Fespa 2010 is the world’s biggest wide format, screen and textile print show. In five halls covering around 30,000 sqm of floor space, some 650 exhibitors presented the latest in equipment, software, media and services to 21,000 visitors from 130 countries, reports Andrea Boetel from the show floor
Frazer Chesterman, Fespa’s managing director declared before the show opened that, “We work on the assumption that Fespa 2010 is going to be the most significant, worldwide meeting of large format printers to have ever taken place. Whether Fespa actually lived up to those predictions was a matter for each visitor to decide by himself. One thing is certain, the show is on a steady course of expansion for years to come. The fact that Fespa is taking root in a variety of forms all over the world and increasingly is garnering recognition, attests to the vitality of its particular market’s growth. The events range from Summits in Brazil and Europe, from shows in the US, Mexico and Asia all the way to the specialty shows Fespa Digital and Fespa Fabric, planned for 2011 and 2012 in Hamburg and Barcelona respectively.
It is commonly recognised that screen printing is in decline while the sectors’ supplies and digital print areas are growing. The show’s organisers in Munich counted no less than 100 companies as first-time Fespa exhibitors. Nearly one third of the exhibit space was occupied by a wide spectrum of vendors offering supplies and inks. The 150 exhibitors in the Screen Printing sector fitted comfortably in a single hall, compared to those offering digital technology, which took up the entire square footage of more than three halls. For the first time, the special needs and interests of fabric printers were taken into account in a separate category. The new segment has been dubbed Fespa Fabric, and attracted some 180 exhibitors, a very respectable number, indeed. Likewise, the highlight of the Fabric hall was a fashion show built around the Fabric Live theme.
There was no shortage of product news but innovations seemed to be lacking. There was an abundance of advanced productivity solutions for large format, digital printing, and there were improvements in inks and supplies, especially in terms of speed and efficiency. Several vendors introduced new ideas. Signs of a genuine breakthrough innovation were nowhere in sight, though. Many exhibitors are still suffering from a reticence on the part of customers to invest. The familiar problem of banks being reluctant to lend is putting the brakes on many a company. Particularly affected were those heavy-duty, high-speed press systems in large formats, which kindle the most interest among printers and generally sell in a six-figure range, having to contend with financing hurdles is proving an inhibiting factor.
The many new products underline the fact that Fespa has grown into an important specialty trade show. A great number of manufacturers arrived with new products. Among others, the option of printing white colour, in combination with additional colours, is being offered by almost all manufacturers. As to inks, the print professional has a wide choice of picking the best colour for the job, from UV inks to solvent printer’s ink. In terms of speed, manufacturers offer various ranges of quality and speed. Yet a fundamental principle remains: excellence of print quality will always be inverse to quantity of output.
Agfa Graphics introduced two new flagships, the Anapurna M 2050 printer and the Anapurna 2500 LED with LED-UV-curing. The six-colour Anapurna M2050 prints on substrates of widths up to 2050 mm, and has an option to print in white. Agfa says it is especially suited for printing on transparent materials and for Citylight posters. A bigger attraction, however, was the 2500 LED, which is a 2500 mm wide printing press with LED curing system. The manager of the business division Large Format Inkjet at Agfa called the system ’revolutionary’, since its ‘users will be able to lower production costs in the face of premium print quality remaining constant.’
Avery Dennison Graphics and Reflective Products division has developed an enhanced ‘second generation’ range of self-adhesive cast vinyls for wide-format digital print: Avery MPI 1005 Supercast films. Replacing the established Avery MPI 1005 products, the new Avery MPI 1005 Supercast films are, like their predecessors, supported by the Avery Graphics ICS Performance Guarantee. Newly-added to the portfolio of Avery Dennison retro-reflective self-adhesive films is a dedicated range of products for safety markings on emergency vehicles: Avery HV 1302 REV. Available in white, red, and blue, Avery says the films are robust and durable, and retain their reflective properties for up to five years, even in adverse weather conditions. HV 1302 REV is a micro-prismatic single-ply metallised film that does not involve aircell or glass bead technology. It resists water or dirt ingress, offering omni-directional reflective properties, and making edge-sealing of the completed markings unnecessary.
