Printers assemble! It’s time to don your capes and masks and head for your print-mobiles – Fespa Digital is almost upon us and it’s set to be the biggest and best to date.
Marking 10-years since it launched in Amsterdam, the specialist wide-format show returns to the Netherlands’ constitutional capital this year and, as befits many a 10-year-old’s birthday party, its organisers have chosen a superhero theme – Spandex pants are optional.
“Digital print has come a long way over the decade of the show and most of our printers are really informed and proactive, so this theme is about harnessing all the skills they have gained and also joining forces with other printers and partners to develop a stronger offering,” explains Fespa divisional director Roz McGuinness. “That’s why our characters stand together. We want people to investigate and become the superheroes they can be through print and signage.”
Digiman, Textilewoman and ESEman are the three lycra-clad superheroes fronting 2016’s ‘Become a Digital Print Hero’ show. The trio represents each of the three zones - Fespa Digital, Fespa Textile and European Sign Expo – that the show has grown to incorporate since its 2006 launch.
“It started out just as Fespa Digital with 237 exhibitors across 10,000m2 for three days; there was obviously big interest and demand back then already because it’s not normal to launch with a show that size,” says Fespa chief executive Neil Felton.
Over the decade since its inception the event has almost quadrupled in floorspace with Fespa Fabric – rebranded Fespa Texile this year – being added in 2010 and European Sign Expo launching in 2013; the combined show taking place this year at the Amsterdam RAI from 8-11 March is set to boast more than 450 exhibitors across 42,000m2 with around 15,000 visitors expected to tread the venue’s seven halls.
“It’s not just the number of exhibitors,” says Felton, “but stand size has increased as well and that’s important because it shows a much broader spread of all the products on show. It’s gone from a small, regional-type event to what is seen by many decision-makers as the global event for wide-format digital.”
Felton points out that 90% of exhibitors at this year’s sell-out show will not be at Drupa later on in the year. He says for those, particularly based in the UK and Europe, wanting a specialist wide-format show that incorporates textiles, non-printed signage and wide-format digital, not only is it easy to get to, but “it’s the only place in the world they’ll see all that covered to such an extent under one roof”.
New this year and taking place on the first day of the show is the one-day Fespa Digital Textile Conference, a move that McGuinness says reflects the massive growth in the garment and decor applications markets. As such visitors will see Fespa Textile spread across two halls with a footprint increase of 444% since its launch as Fespa Fabric in 2010.
Returning for 2016, on the back of rave reviews from its first outing at Fespa Global Expo in Cologne last year, is the Printeriors showcase and IP Cafe. This time however, the feature will occupy its own hall with around 16 individually designed rooms making up a ‘print hotel’, where everything from flooring and walls to furniture and textiles will have been printed by exhibitors.
“We chose a hotel theme because we can incorporate every type of room,” says McGuinness. It’s going to look and feel very different because there will be no machinery at all, just the end-result of print.”
The Printeriors one-day conference also returns on day three of the event, featuring a host of high-profile speakers leading sessions on everything from design for the workplace to printed furniture, while the keynote will be delivered by design guru Alberto Alessi from the iconic Alessi brand.
“This really is the place for interior designers and manufacturers for example, who want to understand how they can incorporate print into what they do, but it’s also for print service providers who have yet to understand how they can take their businesses into that area,” McGuinness explains.
Taking its own hall for the first time this year is the European Sign Expo – the section for sign-makers and buyers. The zone will include its own education hub and with exhibitors booking 250% more floorspace than its inaugural show, ESE has far exceeded expectations.
Exhibitors to be found in the Fespa Digital halls will include key names in the wide-format arena such as Roland, Durst, Mimaki, EFI, HP, Mutoh, Zünd and Epson, while visitors will once again be able to take advantage of regular features such as a packed seminar and workshop schedule as well as catching the finals of the 2016 Wrap Cup that will run throughout the four days.
McGuinness says the show has evolved in the decade since it was born: “This year is about taking stock of 10 years of Fespa Digital, looking forward to Fespa being pivotal in the future of wide-format print and making sure we are delivering content and exhibitions that inspire and lead the community forward.”
Felton adds that with the market developing so fast, particularly in the textile and decor markets, the challenge ahead is to engage more tangential audiences, such as brands, agencies, interior designers and architects.
“These people are all huge buyers of print, but they don’t necessarily understand the massive gamut that is available. We need to speak to these people – it’s a long game but we’re committed to it,” he says.
“We also expect a massive shift from existing commercial printers moving towards our space; wide-format offers them a major opportunity and they are realising that.”
Date 8-11 March
Location RAI exhibition & conference centre, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Price Pre-register for free before 7 March using the promotional code ADOU03012 at www.fespadigital.com (entry is €40 on the door)
Opening times 8-10 March: 10am-6pm; 11 March: 10am-4pm
Fespa Digital seminars The digital seminars offer daily educational and inspiring content from keynote and industry speakers. (see seminar programme right)
Fespa Digital Awards The best entries shortlisted for the 2016 Fespa Awards will be on show at the Koelnmesse where visitors can vote for the people’s choice awards. Awards night is 9 March
Wrap Masters vehicle wrapping competition Preliminary heats will take place on 8-9 March and the finals will be held over 10-11 March