25 Apr 2024

Sign & Digital UK 2024: a new era

Sign & Digital UK 2024: a new era.

At the end of this week the doors open to Sign & Digital UK 2024, LFR looks ahead to the show and picks out some of the highlights we can expect over the three days at the NEC.

Now in its 35th year, Sign & Digital UK is among the longest running events in the global print industry. Taking place from 25-27 February, Sign & Digital UK this year enters something of a new era.

The event is now under the ownership of Datateam Business Media, the company behind another industry show in the form of Printwear & Promotion LIVE! Both events will be taking place alongside each other this month: Sign & Digital UK in Hall 2 of the NEC and Printwear & Promotion LIVE! next door in Hall 1.

While the move to a co-located show is an interesting concept in itself, it is also important to note the decision to run the event from Sunday to Tuesday. The idea of this is to allow those who cannot afford to give up a working day in the week the opportunity to still experience the show over the weekend.

As to how this will play out remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that excitement is high ahead of the first major UK event of the year, with some seeing it as the ideal warm-up for the two main attractions in the coming months: the FESPA Global Expo and, of course, Drupa.

For UK businesses, the fact is that a large number cannot attend events overseas due to cost restraints or work commitments. Events like Sign & Digital UK allow them to view some of the latest developments in print and sign-making much closer to home. Add in that events in the UK are more focused on companies on home soil, and it offers the opportunity to forge stronger relationships with more local partners.

Mimaki’s growing direct-to-fabric printer range

So, what can we expect at Sign & Digital UK 2024? Of course, what we all want to know is who is going to be there and what they are going to be showing. Glancing at the exhibitor list, some names immediately jump out: Epson, Grafityp, Hybrid Services/Mimaki, InkTec Europe, Premier Paper Group, Roland DG, Soyang Europe and Vivid Laminating Technologies to name but a few.

However, there is also a good selection of names that are not so familiar, meaning those in attendance will have plenty of new solutions to explore and ideas to discuss with those they may not have had the chance to speak with before. The event bills itself as the UK’s biggest exhibition for print, display, décor and design, so there should be something for everyone at the NEC.

Let us start with what looks set to be one of the busier stands at the show, Hybrid Services, which will be showing no fewer than three new Mimaki printers on Stand H10. Here, the main attraction will be the new Mimaki TxF300-75, a direct-to-film printer that offers a threefold speed gain over previous models.


Mimaki TXF300-75 direct to garment printer at SDUK


Specifically designed to meet the needs of the professional volume garment decoration market, the TxF300-75 prints onto cotton, polyester, and polyester blended materials, as well as on both light and dark coloured fabrics. Supplied with a two-year warranty as standard, the printer uses Mimaki’s OEKO-TEX ECO PASSPORT certified ink, which Hybrid Services said helps users meet demand for skin-friendly production and environmental commitments.

The Mimaki TxF300-75 builds on the success of the Mimaki TxF150-75, which launched last year and marked the manufacturer’s entrance into direct-to-film. More than 300 TxF150-75 machines have been sold to date, with Hybrid Services’ Sales Director Andrew Gregory saying the launch of the new machine will drive more interest.

“Recognising the rapidly growing popularity and satisfaction with the direct-to-film process, the TxF300-75 is now available alongside its hugely successful stablemate, the TxF150-75, to give even greater choice to those entering or expanding in the garment decoration market,” Gregory said. “Such is the stability of the technology; we’re delighted to be able to deliver the new TxF300-75 with an unprecedented two-year warranty.”

Epson eyes new markets with flatbed launch

Elsewhere and Epson has announced it will be using Sign & Digital UK 2024 to show off its new entry-level A4 UV flatbed printer, the SureColor V1000 on Stand J40. Designed to help smaller businesses in the promotional goods industry, the machine is being billed as “highly compact and affordable,” offering users the ability to print on almost any hard surface.

Interestingly, the launch marks Epson’s entrance into the small footprint UV flatbed signage print market, with the manufacturer saying the machine will be of interest to a range of business including photo-retailers, small goods manufacturers, e-commerce printers and visitor attractions such as theme parks.

The SC-V1000 can print directly onto substrates with a thickness of up to 70mm including acrylics, polycarbonates, PVC, aluminium, metal, polyester, foamboard, styrene, wood and stone. It also has an integrated ink pack system with six colours offering CMYK plus white and varnish.

“Epson is delighted to enter the small footprint UV flatbed signage print market with the SC-V1000,” Epson UK Business Manager Tom Owers said. “Designed with the promotional goods market in mind, it’s a compact and affordable UV LED flatbed signage printer with a range of unique Epson features, and capable of high-quality printing on a wide range of media.”

Also preparing for the showcase of new printers is Roland DG, which will be demonstrating three machines across both events. On Stand H30 at Sign & Digital UK, visitors can see the new VersaOBJECT MO-240, a device that is replacing its popular LEF2 Series and is designed to elevate direct-to-object printing.

Through the doors at Printwear & Promotion LIVE!, visitors can also see two new machines in action. These include the VersaSTUDIO BD-8, marking the debut of a flatbed UV printer in the VersaSTUDIO series, and the BY-20, featuring Roland DG's direct-to-film ink technology for use in the apparel goods market.

“Beyond the unveiling of innovations, these events offer precious opportunities for us to engage with customers to understand their preferences and business growth needs,” Roland DG’s Head of Sales in the UK and Ireland, Rob Goleniowski, said. “It also provides us with the opportunity to understand the challenges our customers face, what they need from their print solutions and determine how we can best support them to establish and grow their business.”

