In recent years Fespa has hosted a growing number of textile printers of all shapes and sizes aimed at everything from soft signage to garment production, which has reflected the chaotic state of this emerging market.
So, now that this year’s Fespa has closed and the dust has started to settle its time to ask ourselves what have we learnt from the show?
This week we have two trade shows to choose between, Formnext in Frankfurt and InPrint in Munich, both interesting in their own right and ostensibly targeting different markets but both involving printing technology as a manufacturing process.
Recently I went to the InPrint Leaders in Technology summit in Cambridge, organised by FM Brooks, the people behind the InPrint show. They have a new show, Pure Digital, which also deals with the industrial print sector but seen from the creatives viewpoint. So this conference bridged both of these sectors and took in quite a wide range of subjects from personalised print through to the difficulties of moving into industrial print as well as more esoteric ideas from marketing through to staff management.
I’m not really sure what to make of last week’s Fespa show. Most journalists in the press office, being typical media types, spent as much time discussing if the Hamburger came from Hamburg as they did talking about wide format printing.
The Hunkeler Innovation Days may have started out as just another open house event, but it has evolved far beyond that into one of the most compelling events on the print industry calendar.
If we’re honest, last week’s InPrint was a very small show. It didn’t even fill a single hall at the Munich Messe, and was tucked away around the back at the Eastern Entrance, which is closer to the tube station but lacks the grand entranceway with the pond full of swans and the broad driveway with all the flags fluttering languidly in the breeze, as flags do.
The graphic arts have become increasingly industrialised over the last five to ten years, as standardisation has taken much of the craft aspect out of the business. So it’s hardly surprising that many equipment vendors are now looking for opportunities in manufacturing industries. But what are those opportunities, and what exactly is industrial printing?
This week sees the second outing of the InPrint show, this time in Munich, starting on Tuesday. It’s hard to define industrial printing. It includes conventional print technologies such as screen and wide format, but also more niche elements like 3D printing and some novel approaches to inkjet. It covers a wide market, from automotive, electronics and white goods to interior décor, as well as a fair bit of packaging.
There’s a technical conference with some 60 sessions and a second show, Productronica, which covers electronic manufacturing. I’ll be there so look out for a report later this week.
Inca Digital has been showing off the latest incarnation of its large Onset flatbed printers, which are sold by Fujifilm. The Onset X series look exactly like previous Onsets, and share some parts, but the underlying platform has moved from eight ink channels to 14.