’s target list.
At the show Felton outlined Fespa’s strategy in the next few years: to track customer demand and “lengthen and strengthen the supply chain”.
He said: “There has been a growth of variety of products. At the same time we need to look at the buyers of print and make sure that we are engaging with them and we need to move down the supply chain.
“Textiles has massive growth potential. We’ll see more activity in that sector from Fespa during the next couple of years.”
He said Fespa would continue to explore emerging market opportunities, as it had in this year’s show with the inaugural Printeriors interior design exhibition and things like 3D printing and car wrapping but would be “judicious” with its reach.
“We need a targeted approach, we can’t be all things to all people.”
But the biggest news at Fespa was textiles, a market which has doubled since 2010 according to research by Infotrends for the Fespa Census (see p10).
“The digitally printed textile market is exploding, it’s worth trillions of dollars,” said Portuguese textile printer manufacturer MTex’s UK managing director Stewart Bell.
“Everything now is graduating to digital print and a huge amount of reshoring from China is happening in the UK.”
Nigerian printer Gideon Eloho said he had decided to invest in dye-sub printing after visiting Fespa.
“Shows like this open us up to new things, I’ve seen some amazing stuff. What I was able to pick up from this show is the world is moving towards textile printing which everyone needs to take advantage of.
“During Nigeria’s recent election campaign, the promotion had gone past t-shirts on to dresses, people have realized you don’t need to do 5,000 you can do 500.
“Now the government has banned imported fabrics so if you can print them you make a load of money.”
Felton said Printeriors would return at Fespa Digital in Amsterdam from 8 to 11 March next year.
“It’s been a fantastic launch brand. It’s been very well received. I was speaking to amazing interior designers, they were really impressed with what could be done with print,” he said.
“People are seeing Fespa as the place where we have got the huge variety of textiles. It’s really growing massively.”
A huge variety of ideas and applications under one roof
Neil Felton, chief executive, Fespa
The 2015 Fespa Global Expo was the most colourful, most diverse, most comprehensive Fespa event we have ever delivered.
We welcomed 23,137 individual printers from all over the world to Cologne last month, ready to discover their universe of print. The combined event also saw the highest number of visits to a Fespa show to date, totalling 43,775 over the five days. That’s an increase of 17% on Fespa 2013 in London, making it the largest Fespa audience ever.
We also welcomed more than double the number of UK printers to Cologne compared with Fespa 2010 in Munich, demonstrating the dynamism of the UK industry.
This record attendance was achieved despite the train strike which impacted days three and four. We take that as evidence of the regard that printers have for the Fespa show as a vital meeting place and technology showcase.
This year’s event incorporated more features and content than any of our previous shows, all of which is shaped by our community. Fespa is an event for printers, by printers. New ‘planets’ at this year’s event included Printeriors, the Education Hub and the 3D and Industrial Print Showcases, each providing more ideas and stimulation for visitors.
What jumped out for me was the increased emphasis on textile applications - including soft signage, interior decor and garment printing. This is a really exciting direction for printers, and chimes with the commitments we’ve made since 2008 with Fespa Fabric, Digital Textile Conferences and now Printeriors.
Each Fespa exhibition is a reflection of the inventiveness and vitality of our community, and the 2015 show floor was buzzing. My impression after five days in Cologne is that the word ‘print’ barely does justice to the sheer variety of ideas and applications that now come together under one roof at Fespa.
Significant product launches
EFI unveiled its new 3.2m-wide Vutek HSr Pro roll-to-roll printer, which prints in six colours plus white at speeds of 223-297m2/hr.
Epson premiered a new addition to its SureColor dye-sublimation range, the SC-F9200. The 1.6m-wide machine prints at 720x1,440dpi at speeds of up to 97m2/hr in draft mode, 56m2/hr in production mode and 27m2/hr in quality mode.
Fujifilm gave a lower cost version of its Inca Onset flatbed its first public showing. The Onset R40LT is aimed at mid-size businesses in the high-quality sign and POS markets.
Gandy Digital premiered digital UV flatbed printer the Gladi8tor, an upgrade of the manufacturer’s Pred8tor and Domin8tor machines that features an increased number of printheads. It is available in both 2x3m and 1.2x2.4m options.
HP launched two new flagship 3.2m-wide Latex printers, the 3500 and 3100, and revealed details of a new Scitex 1.6x3.2m flatbed press, the 17000, targeted at corrugated applications.
Inktec debuted its new superwide-device, the 5m UV roll-to-roll Jetrix RX5000, which is equipped with 16 Konica Minolta KM series 14pl printheads and is available in four-colour or eight-colour configurations.
Mimaki launched the TS300P-1800, a new mid-range 1.8m-wide dye-sublimation printer targeted at users looking for low-cost production of high-value applications.
Mutoh unveiled three new ValueJet printers; the 405GT direct-to-garment printer, the 1628X sign and display printer and the 1938WX, for digital transfer and direct printing on polyester-based fabrics.
Screen Europe showed a 3.2m-wide roll-to-roll system for its Truepress Jet W3200UV. The system integrates with the flatbed printer to turn it into a 150m2/hr roll-to-roll device.
What did you think of Fespa 2015?
"We sent a delegation to Fespa made up of people from our buying, operational, and continuous improvement teams. They enjoyed it and thought it was an exciting show with lots to see. What they saw vindicated the work we’ve done looking at the various partners we work with.” Miles Linney, managing director, Linney Group
"People at Fespa were giddy about the growth of dye-sub. It’s the next thing that will pay people’s mortgages. The UK is behind Europe in terms of the use of dye-sub tension graphics in retail.” Martyn Hicks, director, Colorful UK
"We found Fespa extremely exciting and there definitely seems to be more innovation, growth and development both in terms of the machines on offer and the substrates available. The show itself was lively and varied and the other areas such as Printeriors and garment/fabric were fascinating even though we’re not in that market." Paul Manning, managing director, Rapidity