Sign & Digital UK returns to the NEC this month: we talk to event director, Rudi Blackett, about what this year’s event has in store for garment decorators and signmakers, and showcase some of the big name brands that will be exhibiting

2017 is a big year for Sign & Digital UK – the event is celebrating 30 years since its launch (as Sign UK), during which time it has expanded to an impressive size, now filling two halls at the NEC. In 2016 the show attracted more than 6,200 visitors and 170 exhibiting companies; this year’s anniversary show is promising to be even better.

“Sign & Digital UK has played host to some of the greatest innovations in signmaking, display solutions and digital printing technologies,” comments Rudi Blackett, event director. “The continual innovation and development in technologies for wide-format and textile print and finishing, as well as embroidery, dye sublimation and engraving have opened a new world of opportunities for printers, signmakers and graphic and textile output companies. From early vinyl cutting systems through to advanced, large-format flatbed printers and cutters, the show sees another step in innovation and development every year.”

Business and Creative Theatres

The focus for this year’s event is ‘celebrating 30 years of applications, ideas and advice’. “The industry has seen lots of ups and downs in that time, but Sign & Digital UK has been consistent throughout – it has always offered customers the stability, advice and support they need in an ever-changing marketplace. We’ve always prided ourselves on being a buying show, but this year we also want to remind our visitors that the show offers unparalleled networking and learning opportunities. Visitors can find out about new products and applications, as well as getting technical advice by speaking directly with the industry’s leading suppliers. It’s the perfect chance to give your business a check-up, learn about new revenue opportunities and to see what the competition is up to!”

A big draw for visitors this year is the launch of a brand new Creative Theatre. It will feature seminars and case studies from industry leaders that will focus on the creative processes that take place before printing and signmaking. Rudi says: “These sessions will be really helpful for brand managers, graphic designers and design agencies: topics covered will include ‘Overview of innovative new materials’, ‘Understanding customer expectations and experience in retail’ and the ‘Dos and Don’ts of Colour Management’.

Sign & Digital UK 2017 will offer the ideal chance to explore new business ideas

The Business Theatre is returning this year: it will include daily sessions with tips on how to develop and grow your business, as well as a series of case studies from industry experts. Visitors can take part in ‘Where physical meets digital: ask the expert panel’ which will provide insight into how to specify projects, advise clients, set up partnerships to diversify into new digital areas, and where your business fits.

“The ever-popular Adobe, Corel and SignLab theatres will be back in 2017, too, with daily sessions covering the latest software updates,” reports Rudi. “There will also be drop-in surgeries for visitors who need advice or tips for a project or task. Simply bring along your questions and your files on a memory stick and get advice from the experts. All the seminars and workshops are free to attend and there’s no need to book, just drop in. Visitors can find a full line-up on the website ahead of the show.”

On top of all this, there is still more to come, says Rudi: “We’re planning some exciting features and highlights to celebrate 30 years of Sign & Digital UK, but our lips are sealed for the moment! In terms of industry highlights, textile printing and finishing will continue to have a strong presence at the show. Many of the wide-format printing manufacturers have now developed ranges of textile-specific machines, and visitors will be able to see these in action. Exhibitors at this year’s event include Roland, Mimaki, Hewlett-Packard, Mutoh, Epson, Amaya, TheMagicTouch, Spandex, Antalis, Resolute DTG, Solent Sewing & Welding, Trotec Laser, Grafityp, Esko, Russell & Chapple and many more.”

Sign & Digital UK 2017 runs from 28 to 30 March 2017, in Halls 17-18 of the NEC, Birmingham. For free entry, pre-register now at the Sign & Digital UK website.

Meet the exhibitors

Some familiar, and some not so familiar faces will be exhibiting their textile decoration equipment at the Sign & Digital 2017 show, with exhibits taking in everything from desktop transfer printing systems to wide format sublimation printers for soft signage

Roland DG – H30

“Roland DG will once more be in attendance at Sign & Digital 2017,” says the company. “With a focus on offering attendees knowledge, support and advice, visitors to the stand will be greeted by not only the latest print technology, but also the chance for a coffee (courtesy of the on-stand café) and a chat with the people who know Roland DG technology best.”

Roland DG says visitors can expect to leave the stand with a wealth of product, technical and maintenance advice – depending on your requirements – plus expert information from the specialised RolandCare and Academy teams and the Roland Users who will be available on the stand throughout the show.


Graphtec GB – D50

Centre stage on the Graphtec GB stand will be the new i-Mark automatic digital die-cutter. A key feature of the machine, and one which the company says sets it apart from other die-cutting systems, is that the cutting process is carried out automatically to eliminate the need for users to purchase expensive dies.

Other solutions to be demonstrated include the flagship FC8600, the CE6000 and the new FCX2000 flatbed cutters. All of the plotter/cutters incorporate Graphtec’s proprietary ARMS (Advanced Registration Mark Sensing) system that uses four-point rather than traditional three-point media registration, which is said to greatly enhance media plotting and cutting accuracy. Dedicated design and production software is supplied with all of the machines.


AXYZ International – F20

AXYZ International will be demonstrating its latest Trident combined CNC routing and print finishing system at Sign & Digital UK. This powerful, single production workhorse combines routing and knife-cutting capabilities to obviate the need for print finishing specialists to invest in two separate machines.

The multi-featured system has been designed to resolve issues frequently encountered by print finishers and in particular the need to process an ever-increasing range of different rigid and flexible media that invariably require a wider, longer and deeper processing capability. Trident claims to increase output by as much as 50% in comparison with standard CNC routers.


TheMagicTouch – F60

At Sign & Digital UK, TheMagicTouch will be offering more digital image transfer innovation, covering many aspects of garment and promotional product decoration. The company will be showing the new T.One and T.Foil transfer process that offers a unique and affordable garment decoration method with transfers that involve no cutting or weeding.

TheMagicTouch will also be showing a brand new, award-winning process for decorating football and rugby balls, along with new RST9.1 transfer paper that decorates directly onto wood, slate and plastics. All of this as well as additions to the printer and heat press range makes a visit to the stand a must for any visitor.


Amaya Sales UK – D2

Amaya will be showing a full range of garment decoration equipment including the brand new Melco EMT16 Plus, modular embroidery system, the Texjet Echo DTG printer, the Forever range of transfer papers and Sef garment film. Amaya’s aim is to offer the full solution to the garment decorator both in equipment and expert advice.

“See how easy it is to print full colour designs on to light or dark garments with no weeding,” says Amaya. ‘Low prices, the highest quality and very easy to use. If you are thinking of adding garment decoration on to your business, then don’t miss the chance to talk to our experts.”