13 May 2018 Events

Fespa flies the flag for large fomat expansion

Fespa is hoping to draw the crowds to Berlin, but is the development and investment cycle able to support the annual fiesta of large format?

Fespa this week is aiming to attract 20,000 visitors to Berlin for the three day large format show. Digital printing has expanded the scope of the exhibition from graphic displays printed by screen or offset machines into digital printed home decor, textiles and packaging, in particular corrugated.

And despite coming a year after Fespa in Hamburg, there will be a range of technologies being showcased, introduced and upgraded. Most improvements will be incremental steps, slightly faster machines, extra capabilities to increase the materials printed.

But there will be breakthrough technologies on show. Chief among these will be a new hybrid machine from EFI, that CEO Guy Gecht hinted at when opening the new Vutek factory in New Hampshire last week. These will be shipped in the second half of this year. No further details are available.

Fujifilm is showing the Acuity Ultra, a five-metre wide roll to roll printer firing a 3pl droplet alongside the Onset M versatile B1 flatbed printer that will have applications in carton printing and packaging as well as display graphics. It uses UV inks to print on metals and rigid substrates to 10mm thick.

The Onset X3, also developed by Inca, will have a robotic loading arm to feed beds to the machine as fast as it can print them

But this will not be the fastest Inca on show. On its own stand the company plans to run a demonstration of a single-pass high speed inkjet press able to print 30,000m2/hr. This is a 1.6 metre concept designed for corrugated board applications, joining the increasing number of presses designed for this purpose. There is guarantee that when it reaches the market, within two years potentially, it will have the current specification.

This will attract a steady flow of visitors from among the 20,000 that Fespa hopes will attend the three-day show. The greatest attention puller may however, be HP’s Latex R technology. This is a derivation of the company’s latex ink system that has had a huge impact on the lower end of the roll to roll market, replacing solvent machines.

The R stands for rigid, indicating that HP has found a way to applying the ink technology in a field that has been exclusive to UV printing because of the non absorbent nature of the substrates involved. HP will be demonstrating that it has found a way to apply the ink to the substrate and to achieved good adhesion between the ink film and the material beneath.

The film will not split even when subject to the harshest bending. “The material will break first,” says an HP spokesman. The thin film the latex layer creates will not mask the look and feel of the material printed, a wood or anodised metal for example.

The technology will be delivered as a flatbed printer competing with the growing number of entry level flatbeds coming to the market. Higher performance flatbeds in the HP Scitex stable have used UV inks. The C500 flatbed form HP for corrugated packaging used more conventional waterbased inks.

Alongside corrugated, textiles will be a strong theme for the show as manufacturers find new applications for their technology and as textile production adopts print on demand and smaller batch production strategies.

While Fespa has stated it is aiming for 20,000 visitors, the question is will it buck the trend for declining attendance at trade shows, particularly with an annual frequency? Will there be enough new to warrant visitors travelling to Berlin or will enough visitors arrive to justify the cost of exhibiting. Several hundred companies believe that there is, though Durst, previously a mainstay of Fespa, is not among them.

Gareth Ward

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Corrugated focus

Corrugated focus

Corrugated printing and textile printing will be focus areas for Fespa as it sets up shop in Berlin this week. The exhibition and exhibitors are moving away from purely graphic arts applications as that sector reaches maturity with fewer opportunities for explosive growth.

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