On 8th May I got up at the crack of dawn, headed to Heathrow and jetted out to Hamburg to attend FESPA, a print trade show for the wide format printing industry. FESPA has a special area dedicated to textile printing as well as printeriors, an interior showcase, so I was keen to see what the latest trends and developments were in the digital textile printing world.
The exhibitors were from a range of manufacturers and suppliers. All the big printer makers were there; Epson, Mimaki, Kornit, Roland, HP, Canon, Durst, JHF, Brother, Luscher-Tschudi, as well as ink and dye producers and suppliers of coated fabrics.
Inks and Dyes
The trends seemed to be for new colours in sublimation printing, particularly bright neons as well as ranges of pigment inks. Suppliers from across the globe, including China, offered bright colour palettes and some really great pre-printed fabric samples to take away.
Dye-sublimation seemed to dominate as well as direct to garment printers but there were several inkjet printers as well. Kornit offered the Allegro which was able to coat the fabric through one of the print heads as well as print it.
Premier Textiles featuring Durabrite inks had a great stand which included a display of upholstered chairs in a patchwork of the fabrics that they offered. They had a large range of coated fabrics ready for Latex printing as well as dye sublimation and reactive dyes.
Software and RIPS
Caldera seemed to power every machine on display and they were there promoting their Textile RIP which seemed popular. I managed to pick up a copy of their press magazine ‘Gamut’ which had some excellent articles on colour management and how printers and designers need to co-operate to achieve great quality prints. I hadn’t heard of Caldera before, they’re a paper RIP primarily, but their website is a great resource and has an interesting blog, including lots on colour management.
Oki demonstrated a laser toner digital textile printer and a 3D printer which printed images that could be seen as 3D if you wore special glasses. They also had a printer which printed glow in the dark ink. All great novelties for the t-shirt market
It was noticeable that many of the bigger companies had been busy buying up smaller specialists companies. Epson featured Robustelli on their stand who developed the Monna Lisa which is a high end digital textile printer.
HP provided an entirely printed room filled with various substrates all digitally printed using various methods including Latex printing.
Dimense had a really beautiful 2.5D printer which they showcased as 3D but really is a textured print. Very interesting.
After a long day I trekked back to Hamburg airport, boarded a plane back to London, and was home in time to put my two year old to bed at 9pm. Zzzzz