18 Jul 2019

FESPA revamps its website to incorporate key social networks

FESPA website 

FESPA has enhanced it main website (www.fespa.com) to connect with a number of key social media networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube, helping the organisation capitalise on the communication opportunities that the rapidly evolving social media landscape provides. The site’s overall layout has also been given a facelift, making its content clearer and more user-friendly.

This initiative builds on the dynamic growth of FESPA’s own Wide Network, the world’s only online community for wide format digital print professionals. An early adopter of social media, FESPA developed its dedicated micro-network to create an international online community of printers, print buyers, marketers, consumers, editors, designers and analysts within the wide format industry, to encourage communication within the sector. Having tested the medium through the Wide Network, which has over 1200 members to date, FESPA is keen to take further advantage of social networks to broaden its communication with stakeholders.

Marcus Timson, FESPA Sales & Marketing Director comments: “Social media sites are not just about socialising with friends. They are a great way to stay in touch with business contacts and promote awareness of our events, products and services in the marketplace.  For FESPA, a key aspect of social networks is the open dialogue it enables with our members and the wider print community. Not only does it allow us to regularly communicate the latest FESPA news and event information and conduct quick research, but we are also able to receive direct feedback, helping us tailor initiatives to effectively meet members’ needs. For example, we have a Twitter account where we can provide FESPA ‘followers’ with the latest news, and we pick up any ‘tweet’ on the site where ‘FESPA’ is mentioned.”

FESPA.com’s revamp comes shortly after the organisation’s successful digital wide format print exhibition, FESPA Digital 2009, which was based on the theme of ‘Revolution’.

Timson continues: “Ours is a dynamic and ‘revolutionary’ community. This can be seen in the innovative technologies regularly brought to market, as well as in the inventive business practices that companies are implementing, which are increasingly including the active use of social networks. It’s important for today’s print businesses to keep up with market trends and take advantage of the commercial and learning opportunities that the ongoing media revolution presents. At FESPA, for example, we have plans to run marketing events on Twitter and are looking into other initiatives to help us engage effectively with new audiences and vertical markets.”

FESPA’s website continues to provide visitors with the latest industry news, RSS feed capability and show-dedicated links and information. Videos featuring interviews and news from prominent industry figures and FESPA spokespeople can also be viewed on the site simply by clicking on the ‘FESPA TV’ section or the YouTube icon.

'My Ipex' planner goes live for visitors

My IPEX Planner 

To help visitors optimise their time at the international Ipex 2010 exhibition (18th – 25th May 2010, NEC Birmingham UK), the organisers have launched a new interactive, online planning tool called ‘My Ipex’ (www.ipex.org/myipex) which visitors to the event can use to devise personalised itineraries.

Users of ‘My Ipex’ can explore the show stand-by-stand by looking at interactive floorplans on screen, or by searching for exhibitors alphabetically, by hall, or product category. After identifying which exhibitors to visit at the show, users can then easily create a short-list containing all exhibitors’ locations with links to their company profiles, press releases, new product information and video content at the click of a mouse. The personalised itinerary can then be printed or saved and re-visited when they next access ‘My Ipex’. The interactive planning tool will also assist visitors in finding their way around the show prior to arrival, and provides links to travel and accommodation information.

Nick Craig Waller, Ipex 2010 Marketing Director, says, “Visitors come to Ipex to network with industry colleagues, discover the latest print technologies and find new ideas for their businesses.  But Ipex is a massive event with a broad range of products and services on show, and we acknowledge that our visitors are busy people. ‘My Ipex’ offers a great planning and navigation tool, enabling visitors to prepare for their trip beforehand so that they can maximise the time they spend at Ipex and get as much as possible out of the show.”

‘My Ipex’ is just one part of the comprehensive Ipex website where visitors can pre-register free in advance for the exhibition, read the latest show and exhibitors’ news, obtain further information about cost-effective travel packages and find out about show features.

FESPA stakeholder survey shows printers positive about upturn

FESPA logo 

The results of FESPA’s first stakeholder Economy Survey suggest that wide format printers and their suppliers worldwide are broadly optimistic about the chances of business recovering to pre-recession levels within the next 12 months.

