Asian tigers at Fespa and European Sign Expo 2017
Initially a strictly European get-together of signage manufacturers, Fespa had to open up to Asian members almost three decades ago due to accelerating globalization and the increasing number of Asian technology suppliers. For the past ten years, Fespa’s European flagship exhibition has seen a steadily growing percentage of Asian exhibitors, who at Fespa 2015 in Cologne reached around 50%. This year, their numbers reached new heights. Out of the 755 exhibitors at the combined Fespa and European Sign Expo 2017 held in Hamburg from 8 to 12 May, exhibitors officially registered from Asia Pacific amounted to 246, i.e. 182 from China, 46 from South Korea, 9 from Japan, 5 from Taiwan, and 2 each from Australia and India. However, close to 200 Chinese, Korean and Japanese brands (including multinationals such as Canon, Epson, Fujifilm, Mimaki, Mutoh, OKI, Ricoh and Roland DG) were registered under their European sales representatives, which, if added to the Asian numbers, would total up to more than half of the exhibits at this show.
Some of the highlights at this show included a range of three new textile printers from South Korean market leader DGI (Digital Graphics Inc). The new heavy-duty FT 1608 and FT 1908 dye-sublimation printers are geared at producers of soft signage, fabrics and home textiles, while the FT 3204X is the company’s new 3.2-meters wide hybrid press for multiple substrates. The printers are capable of holding substrate rolls of up to 400 meters and printing at speeds of 80 square meters an hour. Other South Korean exhibitors included printer manufacturers D.gen, InkTec and TNG as well as a large number of LED and substrate vendors.
HP launched two heavy-duty latex printers at the show—the Latex 3200 and 3600—which are to replace the Latex 3100 and 3500, respectively, as with speeds of up to 180 square meters an hour and other enhancements the new devices are considerably more productive. The company also showcased an upgrade of its HP Scitex 17000 industrial printer and several new third-party inline modules.
Agfa launched a UV LED version of its Jeti Tauro H2500 hybrid printer for flexible and rigid substrates including corrugated board at widths of up to 2.5 meters. The company also showcased a new soft signage dye-sublimation printer—the Avinci DX3200. Other UV LED printers at its stand were the roll-to-roll Jeti Ceres RTR3200 LED, the flatbed Jeti Mira 2732HS LED, and the hybrid Anapurna H3200i LED, all driven by Agfa’s Asanti workflow software. Agfa’s UV LED inks won the European Digital Press Award at this Fespa show.
Canon presented a new 1.64 meter wide 4-colour roll-to-roll printer—the Océ Colorado 1640—at top speeds of 159 square meters an hour, and the first to use Canon’s patented Uvgel waterless ink technology. Canon also had several presses running from its Arizona, ColorWave, and imagePrograf portfolios as well as its imagePress cutsheet equipment.
EFI’s exhibits included a new industrial textile printer—the 1.8 meter wide Reggiani ReNoir Flexy—at speeds up to 400 square meters an hour, and three new LED printers—the EFI Pro 16 entry-level hybrid, and the VUTEk 3r and 5r industrial roll-to-roll printers—at speeds of up to 345 and 455 square meters an hour, respectively. EFI also demonstrated its mid-market print MIS based on Pace, one of its many acquisitions over the past 15 years.
Apart from the growing panoply of wide format printers, Fespa is interesting to signage and point-of-purchase item producers particularly for the continuous development in substrates and inks. In substrates, 3M, Avery-Dennison, Ilford, Mactac, Mitsubishi, Neenah, Sihl, Trelleborg and a large number of Chinese and South Korean companies had interesting products on show, while inks for screen printing and inkjet were presented by Agfa, Inx, Marabu and Sun.
The two Indian exhibitors at the show were Navratan Specialty Chemicals from Ahmedabad with a range of print media, and Colorjet India from Noida, showcasing its two latest digital printers, the 3.2 meters wide Softjet for aqueous inks on polyester-based fabrics and the TXF with Epson printheads for sampling and short runs, which can print at speeds of around 24 square meters an hour on any type of fabric including polyester, cotton, silk, viscose, rayon and wool. Signage printer Classic Stripes from Mumbai came to Hamburg to collect the Fespa Award for Functional Printing at this year’s show.
The next Fespa events will be held in South Africa, Mexico and Turkey, before moving to Bangkok in February 2018. Since the decision to merge Fespa Digital with Fespa’s flagship event, the next Fespa shows in Europe will be held in Berlin in May 2018 and Munich in May 2019.
Ron Augustin based in Brussels is the European editor of Indian Printer and Publisher and Packaging South Asia. The June issue of Indian Printer and Publisher will carry extensive coverage of the Fespa event.