Wide format continues its upward march, as Andrea Boetel reports from the biggest ever Fespa Digital show, which has just taken place in Hamburg
This year’s Fespa Digital attracted more than 13,000 visitors, a 34 per cent increase in visitors in comparison to the most recent Fespa Digital held in Amsterdam during 2009. For what is a European show there were 900 visitors from the Asia Pacific, including a fair few from Australia.
The four exhibition halls on the centrally located fairgrounds in Hamburg comprised a total of 16,000sqm. Many exhibitors lauded this year’s Fespa as the most successful ever, with the upward trend in large format printing continuing unabated.
A poll conducted by InfoTrends late in 2010 confirms the upward trend in the large format print sector: Of 432 participants from all over the world, among them service vendors (nearly 50 per cent), manufacturers (22 per cent) and resellers (18 per cent), 86 per cent expressed their confidence for business conditions to improve in 2011—over half expect growth rates to exceed 10 per cent, while 17 per cent of them even predict a surge of more than 25 per cent. Half of those polled are of the opinion that the large format market has recovered from its economic down-cycle.
The Fespa Digital again offered several associated subjects at this year’s event: next to seminars and competitions, the third Fespa Digital Textile Conference and Fespa Fabric Show.
Océ presented the two new Arizona flatbed printers 360 GT and 360 XT, capable of printing 1.25x2.50m and/or 2.50x3.05m at speeds of up to 35 sqm. A novelty is the high definition print Modus for precise reproductions. Also shown was the rotary print system Océ ColorWave 600 for the commercial printing market.
Agfa introduced the little sister of the giant M press, the M press Leopard. It’s a smaller version of the flatbed inkjet printer with manual operation. Its price point lies substantially below that of the Tiger model. The Leopard’s maximum print coverage extends to 1.6 x 2.6m, with a substrate gauge of up to 50mm.
Mimaki showed the new large format printer JV34-260 with a print width of 2.60m and output capacity of 30sqm per hour. The printer, especially designed for the signage market, employs a choice of water-soluble or sublimation inks for the imprinting of fabrics, including banners and flags/pennants.
EFI reported the most successful Fespa ever claiming new records for units sold at any Fespa event. EFI introduced the Vutek GS3250lx with LED cool cure technology, the versatile new roll-fed EFI Vutek GS3250r 3.2m system and the enhanced Vutek GS5000r UV roll-to-roll system. In addition the new entry-level roll-to-roll 3.2m Rastek R3204, which has a price point of less than €100,000, ranked strongly in the visitor ratings as did the UV-curable digital ink-jet label production printer, the Jetrion 4830.
EFI also showed the textile printer Vutek TX3250r, drawing crowds at the Hilord stand. This dye-sublimation printer is EFI’s answer to the growing demand from users wanting the ability to print onto greener textile materials.
Fujifilm introduced the new Uvistar II and the Inca Onset S40. Uvistar II is a second generation of the Uvistar super-large format printing press installations and, in tandem with the Fujifilm Uvijet QK inks, lends itself especially for display PoP and outdoors advertising.
The second generation of the system was developed in direct response to an increasing demand for interior application, with generally shorter viewing distances and a preference for rigid materials. One of the most significant continuing developments of this second-generation model is the use of specific parallel droplet sizes. According to Fujifilm, the goal is an improvement in print quality without compromising speed or density. The technology is intended to afford users print operations in the currently prevailing 40pl (pico litre) droplet sizes, but to also selectively apply smaller droplets of 20pl. With the larger droplets taking care of the density factor, the smaller droplets facilitate the display of subtle details without a need to reduce press speed.
HP brought the latest latex printers to Hamburg. At its exhibit booth measuring 890sqm, the largest of the show, HP offered several machines for large-format printing next to a digital printer, the HP Indigo 7500, plus solutions and software by partners like Horizon, Esko Graphics, and GMG.
HP Introduced the 3.2m wide HP Scitex LH850 and LX820, with a resolution of 1,200 dpi.
The 6-colour print systems have a speed of 177sqm per hour for low-end and 45sqm per hour for high-end output. The systems made their debut the previous month at the Sign Expo in Las Vegas and here had their first European appearance. Besides print solutions, HP also showed practical samples and business tools.