Some 14% of survey respondents already report signs of recovery, with a further 23% expecting fortunes to improve in the second half of 2009.  25.6% of the sample expects the upturn to come in early 2010, with a similar figure anticipating recovery by the end of 2010.  Less than 12% foresee current trading conditions lasting into 2011.   83% of respondents believe themselves to be well positioned to take advantage of the conditions if the market rebounds.

The electronic survey of some 400 individuals during July 2009 was conducted by FESPA in partnership with research organisation InfoTrends.  The research, which includes printers, manufacturers and resellers, will be repeated on a regular basis between now and FESPA 2010 (Munich, Germany, 22 - 26 June 2010), helping FESPA and exhibitors to reliably gauge the mood of the wide-format community.

FESPA marketing director Marcus Timson explains: “We found the intelligence from our recent Worldwide Survey so valuable that we decided it would benefit FESPA, our exhibitors and our global community of print service providers (PSPs) to test the temperature of the market more regularly.  With the Economy Survey, we’re questioning a meaningful sample of printers worldwide to assess how they’re managing the impact of the global economic downturn, and to understand the measures they’re putting in place to get through the difficult times and equip themselves for a positive future.”

While a quarter of those questioned indicated that their business had stagnated or experienced minimal impact, the majority had seen turnover affected, with 27% of respondents citing a negative effect of 25% or more.

The survey shows that print service providers are still looking to their operational processes for solutions to falling revenues.  76% of printers had developed production-led strategies to address the downturn, with many looking to reduce overheads with lower priced media (35.2%), lower priced ink (28.7%) and by cutting printer maintenance programmes (18.5%). Sustainability practices have benefited, however, with 46.3% of respondents having tightened their waste management practices.  Flatbed printing technology has also experienced a boost, with 22.2% of PSPs looking to this technology to trim labour costs.

Unfortunately, pricing is still a popular tactic to attract sales, with 41.3% of respondents resorting to rebates and price promotions to tackle the downturn.  Almost a third of those surveyed mentioned flexible payment terms as a means of attracting business, and more than a quarter indicated that their pricing strategy had been driven by aggressive pricing by competitors.

Encouragingly, however, many printers have responded positively to the challenges, optimising their product portfolios, or increasing their focus on different applications such as textile to grow margins (15.7%).  23.9% of printers questioned have implemented fresh sales or marketing strategies, and 12.2% have expanded sales resources to cope with the downturn.

Timson comments: “While the Economy Survey offers clear evidence of the impact of the economic downturn on FESPA’s stakeholder community, it also demonstrates that our community is robust and fundamentally optimistic, and sees the need to continue to innovate to build value and profitability.”

“As we start to shape the FESPA 2010 event, this Survey provides FESPA with an invaluable snapshot of the wide-format service provider community at this point. The results of this and future FESPA Economy Surveys will help us to understand the drivers for PSPs and monitor how the economic backdrop to their businesses is changing.  Those insights will allow us to adapt our events, products and services to offer relevant and meaningful support as they steer their businesses out of the current slump towards a more positive future.”

HP Designjet L65500 Latex printer and JM Textiles' PVC-free media help change jeans

HP Designjet L65500 

When Euro clothing retailer Jeans Only needed new in store imagery for their changing rooms it was vital to have graphics with no residual odour and that meet the highest standards of reduced environmental impact for a retail environment. They also needed high quality and the ability to refresh the imagery across all the European wide based stores.

The combination of the HP Designjet L65500 Latex printer and JM Textiles Mediatex Self Adhesive PVC free media provided the ideal solution. The HP Designjet L65500 with its non-toxic, odour free Latex inks has already won awards for its reduced environmental impact such as the European Digital Press award for Best Environmental Digital Printer 2008.

JM Textiles have long been committed to producing innovative and environmentally benign media. The entire JM Textiles range meets the Öeko-Tex Standard 100 standard one of the most stringent in the world. This standard ensures that end users can have total confidence that the media will have no harmful effect on the environment it is used in.

Andrew Edwards, Sign and Display Divisional Manager, ArtSystems, says: "This is typical of the demands we’re seeing now from both private and public sector clients. Not only do they want products that are more resource efficient and have a reduced environmental impact, they also want them to exceed the productivity of their legacy solutions. The HP Designjet L65500 and JM Textiles media do just this. Print service providers are now winning new business with this double benefit."

