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Event Spotlight

Sign & Digital UK 2019

With this year’s edition of Sign & Digital UK almost upon us, Rob Fletcher looks ahead to the event to see what’s on offer for traditional print companies seeking expansion into new markets

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Sign & Digital UK has been running for more than 30 years

Expanding your horizons

Sign & Digital UK has been a must-attend exhibition for our cousins in the sign-making market for some time now. The event prides itself on showcasing the best from the wide-format print and signage sectors, with visitors hailing from a wide range of backgrounds.

Visitors can learn about the expansion opportunities in a number of markets related to wide-format print

Due to the number of print-service-providers (PSPs) diversifying their business into wide-format print and related sectors, Sign & Digital UK is also established as a key event on the UK print calendar. The springtime event gives companies the chance to find out the latest goings-on from these markets, including a first look at some of the new kit on offer.

O Factoid: Sign & Digital UK 2019 will take place from April 2nd to 4th in halls 3 and 3A at the NEC in Birmingham.O

This year’s edition, which runs from April 2nd to 4th at the NEC in Birmingham, is set to play host to some of the leaders in wide-format print and we take a look at some of the key highlights for traditional print companies seeking to expand into this popular and profitable market.

Supporting business growth

Event director Rudi Blackett says every element of Sign & Digital UK is designed to inspire and educate visitors and help with the growth and success of their business – including those from a print-only background. He says organisers recognise the number of print-focused visitors and reflect this in the type of exhibitors present at the show.

“Sign & Digital UK’s mission is to help grow and shape businesses within the print, sign, décor and display industry,” Blackett says, adding: “We do this by empowering visitors and exhibiting brands alike to make connections face-to-face in an inspiring and educational environment.

Commercial printers are perfectly placed to take advantage of the new wide-format developments to build their revenue streams

“Commercial printers are perfectly placed to take advantage of the new wide-format developments to build their revenue streams. The suppliers at the show will be geared up to guide traditional printers through the process of adding this service to their business, offering advice on getting up and running, understanding the impressive array of applications, as well as providing tips on how to sell those benefits.”

Blackett says these in-show features will enable visitors to learn more about the different market sectors related to wide-format print, singling out a number of new additions in particular. New this year is the ‘Hexis Battle UK Wrap Contest’, where participants will compete to be crowned the best UK installer, with £5,500 worth of prizes up for grabs.

Over 180 exhibitors will feature on the show floor at Sign & Digital UK, a large portion of which will be from the wide-format and related markets

Also featuring for the first time is a new live demonstration area: ‘Retail is Detail’. This programme on the ArtSystems stand will run through the techniques for better workflow, featuring HP and Summa equipment.

In terms of returning features, the Main Stage theatre will feature new, expert speakers, covering key industry topics such as finishing, personalisation and textiles. Also returning this year are the Adobe and Corel theatres to give visitors tips and advice on the latest programmes, as well as Décor Live Demonstrations, presented by Antalis.

Driving diversification

Among the leading wide-format brands that will be exhibiting at the event in April is Roland DG, which will be featuring the VersaEXPRESS RF-640 eight-colour printer, among other machines, on its stand.

Rob Goleniowski, head of sales for UK and Ireland at Roland DG, says that this device in particular will be of interest to visitors from a traditional print background, due in part to its relatively low price.

Goleniowski says: “This device incorporates an additional four ink channels, including CMYK plus light black, red, green and orange ink. At only £12,999, this printer achieves the widest colour gamut in its class, with the ability to accurately hit up to 99% Pantone+ solid coated colours.”

Roland DG will demonstrate a range of kit at Sign & Digital UK this year. Pictured: the LEJ-640S from the manufacturer’s VersaUV Series

Visitors to the Roland DG stand will also get to see the company’s first desktop direct-to-garment device in the form of the VersaSTUDIO BT-12, which will help them access work in markets outside standard wide-format. Goleniowski says the machine’s price and small footprint makes it an ideal addition to a print workshop, allowing PSPs to branch into customised textiles with a relatively low investment.

Roland DG will also showcase its VersaUV S-Series, offering the versatility of UV printing technology and the continuous suction belt, and its TrueVIS VG Series print-and-cut technology.

Meanwhile, Ricoh will be using Sign & Digital UK to showcase its own wide-format technologies, including the Ricoh Pro L5130/5160. Available in the UK from April, Simon Isaacs, national sales director at Ricoh UK, says the device offers reliability and segment-leading print speeds to meet fast turnaround demands.

