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The Sights and Sounds of the 2013 ISA Sign Expo

Although the curtains have closed on the 2013 ISA Sign Expo, initial reports from the association and exhibitors alike indicate that the industry is healthy and is continuing its growth path. ISA reported that the overall attendance for this year's show 19,700, which is a double digit increase over 2012. There were 593 exhibitors and the Expo floor space topped 202,000 square feet—another record for the ISA.

"ISA International Sign Expo 2013 was an unqualified success with higher overall attendance, a greater number of exhibitors and tremendous interest in educational events," said Lori Anderson, ISA president and CEO. "Exhibitors told me that made important connections and saw great sales on the Expo floor. All of those signs point to a strong outlook for our industry."

Product Introductions

Of course, many exhibitors take the opportunity of annual trade shows and expos to launch new products and this year was no exception. There were a number of new products on the show floor, some of which had been previously outlined as part of our pre-show coverage.

So what stood out the most? I'll highlight a few new products that I think offered some of the biggest buzz on the trade show floor.

1. EFI's SmartSign Analytics

EFI unveiled SmartSign Analytics (SSA) at ISA, a system that automatically captures and analyzes signage viewership and engagement data. Conceived and shown as a technology demonstration by EFI’s Online Print Solutions (OPS) unit, SSA will help signage providers and retail marketers better measure and understand the effectiveness of their efforts.

A single SSA unit includes a webcam attached to a sign, connected to a computer or tablet running a partner facial recognition software and EFI’s proprietary SSA software for data organization, analytics and reporting. In an actual retail implementation, most marketers will likely deploy multiple units to measure, compare and improve signage performance at different stores or at different in-store locations.

The SSA system’s webcam and software combination detects the presence of people within viewing range and determines which of them are actually viewing a sign. Eye-tracking tools on the SSA system also allow it to calculate how much time is spent viewing signage.

Beyond those metrics, the advanced SSA technology provides even more-detailed demographic information. Using advanced, proprietary facial pattern algorithms, the SSA system assigns a gender and age range to each viewer, providing a wealth of market-segment information that businesses cannot quickly or easily collect by any other means.

An embedded, failsafe routine in the software ensures that the SSA system discards facial pattern data on the fly, with no actual images of faces stored during operation.

2. Durst Rho 1012 and 1030

Durst US—although introducing two new machines at ISA—only had one on display. The Rho 1012 (on display at ISA) equipped with Durst’s new 12-picoliter Quadro Array print head technology is designed to bring high image quality to the production printing environment. The Rho 1012 offers customers the highest print quality available in the segment, featuring the new 12-picoliter Durst Quadro Array technology that can print at speeds up to 5,000 sqt./hr. The small drop technology implemented gives the user the ability to meet the quality and volume requirements normally reserved for high-end lithographic applications.

The Rho 1030—complemented by fully automated media handling / operating configurations—delivers print speeds of up to 10,000 sqft/hr. This speed combined with the printer’s fully automated configurations gives customers a long-run volume, large-format UV inkjet printing capability that provides high quality for their requirements.

HP's Designjet L26100 Printer is designed for small PSPs who are interested in the benefits of latex printing technologies. This upgradeable device—featuring HP 792 Designjet Latex inks—offers users the ability to get started with latex technology. The 61-inch HP Designjet L26100 Printer also delivers reliable, low-maintenance printing and fast delivery times with prints that dry inside the printer, ready for immediate finishing or use.

3. Roland SOLJET XF-640

Roland’s SOLJET XF-640 64-inch printer is engineered to maximize print speed and output without sacrificing image quality. The XF-640’s mirrored print head configuration with dual CMYK allows consistent color reproduction across the largest prints, even at top speed. Roland Intelligent Pass Control precisely controls dot placement during passes for images with virtually no banding. Durable construction and specialized mechanical systems contribute to the XF-640’s ability to create high quality prints. The strength and rigidity of this printer’s rail and frame ensure precise print head movement and maximum ink droplet accuracy, while sixteen pinch rollers and a new grit roller architecture provide trouble-free media feeding during unattended production runs. Roland has also equipped the XF-640 with a new take-up system built to expedite production and increase stability.

4. HP Scitex FB7600/FB7500 Enhanced Color Pack upgrade for the HP Scitex FB7600 Industrial Press

The HP Scitex FB7600/FB7500 Enhanced Color Pack upgrade for the HP Scitex FB7600 Industrial Press provides a scalable ink option to better meet client color needs. Offering a six-, seven- or eight-color configuration, the first inks available for the color pack are the HP FB225 Orange and Light Black Scitex Inks. HP FB225 Orange Scitex Ink provides a broader gamut for vivid colors with more realistic skin tones and improved spot matching for brand colors with increased analog-to-digital consistency. HP FB225 Light Black Scitex Ink creates smoother gray solids and improves neutrality. This ink can be added to the press’ six process colors, allowing PSPs to enhance image quality and achieve higher productivity.

5. Seiko Jetrix 1212FK flatbed UV printer

Seiko Instruments USA launched a high-speed, high-resolution UV Flatbed printer called the Jetrix 1212FK. It is a medium-format, 4x4-foot flatbed printer. It includes six high resolution Konica 1024 print heads featuring 1,024 nozzles that can print up to 284 sfph (26 m2ph) at 1200 dpi with small 6 picoliter drop sizes. It includes full three layer white capability and offers an extremely strong and flat steel flatbed.