The Hamburg edition of Fespa Digital broke all records and impressively confirmed the enthusiasm and success surrounding the large-format sector. Even a looming ash cloud, forecast to arrive on Wednesday, together with any likely travel disruptions - Hamburg airport had to close for six hours - failed to slow down the steady stream of visitors. Despite interruptions in air travel, 5,000 visitors entered on the second day through the trade show’s gates. Neil Felton, general manager of Fespa, sees it ‘as clear evidence of the show’s international standing’. He has all the confidence in the world that next year’s Fespa Digital in Barcelona will pick up where Hamburg left off. The plan is to get media buyers even more involved at the next Fespa Digital.
Direct UV onto 3D
A world premiere of sorts took place at the Konica Minolta booth with the KM IIJ system.
The Cyjet SP72 KM was developed by Cyan Tec, a British specialist firm for automation technology. The system works with Single-Pass-UV-Inkjet-buttons by Konica Minolta/Industrial Inkjet. At a speed of 27 meters per minute and resolution of 360x720dpi, the system is able to directly print in CMYK on plastics bottles and other objects. Toyo inks are the preferred agent. Print widths range between 72mm and 212mm. The system is in demand and used for printing on plastics-based packaging materials, but also on glass, wood, and metal. Depending on its configuration, the Cyjet P72KM is priced from €87,000.
Environmentally friendly printing methods continue to be much in demand, according to the latest business poll numbers. According to a study by InfoTrends, 45 per cent of participants reported a steeply rising demand for green printing. As result, nearly half of all large-format press houses had reconfigured their production processes to conform to an environmentally friendly workflow. Included are an environmentally compatible media selection (71 per cent), improved waste management (59 per cent) und the recycling of waste materials (47 per cent). In addition 59 per cent of those polled had already dramatically lowered the use of solvents by investing in UV, latex or water-based printing systems.
The sector offers numerous novelties, especially among substrates. Neschen, for example, introduces with Solvoprint/Printlux PP nolite 210, a green polypropylene (PP)-print foil for roll-up systems. The substrate is free of PVC and environment-friendly, even in combination with PP laminates like filmolux PP sand.
With the PVC-less, self-sticking foil JT 5422 P, Mactac also offers an ecological material for printing with solvent-based, latex, and UV inks. The shiny white foil with surface coating is ideal for short- to medium-term adhesion in interior and exterior applications.
With HEYblue digiline, Heytex presents an entirely new line of ecologically oriented tissues.
Those products, HEYblue digiline PE, HEYblue digiline PP, and HEYblue digitex are being manufactured without any addition of softening compounds, bleaching agents, heavy metals or carcinogenic dyes and are completely recyclable.
In a larger context, eco inks are contributing their share. One example of an environmentally friendly solvent ink is the versatile Biolactite ink by Mutoh, especially suitable for printing on various roll- and plate-shaped materials. The quick-drying ink, 50 per cent of which consists of ethyllactate - a solvent distilled from corn - is produced through a non-petrochemical process.
At the Fespa Fabric, Kornit showed water-based, environmentally friendly pigment inks for the imprinting of textiles. The inks are compatible with all kinds of fabrics.
Bordeaux Digital PrintInk, a manufacturer of alternative inks for large-format printing systems, introduced green inks for a cross-section of printer models at Fespa Digital.
Consisting of nature-based compounds, the solvent inks expand the manufacturer’s product range of eco, low, and gentle solvents, together with inks for UV and UV-LED printing technologies.
Textile Printing is growing by leaps and bounds. Small wonder, then, that it played a prominent role in the new print systems introduced at Fespa. New, large-format systems for printing on textiles were introduced by Durst and Stork.
The Durst Kappa 180’s printer is capable of using reactive, acid and dispersion inks. It features a format width of 190cm and output of up to 320sqm per hour. The new digital textile-printer Sphene by Stork has an output of up to 550sqm per hour, offers a 180cm format width and uses reactive inks. In addition, Stork also offers the new narrow-band DSI 5330 for label printing. It works with UV inks in CMYK colors and white, has an imprint width of 33cm and a speed of up to 35m per minute.
The Austrian company Durst, which celebrated its 75th year, presented the Omega 1, an entry-level UV inkjet printer. With a throughput of 35sqm per hour, and a resolution of 1,723 dpi, the unit is suitable for high-quality printing. The Omega 1 can also to print on a vast array of surfaces like brushed aluminum. With its new entry, Durst enters virgin territory.
The company also exhibited the new Durst Rho 1000L UV- series plate printer, with a production capacity of up to 380sqm per hour at superior quality. The Rho 1000L is suitable for integration into existing production runs (offset and screen printing) and may be equipped individually with automatic loading and off-loading devices.