The Print Show returned to the NEC last week after enforced exile in Telford and was rewarded by a record attendance of almost 6,000 visitors.
As is usual for a three-day event, the first is generally quiet, the second attracts most visits and there is a tail off on the final day. However, a stronger than expected attendance on the final day helped lift the audience to 5,976.
The visitors found a focus on digital technologies: offset was almost absent, save for some used machinery presence and Benson UV with its retrofit UV drying technology. There was no showing from offset press manufacturers, consumable or workflow providers. And while there were Ricoh, Xerox and Canon digital presses around Hall 9 only Konica Minolta flew under its own flag rather than through distributors. It was rewarded with a twin press order from Dekgraphics in Southampton.
There was more than a smattering of large format inkjet from the elegance of the SwissQPrint machines to the robustness of the Chinese made hybrid press, the innovation of HP’s R2000 latex hybrid and EFI Vutek machines on the CMYUK area.
Mimaki and Roland DG joined Epson, which showed off the dress that Amal Clooney had worn to the Met Gala Ball in New York and which had been printed on an Epson. “For us a show like this is about selling units an ink because we are relatively new in terms of printing textiles and soft signage, and winning market share,” says Phil McMullin. “We need to make sure that people are aware of what we can do. We are the challenger brand for these areas.”
The spread of opportunities into different areas was a common theme across the show, showing what printers can add to a core commercial print business to capture greater share of a marketing budget. Textiles was prominent alongside large format printing. This included embroidery as well as print, both direct to garment and using transfer papers to apply print to a vast range of objects.
Epson’s aim is to leverage its accepted colour knowledge and quality from proofing into these adjacent areas. These include decor and wallpapers, though these seemed to have less appeal than garment printing. “We thought we would be selling most of these printers to the sign and graphics sector where they know they have to go digital, but most are going to commercial printers,” says McMullin.
The added value on offer included additional colours on the Ricoh Pro C7200 shown by Smart Print and the Xerox Iridesse, laser cutting from Trotec and Printers Superstore, embossing, enhancement and foiling. Much of these formed part of the Printers Bazaar, sponsored by Friedheim International, where visitors could enquire how to get started in these new areas.
One that might be interesting was not in itself part of this concept. The heritage of print area included displays of hand binding and letterpress printing, currently techniques in high demand from designers. At the close of the three days, whatever the individual exhibitors thought of the attendance, the decision whether to come back to the NEC in 2019 will be decided on the business that was generated this year.
When the doors closed on the Print Show, the organiser claimed an attendance within a whisker of 6,000. This is so far an audited number, used to prove the popularity of the local event compared to the failure of Ipex at the same venue last year.