Jetrix printers are manufactured by Inktec Technology & Vision of Seoul, Korea, and have a long reputation of developing quality inks and printers over the last 7 years. Inktec and Seiko Instruments have a history of partnership; Jetrix printers have been sold by Seiko I Infotech, Inc. in Japan for the last two years. Jetrix printers are well designed UV flatbeds with quality, tested components that are built for years of high volume printing.

6. Mutoh ValueJet 1617H

Mutoh launched the new ValueJet 1617H 64" hybrid printer at ISA. It prints on both rigid and roll substrates with CMYK plus white ink. It is suitable for any sign shop looking to expand applications, increase production and save floor space. It can be used to print packaging prototypes, trade show graphics, POP signage, vehicle wraps and indoor and outdoor signage.

7. Mimaki UJV500 160

Mimaki USA, Inc. introduced the new UV curable inkjet printer UJV500 160 which attains a maximum print speed of 645 sqft/hr and supports LED UV lamps. The UJV500 160 is available with LUS 150 inks / LUS 200 3M inks in early summer with MCS.

The UJV500 160 employs a new LUS 200 UV ink which has been jointly developed with 3M. When applied onto 3M media, and installed using 3M guidelines, this ink carries the 3M MCS Warranty. This warranty covers fading, cracking, peeling and other aspects of graphic performance. The LUS 200 ink is ideal for applications with curved surfaces such as vehicle wraps and fleet graphics where stretching could crack other inks. The unprecedented productivity, the comprehensive 3M MCS Warranty, and the wide media compatibility open up new possibilities in the inkjet signage industry.

8. Permovable Outdoor Graphic Film

Green Surface Technologies and Sihl Digital Imaging launched Permovable outdoor graphic film. It is a self-adhesive, digitally printable graphic media for use outdoors on rough, porous surfaces. It can be printed on commonly used large-format digital printers. It is easily installed without need for special tools or surface preparation. It meets the anti-slip standards for outdoor walkways, and requires no over-laminate. Permovable is “vinyl-free”.

9. Zund Cut Center 2.0

The first major new release since ZCC was launched in 2010 includes these new features: a production time calculator/estimator to facilitate production planning; automatic cut path/start point optimization for the least-possible amount of non-cutting movements; automatic overcut compensation based on blade geometry and material thickness; batch processing for extended production runs with email notification for required operator interventions. ZCC 2.0 is now being delivered with all new Zünd G3 and S3 cutting systems and is also available as upgrade to existing ZCC installations.

10. swissQprint Nyala flatbed

Polytype America Corp. showcased its nine ink, swissQprint Nyala flatbed, UV-cure printer that features a 10.5 x 5.25-foot bed and comprises the same platform as SwissQprint’s Oryx and Impala flatbeds, but with a larger chassis. It features Konica Minolta’s 1024 (variable, 4 to 42 pL) printheads that can be arrayed with up to 18 printheads of standard CMYK; multiple sets of CMYK; plus white, light cyan, light magenta, gray, orange, violet ink, or primer or varnish. Resolution is 720x360 dpi to 900x720 dpi and images at speeds up to 1,504 sqft/hr—or 2,148 sqft/hr with its quadruple CMYK configuration.

Skin & Win Printer Wrap Design Award Winner

Mutoh America, Inc. announced (along with The Bad Wrap and the winner of the Skin & Win printer wrap design contest: Jacob Lechuga of SmartWrap in Phoenix, AZ for his winning design named “Mutoh Cruiser.” His wrapped printer was also featured in the booth at ISA Sign Expo.

"When The Mutoh Skin & Win contest came about, I was somewhat apprehensive about it because the printer is so uniquely shaped it’s a real challenge to design around. I started thinking about what we use our ValueJet 1624 for, which is specifically for printing vehicle wraps, so I turned the printer into a car! I've always been a fan of classic cars. The front of the Mutoh printer looks like a car grill, so I went with a Chevy Bel Air look.

“I love working with vehicle graphics and really enjoy the satisfaction the clients express when they drive away with a SmartWrap design. It’s a tangible accomplishment, and very rewarding when you see something that you created printed and wrapped. Printing on our Mutoh ValueJet makes it that much easier and more attractive."

Top Product Award Winners

At the opening of the 2013 ISA Sign Expo, Wide-Format Imaging also had the opportunity to honor several exhibitors with the 2013 Readers' Choice Top Product Awards. For more information about the products receiving this honor, be sure to check out the article on the 2013 Top Product winners. Winners highlighted in the pictures include:

  • Bill Ehrich & James Walters of Canon USA
  • HP received 7 WFI Top Product Awards; accepted by Ed McCarthy, Large-Format Marketing Manager
  • Angela Mohni and Ernie Brodbeck from Neschen Americas
  • Jim Luttrell, X-Rite/Pantone
  • Caldera President and CEO Joseph Mergui and Sebastien Hanssens, VP Marketing
  • Reed Hecht, product manager at Epson America
  • Reto Woodtli, GM at Zund America
  • Steve Blanken from Contex
  • Tim Boxeth and Chad Klostermann of 3M Commercial Graphics 
  • Paul McGovern, national sales manager of Mimaki USA
  • Brandon Wyatt, 3A Composites

Be sure to mark your calendars for next year's Expo--April 24-26, 2014 in Orlando.