This year’s FESPA Global Print Expo in Munich was an explosion of digital printing. The show, geared towards the screen, digital and textile communities, highlighted everything from wide-format, signs, interiors to textiles. While FESPA featured a lot of new equipment, the message for the design community was about what you can create with inkjet printing. Design inspiration was everywhere, as exhibitors showed off their capabilities with some big and out-of-the-box thinking.
DIGITAL QUALITY HITS NEW HIGHS
Brands and designers no longer need to question the print quality of inkjet. The quality on wide-format for commercial applications has reached the tipping point. I was blown away with the color accuracy and quality. There were deep blacks, vivid colors, and subtle tones produced by a wide range of presses. But this was not just about having quality for one piece of output; there was considerable focus on the ability to color match across different production equipment and substrates to ensure brand integrity.
Today, digital printing is all about excellent quality at high speed and across a whole range of substrates. If a designer can imagine it, a print service provider can likely produce it quickly with great results.
If wide-format presses get any bigger, then FESPA will need bigger halls. Bigger presses with high-speed inkjet nozzles mean greater output. For brands and creatives, bigger presses and finishing equipment mean they can design and execute larger-than-life campaigns in record time. For example, the HP launched the Stitch S1000, a super-wide dye-sublimation printer, that boasts production speeds up to 220 square meters an hour. In real terms, this means a single press can produce enough output to cover the Wimbledon Centre Court in an hour!
If you think inkjet is print on paper, this conference proved otherwise. The show was all about the different materials used in digital printing: from fabrics, cardboard, wood, ceramics, metal building claddings, and glass. In fact, if you stood still for too long, you were likely to have something printed on you!
For example, digital print of fabrics was everywhere at the show, and it’s easy to see why. The ability to produce high-quality printed fabric is revolutionizing the industry, allowing fast turnaround and short runs for clothing manufacturers. Digital textile printing isn’t just for clothing. At the show, there were great examples of furniture, interior design, and accessories such as handbags. I was especially impressed with the leather style goods using Tessy’s stunning range of digital-ready fabrics.
And new tools like Adobe Textile Designer for Photoshop add new capabilities to Photoshop that will make it even easier for textile design, as demonstrated in the FESPA Print Make Wear fast fashion factory.
DIGITAL PRINT IS TRANSFORMING HOMES & BUSINESSES
At FESPA, the “Printeriors” set of showrooms highlighted what is possible for home and business interiors. Beyond fabrics – inkjet printing on display material, be it glass, wood, aluminum sheeting or constructional board, is transforming the way homes and businesses look and feel. The concept of uniquely designing your home interior is now an affordable reality – architects, designers, and brand owners will have a field day!
More importantly, this can be done on demand, opening up opportunities to create uniquely-branded designs in retail stores, hotels, elevators, office buildings, or anywhere else.
The most lingered over area at the show was ‘The 2019 World Wrap Masters’. New and exciting materials were used to show off how you can truly pimp your ride. High gloss, mattes or metallics, the range of materials used was matched by the skill of the individuals applying them. Companies like Leaderform are helping transform vehicles of all shapes and sizes into branding opportunities for companies at trade shows, sporting events, for product promotions or for around town.
Big Presses, Big Options and Big Ideas. FESPA provided a great opportunity and inspiration for what is now possible in digital printing – can’t wait to see what FESPA 2020 has in store.
*A version of this article was featured on the CPX Groupblog.