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The SGIA Expo is one of the key international events in the sign industry. Brenda Hodgson investigates what is on offer to UK and global firms at one of the worlds biggest signage shows

The SGIA Expo is designed to bring an international audience of visual communication specialists to the shores of the USA, with the aim of cross pollinating technology and business models

It has been said that when America sneezes the world catches a cold. This could be said to apply to exhibitions, with products and innovations shown in the USA finding their way to the UK and the rest of the world. And, of course, UK exhibitors at US shows have a chance to reverse the flow. So, what better place to start than the SGIA Expo 2013, from October 23rd to 25thin Orlando, Florida.

As one of the major annual inter-national sign industry events, SGIA Expo 2013 promises to be one of the biggest ever, with the co-location of the IFAI Speciality Fabrics Expo providing even more opportunities for visitors to learn about the products and techn-ologies available.

Michael Robertson, president and chief executive officer (CEO), SGIA comments: The 2013 SGIA Expo is 95 percent sold out, registration is going great, the educational program is in place with 40 plus Expo sessions, and the buzz of business development is in the air. Were looking forward to a powerhouse event.

In addition, were very excited to have a valued co-location with the Industrial Fabrics Association International this year. Imaged fabric is a strong and growing product set for the SGIA community. The IFAI Speciality Fabrics Expo, which will be directly connected to the SGIA Expo hall, and accessible to SGIA registrants, will feature fabric products (with strong imaging potential) and finishing components that were confident will lead to new opportunities for both the SGIA and IFAI communities. This co-location will provide a valuable new learning opportunity for SGIA attendees.

Imaged fabric is a strong and growing product set for the SGIA community. The IFAI Speciality Fabrics Expo, which will be directly connected to the SGIA Expo hall, and accessible to SGIA registrants, will feature fabric products (with strong imaging potential) and finishing components that were confident will lead to new opportunities for both the SGIA and IFAI communities

These developments are part of a wider trend that SGIAs key competitors for international visitors, FESPA and Viscom, have also adapted to. Indeed, at this years event in London, FESPA Fabric ran along side the main exhibition, and saw the launch of a large number of new flagship pieces of equipment, from the likes of MTEX and Mimaki. Closer to home, a sneak preview of Sign and Digital UKs 2014 floorplan also highlights that wide-format direct-to-textile printing is a sector that is certainly worth keeping an eye on.

Another key area that the SGIA is concentrating its efforts on is digital signage, seeking to educate its members about the revenue generating potential such technology affords. Likewise each of the major European shows and our own Sign and Digital UK are all making efforts to expand into this high growth arena. Indeed, FESPA even went as far as buying dedicated digital signage show Screenmedia Expo lock, stock, and barrelbefore integrating it into its sister event the European Sign Expo.

The final common denominator is that each of these shows are sign-ificantly expanding their edutainment portfolio to give visitors advice on everything from training their sales staff through how to best process image files. The reason for this intense activity is that trade shows, the SGIA included, are having to adapt to a changing industry landscape, which has seen visitors numbers flatline and then dip as they are able to do extensive research on the internet and through the trade media rather than travelling to a show. A show thus has to be far more than just good deals and technology on showit has to provide something unattainable any where else.

In this spirit, as well as the chance to get up-close and personal with a wide range of products and equipment, SGIA has placed a heavy emphasis on the opportunity for visitors to learn and explore new market opportunities, offering over 40 education sessions, featuring a wide mix of topics, free presentations, and the Printed Electr-onics and Membrane Switch Symposium.

Garment decorators interesting in pushing the use of their technologies to the edge explored the Golden Image Gallery, where they were able to see stunning samples of contemporary garment decoration

With this in mind, two new educational zones have been added for the 2013 event. In The Digital Textile Printing Zone a wealth of information will be available on digital printing, including technical and design requirements, recommended workflows, colour management tips, finishing techniques and recommended best practices for a variety of ink and fabric combinations.

Meanwhile, the Strategic Sustain-able Solutions Zone will be a place to learn from industry leaders and incr-ease understanding of best practices, through inspirational success stories that can be shared with work teams, customers and prospects.

A number of return special areas are also a definite attraction and worth a look. The PDAA Graphics Application Zone, featuring live demonstrations of vinyl installation to a wide variety of objects and surfaces, providing inst-allers with first-hand tips and techniques.

The Colour Management and Work-flow Solutions Zone will focus on colour management tools and techn-iques, as well as RIP (raster image processor) and third party software solutions.