Durst, the company from South Tyrolia, introduced a novel glass decorating system based on the printers Rho 700 and Rho 800, with attached dryer unit and special organic UV inks, which Durst says possess excellent adhesion and resistance characteristics. The print units lend themselves to the processing of indoor-usable applications, for example spatial displays in the area of store or tradeshow construction, but also for outdoor applications of limited duration. Durst also introduced the new Rho 1000, a UV serial plate printing system, which can be individually integrated into existing production runs, being able to continuously deliver up to 500 impressions per hour on plates (125 cm by 80 cm around the clock).
One highlight of the EFI-Vutek stand was the 3.2 m printer QS320r, a UV-curing, rotary system for printing interior and exterior jobs. The system will print at a top speed of 172 sqm per hour and was designed for banners, mega-posters, coverings, displays, signage and panel advertising on vehicles. Likewise on view was the Vutek GS3200 with the new, automated substrate guidance system MediaMaster, and the GS5000r; further, the versatile large format UV printer Rastek T1000 and H650; the digital label printing system Jetrion 4830 in addition to the print management system Pace, the web-to-print solutions Digital StoreFront and Web Control Center for multi-location proofing.
In conjunction with its software partners, Epson revealed its creative streak with a demonstration of the range of variability the newly introduced Epson Stylus Pro 9700 and 7700 are capable of. Shown was the production of backlit displays, banners made of fabric, and decorative works of art. And with Bio Media, Epson presented a new, printable fabric substrate for graphic displays, to become guaranteed biodegradable within five years.
EskoArtwork introduced the iCut-Suite, a workflow solution for large format printing. Ruben Cagnie, product manager for Signage & Displays, explains: “In the large format segment, we are well known as equipment manufacturer because of the Kongsberg tables. Yet in reality, EskoArtwork is 80 per cent of a software house for commercial and packaging print.” With the iCut-Suite, the shop presents an expansion of SignUp, a tool assisting in the cutting workflow for control of cutting plotters by Kongsberg. The technology has the ability to position shapes and motifs on a surface to reduce material waste during the cutting process to an absolute minimum.
I-Cut includes the modules Preflight, Layout and Cutting Layout. Incidentally, a 30-day software test version can be downloaded at www.esko.com. Besides its software, the company also introduced two new versions of its time-tested Kongsberg cutting tables, the Kongsberg i-XE10 Auto and the Kongsberg XP Auto, which has been set up for fully automated production – 24/7 and without an operator – and is slated to be on the market in the fourth quarter of the current year. The i-XE Auto still requires manual feed of the sheets to be cut.
Fujifilm Sericol presented the super-size format UV system Uvistar, which is available in two print widths of 3.5m and 5m. The company also announced availability of the Acuity Advance HS, which complements the series of Acuity Advance HD and Acuity Advance HD X2 models. Even though the design concept of the Acuity Advance HS is unchanged in comparison to the series Acuity HD 2504 and Acuity Advance HD 2545, its expanded print head arrangement enables a doubling of output, according to Fujifilm. A photo-realistic image quality can be achieved at a production run speed of 40 sqm per hour. The newly added Express-Modus, up to 65 sqm an hour, is suitable for images meant to be seen from a distance.
As in the past, HP had turned its stand into an Application City featuring a wide assortment of examples and printing systems to fill everyone’s bill. The following HP novelties were on display: The new Scitex FB700, a 2.5m flatbed solution, able to simultaneously load, print and assemble up to six sheets. As with many others, optional white printing is available for the FB700. Additionally, HP showed expanded Latex print solutions, with a first-time demonstration for the general public. Other offerings by HP included recently announced printer solutions, accelerating the trend toward printing with UV curing and latex-based systems: The Scitex LX800, a 3.2 m wide print solution leveraging the advantages of HP latex technology to industrial and commercial large format printing in XXL format; the HP Scitex LX600 with a width of 2.6 m (8´6˝); the HP Scitex TJ8600; the Turbojet, which also features selective high-gloss variables capable of exceptional quality; and new HP TJ210 Scitex inks, together with the HP Designjet Z5200 for copy shops, quick-print houses and other smaller outfits harboring ambitions to enter the large format market.