What is happening elsewhere?

While new printers will grab most of the headlines at Sign & Digital UK, attendees can also see solutions from other areas, ranging from finishing to materials and consumables. One highlight in the finishing sector will be on Stand J50 with Vivid Laminating Technologies, which plans to showcase its new Easymount Hybrid laminator.

A multi-patented innovation with roll-to-roll HOVER technology, for long run and roll-fed laminating, the Easymount Hybrid is billed as the world’s first all-in-one roll fed laminator and applicator. Stand-out features include a modular design that can be configured for the user’s specific production needs, as well as a digital control panel for ease of use.


Soyang Fujifilm Acuity Prime at SDUK


Soyang Europe, a partner of Vivid, will also be in attendance on Stand G10, showcasing machinery from several manufacturers. Highlights include the Fujifilm Acuity Prime 30 flatbed LED-UV printer, VeloBlade digital cutting systems from Vivid, and three solutions from Mimaki – the CJV330 Series eco-solvent inkjet printer, UCJV300 Series inkjet printer with a combined function of both printing and cutting mounted with UV-curable ink and the UJF-6042 tabletop type LED-UV curing flatbed inkjet printer. In terms of print finishing, Soyang will be running demonstrations on the new and already highly popular VeloBlade digital cutting systems from Vivid, as well as demonstrations of the Bubble-Free applicator table which eliminates the danger of creases or bubbles when finishing printed graphics.

Alongside hardware, Soyang Europe will display a range of materials, with the main focus being on products from both the Solar and Recycled ranges. Visitors can view and handle samples of a wide variety of media available from the supplier.

On the subject of materials, Sign Trade Supplies (Stand K8) will roll out a new range of signage products, focusing on innovation and sustainability, with solutions including aluminium finishing options with special effect coatings. Meanwhile, Very Displays (Stand K40) will offer an early-access peek at its latest products, ranging from a portable modular tube fabric display solution, premium PVC LED lightboxes, and festival and event flags.

Also on the materials side, Drytac solutions will feature on several stands across the show. Premier Paper Group, the exclusive distributor of Drytac products in the UK and Ireland, will display a range of options on Stand F30.


Drytac and Premier Paper Group at SDUK


Epson UK will be using Drytac materials to support demonstrations of its own hardware. Visitors can see both SpotOn Floor 200 monomeric PVC film and ReTac Textures Sand embossed wallcovering film in action on Epson printers. In addition, Hybrid Services will be showcasing Polar Chrome silver satin reflective PET, Polar Choice White printable monomeric PVC film, and Viziprint films on Mimaki printers.

As for more niche production, RGB and OKI Europe (Stand P10) will be speaking about a new ‘business in a box’ solution they say is set to revolutionise number plate printing.

“The OKI Pro9542, equipped with white toner technology, opens avenues for unparalleled profit, while the OKI C650 delivers commanding contrast for commercial print,” the two companies said. “Partnering with RGB means gaining access to a complete toolkit for a seamless operation.”

Of course, there will also be a host of existing products and solutions for visitors to see up close, perhaps for the first time. For example, Quality Print Services will show off four printers from partner ColorJet on Stand J30. Visitors can enjoy live demonstrations of the Verve 2513M, Verve Mini, Vulcan Hybrid X and Vulcan 3201M.

Meanwhile, Stanford Marsh, an approved partner for HP, will be in attendance on Stand P4, showing off several established machines from the manufacturer. These include the HP Latex 630W print and cut running with Onyx Thrive, which prints at speeds of up to 14sq m/hr on a range of thin films and papers.
Visitors to the Stanford Marsh stand can register to see the latest eprint commerce, customisable, ready to go out of the box e-store for commercial printers.

Also appearing on the Stanford Marsh stand, will be the HP Pagwide XL Pro 8200 multifunction printer with 3 litre ink tanks, which can print up to thirty A1/D colour pages per minute on a variety of substrates. In addition, visitors to the stand can view a selection of cutting, laminating and finishing equipment.



HP Latex 630 Printer SDUK


Insight at the ISA Explains Lounge

Amid the hustle and bustle of the show floor will be a number of special features, offering added value to those visiting the event. This year, Sign & Digital UK will once again feature the Sign Studio, a specialist area that will host a series of live demonstrations and workshops for attendees. Details of what will be going on at the Sign Studio are limited at present, with organisers yet to release a timetable.

However, the program for the ISA Explains Lounge has been announced ahead of the event. Running in partnership with industry trade body ISA UK, this area will feature a whole host of expert and knowledgeable speakers from across the industry, covering all manner of key talking points and hot topics.

Day one sessions include flatbed printing and the importance of selecting the right vinyl. On day two, sessions will cover everything from large-format print development to supporting mental wellbeing in the industry. On the final day, digital signage and recycling will be among the key discussion areas at the ISA Explains Lounge.

The organisers’ pledge to deliver something for everyone in the industry looks to be backed up by not only the type of exhibitors that will feature at Sign & Digital UK 2024, but also the in-show features running throughout the event.

Add in the link to the Printwear & Promotion LIVE! show next door giving visitors access to two events in one, and the chance to speak with some of the leading brands in the market, and Sign & Digital UK 2024 is very much worth a visit this month.

 ISA Explainer Lounge at SDUK