In the current economic climate resource efficiency and reduced environmental impact are becoming the core management tools to controlling costs and maximising profits. Solutions like the HP Designjet L65500 and JM Textiles Media are just one example of their practical application.

AJ-1000i increases versatility at Irish display producer

Inc Design and Display Roland AdvancedJet 1000i 

On paper, Inc Design and Display is a young company and a relative newcomer to the Irish display market, having been formed two and a half years ago by directors Paul Byrne and Paul Hogan. But don’t be fooled: they have a combined thirty years of experience in sign production, with talents including vehicle wraps, exhibition banners, modular signs and pop-ups.

They’re proud to count among their clients Dublin’s musical instrument mega-store, Xmusic, and the remainder of their portfolio ranges as broad as banner production and fascias. A more recent job has seen a large amount of vinyl banner produced for the high profile Taste of Dublin food festival.

Byrne and Hogan knew that growing the company rapidly could only come from strategic investment in machines that offered productivity and excellent turn-round. “We wanted to be able to compete with the best in terms of speed and quality right from the start,” explains Hogan as he remembers the first machine at Inc Design – the Roland SolJet Pro II.

The successor to the Pro II, the Pro III XC-540, handles smaller-format print-and-cut jobs at the Dublin site. Inc Design is particularly fond of the print-and-cut machine’s handling of contour cutting, making vehicle wrap production significantly easier, and eco-solvent inks mean that interior signs produced on the Pro III are odourless.

After only a few months Inc Design realised that it needed to accommodate larger-format work at a greater capacity to win bigger contracts. The business partners performed extensive research, deciding finally to stay with Roland DG because the Advanced Jet AJ-1000i offered the best throughput possible with its 2.6m width complemented by durable, high quality results. The printer was installed at their premises over Christmas 2007 and it's now in daily use for both indoor and outdoor graphics, on an ever-growing range of flexible materials.

“We looked at flat-bed technology before the purchase of the Pro III, and again when investigating the AJ-1000i, but decided that roll-to-roll was the better choice, offering more in terms of output quality and the range of compatible substrates. Additionally, this machine had a much smaller footprint and a more reasonable capital outlay,” says Byrne.

Hogan explains that investment in the Roland AJ-1000i felt like the next natural step in growing the company. “Although still a very young business, we had reached a stage where we needed to expand capacity and improve turnaround times – we knew from experience that these are the key areas in which the big contracts are won.”

The Roland AdvancedJet AJ-1000i is the larger of the company’s two machines, which are particularly suited to high-volume grand format printing for the durable graphics market. It is complemented by the 1.87m AJ-740i for users who want a narrower option. Its resolution of 720dpi produces near photo quality images and its ability to produce solid colours accurately makes it ideal for display producers and sign-makers. The ink formulation has an outdoor durability of up to 3 years, which can be extended with over-lamination where greater longevity is required.

Inc Design’s AJ-1000i has recently benefited from upgrades to its firmware and software, bringing it in line with Roland’s latest product releases. Other key updates include the newly-designed spare ink reservoir and the ability to change the calibration of the machine while it is printing. Byrne and Hogan are quick to promote that this allows for fast adjustments, reduces media waste and prevents time-consuming stopping and starting.

Amongst the first jobs that Inc Design & Display completed with its new printer was Ireland’s largest hoarding, sited at Dublin’s Belmayne housing development. A massive 3km of vinyl film was mounted on to 2.5 x 1.25m composite Dibond panels with an anti-graffiti laminate, printed in batches of up to 600 at a time. “The Belmayne job was completed in stages over a number of months in line with the development’s progress. There is no doubt that without the AJ-1000i we wouldn’t have been able to take it on,” Byrne recalls.

The automation of the RolandAdvanced Jet was a major attraction for IncDesign. Automatic maintenance and head cleaning have greatly reduced servicing and maintenance obligations, while a specialist pump keeps the flow of ink constant through the print-heads. This eliminates banding and means that cartridges can be changed ‘on the fly’.

“The combination of the AJ-1000i’s speed and the durability of its EcoXtreme solvent-based ink is spectacular and its colour accuracy is superb, with easy Pantone matching when required. My favourite aspect of the machine is that it can operate unattended,” highlights Hogan. “We’ve left it printing overnight on occasion - we load up a 100 metre roll of paper and come back in the morning to find the job completed, no problem.”