The company also announced the discontinuance of HP Scitex XL1500 sales, to be replaced by the current printer of the HP Scitex XP series with UV inks and the new HP Scitex LX printer series.
Mutoh introduced a 2.6m wide fabric printer, the Viper TX 100. With a built-in, pivoting print bed, its strength lies in transfer sublimation printing. The height of its print head can be set at between 1.2mm and 4mm. The Viper prints on 76 sqm per hour and is primarily used in soft-signage applications, home fabrics and clothing.
A trend evident at the previous Fespa in 2009 is equipment based on UV curing inks becoming more numerous. One advantage of the technology is that touch-free printing on surfaces of either rigid or flexible materials can be done with equal ease. Océ, too, has introduced a new product featuring UV technology. The Arizona 550 XT is a UV flatbed printer, which will print on both rigid and flexible, rolled-up substrates. The changeover is quite efficient since the print head simply moves from one side of the table to the other and, for example, prints the front end of a flexible, rolled-up substrate, while the operator at the opposite side is already loading another, rigid substrate. It facilitates quick job changeovers without a great deal of make-ready.
Applications with metallic inks were the center of attention at Roland DG. New at the show were a 1.6m wide VS-640 printer and cutting plotter, which prints up to eight colours using Eco-Solvent inks. They include white and metallic inks. Interesting applications could also be found at the Epson booth, from printed bikinis to reproductions of master paintings or carpets.
At 1.6m wide, the VS-640 is Roland’s largest, fastest and most versatile VersaCAMM printer/cutter to date, designed to produce signs, banners, vehicle graphics and wraps, fine art posters, packaging prototypes, labels, decals, POP displays, and heat transfers for apparel. Roland says the VS-640 combines a new generation of print head technology with integrated print/cut capabilities, print speeds up to 23.1 sqm an hour in dual CMYK mode, and advanced media handling for print quality and unattended production capabilities.
Seiko, supplied here by Anitech, showed the ColorPainter H-104s/H-74s, which it says achieves class-fastest printing speed of 50 sqm an hour with eight colours and 100 sqm an hour with four colours while maintaining high image quality and colour density.
Seiko says it meets the requirements for professional quality outdoor graphics and high volume users. A new high speed multi-drop print head controls the amount of ink appropriate for the resolution of each print mode. You can print large format signs at 360 dpi, without decreasing print density and head speed. An alignment line is printed to support double-sided printing. Seiko says you can easily align the reverse side and face side along the lines. An optional mesh print ink tray enables printing on mesh banner without liner.
The bottom line
Aside from the vendors mentioned, there was other news revolving around topics like quality, costs, speed and efficiencies. Many users seemed to put a premium on speed. Others, with a customer base stressing superior quality and brilliance of colour, gravitated to high-end offerings. Selection and characteristics of a specific print substrate will always be an overriding consideration in any investment decision, be it for the manufacture of displays or wood panelling. The variety and wide choice of machinery, meanwhile, affords opportunities in production and application that seemed unattainable until very recently.
Second M-Press Tiger bound for Australia
Agfa announced a sales success in Australia. StylePrint, one of Australia’s leading screen printing companies has purchased its second M-Press Tiger. This comes only five months after the Melbourne-based company installed its first. “Since the acquisition of the first M-Press Tiger our customers like the quality so much that the demand for the high-quality prints has gone up to the point where we clearly see the need for a second engine,” said Andrew Woodhouse, who heads production at StylePrint. “Our customers do not just ask us for print, they specify ‘Tiger Prints.’ A Tiger Print is becoming a new definition in Australia.”
Developed jointly with Thieme, Agfa’s M-Press Tiger combines the printing expertise of both companies: screen printing from Thieme and digital inkjet printing from Agfa. The M-Press Tiger can print up to 700 square metres per hour including loading and unloading, with no make ready, films or screens. It can handle substrates up to 10 mm thick. It features a colour gamut better than ISOcoated V2, the offset gamut.
It also enables variable data printing.