Returning to Messe Munich for the first time in five years, Fespa’s 2019 show tied together its sprawling threads with a single, simple core idea: possibility.
From his company’s stand in hall A5 where it previewed two upcoming machines, Roland DG EMEA president Gregory Bilsen told PrintWeek: “Our end customers have become much more mature and the customer needs have evolved.
“Our customer base has completely shifted. In the past we had traditional signmakers and now we have fantastic big brand owners in our portfolio. And machines that used to be in a signmaker’s production environment are now in the retail space.
“From that perspective, Fespa is a fantastic show because you have got so many different kinds of companies that provide solutions over here, and everything is under the same roof.”
Customer maturity was key to the more sophisticated offering that manufacturers brought to their stands across the four-day show.
Part of that was the touch of class proposed by the emergence of textiles printing in the graphics sector – interior decor and soft signage becoming dominant forces for prestige branding.
“There is a tremendous amount of interest in soft signage,” said EFI vice-president of marketing for inkjet Ken Hanulec.
“People like the premium look and feel of it. Brands are demanding more for marketing to remain a viable part of the mix and they want that to align with their brand and their brand promise, and a premium printed product certainly does that.
“You cannot go into a high-end retail environment or an airport without seeing soft signage, it is definitely a growing application and I believe that’s because it is a premium application, it is greener and it is much cheaper to ship a 10-foot backlit soft signage display than it is a 10-foot roll of vinyl.”
While Fespa itself reinforced the possibilities in textiles printing through its own Print Make Wear and Printeriors strands, this was further reinforced by technology debuts including the world premiere of HP’s superwide Stitch S1000 dye-sub printer on the opening day.
HP general manager for graphics solutions business EMEA Simon Ewington said: “Though the Stitch enters the textile market later than most, it has been incredibly well received; our standing-room press conference shows the level of interest in the innovation we are driving.
“We have sold out our Q3 allocation and are starting to sell Q4 and 2020, so Fespa has been a good litmus test. People are not coming just to browse so our conversion rate is very high.”
Also at the forefront of attendees’ and exhibitors’ minds, not to mention the wider print industry, was the issue of sustainability, of print being a viable and ecological method of communication.
Many of the innovations on show acknowledged this, be it Krea’s new recyclable Speedy Pro hybrid textile for dye-sub and transfer printing or Mimaki’s new JFX200-2513 EX flatbed designed with the intent to streamline inefficient processes and save on resources.
Mimaki Europe senior marketing manager EMEA Danna Drion said: “Sustainability is absolutely something that Mimaki globally has on the agenda right now. Digital printing is so much better for the environment than traditional processes.
“This will be a bigger focus for Mimaki in the upcoming years, sustainability is something that we really want to go to. We are opening budgets especially for these kinds of projects because we think it is important.”
With sustainability must come efficiency, as Mimaki made clear. In doing so, a number of developers were also on their stands pushing new advances in workflow and automation to strengthen the digital glue holding print shops together as their processes increase in complexity.
Adobe launched the beta for its new Photoshop plugin Textile Designer, which makes the editing and processing of patterns and colours for fabric printing a much smoother process, while Onyx Graphics introduced its Onyx 19 workflow and RIP product – which boasts a new performance platform built for major advances in speed, performance, reliability and colour management.
“Fespa is this industry voice of what’s coming in Europe and I think that attracts not just the print shops but people that are selling the stuff, and it attracts innovation,” said international marketing manager Jonathan Rogers.
“For us it’s a great venue to demonstrate or illustrate what Onyx is doing to prepare print service providers for what’s coming.”
While Fespa is a useful barometer through which to measure the current shape of the sector, it is also a vital influence on its future. While visitor figures were unconfirmed at the time of publication, Fespa has confirmed that 2019 attendance was “on a par” with its final Berlin visitor count of 20,442 people. As a major trade show, it presents manufacturers with a valuable opportunity to listen to clients directly before taking what they hear back to their R&D teams.
Canon large-format graphics EMEA sales and marketing director Wouter Derichs said: “Fespa is the show for large-format graphics with capital letters. Canon is active in a lot of different market segments and this gives us the opportunity to meet and greet our customers, as well as finding partners that will help us to accelerate within the market.
