Sunday, 26 Mar 2017 18:08 GMT

Sign and Digital UK Preview

Celebrating 30 years as the ‘must visit’ sign event on the calendar, Jo Golding explores the special areas and major product launches at this year’s Sign and Digital UK

Gather round

Sign and Digital UK has become an institution for the sign and wide-format print sectors, and over the years has evolved into an exhibition that offers the densest array of the latter technology in the UK. Taking place every spring over the duration of three days, Sign and Digital UK is a great place to keep up to date with the latest sign solutions.

This year’s edition promises to be one to remember as the exhibition celebrates 30 years showcasing sign-making, display solutions, and digital printing. The event will be held from March 28th to 30th in halls 17 to 18 at the NEC in Birmingham.

New for 2017, organisers have introduced the Creative Theatre. Rudi Blackett, event director of Sign and Digital UK, explains what the purpose of the special area is: “The Creative Theatre was launched to provide learning and advice specifically for professionals in the graphics, branding and display industries. It will look at the processes and activity that takes place earlier in the production schedule, with daily seminars, case studies, content and learning developed specifically for creative and design teams.

The Creative Theatre was launched to provide learning and advice specifically for professionals in the graphics, branding and display industries

“This year’s show theme—applications, ideas and advice—will be at the heart of the seminar content, with topics including the future of digital advertising and signage, interior wall décor, future materials and colour management.”

Sign and Digital UK is a great place to see examples of high quality printing and get inspiration

Speakers in the Creative Theatre include Joe Wigzell, academy and creative centre manager for Roland DG, Sean Brereton, creative director for experiential graphics design consultancy The Velvet Principle, Katie Waters, head designer for international branding and interior design agency,, and Ed Currer, founder of Vinyl Impressions.

If topics such as digital advertising and signage, interior decorations and wall graphics, and variable data printing take your fancy, then head along to the Creative Theatre for just that and even more topics of discussion.

Get up to speed

Another big part of Sign and Digital UK’s special areas is software. The exhibition has got all areas covered with its Corel Theatre, Adobe Theatre, and Signlab Theatre. “Our popular software sessions are designed to help both new and regular users of Adobe, Corel and SignLab to get up to speed with the latest editions. All sessions are geared towards providing practical, hands-on advice,” says Blackett.

The Adobe Theatre has a seminar line-up that covers the full Adobe software suite, including Indesign CC, Illustrator CC, Premiere Pro CC, and Photoshop CC.

Blackett adds: “Popular topics set to be covered include tools for overcoming the challenges of colour management, top time-saving techniques for Photoshop and advice for using promotional videos to raise awareness for your brand, service or product.”

In the Corel Theatre, there will also be five workshops each day and two drop-in surgeries on March 28th and 29th. “Sessions will help visitors get up to speed with the latest software features, offering brand new tips, techniques and tools,” says Blackett, adding: “Topics will range from getting the most out of the CorelDRAW Graphics Suite, hands on advice for creating a .CDR file that’s suitable for variable data printing and getting the most out of Wilcom DecoStudio for screen printing, digital printing or embroidery.”

The ‘Exploring interior décor’ seminar will start at 2pm on 28th March. Pictured: Examples of interior decorations printed with HP Latex technology at last year’s show

For visitors that need help on a particular project or have a specific question to ask, the Corel Draw surgery is the best way to receive personalised advice—organisers advise visitors to bring along their questions and files on a memory stick to get the most out of the experience.

Blackett says: “The Signlab Theatre will return for its fourth year at the show, covering all aspects of best practice sign making, including print and cut, sign and display design and production workflows. The sessions are presented by CAD link Technology, a pioneer in sign making software that has been developing specific software solutions for large format design and production for over 25 years.”

The SignLab Theatre will be presented by CADlink Technology, covering all aspects of best practice sign-making

One highlight Blackett points out is the ‘Getting to know SignLab’ session, which focuses on Signlab’s features geared towards enhancing productivity. Topics covered will be vinyl cutting features, Contour Cut, Instant Replay, Fluid Mask for Signlab, serialisation, and vectorisation.

On the topic of software, one of this year’s prize draws comes from Cadlink Technology, the company behind Signlab. The company will be running a competition where one lucky visitor could win a copy of one of their top packages, Signlab v10 Print and Cut, which would ordinarily cost £1,950. You could also win a copy of Corel Draw Graphics Suite X8 Small Business Edition with Corel.