Also on display at the Ricoh booth will be the Ricoh Pro TF6250, which, Isaacs says will offer high quality, fast turnaround allied to substrate flexibility and automated daily maintenance. The technology is available to UK companies from July this year.

In addition, visitors will be able to view the new Ricoh Ri 1000, designed for the direct-to-garment print sector. Isaacs says the technology will hit the UK market in July, saying it will offer high margin prints at an affordable price to PSPs.

Isaacs says: “As with our hugely successful approach to the commercial print market, we’re looking to help wide-format sign and display printers to increase their margins, keep ahead of the competition, and improve customer satisfaction.

“Our customers value us as a partner throughout their digital journey, and we will be there to support them all the way, advising and guiding as required, and applauding their successes.

“We’re looking forward to translating that to the Sign & Digital audience, for whom we’re sure we can make a difference. There are lots of opportunities out there for sign and display printers, and we believe we can help them make the most of them.”

Making the right choices

Elsewhere and Mimaki will have a presence at the event on the Hybrid Services stand, where visitors will be able to see three new products. These include the new Mimaki TS55 dye-sublimation printer, a 1.9m transfer paper device that, according to Hybrid, is suited to companies producing soft signage, retail graphics fashion and sportswear.

Mimaki’s new metallic LED UV ink can be used to print on a wide range of surfaces, including glass

Visitors can also see he new metallic LED UV ink, shown on a Mimaki UJF-7151plus, which Hybrid says enables the production of high-end graphics for packaging, small to mid-format signage and bespoke.

Mimaki’s new metallic LED UV ink can be used to print on a wide range of surfaces, including glass

Also due for display is the new clear ink option for the UCJV300 Series LED UV printer/cutters. Hybrid says the addition of this ink to the Mimaki portfolio offers a host of new design possibilities and expands business opportunities, by allowing customers to use gloss, matte or textured finishes with their work.

Brett Newman, chief operations manager at Hybrid, comments: “Across Mimaki’s range of solvent printers and integrated printer/cutters, LED UV roll to roll and flatbed machines and a host of textile and dye-sublimation technology, we’re able to deliver a production solution for print companies, whatever their volume requirements.

“With the range of Mimaki hardware on the Hybrid stand – and shown throughout the exhibition on the stands of our reseller partners, we’re here to help visitors make the right choices for their print or manufacturing business.”

Niche markets

Aside from print technology, Sign & Digital UK will play host to several leaders from the consumables and materials markets. Antalis will be one such brand, with Chris Green, head of channel for visual communications, urging printing companies to attend to find out more about the latest solutions on the market.

Coala Textiles range, a new collection of printable textiles for signage and decoration, will be among the highlights on the Antalis stand 

Green says: “By visiting trade shows such as Sign & Digital UK, print companies can benefit not only by seeing for themselves the various latest media and hardware available on the market, but also by getting face time with industry experts who can offer guidance and advice on practically any aspect of visual communication substrates and technologies, however niche.

“Our stand has been creatively designed to echo the interiors of a ski lodge-style bar. We are using the Alpine theme to showcase how our printed media can effectively and creatively replicate different materials; from realistic wood-effect printed panelling, to robust log-style seating made from our new Xanita Board.”

New from Antalis, Xanita Board is manufactured from fibres recovered from recycled cardboard boxes and is only one quarter the weight of MDF

New to the UK, Xanita Board has been designed rival to MDF. It is manufactured from fibres recovered from recycled cardboard boxes, is directly printable and only one quarter the weight of MDF.

Green says: “Its lightweight yet robust specification makes it a viable sustainable alternative for a wealth of sectors, whether for decorative and structural purposes such as retail, exhibitions and events, hospitality and interior design.”

Antalis will also use the event to launch its new Coala Textiles range, a collection of printable textiles for signage and decoration, and a further environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional PVC.

Green comments: “Together with the existing Coala Walldesign range, the complete portfolio of textiles and wallcoverings will enable commercial printers looking for diversification avenues to capitalise on this ongoing opportunity in the interior design market.”

In addition, visitors to the Antalis stand will be able to try out the new Antalis Product Selector online tool. Launching in April 2019, users will be able to choose a sector and see how a space can be visually transformed using a wide range of substrate solutions for specific applications.

With plenty to look forward to at Sign & Digital UK this year, the event looks set to be a must-attend for professionals across both the print and wide-format print sectors. If you are looking to bolster your wide-format offering or move into this sector for the first time, Sign & Digital UK will be a good place to start.

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