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Greg Craigen, director, SignAway

Image Reports speaks to Greg Craigen, director, SignAway.

Hands on: Mimaki TX400

Users tell of how this unit provides a relatively cheap way of printing to fabrics for everything from banners to tablecloths.

There are a lot of advantages to printing to fabric for so- called soft signage but textile printing can also open up new markets for wide-format print providers, such as interior décor and even clothing.

Greenwashing to dry

Two Sides is doing a great job in challenging the assumption that digital is more environmentally friendly than paper-based print. But can you do more to help spread the word?

In February, The Guardian newspaper ran an article ‘Is digital really greener than paper?’ in response to the print industry’s challenge for the world at large to rethink this wide held belief. As the piece acknowledged: “We've all received statements from our banks, telecommunication and utilities companies with a simple message at the bottom urging us to ‘Go paperless, save trees’.” The implicit message is that print is damaging to the planet.

Infrequently asked question time

Nessan Cleary flags up key areas of pre-investment discussion as trade show season gets underway.

There’s a number of trade shows over the coming few weeks, which of course we'll report on, and where there will undoubtedly be a lot of new/updated kit. But before we become too involved in looking at the new devices and their must-have features, we thought it time to consider the questions you should be asking before the 2014 investment cycle starts gathering momentum.

Summit Synopsis

We’re doing well, but we can do better according to Fespa Global Summit speakers. Here’s the upshot of the two-day event.

Technology is driving convergence. And so is customer expectation. If there was one key takeaway from the recent Fespa Global Summit, it was that what we fear should be what we embrace. That we’ve got to get beyond the mindset of being a ‘printer’ and think about how we can become specialists in visual communication, whatever that might entail.

Dream, dream, dream

altInspiring youngsters to reach their full potential is what Learn to Dream does with its eyes wide open. Here’s how and why.

Seymour Reeves has a dream, and along with his fellow directors at Learn to Dream – better known as Ltd Ltd – he’s making it a reality. The dream: To inspire youngsters. If that sounds altruistic, to a large extent it is. But of course, by bringing young people into the company’s east London print business as part of various educational schemes, they are effectively showcasing the possibilities of print.

The importance of being earnest

You cannot ignore the opportunities provided by social media marketing for connecting with prospects and customers. If done well it will not only help you reach these people, but help them reach you. With the average age of print buyers getting younger, engaging these digital natives via social media is as important for your business as it is completely instinctive for them.

Plucky Marketing is a digital marketing agency created to help start-ups and SMEs manage their online presence through effective Web design and email marketing as well as social media. Here’s its insight on the latter.

IR talks to… Charlotte Graham-Cumming, director of Ice Blue Sky

How do printers need to talk to marketers and creatives to build better business opportunities? That's the question I put to Charlotte Graham-Cumming, director of Ice Blue Sky, a fast-growing B2B marketing communications agency. In her own words, the company “acts as a conduit between the printer and their customers”, so she’s well placed to share some valuable insights.

Think Bigger: Epson

A fashion show at the V&A saw polyester clothing printed using an Epson SurePress FP-30160.In this series of reports on what vendors are doing to help educate creative and other potential users of wide-format print we talk to Martin Johns, Market Development Manager, Prographics, Epson UK.

Promoting the many creative applications of digital large-format printing technology to creative and interior designers - as well as the general public - is a major element of Epson’s PR and marketing activities. The intention is not only to generate demand for digitally produced print but to inspire creatives to consider buying their own large-format print equipment.

Backing Brum

Will you be heading to Birmingham for sign and digital UK this year? If so, here’s what you can expect to see and hear.

What’s Sign and Digital UK 2014 going to be like when the more international crowd pulling Fespa Digital is just around the corner - well, in terms of date that is. The focus of the 2013 Birmingham-based show was very much on signage, though many of the products being exhibited had a wider appeal than that. Event director Rudi Blackett says this year’s event will be 20% bigger in terms of floorspace, and have more exhibitors.

Know the recovery position

Phil Thompson of the BPIFPhil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, says insurance companies are looking for more rigorous risk management plans following the winter floods. Here’s his business continuity health check.

We have seen how unpredictable the weather can be and some print companies have been affected enormously. However, it is not only those that suffered from the floods that are having to face up to the consequences; insurance companies are now increasingly looking for more rigorous business management plans to ensure that if a company is impacted by either natural disaster or human error, they could manage the situation effectively and quickly.

Seiko Colorpainter-M64s

Nessan Cleary tests the latest Colorpainter, a production machine that delivers good image quality at reasonably fast speeds.

The ColorPainter M-64S, developed by Seiko InfoTech, was launched at last summer's Fespa show in London but only started shipping in the UK from the end of 2013. The M- series fills out the ColorPainter range nicely, sitting just below the top of the range H2 series but being faster than the entry-level W-series.

Sign & Digital UK: the wide-format print destination

This year the NEC will again host the industry’s leading trade exhibition for the sign making, display solutions and digital printing industry, when Sign & Digital UK opens its doors from 29 April to 1 May.

Returning for its 27th anniversary, this year’s show will offer more than ever for those in the wide-format print industry, showcasing the latest technology, products and business advice.

Working from the ground up

Printing flooring offers huge scope – but not just for printers. Flooring specialists too can see opportunities and are getting in on the act, so are there lessons you can learn from them?

Twenty years after it was founded, German-based laminate flooring business Falquon has been revitalised by a management team with an innovative business model that revolves around the purchase of an Océ Arizona UV flatbed printer from Canon.

Latex vs solvent

This HP Latex 3000 uses the latest generation of latex inks, which cure at a lower temperature.

Solvent inkjet has been around for many years but latex is gaining ever more traction, so which is the best choice? Nessan Cleary investigates.

On the face of it latex and solvent printers appeal to the same people – those using flexible roll-fed materials for banners, posters, general display signage and vehicle graphics. There’s a lot of overlap between the two technologies, which offer similar levels of performance in terms of image quality and outdoor performance. So, how to choose between them?

IR talks to… Glyn Farrow, Chief Executive of St Bride Foundation

Glyn Farrow, chief executive of St Bride FoundationThe St Bride Foundation is well known in print circles. Based behind the church of St Bride at the bottom of Fleet Street, it has been synonymous with the industry since it was founded in 1891. It’s aim then was to provide a social and cultural centre for local people, with emphasis for those in the printing and associated trades. Over the years it became well known for its printing school, library and archives, but is it all about the past? Does it have a valuable role to play in print’s future too?

Image Reports editor, Lesley Simpson, asked chief executive Glyn Farrow about the foundation’s current remit.