O Factoid: Look out for Roland DG (H30), Cadlink Technology (R20), Signwaves’ (J60), and Corel (D44) stands at this year’s show—they are giving away prizes that could save you more than £1,000 on software and printing equipment. O

Meanwhile, point-of-sale signs and displays specialist, Signwaves, will be holding interactive competitions which give visitors the chance to win a number of high value prizes. Also, manufacturer Roland DG will give one visitor to its stand the chance to walk away with the versatile integrated printer/cutter, the True VIS SG-540—again saving the lucky winner over £12,000.

Roland DG will give one visitor to its stand the chance to win a TrueVIS SG-540 printer/cutter

Brand new

What would a trade show be without shiny new equipment? Sign and Digital UK does not disappoint and promises a plethora of launches that will keep visitors intrigued. Biesse Group will demonstrate its new CNC router dedicated to the sign industry, designed to cater for a higher level of precision and speed.

The Jetrix LXi8 LED-UV flatbed printer from Inktec will make its worldwide debut at the exhibition; a huge amount of interest from potential customers looking to upgrade their equipment is expected. Blackett adds: “The LXi8 will be running at top speeds of over 200sq m/h and has a host of new features, including InkTec’s latest generation LED-UV ink.”

Blackett says: “Photo USA Electronic will be launching the ‘Rotator’, a super small oven for sublimation printing, and an expandable printing tool for all kinds of substrate such as plates/small shots and shooters/vase/non-regular size mugs and other items. They will have demonstrations twice a day showing how the Rotator works and will be giving away printed mugs on their stand.”

Innotech is another company that will bring something new to the show with its roller banner range of eight types: Compass, Valiant, Style, Parade, Panorama, Explorer, Predator II, and Conquest. The banners range from those that are glossy and premium, to those that are heavy duty for outdoor applications—a product for any application.

Phil Walker, managing director of Innotech, says: “We’re delighted to be exhibiting at Sign and Digital UK and to have the opportunity to showcase our exciting new roller banner range. These latest additions reflect our focus on new products and our determination to continue to bring our customers the most vibrant and up-to-date product range.”

Soyang Europe is set to launch a new materials collection to the market as the company continues to target the wide-format sector; the new collections include Print, Self-Adhesive, Décor, and Textile.

Soyang Europe will launch a new materials collection at Sign and Digital UK including Print, Self-Adhesive, Décor, and Textile

Meanwhile, Sign Elite (Real Insurance Brokers) will launch Print Insure Plus at the exhibition this year, a specialist full print insurance product where printers can also choose additional covers including installation and height work.

This, as the company explains, solves the problem often faced by printers currently of print policies only covering manufacturing at the premises.

How do you do that?

Another special area of Sign and Digital UK is the Signmakers’ Workshop, which will again be presented by sign-maker Paul Hughes. Its purpose is to demonstrate some of the most in-demand skills and techniques, so visitors can see how to get to grips with them.

Blackett says about the workshop: “Sessions will include vinyl application, vehicle livery and making a signboard. There will also be daily question and answer sessions, giving visitors a chance to ask questions and try their hand at the techniques talked about in presentations.”

Another important part of the show is the Business Theatre, as Blackett says: “This year’s Business Theatre will be packed with practical sessions identifying new revenue opportunities for business owners looking to expand and improve their services for the year ahead.”

Blackett highlights speakers not to be missed, including James Priest, managing director of Assured Systems, Tony Kenton, strategy specialist for It Has To Be Brilliant, Richard McCombe, managing director of Matic Media, Robert Long, managing director of Kingswood iOptus, Ed Currer, founder of Vinyl Impressions, and Antony Behiels, director of Shop and Display Equipment Association.

Sign and Digital UK got hands-on with live demonstrations of vehicle wrapping in 2016

In a competitive and fast growing industry such as the sign industry, it is crucial to learn practical ways to grow your business. The Business Theatre is the ideal place to do this, with daily seminars covering topics such as the options for the funding of capital equipment, the benefits and practicalities of being a franchisee, and new areas of product diversification.

My advice is to check out the timetable, see which seminars stand out to you, and come along with an open and inquisitive mind. So, after hearing all about the special areas, launches, and competitions at this year’s event, there is only one thing left for you to do, which is pre-register online.

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