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The Curtain Falls But The Excitement Lives On

The 17th edition of SGI concluded on a successful note. There were more equipment and new technologies on display compared to the previous editions. The number of visitors was in line with expectations.

Judging the crowd that filled the isles and booths visitor turnout of the first graphic arts show worldwide this year was satisfactory.

There is no doubt that SGI over the years has been able to consolidate its position as the number one signage exhibition in the region. Not only all top players embrace the show but also a wide range of companies offering niche products use SGI as a springboard to launch their products and make their presence known to the dynamic ME market.

Further on, the variety of applications and technologies on display was mind boggling. Almost all exhibitors focused on applications rather than equipment. Complete workflows for map production, photobooks, billboards, fleet graphics and other products were shown to the public. Print is just one part of the whole signage production cycle and other stages such as finishing, especially lamination and cutting, are equally important. People who attended SGI had the opportunity to witness the whole production process under one roof. The strength of SGI is its ability to evolve and grow along with the industry.

There were hardly any screen printing solutions to be seen while digital printing solutions were in action all over the venue.

The largest edition in the history of SGI once again proved that it is the most important signage and digital imaging show in the region. The curtain falls today but the excitement generated by this show will live on.

More interest in Textile Printing

SGI 2014 reflected a high interest in textile printing. No matter whether a carpet has been printed such as the Saga DG booth on the EFI VUTEk presses or t-shirts and other clothing at the Epson booth, Signtrade booth with Mimaki or Brother printers or so many others that were on show. According to J. Notermans from SPGPrints who recently at the IMI conference gave the prediction that the digital textile market is set to grow by 24% per year from a volume of 310 mio sqm in 2013 to 733 mio sqm in 2017, this inkjet printing application is set to experience much growth. 

Differentiation and unique applications are one of the many factors that not only make a print service provider successful but also drive the much required growth of business proposals to client bases.

New generations of printers such as “The Beauty” – the ColorPainter M-64 from Seiko Instruments could be seen. Under the theme “Color on Time” the company presented its new low odour eco-solvent SX-ink that creates excellent print results for high quality indoor and long-life outdoor applications.

Epson’s new SC-F7000 dye sublimation printer for direct-to-garment prints is the first printer in its category that has each component designed and manufactured by one company to ensure quality, performance and reliability for maximum productivity and lower total cost of ownership. The 64-inch printer enables output of soft signage, sportswear, apparel, accessories, customized promotional items and decorated gadgets among others. Epson’s first roll-fed printer in the 64-inch (162.6 cm) range, the 8- or optionally 10-colour SC-S70610 that accommodates apart from CMYK also orange, light black, white and metallic inks was also in action printing photographic images.

One company, one hall

The largest booth at SGI has been booked by Signtrade, distributor of Mimaki and a host of other manufacturers. It comprised the whole hall 5 encompassing 950sqm. Here the Mimaki JV400SUV was on show. It displays the flexibility of solvent printing with the durability of UV cured inks, resulting in smooth, glossy prints, which simulate the appearance of being coated yet retaining the colour brightness expected from a solvent printer. These characteristics, coupled with a high resistance to scratching and weathering are designed to satisfy even the most demanding of customers. The innovative new Mimaki JV400LX latex printer designed for the signage market features higher energy efficiency while at the same time producing high print quality with an even wider colour gamut using more ecologically friendly inks. It is the first latex printer to feature white ink. Other products on show were the range of embroidery machines from ZSK in Germany; T-shirt printers from Brother in Japan; the flatbed applicator from Rolls Roller; lamination, trimmer and vertical cutting machines from the Italian company Neolt as well as the ink and sublimation system from Sawgrass.

At Agfa’s booth the Jeti 3020 Titan UV flatbed printer was featured. In addition, the Anapurna M3200 RTR, a 3.2 m wide high quality roll-to-roll UV machine for indoor and outdoor applications could be seen. It employs six KM 1024i 12 pl heads thus enabling printing with a resolution of up to 1,440dpi whereby even 6pt text is reproduced. In terms of workflow the company presented its Asanti solution that entails all prepress functions as well as controls all operations within a single PDF based workflow.

DGI took SGI as the opportunity to honour its distributor Copatra Graphics with the Distributor of the Year Award for 2013. CEO Yasser Zeki Anan from Copatra Graphics received the award from CEO and Chairman Wan-Soo Choi from SGI. Copatra Graphics pointed out that the award is not only purely based on achieved sales numbers but also takes service and performance into account. Founded in 1967 Copatra Graphics has been representing DGI since 2013 and became their sole distributor in the region in 2006.

