Imagination Takes Flight at FESPA Americas Wide Format Print Shop Live

Thousands of wide-format printers and senior figures from the graphic arts supply chain flocked to FESPA Americas, which saw the worldwide premier of Wide Format Print Shop Live!

Global brands EFI, HP, Roland, Caldera and EskoArtwork, sponsors of Wide Format Print Shop Live! joined forces with FESPA at this ground-breaking event to showcase software, printers and a cutting table in three functioning, end-to-end print production lines on the show-floor. Visitors were impressed with the unique concept commenting, like Chris Clement, VP at Southern Display Printers, that it made it easier to compare and see what would benefit their companies the most.

Visitors were hosted by Mike Horsten, a consultant on green and sustainable growth ideas, and Sophie Matthews-Paul, an independent international consultant specializing in the wide-format digital print market, who supervised regular tours of the live production line.

"Wide Format Print Shop Live! at FESPA Americas was an extremely ambitious project, the first of its kind worldwide," said Sophie Matthews-Paul. "Never before have multiple manufacturers shared a special arena within an exhibition environment and demonstrated complete workflow options, taking files, processing them, outputting them on a variety of printers and contour cutting them. This event truly set the standard for future trade exhibitions by being able to show, in real time and in public, what really happens when a wide-format or print-to-cut job is processed.

"Wide Format Print Shop Live has proved that it's possible for people to bring in their own files and see exactly what digital production can achieve. It's characteristic of FESPA's innovative approach to events that they were the first to present such a useful and visitor oriented feature. Visitors included commercial print companies and sign-makers wanting to learn more about our industry sector, plus students and designers. It really appealed to everyone, with several taking the tours more than once."

Visitor job files were managed by a variety of prepress solutions including EFI Digital Storefront for uploading original files and EFI Pace, a complete management information system. Workflow solutions employed included Caldera's print-to-cut workflow products and the EskoArtwork i-Cut suite, a software system designed specifically for users of wide format printers and finishing specialists.

Files were printed on either the Roland VersaCamm VS-540 eco-solvent printer, the HP Designjet L25500 or the EFI VUTEk GS2000, which demonstrated the UV-curable printing of both roll-fed and rigid materials. Once printed, artwork was transferred to the EskoArtwork Kongsberg i-XP cutting table, which can cut contours into a variety of complicated shapes.

FESPA's Sales and Marketing Director, Marcus Timson, said, "What started out as an experiment to show how a typical print shop could be constructed and run from anywhere in the world, turned into an amazing educational experience. We were even approached by students of graphic design who, having spoken to the Print Shop Live! team and seen the production line in action, were seriously considering switching their major to print."

As a physical demonstration of the products which could be created using the technologies in action, Hungarian designer Arzan Tornyai created a 3D design based around the eagle wings in the FESPA Americas motif. The design was nested using the EskoArtwork i-Cut suite, transferred to the Roland VersaCamm VS-540, which was running metallic and white inks during the show, and then cut on the EskoArtwork Kongsberg i-XP. The finished eagles were handed out as limited edition memento of the show.

"FESPA Americas was an educational show and we wanted to bring this to life and show exactly how different equipments can work together to produce inspirational print. From the feedback received, we have absolutely achieved this. For example, Charlie Bell from Aloma Printing told us that he found the feature 'helpful' and 'refreshing' and said that he believes businesses working towards new profit centers would find it particularly useful," Marcus concludes.