“It is an ideal platform to validate our current proposition and we can use these very intensive conversations to accelerate the time to market for new ideas. For instance, we decided to bring forward the planned launch of our new Colorado’s gloss/matt curing functionality to Fespa due to customer feedback and it has been highly appreciated.
“We use Fespa to check we are heading in the right direction and decide what is the next tech innovation we should prioritise. I look forward to Fespa 2020 in Madrid where we will have more of these fruitful conversations.”
Let’s take this explosion of possibilities into the future
Roz Guarnori, director of exhibitions, Fespa
What I have seen at this year’s show is companies coming prepared to do business and see the results. The sold signs at stands such as Canon’s have been stacked, but it is not just the high end seeing the benefit. For the small and medium equipment and substrate manufacturers, this is a show to do business with the global marketplace.
Quality is what I have been impressed by – one exhibitor told me partway through the show that they were already on track to surpass Amsterdam and Berlin in terms of success.
Our ‘explosion of possibilities’ theme has been demonstrated by the variety of applications displayed by exhibitors taking this message on board. At Fespa you couldn’t fail to notice the diversification in the market as companies who are traditionally recognised in the textile space launched flatbed technology for sign and graphics and vice versa. Without doubt everyone is stepping their game up on sustainability – it is among the key features of many products that were shown.
We are a year beyond our Print Census and the trends we tracked have been realised this year. I look forward to seeing what our 2021 Census will say about those trends continuing and what new things will emerge.
I want to continue to present opportunities to our community and be sure to carry this explosion forward from Munich. Fespa has been and will remain dedicated to the wide-format community through the exhibition each and every year.
All eyes are on Spain. I am excited to see what will happen in Madrid, which has the sixth-largest airport for passenger volume and opens us up to Latin America where Fespa already has a significant community by way of our shows and associations. Wherever Fespa goes, we take our family with us – a family of signmakers and printers that feel Fespa is their home. We will continue to make them feel like that in Madrid next year.
What were your impressions of Fespa 2019?
James Birch, sales and marketing manager, Colour Graphics
“I go out every year just to have a look at any new suppliers and any kit which we would not see at Sign & Digital UK, including finishing kit. All the big boys are at Fespa and you see more of everything, even if your feet hurt from walking around. We actually bought a new Mimaki machine from CMYUK, which we will be taking on in a few weeks. Although it is a Drupa year next year, we will stick to Fespa because it is for our market and who we are.”
Karl Hnat, owner, Colourpoint
“We have been getting more into large-format and I went Tuesday to Wednesday to look at the newest kit. We’ve been to Drupa for many years, but I thought Fespa was a very good show. In comparison to what we get to see in the UK, it is light years ahead. I was out there looking for another printer to go alongside our flatbed and I have got some ideas. Our plans for next year’s show are not set but I am sure we will be going to Fespa again as we like to keep abreast of all the best developments.”
Chris Berrisford, director and co-founder, Insite Graphics
“We have a long-standing relationship with Fespa, having worked for them for more than 10 years. We printed and installed the directional and branding signage at this year’s show. As far as trade shows for signage and graphics go, it is the most colourful and vibrant we work for – they do invest a lot in the signage and graphics at their events. I did take a look at some of the new sustainable products and a few machines. I think the show improves and gets more interesting every year.”
HP launched the flagship machine in its new range of Stitch dye-sub printers, with Berlin-based Bannerhero revealed as one of the first customers of the Stich S1000 “superwide workhorse”
Adobe announced that its free Photoshop plugin for textile design had moved to public beta, with the software showcased for the first time at the expo in Munich
Summa premiered what it billed as the “fastest cutting system in the world” at the show with the unveiling of the L3214, a 3.2m- wide flatbed laser cutting system that cuts at up to 1.5m/second
SwissQprint launched its first roll-to-roll printer in Munich. Karibu is a 3.4m-wide UV inkjet system with dual-roll capability, a maximum speed of 212m2/hr and a patent pending vacuum system
Massivit launched the new Pro version of its 1800 large-format 3D printer, which features variable resolution and remote operation
Inkcups unveiled its X5 digital UV flatbed printer to the European market: The 1,200dpi X5
Durst expanded its P5 portfolio of hybrid printers with the addition of two new systems, the 3.5m-wide, 120m2/hr P5 350 and 2.1m-wide, 90m2/hr P5 210
Mutoh debuted its 1.6m-wide ValueJet 1627MH hybrid inkjet printer in Europe for the first time