The company had further big news to share at the show as from this year onwards it is also distributing DGI’s range of dye-sublimation and transfer paper textile printers. The soft signage Fabrijet Grand Series FG-3206 is available in two sizes and features a maximum speed of up to 120 sqm/h. The roll-to-roll printer accommodates polyester substrates that are mostly used for soft signage and home textiles prints with resolutions of up to 720×1, 440dpi in six colours (CMYKLcLm).

It also features mesh printing system, automatic carriage height adjustment and a wireless monitoring system via Smartphone among others. Speeds of up to 50sqm/h, a degassing system as well as an advanced take-up system and integrated drying system are some of the features of the Fabrijet FTII-1804S series that also is on show. On a maximum width of up to 1,880cm (media width) the four-colour machine prints with Konica Minolta 1024 heads at resolutions of up to 720x720dpi.

Giffin Graphics distributor for Durst presented the Rho 512 superwide format printer that got sold to a company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The machine enables printing of up to 900 dpi with speeds of up to 350 sqm/h whereby the drop size can be as small as 12 pl. Alternatively to using the whole maximum print width of up to 5 m, it can accommodate up to 3 different rolls of up to 1.6 m at the same time. The UV system features a high precision carriage system with linear motor drive technology and enhanced Quadro Array technology. Altogether more than 30,000 nozzles jet the VOC free Rho Roll Ink UV-curable pigment inks suitable for indoor and outdoor applications.

New technologies and concepts

Colourbyte, the Dubai-based distributor for Zund cutting systems, among others, showcased a range of solutions for printers at SGI. The Swiss multi-purpose flatbed cutting systems from Zund Systemtechnik AG enable printers to precisely cut and trim a wide range of products. In addition the company showcased tangential and drag knife cutting plotters as well as cut and print systems from the Belgian manufacturer Summa. The diverse range of high quality laminators from Flexa, an Italian company, could be seen in action as well as Trimalco cut and trim finishing solutions from the UK. Within the prepress arena, the company presented POS stand and packaging design software from Engview, a Bulgarian company.

Operating in Dubai since 1998, Colour Byte L.L.C provides specialist finishing solutions to the graphics industry and associated sectors. Our strategy is to always bring to market products that are best in class to cater to the professionals in the field. Its clients rely on well engineered equipments to provide a high quality finished product to their clients.

System Middle East FZC, distributors of Mutoh in GCC presented the Valuejet 1324/1624, a new generation cco-solvent printer and the Valuejet1638/2638 featuring dual staggered heads high quality output. As a special the company promoted price reductions for other models such as the RJ900X, VJ 1324W, VJ 1624W, VJ 1638W, VJ 2638W (Water based Indoor and Dye Sublimation Textile printers), VJ 1628 & VJ 2628 TD (Direct Textile Printers), Valuecut drag knife cutters and other peripherals and optional accessories.

SME, backed by extensive experience of highly professional team is providing complete solutions to Sign and related industry. Having complete range of Mutoh Large format digital printers for indoor, outdoor, dye sublimation and direct textile applications, supported by wide range of printable and colored vinyl from Hexis and coupled with a high quality CNC Router from VHF Germany, we are capable of catering to a wide range demand.

Megasign, a first time exhibitor within the consumables sector presented its range of PVC coated on laminated fabrics, PVC boards, multi-purpose fabrics and more. Offering a broad range of banner and backlit materials, the company offers widths of up to 5 m whereby customization of widths and lengths are possible according to their clients’ requirements. Megasign that up to now has been distributing their products in India only is looking for distributors in UAE.

Another show highlight has been at the booth of Universal Products from Bangalore in India that exhibited its range of green substrates, among them Eco-Vinyl, a 100% recyclable PVC and paper free pre-glued media for the digital printing industry. Its light weight (thickness: 90 gsm) can replace PVC vinyl billboards, banners and more the company claims. Likewise 100% recyclable and PVC free, the Eco-Flex product range, a durable replacement substrate for billboards and banners for indoor and outdoor applications was on show. It comes in two thicknesses: 150 and 200 gsm and generated much interest within the visitors.

After having printed the world’s biggest cultural and religious book at a size of 5 x 4 m and a weight of 1,500 kg on Seemee media from Verseidag, Veseidag Indutex GmbH-Mena, the Jordanian company arm exhibited the Seemee substrates at SGI. Among them is the Frontlit standard B7943, a recyclable back-to-back substrate that comes with a 3-5 year warranty and in sizes from 1.6 to 5 m. This environmentally friendly substrate is available in different widths and sizes.

What exhibitors had to say?

