The Print Show exceeded last year’s visitors’ total though not perhaps the wildest hopes of the organiser. There was, however, more than enough to keep most types of visitor happy for at least a day. As consequence each of the stands received a steady flow of traffic where exhibitors had been more confident about bringing and running equipment.
Star of the show in this respect was the RMGT 5, the press formerly known as a Ryobi 524GX. This had been running in the Apex show room in Hemel Hempstead to give a number of hand picked customers an in-depth demonstration of LED UV printing and after leaving the NEC will be installed at Corsham Print.
It was not the only offset press in action. Presstek had brought its 52DI Eco, a version of the waterless offset press with inline UV curing to create a package that could match digital in respect of a rapid journey from file to deliverable finished print. The company was, like Apex, talking plates. For Presstek this included the new Nytro and Gem plates, for Apex it was the UV sensitive Cron plates.
There was also a screen printing line being demonstrated by Sakurai as a machine for producing value added effects including high lift and tactile varnishes. It may not offer the versatility of a Scodix, and Scodix samples were available through the Premier Papers stand, but neither does it have the same price tag.
The absence of some of the industry’s largest supplier companies had not prevented some of the UK’s larger printing companies from spending time at the show along with the expected audience of SME printers and inplants. Not least, Gary Peeling, managing director of Precision Printing, was manning the Where the Trade Buys stand.
Of the larger suppliers, Fujifilm was present with a wide format machine and sample sheets from the Jetpress 720; Xerox machines were put through their paces by Xeretec which had established exclusivity as the Xerox distributor for the show. Konica Minolta had a constantly busy stand while Oki likewise attracted a constant flow to view either the Pro 9000 five-colour machines or the Seiko wide format printers which are now firmly under the brand having become part of the group last year, but too soon to affect plans for separate stands at the NEC last year.
As previously there was strong showing from finishing companies, marked by the participation of IFS and Friedheim International as companies extending their commitment to the event. IFS brought the Horizon Smart Slitter for its UK debut, while Friedheim majored on the Komfi laminators. Both had brought offset folders with ultra fast makeready.
Vivid was another with a handful of laminators, introducing the single-sided version of the Matrix 530, an auto feeder for the smaller Matrix 370 and a duplex version of this same machine. “A lot of people have asked for the automated feeder,” says David Smith, “which is already available of the 530.” While the stand positively glittered with examples of gold and silver digital foiling, the company was also showing the impact a white foil can make over a coloured paper or card, as an invitation for example.
The same principle of printing black toner which is softened by the laminator’s rollers and then acts as a glue for the foil, is employed. The resulting image has greater opacity than many printed whites.
Vivid was also showing a very simple device for laminating pieces of card to create the impressive looking sandwich effect used by Moo among others. Adhesive is applied by the Easycoat unit, the board is laid into the Easyguide device until the desired thickness is obtained and the sheet passed through the Easymount to push the layers together. Surprisingly given the simplicity of the jig “nobody else has anything like this”, says Smith.
The paper trade was well represented with Antalis, Denmaur and Premier out to attract the passing traffic. Antalis could offer a range of wide format materials to suit the machines in show from Spandex, Graftyp, Oki and Colourbyte. The company aims to make the choice of material simple and its use straightforward, providing training through the digital academy and information through its website. “We are trying to help printers understand the revenue streams that are open to them,” says Rob Chandler. “We want to become the knowledge point for the industry.”
Both Denmaur and Premier emphasised environmental credentials, Denmaur as the first fully carbon balanced merchant, and Premier through its engagement with the Woodland Trust to offset carbon in paper through sustaining native British woodlands.
Marketing director Dave Jones received huge help in this effort from Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury. She ran through the impact that the countryside has on urban dwellers and the importance of sustainability to business. This was evident when Jones explained how a race day event might attract 30 customers, with several not even bothering to turn up. “But when we invite customers to join us in a muddy field in the middle of November, 150 say they will come and 180 turn up. That’s the power of cause related marketing,” he says. “If an issue is relevant to your customers it is relevant to your business.”
Next year, the Print Show is being evicted from the NEC to make way for a revived Ipex. Instead it is moving to the Telford International exhibition centre. This is a new venue to print exhibitions and the Print Show will be colocated with Sign Link Live, a show that reflects the organiser’s interest in sign making. There will be no wide format inkjet as that belongs to the Print Show.
Inevitably the Print Show itself will be hit as exhibitors are forced to choose between one event in October next year or another. Few have the resources or inclination to attend both. The success of the Print Show in generating strong leads will not be forgotten by some. “We have had two good years here. We plan to be loyal to this event,” said one.
Television presenter Julia Bradbury was invited by Premier Paper to explain the importance of forests and natural habitats to the well being of the nation, hence the value of cause related marketing.
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The Oki stand demonstrated large format printing, car wrapping and the effects that are obtainable through its five-colour digital printers, a low cost way to add value sparking many conversations at the show.
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