The AJ-1000i's heavy-duty take-up system supports rolls weighing up to 100Kg, and Roland’s proprietary six-colour EcoXtreme inks include light cyan and light magenta for a wider gamut. The machine is happy working with a wide range of coated and uncoated media for durable, long-life graphics, and has a maximum throughput of 90 sq m/hour.

“Its size and speed have opened up new doors for us and the AJ-1000i is now a core part of our business and production strategy. Both of our Roland machines are highly reliable and obviously well built, but engineers are on hand should we need them. With these two printers there isn’t much we can’t do – big or small,” boasts Byrne.

Progress doesn’t stop here for Inc Design, tactical expansion is again on the agenda, with Byrne and Hogan already considering future development, including perhaps personalisation and Variable Data work for promotional items.
The main thing, Hogan concludes, is to remain versatile: “There is a wealth of opportunity out there and part of our job is to keep on top of changes in the market. It’s important to be able to meet new demands as and when they arise. With its productive and diverse technology, Roland DG has certainly earned our trust in this respect.”

Find out more, and calculate the running costs of the Roland AdvancedJet AJ-1000i printer, at www.rolandpro.co.uk

Roland DG Academy’s two-for-one course offer detonates potential

Roland Academy 

Sign-makers are being offered the opportunity to explore the full profit potential of their software and equipment with a two-for-one deal at the Roland DG Academy. The Academy’s hands-on SignLab and Adobe Photoshop courses are on offer as two-day training sessions and are focused on profit generation and cost reduction — vital as companies diversify and maximise their resources in the current economic situation. While time permits, companies can take advantage of putting two employees on the programme, covering knowledge gaps and ensuring that all staff are trained – particularly important when dealing with holiday cover or even redundancy cover.

“By addressing how the person uses these two key products, and what they achieve with their throughput, the Academy courses improve the company’s output quality and workflow,” explains Marc Jenkin, Academy Manager, who also leads on both of these courses. “Because of the high standard of our trainers, we can ensure that users return with the confidence built to tender for higher margin jobs, armed with an array of knowledge about special processes, vector design and image improvement.”

Jenkin is eager to highlight the importance of the purpose-built production environment where the courses take place. “An interruption-free space means pure hands-on time in the company of experts,” he points out. “Making use of smart boards with video recording equipment means that we can hone in on exactly how to perfect these processes and thereby improve return on investment.”

Escalating the business-client relationship is a vital part of the programmes, which also allow specific files or issues to be brought to the table. “There are some stunning effects that are possible that aren’t widely known or used,” hints Jenkin, who has been training at the Academy since its inception in 2006. “Companies can really get the most out of their existing customers and also move into new grounds by asking, simply, whether they knew that chrome effects or vector design were services that they supplied.”

The SignLab course, which can be split into two individual days, is led by experts who will ensure that the trainee knows menu control and shortcuts, progressing into the creation of vector graphics, cut paths and colour management. Day one will provide the knowledge needed to speed up the user’s workflow and improve co-ordination between the supplier and their customers. Day two progresses that skill base by targeting industry requirements and powerful image techniques, including the enhancement of poor quality bitmap or raster graphics while avoiding pixelation. By the end of the course the trainee student will be confident in using Half Cut to extract print and cuts, the management of badges and serialisation — known as VDP in similar packages — and special effects, such as ripple effects, chrome and borders.

Over the two day Adobe Photoshop course, users can become more rapid through their control of selections, layers and shortcuts. Having nailed down their own method alongside the trainer, students concrete their colour management skills by developing and implementing the use of correct colour processes, depending on the job, and appreciating all aspects of image correction. By reducing error and workflow times they will return with a greater enjoyment of the programme and a number of suggestions for diversifying the company’s chargeable services.

With plenty of time to network during attendance, delegates can share their experience and receive expert advice on any issues they may face regularly. “A person who’s in control and comfortable with the equipment they use will bring more to the company,” Jenkin concludes. “And that’s what these courses really provide — the confidence and ability to use these tools to their full advantage.” Prices, and a complete course offering with detailed contents, are available at www.rolanddg.co.uk/academy/