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Recapping Sign and Digital 2023

SDUK has wrapped its latest exhibition in Birmingham’s NEC

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Sign and Digital UK took place in Hall 2 of the NEC, Birmingham

The UK’s longest-running event in the visual communications sector, Sign & Digital UK (SDUK), has completed another well-received exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham as it showcased a range of solutions in the print, signage, and décor sectors.

The show has become well-known in the industry for hosting a range of different companies and highlighting a variety of materials, technology, and disciplines. 

As one of the only shows dedicated to signage and digital solutions, the exhibition is still an important date in the year for many companies which see the show as an opportunity to reconnect with business partners and see some of the latest updates in the world of signage.

The exhibition was evidently smaller than previous years with some visitors feeling it took less time than in previous years to see the whole show.

However, despite the size, organisers had clearly allocated and created well-branded and decorated meeting and networking areas which even the biggest events can be guilty of overlooking.

One of the show’s highlights was the SDUK Explains Lounge which was introduced last year. The area was run by the UK International Signage Association (ISA UK) and was a hub of relevant and cutting-edge discussions.

Across the three-day event, experts presented insights into topics such as sustainability, diversity, and navigating increasing challenges.

ISA-UK used the opportunity for Sam Armstrong to hand over her presidency to former vice president David Allen

Day one saw a panel of well-known faces in the industry from the likes of Epson and POPAI, discussing the issue of fatigue in sustainability, ensuring it’s not just a “tick-box exercise”. 

The second day saw significant discussions from Gary Bagstaff from Sauce discussing the importance of standout designs in sign-making as well as Sam Armstrong, founder of Make it Happen, and Dan Todd, managing director of Orange Quarter. The pair discussed the skill of becoming a consultant as well as a sign-maker/sales person when communicating with customers. 

Izabella Ivanovici and Sarah Winterbottom, founders of the Women in Signs and Graphics movement hosted the Men Supporting Women in Signs and Graphics panel which demonstrated the importance of male team members supporting and championing women in the workplace to create a better balance in the industry.

Day three highlighted topics such as skills shortages in the sign industry with expert advice and opinions from the likes of Colin Sinclair McDermott, the Online Print Coach, and managing director of training at the British Printing Industries Federation (BPIF), Karly Lattimore. 

In addition to presentations, SDUK’s exhibitors showed a range of machinery such as Trotec’s award winning SP3000 laser cutter, the JETRIX LXiR320 UV LED roll-to-roll printer from InkTec, as well as Mimaki’s first direct-to-fabric (DTF) machine, the TxF150-75 demonstrated by Hybrid Services.

Soyang Europe and Josero attended the show with a range of wide-format and super wide-format print solutions, including the Fujifilm Acuity Prime flatbed printer. While swissQprint demonstrated some of the sustainable and unique solutions capable from the Nyala 4 flatbed printer and Karibu roll-to-roll printer. 

Speaker at the show and managing director of European print and sign business Probo, Leon van der Meer, introduced SDUK visitors to a revolutionary new reusable PVC material called Sign Again, a sheet material made entirely from used banners and cutting waste. 

Sustainability was certainly a bigger topic than in previous years, especially as the event included exhibitors like CarbonQuota, and suppliers like Dufaylite representing the Ultra Board product on the Premier Paper stand. 

Concepts and areas like The Sustainability Trail and the various demo areas were all very well intentioned, however, those at the show felt the best way for people to engage with these concepts were on the company stands themselves, especially when discussing sustainability.

Exhibitors told SignLink that while there were quieter periods, the quality of conversations were incredibly strong, showing a continued hunger for business growth and collaboration.

The open and relaxed feel of the show allowed businesses and presentation areas to thrive with exhibitors able to truly catch up and connect with visitors. 

The Hexis Wrap Battle had £5,000 worth of vouchers to be won after a series of heats and finals

Whilst the first day of the show was quieter than anticipated, SDUK still showed a steady flow of visitors right until closing time on Thursday, with many busy periods and areas such as the Hexis Wrap Battle attracting big crowds to watch vinyl wrappers face a variety of timed challenges. 

In addition to the Hexis stand the show had a range of product demonstrations and a live demo area known as the Sign Studio. Visitors told SignLink they’d like to see more interactivity and demonstrations in the future, especially as many of those who visited were new to the industry or who wanted to boost knowledge/educate new staff members.

Companies like Hybrid, Premier Paper, Roland, swissQprint, Trotec, and printMAX, all had large impressive stands, with Premier bringing its trademark visual flair with a fun space/sci-fi influenced stand, inhabited by Stormtroopers, UFOs, and Space Invaders arcade booths.

Though some overseas companies with smaller presences got lost against some bigger stands, it was clear to see that conversations were happening throughout the hall and visitors were arriving in big teams with set goals and ambitions in mind.

Exhibitors and visitors from the worlds of garment printing, wide-format, and fabricated signage all demonstrated the wealth of experience and business potential in the hall. Undoubtedly all those present will look forward to SDUK building on this year’s strengths at next year’s exhibition, dated for February 27th to 29th, 2024.

If you’d like to share news or opinions with us feel free to email at news@printmonthly.co.uk or join in with the conversation on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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