Fespa drew its largest audience yet to five days in Cologne with close to 25,000 visitors attending. The figures underscore the continuing interest in large format printing, particularly inkjet, and also its expansion into textiles and other forms of decorative printing.
However, unsurprisingly given the rate of development in recent years, there were no outstanding product announcements. There were performance improvements across the spectrum and development in inks in particular to cope with the new markets that are opening up to large format inkjet printing.
And there were deals completed at the show touted as evidence that business in the sector consents to be brisk. Despite the proliferation of flat bed printers, roll to roll printing is far from finished with HP announcing new versions of its Latex range to increase performance at the top end of the market. This was the Latex 3500 with greater media capability and larger ink tanks. The first has gone to PressOn in Rochester.
The Latex 3100 does not have quite the same performance. Absent from the show was the Scitex 17000, a flatbed press developed for direct to corrugated printing, one of the key memes of the show. It includes handling and corrugated specific inks and sits above the Scitex 150000 introduced a year ago.
Corrugated has been identified as a key opportunity for EFI, though it did not use Fespa for announcements this respect. It reckons that there is a potential $9 billion market for inks and hardware in corrugated compared to just over $3 billion in display graphics and $2.5 billion in labels. At Fespa EFI's focus was on the use of LED curing as an energy saving replacement or companion to conventional mercury lamps with new ink sets to expand the capabilities of inkjet printing.
It demonstrated the H1625 LED machine as a mid level production flatbed and introduced the Vutek HSr as a 3.2-metre wide rollfed printer using LED to pin ink in place before the final cure is achieved with a standard UV lamp.
Screen has added industrial strength roll handling to its WS3200 UV flat bed machine to offer a best of both worlds approach to companies needing both approaches but without the justification for standalone machines.
There were new flatbed machines from AEG in 3.2 metre and 2.05-metre widths and a choice of UV curing technologies and using Xaar’s 1002 printheads. The Gandy Digital Gladi8tor is an eight-printhead flatbed again in two formats: 1.22 x 2.44m and 2 x 3.05m. It uses Ricoh’s printheads and includes a rollfed option.
The orders announced at the event included two flatbed HP Scitex FB11000s and a roll to roll Durst Rho 512R for Delta Display in Walthamstow and an Inca Onset R50i for SMP Group in Woolwich.
The number of visitors to Fespa 2015 increased over the show in London two years ago with evidence that stays were longer too. The show demonstrated how large format inkjet technology is moving into new areas.