Exhibitors in general were happy with the show although almost everybody was complaining about the timing of the event. Many top managers from Europe and US could not participate in the show due to Christmas holidays. Having said that some also did show up. Walter Nackaert, Agfa’s managing director for direct export was one of them. He is quite upbeat about the SGI 2014. “This show was the best we ever had in Dubai as far as the results are concerned. We met visitors and customers from all over the region and Africa. People are now recognizing the quality we are offering and they come to us. There is more demand for high quality UV printers. Although I must admit there are still lot of solvent printers around. But people are more conscious about environment. Comments Nackaert. He adds.” There is also lot of interest for flatbed technology. People are recognizing the potential of flatbed technology. Flatbed offers a variety of application and possibilities. It has been a very busy show for us however the downside of the show is of course the date. For next year the show should be held in January end or even in February. So the organizer should do something about it. Also we expect the show to grow and attract more visitors and exhibitors. All in all SGI is an important show that’s why we made a big investment being at the show. On the other Dubai Expo 2020 announcement created a dynamism in the market. There is an uplifted mood which hopefully turns into new investments in coming years.”

OKI showcased their latest major industry ‘first’ from its portfolio of innovative print solutions with the introduction of its CMYK+ LED A3 ES9541 at SGI2014. Developed to meet a wide range of graphic arts and commercial printing needs, this award winning 5 station printer futures a five station toner configuration with cyan, magenta, yellow and black, plus white or clear in the fifth position; providing expanded printing capabilities and revenue-generating opportunities.

Another product shown was the A3 LED C931 colour printer, also designed for the graphic arts market. This model offers highnt quality and high print speeds with low total cost of ownership and unrivalled media flexibility. The superior media handling the C931 provides includes transparent media, magnets, banners and heavyweight cardstock up to 360gsm. The C931 is the perfect partner for creative agencies and design teams where producing concepts and proofs that are as similar as possible to the proposed final design is essential for client approval. The C931 can also be used as an office printer for day to day printing, eliminating the need for two separate printers for office and creative requirements.

In addition to their 2 new offerings, the A3 C920WT white toner printer was demonstrated, along with partners, The Magic Touch, who brought their heatpress for t-shirt and bag printing. The chance for potential buyers to see the advantages of this cutting edge technology first hand ensured the OKI stand was very well attended throughout the exhibition. Sales of this machine have already highlighted a number of strong vertical market opportunities, from T-shirt transfers to imaginative in-store point of sale applications and packaging. As variants of existing tried and tested OKI printers, the white toner products offer major advantages over other white printing devices, making them affordable for the first time to large and small businesses looking to expand their in-house print capability.

John Ross, General Manager OKI Middle East, India and Africa, said, “SGI is an excellent opportunity to present to a large professional audience the technological capabilities that OKI has as a pioneer of LED digital colour printing and as a developer of the highest quality print output for the B2B market. Of course, there is still much work to be done to educate the press, channel and end users about the benefits of in-house colour printing and the use of white and clear toners and OKI will continue to do this for the foreseeable future.”

Ayman is satisfied with the quality of the show however like many other exhibitors finds participating in a major trade show right after Christmas holidays very challenging.

One of the most proactive stands in SGI was Saga digital. the company represents EFI and a host of other brands in the region. We caught up with Mehdi Berrada Baby founder and the director of the company and his partner Abdallah Ghalayini in the last day of the show to ask about their take on the event.   Ghalayini says the quality of the visitors were excellent however since the show was held right after Christmas holidays many still did not have enough time to sit down and lay out their investment plan for 2014.  “People are still reading their emails and try to catch up with work back log. So making an investment decision at this stage is very difficult. I believe SGI should be held in third or fourth week of January. Having said that we are satisfied with the result of the show. Over all we are satisfied with the number of visitors.” 

Saga Digital showcased a range of hardware and software in this year’s event and according to Ghalayini all the machines were sold to customers across region. Speeds of up to 111sqm/h and prints of up to dual 600dpi or 1,000dpi resolution could be seen at the Saga DG booth. The EFI QS3Pro enables six colour printing plus white and handles rigid and sheet media up to 3.2 m wide and 5.08 cm thickness. The hybrid printing system is especially suited for POP applications and accommodates optionally a second white ink channel for doubling production speeds or premium margin white applications.  The first EFI VUTEk GS5000r UV printer in the region, the only 5m printer whose output is covered by the coveted 3M MCS warranty (when using co-branded EFI and 3M inks and 3M flexible media), will find its new home in Dubai, UAE. It has been present at SGI where with print speeds of up to 288sqm/h multi roll printing on two or three rolls simultaneously as well as printing on one roll has been shown. The fastest printer at the show the Vortex 4200 wide format printer from RTI-Digital Ltd. in Italy could also be experienced at the Saga DG booth. Vortex 4200 targets mainly the GIS, CAD but also AEC and POS market, the machine employs the unique Memjet technology enabling it to achieve high speeds.  Vortex can print at 2 different speeds. The slow speed is 500 sqm/hr and the resolution at this speed is 1600 X 1600 dpi. The fast speed is 1000 sqm/hr and the resolution is 1600 X 800 dpi.

