Takeaways from the ISA Sign Expo

Signage and display graphics professionals converged in Vegas to see what’s new in the industry.

More than 20,000 attendees made ISA Sign Expo in Las Vegas their destination on April 24-26. Exhibitors – 600-plus – showcased their signage and print product offerings across more than 235,000 square feet of event space at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center.

Here are some highlights from the expo.

Automation – and associated quick turn times and potential lower costs – is a focal point. Manufacturers like EFI, Massivit, and Mimaki discussed this refrain from their customers: How can shops automate to be more profitable and efficient, and get jobs out the door faster? This goal continuously drives companies to create products to meet these demands with greater speed, as well as the potential for unattended printing.

Textile printing and soft signage are still burgeoning market segments, as more sign and print shops branch out into that area. Digitally printed textiles have expanded from interior décor and fashion into signage and graphics. More textile printers are entering the marketplace (HP launched a dye sub line at the show [right]; Roland plans to unveil a fabric printer this summer). Attributes such as reduced shipping costs, a high-end look, reusability, and easy installation add to PSPs’ interest in the use of textiles for the signage and display market.

Color matching across machines is a critical challenge shops are seeking to overcome. Such companies as Agfa, HP, Onyx, SAi, and PrintFactory said they are hearing from their users that color matching across a varied fleet of wide-format printers is paramount, as many buyers are demanding consistent color for their brands. Software and hardware product makers are fine-tuning their offerings to aid in this quest.

Texture is in. Printer and substrate manufacturers alike displayed output featuring printed items that mimic something else, like wood, showing Sign Expo attendees how they might utilize a product at their own shops. [Left, Avery Dennison showcases a textured wall wrap.]

There’s renewed interest in flatbed printing. Agfa’s Deborah Hutcheson noted a resurgence in flatbed printing due to interest in object, dimensional, and two-sided printing. Vycom’s Kevin Duffy points to flatbed printers’ ability to produce out-of-the-ordinary products.

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