Fespa Hamburg: the bit in the middle

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.

Fespa 2017 took place at the Hamburg Messe.

Overall, the view from the press room was that the show was a little disappointing because there were very few big announcements. Then again, Fespa’s target market is people looking to buy printing kit rather than write headlines, something that journalists sometimes forget. And there was certainly quite a lot of things to look at, notably the B1 sheetfed prototype on the Fujifilm stand and the Canon Colorado. There seemed to be a distinct trend in favour of LED curing and an emphasis on bigger, more productive hybrid printers rather than flatbeds. There was also a lot of textile printing, even more so than in previous years, including some soft signage, some garment printing and a lot of furnishings and décor printing.

There was a lot of talk about industrial printing, some of which also included industrial textile production. It’s been clear to me for some time now that most vendors developing wide format graphics printers are also working on industrial inkjet printers. But up to now these have been two distinct markets though in Hamburg I had the impression that they are starting to come together.

Overview of the main digital hall.

You might think that 3D printing would go hand in hand with industrial printing but there was little evidence of that at this year’s show. Several vendors did show 3D printers at last year’s Fespa but presumably concluded there wasn’t much crossover with wide format printing after all. However, Mimaki did show a new 3D machine, which I will cover in more detail in a later post. Massivit also showed the Massivit 1800, but this has been developed with the display graphics market in mind.

Most of the journalists that I spoke with were less than impressed with the Hamburg Messe as a venue, which seemed to involve a lot of walking up and down stairs and escalators and through walkways from one hall to the next. It felt like a venue that was designed for lots of little shows rather than one big one. As a result the show seemed a little disjointed and it wasn’t always obvious as to where you might find any particular thing. I suspect this was more of a problem for journalists, who are trying to cover everything, than the average visitor who tends to be focused on just the type of kit they want to see.

Neil Felton (centre) CEO of Fespa, flanked by Christian Duyckaerts, (right) taking over as this year’s President of Fespa, and Christope Aussenac (left), the new vice president of Fespa.

Neil Felton, Fespa’s CEO, announced that next year’s show will take place in Berlin from 15-18 May, saying: “We are very much looking forward to returning to the German capital.” The halls are also closer together at the Berlin Messe so the show should feel more cohesive. He also reiterated the decision to have the full Fespa show annually, rather than every two years with the smaller digital show in between.

The Berlin event will be shorter – four days rather than the five days for Hamburg. This year’s show was quiet on the opening day, probably because most people were still travelling to Hamburg on the Monday so I think that starting on a Tuesday next year is probably a good idea. Overall, most of the people I spoke to – at least the visitors and vendors – seemed happy with the show. I certainly learned new things there, which is after all why we go to these events.




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