What is Fespa?
Previously, Fespa was the largest international screen print show and took place every 3-4 years. The exhibition took place in a different city every time and had a feel as the Olympics of the traditional print.
Through the years as the digital printing took a major place in the overall printing industry, Fespa Digital was born. Nowadays, it is held every year because the digital printing industry is a fast developing industry and holding it every 3-4 years is too long of a gap to catch up.
The Digital Printing industry starts from our very basic PC/Mac driven desktop printer (inkjet or laser) to big machines that can print up to 5m wide prints and from paper to scrim vinyl, textiles, wood surfaces and even stones.
This year, Fespa Digital took place in Hamburg, Germany (next year in Barcelona, Spain). A beautiful city with a nice lake called Alster in the middle surrounded with cafes and restaurants where you can get a nice glass of beer and relaxed or go through the very unique St. Pauly area where the Beatles started their career. The Beatles by the way are well remembered at Alster and even have a little place on their name called the Beatles platz ,side by side to the vivid “liberal” clubs and red windows night life.
But, I was there to see what’s new… And the truth is that it was mostly improvements on existing technologies rather than real new technology. In the very large format of wide printers, the inkjet technology in its many variations still rules the game. On the case of large format media, the inkjet printer is very much based on solvent inks and UV cured prints, in a way taking an offset technology to the inkjet systems where the printers id using ink that is cured on the substrate with UV light.
These types of inks are not yet usable with the regular desktop printers and their printers are happy with 2 types of water based inks, the dye based and pigment inks. Although the desktop printers are limited to the water based inks only, the media developer i.e. papers, films etc., has gone a long way to develop coatings on the substrate to enable the home user to become a little printing company, starting from brochures to photo papers that amongst them you can find the very fine photo art papers to the art printing of true canvas and photo art to vinyl stickers and T shirt. The advanced technology nowadays allows you to spend £30.00 on a printer and giving that you have the right media, you can print almost everything and with a breath-taking quality.
In the images below you can see the giant UV printer to float bed printer for rigid surfaces and printing directly on T-shirt which may cost £16,000 for the printer, so buying T-shirt transfer paper using your cheap home printer may be an easier and cheaper solution 😉