Your trusty observers Tom and Rick will have more in depth reports but here is what we see and what we heard so far in the first two days of FESPA in Hamburg, Germany this week of visiting exhibitors and talking to attendees.
A few observations so far:
- Digital/Screen-print hybrid machines are here in force. Digital printing is now being done at breakneck speed on these hybrids, with the Arioli IQ running shirts probably faster than you can load it. SRoq, M&R, and other manufacturers not seen in the USA have entries as well.
- Digital printing continues to accelerate in pace and quality but the advances are slower now. Issues of ink price and clogged heads persist but between experience in the field and technology advances you are seeing the number where you print DTG over screenprint going higher. I see also that the manufacturers aren’t the greatest at printing with their own machines and as these get in the hands of screenprinters, the prints will more resemble the authenticity and quality of traditional screen-printing.
- Big oval screen-printing machines are being ordered around the world, with the USA lagging behind. The MHM IQ-Oval and its competitors are in Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. Once ovals by Precision ruled the world, and with technological advances the ovals are back, with versatility that cannot be offered in round machines.
- DTG printing rules the online arena and workflow systems are the bottleneck that everyones points to. Off-the-shelf software solutions are poorly represented here, but I expect this to change in the coming years. The major decorators working in this space report that they are operating on (very expensive) proprietary software, but for smaller operations off-the-shelf software will be the only viable solution.
- Surprisingly, there are some new and interesting folding and packaging systems here. This is exciting because with the trend toward smaller print runs and print-on-demand, innovative folding/packaging/finishing solutions are needed
- They know how to do trade shows in Europe. It is friendly and all the booths have coffee, food and beer. They do just as much business as in the USA, but they don’t stress as much about it. Even with the long travel, this show is actually fun. Also Americans are losing out. There are very few American companies here, but this is the most advanced technology being shown and the rest of the world is here.