2019 in Review: Expos point the way forward for print

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Three big trade shows caught the attention of ANZ printers this year – PrintEx, Fespa, and Labelexpo – and they had a common theme: the blurring of boundaries of different print thanks to digitisation. Print21 was at all three.

PrfintEx: 5000 visitors, multiple applications
PrfintEx: 5000 visitors, multiple applications

The local show PrintEx is a pared-down PacPrint. It attracted 5000 visitors, saw 120 local suppliers produce a great event on 6000 square metres, and recorded millions of dollars in sales over the four-day event, which saw digital printing take centre stage.

Of the exhibitors 21 received a Print21 Hot Pick, given for innovative technology on show that brings something new to the table.

The biggest sale at the expo was signed by Courtney Colour, which invested $2.5m with Currie Group for equipment including an HP Indigo digital press. Highlighting the blurring of boundaries, PVCA president Walter Kuhn bought a new Ricoh digital colour printer, and one of the new generation of digital direct to garment printers – also from Ricoh. Skyline bought an MGI JetVarnish digital embellishing system after seeing it on the Konica Minolta stand, where it had come to sign for a new colour printer. MBE franchise of the year winner Charles Batt signed for a Fuji Xerox Iridesse for his Parramatta store.

The Labelexpo show in Brussels was actually a bit of a misnomer – it should more correctly be called the labels and packaging expo, with many vendors showing multiple applications such as boxes and pouches being produced from their label print systems. Along with hybrid printing, flexible packaging and automation were everywhere.

The show was a hit, busy from start to finish. The landmark 40th anniversary edition of Labelexpo Europe 2019 was its largest, most international show held to date, with all figures rising to record levels.

At this year’s event a total of 693 exhibitors showed their wares – the first iteration of the show in 1979 had 40 exhibitors. This year it attracted 38,000 visitors, a substantial number of them from ANZ.

Among the Aussies at the show was Next Printing, which launched into the labels sector, with the company investing in a new HP Indigo 6900 Digital Press and an ABG Digicon Lite converting system, both supplied by Currie Group, to kick-start its new business.

Global wide format trade show Fespa opened its doors to what it said was a world of possibilities. The blurring of boundaries between different print applications was on full show, as digital wide format printing makes major moves into textile, home décor, packaging, and other applications in addition to launching new developments in its sign and display heritage.

General manager at Cactus Imaging Keith Ferrel was one of the select number of presenters at the Fespa Theatre, and told his audience that diversification and automation were essential for business growth.

Ferrel said that the company was a 90 per cent billboard printer before it decided to diversify. He said, “We moved into building wraps, transit, events, retail, and construction. We bought the best equipment to do this.” Cactus has just installed its second Fujifilm Acuity Ultra, only 12 months after its first.

Digital textile and garment print solutions developer Kornit’s CEO Ronen Samuel said four mega trends are converging for commercial printers to exploit with textile printers.

According to Samuel, personal expression, social media influencers, booming e-commerce, and sustainability mean that digital garment printing is set for surging growth over the coming years. He said that, together with the advent of Kornit direct to garment technology, they represent a perfect storm to enable print businesses to ride these trends successfully.

“For commercial printers, direct to garment with digital printing represents a great opportunity to get away from low margin commodity print and into a sector with huge growth. And we are never going to not need clothes,” he said.

One of the biggest orders at the show from the many ANZ printers there was Mezographic ordering a new Durst flatbed digital UV printer in a €750,000 deal.

It arrived in Australia in August, when it was on display at PrintEx, and is now installed in the Mezographic production centre in Dandenong in Melbourne’s south east.

The new P5 250hs is the flagship of the Durst range, targeted at mid to high end users, and designed to print POS on a range of media. It will pump out 600sqm an hour.

Next year is the big mama of trade shows, with drupa taking place in June. However, the focused shows will also be taking place in a sign of their increasing popularity.

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