Exhibitors at Print4All were relieved last week when a decent audience turned up at the Milan Rho exhibition complex for what was described as a new approach to print trade shows.
The organisers had combined previous separate events on the same complex, so a print and packaging equipment show was cheek by jowl with a packing equipment event, plastics show and exhibition about meat processing technology. It meant a good flow of visitors around the show, but until the figurers are analysed it will be difficult to say whether visitors took advantage of the cross fertilisation possible.
Certainly it worked for some exhibitors which straddle different sectors, print and packaging for example. Koenig & Bauer took a huge open stand where discussions were order of the day, aided by VR glasses. This was in the packaging hall among the packaging presses from Bobst, Cerutti and Uteco.
In the commercial print hall above, Heidelberg's Italian subsidiary had a digital press, Gallus label machine and folder alongside a Scodix Ultra because it is also distributor of the embellishment machine in that country. The Scodix gained a lot of attention, as did the MGI JetVarnish on the Konica Minolta stand.
The Japanese company had brought a C6100 as representative of its cut sheet presses and C190 label press. Visitors interested in the KM-1 could don a pair of VR glasses and take a CGI tour of the press. “The idea was to show examples of what we do,” says Edouardo Colchini. “ Italy is the country in Europe where we sell most label presses so it was obvious to bring the new label press for the first time. The MGI is the showroom machine from Italy because we see a lot of opportunity in this area.” By the end of the event, it had a sign to say it had been sold to a company in Rome.
“It is B1 format, is now very very stable and delivers very good quality,” he adds. Alberto Steffani, KM’s marketing manager for Italy, says the format for the event had worked. “My first impression? The organisers have been rewarded. We have been getting a lot of registrations and visitors from very qualified professional people.”
Inevitably the majority had come from Italy itself, supported by cohorts from around the Mediterranean region, the Balkans, Near East and North Africa as well as Spain. English, German and northern Europeans were rarer, but not non-existent. In contrast to Ipex last year, this was a vibrant show.
There were no offset litho presses running nor on show; some of the major companies had stayed away, Kodak, MBO, Muller Martini among them and others like Fujifilm had only a token presence. Most were present through their Italian subsidiaries. But those that did bring equipment were rewarded with plenty of attention. UK companies represented on the floor included Morgana and Watkiss.
In digital printing, alongside KM, Canon had strong range including its Colorado large format press, Agfa had a Tauro 2500 LED UV, HP brought an Indigo 12000 and Xerox introduced the Iridesse with a constant stream of printers wanting to find out if it lived up to the hype.
This was not the only product lauched. Petratto launched Eclipse, a digital creaser cutter for cartons and direct mail purposes that had been seen in concept form at Drupa. Now the machine is properly thought out, with users able to select a configuration as they need it. Fulvio Petratto explained it is the only single-pass digital creasing and cutting using mechanical creasing.
A sheet is creased along one direction before turning through 90º direction under a second set of creasing wheels. It is then registered by camera before entering the laser cutting section, the laser being moved to ensure precise registration. And then it is through a section to remove the unwanted trimmed card and onto a delivery table or stack. Users can select single or double lasers and have options on the delivery to reach the configuration needed. The entry level price is €180,000 and speed will be from 1,000 B2 sheets an hour to 5,000sph.
It was not the only production introduced. Uteco collected hundreds of potential leads for the Gaia inkjet label press. It has come on leaps and bounds since first seen at Labelexpo as a 24m/min press. It now has 12000dpi Fuji Samba heads running at up to 100m/min. Its USP, however, is that this is the first digital press to use electron beam curing. The project is the result of partnership between INX which supplies the ink, its delivery system and electronics; eBeam as the provider of the dryer and Uteco for the transport system.
The technology is completely food safe, needs no priming or varnish to provide a high gloss scratch resistant finish on almost any material. At the show it was printing on Bopp films and reels of aluminium. It did not put a foot wrong.
Equally intriguing was a digital press from Rigalo. This is a first wide web reel to reel press using Memjet print heads. It was in the area away from the print halls, in a hall among reel handling machinery and filling equipment. The MVP 1000 delivers the web to a filling head for loading dry packaged goods, say rice or coffee.
It is limited to printing on uncoated paper substrates thanks to use of waterbed inks. These are second generation Memjet heads that are popular across all kinds of small label printer. The company is working on a new type of head which might expand the scope of the press.
The aim is to cut supply chains by printing at the point of packing for short runs needed for sampling, promotional or to tackle immediate shortages, the same sector that HP Indigo is targeting with the 20000. These short runs can cause disruptive chaos for conventional flexo presses where makeready can be longer than run time. And while the quality is not in the same class as the Indigo – at least not yet – nor is the price.
The first has been installed at an Italian company which has to cope with more than 200 Skus and it has been so well received that it has now ordered two additional machines.
It will no doubt make further appearances over the next couple of years as early user feedback is incorporated into production models. It will always be a product launched in Milan.
Exhibitors will have been pleased that Print4All received substantial visitor support and an audience that was keen to find out about new products. After an anxious few weeks leading up to the show, most will have been received that the Italian show was an improvement on Ipex.