APPPEXPO 2021 Show Review
Production and wide format exhibitors showcase latest innovations
Held every July, APPPEXPO is one of the biggest Asia-based tradeshows for the signage market. This year, the show took place over four days at the National Exhibition and Convention Center in Shanghai. The event featured over 1,400 printing, cutting, and other assorted devices, while media, supplies, sign/display, and packaging applications were also heavily featured.
According to the official report released by the organizer, this year’s show saw over 112,000 visitors, which was about 6% higher than last year's attendance. That said, 76% of attendees were from East China and around Shanghai—a sign that the pandemic’s effects are perhaps still being felt. Likewise, most of the OEMs relied on local dealers or sales companies to exhibit their offerings rather than establish their own booths.
Key Highlights at APPPEXPO 2021
Epson was a major player for printheads. Last year’s show saw many OEMs taking Epson’s 5113 and 4720 heads and incorporating them into their devices. In 2021, we saw over 90% of OEMs switching to Epson printheads with the I3200 being the most popular. The company also released the T3200 head to replace its I3200-U1, with the new model featuring an embedded heater to allow for better print quality with UV inks.
Other main points from APPP Expo 2021 include a price war driven by Chinese vendors offering devices with very similar specifications, as well as remote operation, cloud-sharing, and some new applications that were breaking free from being confined to sign/advertisements (e.g., 2.5D texture printing and transparent films).
Key Players at APPPEXPO 2021
The following (uncomprehensive) list features vendors who exhibited new hardware, supplies, or solutions at the show:
- Aiifar showed off an A3 Direct to Film device that was first introduced at last year’s show. It uses an inkjet device equipped with an Epson I3200 head to print CMYK + white on rolled PET film, then another unit spreads adhesive powder on film. Powder sticks to wherever had ink, which can then be used to transfer the print on fabric with a heat-press method.
- ALLWIN displayed many different products this year. Most of their aqueous/solvent devices featured Epson heads, while their UV used Konica Minolta printheads.
- Brother, like many other Japanese companies, exhibited through a local dealer. In the booth, T-shirt printing was demonstrated with its GTX and GTX Pro devices.
- Docan focused away from their usual flatbed devices to their developing hybrid printers with Kyocera heads. The FR5000 is a 5-meter hybrid device equipped with 4-48 Kyocera printheads and print speeds up to 150 m2/hour. The FR1800 is a 1.8m-wide printer that can be equipped with 4 to 16 Kyocera printheads and prints at up to 260 m2/hour.
- Grando showed off two of its most recent products. The GD6000AUV is capable of 2.5D printing with a 2mm thick texture effect for reproduction and mass production of oil paintings and various other art works. The GD6042UV is an A2-size desktop flatbed that can print an A2 sheet in five minutes with its two Epson I1600 heads.
- Keundo displayed many devices that feature Ricoh or Epson printheads, including the HQ3200-TX8 3.2m-width roll-to-roll printer that uses water-based dispersive sublimation ink to print directly onto fabric or transfer paper.
- Toshiba was displayed through a local vendor called Intelligent Hope. The company’s printheads, inks, print control systems, ink circuit solutions, and accessories are solely distributed in China by Intelligent Hope, who featured the company’s heads and head drive solutions at the show.
- YiliJet exhibited their new UV roll-to-roll printer XJ1800, the CD-2016E direct to fabric printer, as well as a few other existing devices that are equipped with Epson I3200 printheads (including a latex device dedicated to printing on leather).
- YiliJet also showed off its Yilicloud digital printing operation system (YiPS). YiPS provides management; remote control; and cloud-sharing functions that include real-time monitoring of work progress, clustered/decentralized printing, and real-time cost assessments done throughout the office network environment.
Despite the worldwide presence of COVID-19, China has continued to have large tradeshows and face-to-face business opportunities in 2021. This has limited the market a little to displaying only what local vendors and OEMs can provide, which could be the reason why each company has become more homogenous (and spurring on a price war). It is also worth noting that many exhibitors showed off the same models that they did at last year’s show.
Still, there were some potential breakthrough solutions in remote control and cloud-sharing for print. Clearly, there is a desire to grow and expand what’s available in the market, but there are a lot of external forces that are causing some companies to stagnate or fight to be seen as innovative.
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