Ready for take off

This week sees the Fespa show hit the road again, this time in Cologne. Fespa shows are normally a good snapshot of what’s happening in the wide format world, with just about everybody in the industry from around the world getting together. Having survived the dubious pleasures of an early morning Ryanair flight, here are a few observations from the first day of the Fespa show.

Mimaki TS300 dye sublimation printer.
Mimaki TS300 dye sublimation printer.

There are quite a few visitors though the show doesn’t feel overly crowded and some of the exhibitors have described it as quiet, though this is not unusual for the first day of a big show, particularly on a Monday.

There’s lots of new kit to see at the show, though not much actual news as most things have been pre-announced and already covered. One exception is EFI, which announced the HSr, which is essentially a development of the HS100 Pro. Scott Schinlever, the general manager of EFI’s Inkjet solutions, says: “We have configured it so that it’s focused more on roll to roll.” As a result it can produce up to 297sqm/hr. There’s also a new orange and violet inkset for the HS100 Pro. In addition, EFI has now added its Ultradrop greyscale printing to its GS series with a GS5500, with a 7 picolitre drop size, and GS5250, which has a 12 picolitre drop size. EFI has also added an option for its SuperDrop UV ink, which is suitable for thermoforming, to the H1625 LED printer.

Scott Schinlever, EFI
Scott Schinlever, EFI

Mimaki announced a new dye sub printer, the TS300P, a 1.8m wide machine designed to print to transfer paper. The key to it appears to be a new printhead, which comes from Panasonic, though nobody at Mimaki wants to confirm this. The head has two rows of 200 nozzles, which overlap to produce a native resolution of 360dpi. It has a very wide 5.6cm print swathe and uses Mimaki’s MAPS4 interleafing system, to print at up to 115sqm/hr.

Not to be outdown, Epson has updated its textile offering with a new SureColor F9200, which features a new HDK black ink. This is said to a high density ink that can cut overall ink consumption. The F9200 printer can print at up to 97 sqm/hr and is available from October.

Bordeaux announced a new direction in its third-party inks, with the inksets now matched to specific printer models. There are inksets for solvent, eco-solvent and UV printers, including the Canon Arizona. Interestingly, Bordeaux’s marketing manager Guy Evron portrayed printer warranties as a nuisance for users, forcing them to stick with the OEM inks.

Guy Evron, marketing manager for Bordeaux.
Guy Evron, marketing manager for Bordeaux.

Amongst the other highlights are new printers from Mutoh, as well as a chance to see recently launched printers such as Agfa’s Tauro and Mira. Inktec showed off its new RX5000, essentially a 5m version of the RX3000 roll to roll printer announced earlier.

So far, the main talking point amongst journalists I’ve encountered has been the catering and the lack of coffee in the press centre on Monday morning, which inadvertently boosted the attendance at the HP press conference, at least once the EFI people had left the room and the covers could be whipped off to reveal urns containing a warm liquid somewhat similar to coffee.

HP announced two new latex printers, the 3100, which is a straightforward replacement of the 3000, and the 3500, which is a more upmarket version. This can produce up to 180 sqm/hr and has a split spindle to make it easier to leave two different rolls printing side by side unattended.

As it happens, I dropped by the press centre later that afternoon to discover an overly complicated coffee machine had been installed with various cassettes with several dubious flavours, some of which resemble coffee. One of my colleagues recommended the purple ones and so far her advice has proven good. Better still, there was cake as well. Life is suddenly looking up now that the press centre has WiFi, coffee and cake – all the things needed to sustain life in what passes today for modern journalism.

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