The Print Show exceeded last year’s visitors’ total though not perhaps the wildest hopes of the organiser. There was, however, more than enough to keep most types of visitor happy for at least a day. As a consequence each of the stands received a steady flow of traffic where exhibitors had been more confident about bringing and running equipment.
Star of the show in this respect was the RMGT5Ryobi 524GX. This had been running in the Apex showroom in Hemel Hempstead to give a number of hand picked customers an in depth demonstration of LED UV printing and after leaving the NEC will be installed at Corsham Print.
It was not the only offset press in action. Presstek had brought its 52DI Eco-UV, a version of the waterless offset press with inline UV curing to create a package that could match digital in respect of a rapid journey from file to deliverable finished print. The company was like Apex talking plates. For Presstek this included the new Nytro and Gem plates, for Apex it was the UV sensitive Cron plates.
There was also a screen printing line being demonstrated by Sakurai as a machine for producing value added effects including high lift and tactile varnishes. It may not offer the versatility of a Scodix, and Scodix samples were available through the Premier Paper stand, but neither does it have the same price tag.
Sakurai branch manager Claudio Moffa took over the London office a year ago and has enjoyed quick success with 32 litho print units installed last year, many with Baldwin LED UV.
The screen press was shown with a new version of the Baldwin LED UV. It is an analogue press but will come up against digital enhancement presses from MGI and Scodix. MGI was present at the Print Show as part of the Konica Minolta stand.
As well as enhancement via different styles of varnish, the screen technology can also print on textile transfer papers. “We have to teach graphic arts printers to understand the opportunities,” says Moffa. “Many have invested in digital printing, but have not escaped the problems of low margins. We are trying to develop a different mindset.”
The absence of some of the industry’s largest supplier companies had not prevented some of the UK’s larger printing companies from spending time at the show along with the expected audience of SME printers and inplants. Not least, Gary Peeling, managing director of Precision Printing, was manning the Where The Trade Buys stand.
Of the larger suppliers, Fujifilm was present with a wide format machine and sample sheets from the Jetpress 720S B2 inkjet press; Xerox machines were put through their paces by Xeretec which had established exclusivity as the Xerox distributor for the show.
Konica Minolta had a constantly busy stand while Oki likewise attracted a constant flow to view either the Pro 9000 five-colour machines or the Seiko large format printers which are now firmly under the brand having become part of the group last year.
As previously there was strong showing from finishing companies, marked by the participation of IFS and Friedheim International as companies extending their commitment to the event. IFS brought the Horizon Smart Slitter for its UK debut, while Friedheim majored on the Komfi laminators. Both had brought offset folders with ultra fast makeready.
“This is quite unique and a new field for us,” says Keisake Nakai, who was over from Japan to demonstrate and explain the Horizon machine. “We have been strong in binding, folding and cutting. The Smart Slitter can do something new.”
There are a number of features that Horizon stresses, including the ability to run partial perforations both across and along the sheet to create tear out coupons for example. It can take a sheet to 670mm in length (370mm across), so coping with the increasing number of 6pp digital presses installed.
The sheet is fed on to a registration table and registered using conventional side and front lays. A camera reads a barcode to pull down information about the settings for that sheet.
Access to the slitting, creasing and perforating models is through panels on the side of the machine. The cassettes slide out and back in rather than being lifted in and out of the machine. It is possible to replace blades when needed rather than replacing the cassette itself.
There is a touch panel interface to set up jobs with the option of a Smart Connect module to both accept JDF jobs and deliver JMF data back to the workflow. “We believe this is going to be very competitive against the rival machines,” says IFS technical director Jason Seaber.
Duplo’s focus was on its DiCut 300, a standalone rotary die cutter than can offer more than the multi-finisher – rounded corners for example.
The SRA3 sheets are tested with a master die to work out the correct settings for through cuts or kiss cutting. The settings for any particular stock are stored for later recall when handling a commercial job. The die itself is applied to a magnetised drum. A camera system is used to marry the die and the printed sheet.
On a sheet of small format cartons where creasing lines are needed on the underside of the sheet, the camera can be set to check that the crease lines are accurately positioned without the waste associated with trying to manoeuvre the sheet into position without being able to see the underside.
It will run at 3,000 SRA3 sheets an hour, suitable for a company producing a limited number of standard format boxes a day, say to fulfil online orders or for greetings cards and postcards for the photo gift market. The rounded corners that are possible, let alone scalloped edges, can command much higher prices in the social stationery market, say for wedding invitations.
Vivid was another with a handful of laminators, introducing the single-sided version of the Matrix 530, an auto feeder for the smaller Matrix 370 and a duplex version of this same machine. “A lot of people have asked for the automated feeder,” says David Smith, “which is already available of the 530.”
While the stand positively glittered with examples of gold and silver digital foiling, the company was also showing the impact a white foil can make over a coloured paper or card, as an invitation for example.
The same principle of printing black toner which is softened by the laminator’s rollers and then acts as a glue for the foil, is employed. The resulting image has greater opacity than many printed whites.
Vivid was also showing a very simple device for laminating pieces of card to create the impressive looking sandwich effect used on business cards by Moo among others. Adhesive is applied by the Easycoat unit, the board is laid into the Easyguide device until the desired thickness is obtained and the sheet passed through the Easymount to push the layers together. Surprisingly given the simplicity of the jig “nobody else has anything like this”, says Smith.
The paper trade was well represented with Antalis, Denmaur and Premier out to attract the passing traffic. Antalis could offer a range of wide format materials to suit the machines in show from Spandex, Graftyp, Oki and Colourbyte. The company aims to make the choice of material simple and its use straightforward, providing training through the digital academy and information through its website.
Both Denmaur and Premier emphasised environmental credentials, Denmaur as the first fully carbon neutral merchant, and Premier through its engagement with the Woodland Trust to offset carbon in paper through sustaining native British woodlands.
Marketing director Dave Jones received huge help in this effort from Countryfile presenter Julia Bradbury. She ran through the impact that the countryside has on urban dwellers and the importance of sustainability to business.
This was evident when Jones explained how a race day event might attract 30 customers, with several not even bothering to turn up. “But when we invite customers to join us in a muddy field in the middle of November, 150 say they will come and 180 turn up. That’s the power of cause related marketing,” he says. “If an issue is relevant to your customers it is relevant to your business.”
Next year, the Print Show is moving from the NEC, to make way for a revived Ipex, to the Telford International exhibition centre. This is a new venue to print exhibitions and the Print Show will be colocated with Sign Link Live, a show that reflects the organiser’s interest in sign making. There will be no large format inkjet as that belongs to the Print Show.
Inevitably the Print Show itself will be hit as exhibitors are forced to choose between one event in October next year or another. Few have the resources or inclination to attend both. The success of the Print Show in generating strong leads will not be forgotten by some. “We have had two good years here, and we plan to be loyal to this event,” said one.
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