Fespa Digital is the launchpad for all things digital. Images jumped on a plane to the Netherlands to get the breaking news

Welcome to the RAI Amsterdam

On a cold, bright day, Images arrived at the RAI in Amsterdam for Fespa Digital 2016, having narrowly avoided being run down by the many bikes in the city. It was the opening day of the four-day show and already visitors were streaming in to see the latest in wide format printers, digital inks and direct-to-garment machines. There were more than 16,000 visitors to the show, which was celebrating its tenth anniversary, with footfall up an impressive 34% since the last Fespa Digital was held in early spring in 2012.

The dedicated Fespa Textile hall was the first stop for garment decorators, with Kornit grabbing a fair amount of attention thanks to its double launch of the Storm Hexa and Storm 1000. These direct-to-garment printers are the latest from the Storm range and feature a recirculating ink system to reduce ink consumption, as well as double the number of nozzles, which Kornit says will increase productivity by up to 40% over previous Storm configurations. The Storm 1000 has 12 print heads in a CMYK and white configuration while the Hexa has 16 print heads and two additional colours for full CMYK, red, green and white support. Both produce up to 170 garments an hour according to Kornit.

From left: The Storm Hexa from Kornit, the new polyester caps from BestSub now come in colour – previously they were only available in white

Exile Technologies was also a popular stand, with managing director Mark Evans reporting Fespa as being a good show, with interest being split 50:50 between the Freestyler Direct To Screen (DTS) system, which had been launched at TV TecStyle Visions in February, and the Spyder II DTS system, which had just celebrated its first birthday. The Freestyler DTS uses a low cost, disposable ink jet printer cartridge design with a specially developed ‘UV-block’ black ink for enhanced UV density. After imaging the screen is ready for immediate exposure without the need for a glass or vacuum. The new system brings DTS within the reach of smaller shops producing up to about 40 screens a day.

The power of print

The award for most eye-catching stand has to go to TheMagicTouch (TMT), which brought a laidback vibe to its corner of Fespa Textile with a red and white VW Campervan and palm tree styling. Dotted around the vehicle were TMT staff discussing the company’s large number of launches at the show, the first of which was the new, weedless, one-step T.One transfer paper that has been developed for use with white-toner printers. The company says it has a soft touch, great washability, produces no residue and is compatible with cotton, polyester, mixed and performance fabrics. It will be available to existing ‘white toner’ users in May, with a general release later. Also on display was the new Neon Toner – turn to the Digital Showcase, this issue, for more information.

A new ‘easy-2-weed’ feature for the existing white 123Flex was also on show, as well as a large range of new foils featuring metallic and fashion-based effects, which are heat-pressed directly to the T.One transfer and again involve no cutting or weeding.

TheMagicTouch launched a number of innovative new products at Fespa Digital

Roland DG used Fespa Digital as the launchpad for its TrueVIS VG-640/540 series of printer/cutters and TrueVIS Inks. Head of marketing (EMEA) Gillian Montanaro unveiled the 64” and 54” advanced wide-format, eco-solvent inkjet printer/cutters in Amsterdam, explaining: “’Vis’ is power in Latin and this is a truly powerful machine. This is our finest visual communication machine yet. And this is our vision, our vision for the future.”

Key features include four new FlexFire printheads that deliver precision droplets in three sizes and a wide print pass, a new cutter with increased downforce and accuracy, new mobile panel, new LED lighting and new Greenguard Gold-certified, fast-drying TrueVIS Ink with reusable holders. The machines come in three ink configurations – dual CMYK, 7 colour (CMYKLcLmLk), 8 colour (CMYKLcLmLkWh) – and with new VersaWorks Dual RIP software.

Also enjoying its first outing was the TexJet shorTee direct-to-garment printer from Polyprint. This affordable, compact, entry-level printer provides single pass printing in CMYK and white, and can print 80 white T-shirts an hour and 28 dark. It can print on a variety of materials, including cotton, polyester, polycottons, linen, viscose and leather, and comes with large, medium, sleeve and baby platens (the large has a removable part for polo shirts). It is available in the UK through Amaya Sales UK.

The DTG stand was a bustling hub in the centre of the textile hall, where the company’s MSeries range of direct-to-garment prints was garnering lots of interest, reported Liam White of Impression Technology Europe. New for the show was the M6, an industrial machine designed for multiple garment prints and fashion panel decoration that has a dual four-colour ink system. It can use three ink types (pigment, reactive and sublimation), has a print area of 1100mm x 980mm and a print speed of just under 100 sq ft per hour.

With and without flash – demonstrating the clever reflective print technology from International Transfer Graphics

Innovative inks

Brother won hands down the prize for the most fun stand at the show. National sales manager Sean Barker of GS UK, a UK distributor of Brother machines, gave Images a tour of the extensive selection of machines on display, including the crowd-pleasing automated T-shirt kiosk run by Bobo Simonak. Visitors to the stand chose a T-shirt design, had their photos taken by the kiosk’s camera and were then handed a unique barcode. When the barcode was scanned, the chosen design complete with photo was printed out on the Brother direct-to-garment machine. It was then whipped off for a few minutes of drying before being handed over to beaming visitors.

Also on the Brother stand was Holger Weber of International Transfer Graphics, who was demonstrating an innovative reflective technology whereby a normal looking printed T-shirt was transformed when the special reflective foil incorporated in the design was exposed to a flashlight.

SPGPrints chose Fespa as the venue in which to launch its new range of Nebula sublimation inks. The range has been formulated for use with Kyocera print heads and the company says it offers a wider colour gamut, reduced manufacturing costs and high print quality. Sun Chemical also presented its new range of water-based inkjet inks at the show: the SunTex Sonata is a series of dye sublimation transfer inks and direct print dispersed inks for polyester and polyester-rich substrates; and SunTex Encore is a range of direct print pigment inks.

Fespa 2017, which will incorporate Fespa Textile, will take place at the Hamburg Messe in Germany from 8-12 May 2017.


From left: The automated kiosk on the Brother stand with Bobo Simonak, the new M6 direct-to-garment printer from DTG