The on-demand thermal inkjet technology features 5 print heads (one for each color: CMYKK) – altogether 352,000 nozzles and a resolution of 1600 x 800 dpi as well as an integrated sheet cutter among others.

A very interesting solution from EFI for added value has been the SmartSign Analytics (SSA) enabling marketers to understand and measure the effectiveness of their printed signs. Via a webcam at the smart sign, patterns are detected whereby the system logs information on the number of viewers, their gender and age range as well as which content was viewed and how much time was spent viewing a particular signage. The webcam detects the presence of people within viewing range as well as determines which of those people are actually viewing the sign. EFI Smart Sign Analytics delivers a host of data that advertisers did not have before. Data collected from SmartSign Analytics can be aggregated to help analyzing performance, identifying trends and determination of the most effective signage engagements based upon the demography profile of your target audience. By merging the data from many signs a powerful reporting engine delivering valuable data to be used to make timely business decisions can thus be established. Mehdi Berrada Baby is also not pleased with the fact that SGI was held during holiday season. “Due to the Christmas holidays many of our African clients could not participate at the show.  But generally we are happy with the outcome of the show. We sold Efi machines to major companies such as Reprotronics and ColorMix. Reprotronics from Dubai will be the first printer in the region that is using the new EFI VUTEk GS5000r for production. The company signed the contract for

The five-meter roll-to-roll UV printer at SGI. On the other hand our Vortex 4200 proved to be a crowd puller and a prominent African customer already purchased the machine. Memjet technology has been around for few years but it was not ready for commercial launch. But the technology is mature now and it is suited for a variety of indoor applications.  There is also more demand for UV products. Efi is focusing on UV as well as LED technology which is more environmentally friendly. LED offers cool curing rather hot curing and that means less energy consumption.” Adding to Berrada Baby comments Ghalayini says,” there is this perception that solvent technology is cheaper than technology. But if you consider all the factors involved you find out that at the end of the day UV printing is more economical. First of all with UV you can use a wide range of media and you can print lot faster with less energy which significantly reduces your overhead cost and improves your bottom line. “

Fujifilm had a noticeable presence at the show and the company managed to sell a number of LFP machines to clients across region. 

Enis Kraiem Fujifilm’s regional sales manager says,” It has been a great show for Fujifilm in terms of leads and sales but in general the visitor’s turnout was not high. This was expected due to the bad timing of the show and the Christmas holidays. The positive thing is that 80% of the leads we collected were decision makers which is a good sign of the interest of the company leaders in the show. We have sold 6 LED1600 to Saudi Arabia, 1 LED1600 and one Acuity Advance Select 4006 to the UAE. We have 3 important leads in the pipeline. One is for an Onset S20i, one is for an Acuity Advance Select 5226 for Kuwait and the last one is for an Acuity LED1600 for the UAE.”

X- Plus, a business consultancy company with focus on marketing and BTL recently  purchased it second Fujifilm large format machine. Company’s new flatbed equipment Acuity LED 1600 was on display at Fujifilm stand. This is company’s second machine from Fujifilm. Another company that opted for Fujifilm was Abu Dhabi based Designer who purchased Acuity Advance Select 4006 (flatbed machine).

put up a strong show during SGI. Company’s robotic technology attracted many visitors and created lot of buzz.  For the first time in the Middle East and Africa the company launched DigiRob CNC Robotic 7Axis Engraving machine.  DigiRob was in action during the entire event carving out shapes and figures out of different materials. Bilal Al Hittab, Digimatrix’s managing director is upbeat about the number of deals sealed during SGI (see box). He says” This year we had received tremendous response from the market and the visitors.  Our new DigiRob proved to be a magnet and crowed puller. All our other offerings along including Dilli UV Printing, Dilli UV Flatbed printer, DigiCam CNC Router with the Digital Cutting System created huge interest.  

We welcomed more than 1100 guest visitors to our stand and spent some quality time discussing with them about the future opportunities to work together. The investment we made in SGI definitely paid off”

Our Take away

Sign & Graphic Imaging Middle East was the first major show of 2014 and despite the Christmas holidays number of visitor turnout was in line with expectations. There were some exciting technology at the show and exhibitors in general were happy with the result.

The next challenge for SGI would be how to move forward. The exhibition has to find ways to grow even further and attract more exhibitors from digital signage and digital textile printing industry sector.  But the event has the potential to expand and become an indispensable show for everyone involved in the signage and digital imaging and related technology.

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