At the Digital Signage Innovation Zone visitors can learn about digital signage workflow and discuss how to position their business to take advantage of the growing opportunities presented by this emerging technology. And last but not least, the Screen Printed Apparel Training area will feature industry experts demonstrating the latest garment special-effect techniques, while the Digital Apparel Production Zone will demonstrate digital garment decoration techno-logies, identifying solutions, tricks, and new trends to prevent errors and improve accuracy.

executive officer of SGIA, has been on

the staff of the show since the early

1980s, constantly striving to move the

The show attracts huge visitor numbersover 22,000 at Las Vegas in 2012, of which almost 20 percent were from outside the USA. Exhibitors included several UK companies that have recognised the opportunities and benefits presented by marketing to such a wide audience.

Among the UK companies exhibiting at SGIA Expo 2013 is Manchester-based Contra Vision, which will be showing its extensive range of perforated window films, together with print-only technologies that enable the production of see-through graphics using non-perforated materials.

Contra Vision chairman, Roland Hill, explains: Contra Vision exhibits at SGIA simply because the USA represents the largest market in the world selling the advertising applications for which Contra Visions technologies and products are used. Australia is the largest per-capita spender on outdoor advertising in the world, but in terms of market size, its dwarfed by the US.

SGIA has its ups and downs, like all long running exhibitions, but it consistently pulls in a very good mix of the people Contra Vision hopes to meet. Big printers treat the show as required reading and attend in equally big numbers. Brands looking for something new in print and promotion attend too

He continues: SGIA has its ups and downs, like all long running exhibitions, but it consistently pulls in a very good mix of the people Contra Vision hopes to meet. Big printers treat the show as required reading and attend in equally big numbers. Brands looking for something new in print and promotion attend too.

The show concentrates a lot of contact and opportunity into the days it runs and this represents an effective use of time and resources for Contra Vision. Needless to say, its also a good venue for catching up with our partners from around the world because it does attract a good international audience.

Gloucestershire company, ORA Squeegees, is a leading manufacturer of squeegee blades, producing all its goods in the UK and currently distributing to over 75 countries for many different screen printing applications.

The USA is one of our largest squeegee blade markets and still has real opportunities due to its size, says business manager William Barker.

a wide range of premium materials and squeegee

blade profiles for all screen printing markets and

applications, and supplies its UK manufactured

products into over 75 countries worldwide

He continues: We have exhibited at the SGIA numerous times in the past five years; it is a key show thats well positioned to attract visitors from the Americas as a whole, which includes significant growth markets for screen printing.

Summing up the attraction for both exhibitors and visitors from the UK, Barker continues: The benefits for UK exhibitors obviously depends on what you are trying to achieve, but for us it is an opportunity to meet with distributors from many different countries in one place, as well as keeping up with any new opportunities.

UK visitors will get to see many new developments in the industry, as well as having customers or suppliers all under one roof, he concludes.

At SGIA 2013, ORA Squeegees will be launching its new G30 Profile and G30R rotary bladesfibreglass backed squeegees that, unlike metal backed products, will not discolour the print or hold a curve after use.

Other UK exhibitors at the show include London based ,a specialist provider of vector illustrations, vehicle wraps and metallic ready files for the sign industry.

Joining them is Mockridge Doming Systems, based in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire. The firm is the original designer and manufacturer of the complete range of MDS doming equipment, from hand operated starter kits to sophisticated multi-axis script machines, and will be exhibiting its range of doming kits and machines for labels, nameplates, and fascia panels.

Set for showcase at the SGIA, ORA 800 Series squeegee blades offer very high chemical resistance and significant advantages for plastic substrates and large-format printing

Also exhibiting is Unitex Trelleborg, based in North Yorkshire, which manufactures high grade polyurethane squeegee blades for screen printing applications, including electronics, graphics, textiles, glass, and solar cells. Products on show will include Unitex Marathon, designed to give superior resistance to degradation by commonly used inks, solvents and monomers used in modern printing processes; Unitex ULON HP Composite, designed to give excellent results on high speed machines in applications, as well as giving consistent film thickness on multi-colour and UV lacquer products; and the Unitex ULON HP range, designed for optimum performance in the most demanding of screen print applications.

Whether youre looking to sell into the USA and other parts of the globe, want to see the latest technology first-hand, or get clued up and inspired with ideas to give your own business a leading edge, the SGIA Expo is clearly the place to go.

From the largest production flat-beds to the smallest desktop imaging devices, the SGIA Expo is the only place to see the full spectrum of speciality imaging technology. No matter the size of your company, large or small, youll learn from experiencing the depth of technology at the SGIA Expo, concludes SGIAs Robertson.

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