Show Review: The 2009 ISA International Sign Expo - See what you missed! - The Online Magazine for the Sign Trade.
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In Review: The ISA International Sign Expo 2009 Las Vegas, Nevada

What was the best booth location at the ISA Sign Expo 2009? What was worth talking about at this show? was there and has the scoop!

By Sean Scott

Well the best booth wasn't near the HP, Avery or 3M booths, as they didn't even exhibit at the show.

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  • Well the best booth wasn't near the HP, Avery or 3M booths, as they didn't even exhibit at the show. Oh, many of their products were in booths around the show, for sure. That was great news for the rest of the vinyl folks that stuck it out. So while I never thought I'd write these words, Oracal and Arlon were the heavy hitters at the show in the vinyl division, closely followed by General Formulation. "Wow," is all I can say.

    If you like change and obviously many do because they just voted for it, but here's some change for you on the show floor. If you were looking for Sign Supply USA at the show, they were there under a new name, ProVeer. The consolidated East West Plastic and Sign Supply USA brands are now the ProVeer brand.

    Epson arrived in its usual style and showed their stamina and leadership with the debut of their latest aqueous printers, plus the GS 6000 just released last year and has been gaining great momentum in the outdoor wide format marketplace. As Reed Hecht put it, "If we're going to say we're a leader, we have to show people in the industry that we are leaders." They also complimented many of their products with new media as well to round out their showing.

    Talking about media, Intelicoat Technologies appeared at the show to release the highest number of new substrates to an already wide array of offerings for the POP and Banner markets as well as to the fine art and wall-covering world. Products included were the new Magic® Palermo SPF, a satin tear resistant photo realistic film designed for pigmented inks, and the MAGIC® POSTERMAX, a luster finish 8.5 mil, one-side coated paper for high production Solvent and specifically ECO-Solvent ink jet printers. Or something for the green in all of us, Magic® Novara CF, a polyester clear film designed for pigmented inks, which of course are recyclable, and many more you'll simply have to look at to appreciate.

    The World Is Getting Flatter and Faster Everyday
    In the Flatbed UV world, Agfa showcased their new Anapurna M2 which has doubled the speed of its printing due to the Konica Minolta prinheads at 1024 nozzles each, a unique vacuum strength-control system to smooth substrate transport, an ionization bar to reduce static on the substrate, and last but not least, two shuttle safety sensors to protect against head-strikes.

    Gerber introduced their next generation and third version of the Gerber Solara ion, better known as the Z. They already have the original X with (eight heads, four colors), the new baby sister, the V with four-heads, four colors, and now the Z will round out the family at the higher end of the space with a 14pl, smaller drop size with the cationic UV inks. The kicker to their family of Solara ion's is that they are upgradeable. So, if you buy their entry-level V and want to upgrade down the line, you can. Now that's something different that warrants some notice.

    Creative Film Corp is still showing off with their self-adhesive films, mirror films, holographic films, brushed, carbon fiber, diamond plate, PVC & Polycarbonate thin gauge in transparent colors. Very neat stuff that's digital printer ready and missed by far too many people, so check them out.

    Roland pointed the spotlight on their new UV printer, the VersaUV LEC-300 a 30" roll-to-roll with four colors plus white and clear. But the infamous Roland party was a no go for this year's show, ending many years of humorous history.

    Newcomer National Sign Bid, which launched late in 2008, is an online site that promotes a way for companies to get real results by seeing and seeking actual jobs on their site. An interesting new concept for shops to take a look at.

    Watchfire Signs had a beautiful LED display suspended above their booth that caught my attention from across the floor, even before I found out whose LED display it was. It was theirs of course, but what else should I have expected. It was the X19mm Color LED that is just amazing with the level of clarity you see, with great color depth and black blacks, not grey ones. When you get a chance to see one, you'll know what I mean.

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    What's new?
    US Sublimation was showing off their newly released Velotex Xpress which is a 62" direct to fabric printing system that includes the curing unit, for under $55,000 and the newest and previously unannounced 42" version called Velotex Mpress for under $40k. Both with fantastic dye sublimation output with phenomenal pop and real red reds.

    Then of course we had our own booth neighbors from Sign Technologies that had foam monument signs. For those of you that just said "so what?" here's the detail: They have a top-coating on the foam that gives you a 20 year warranty, instead of the typical five year one found elsewhere. But if that wasn't enough, they are 30 to 40 percent less expensive than their competitors. Money always talks when the quality is there also, and it certainly is in this case.

    Sawgrass Technologies has launched their M-Textile Ink, a three-year outdoor durability tested, water-based modified pigment ink that prints on all fabrics. The exclusive binder-free formula eliminates the head-clogging, maintenance and downtime associated with traditional water-based pigment inks. The one-ink-prints-all approach enables it to replace acid, reactive and disperse dyes, which call for steaming, washing, drying and, at times, waste-water treatment. It does require pre-treated fabrics, but that doesn't sound like it will be a big hurdle for the new inks. Look out Cotton, Polyester, Cotton-Polyester Blends, Silk, Nylon, Wool and other natural fibers, there's a new ink in town.

    SAi was showcasing the newest versions of Enroute 4, PhotoPRINT 6.1 and Flexi 8.6 for all to see. The SPRINT, which is their spectrophotometer, is still coming along, but not quite ready yet, but soon. But in a progressive new direction, they have acquired Sign Tracker, the complete, easy to use, management system for sign companies, which is being morphed from its current offline spreadsheet version to an upgraded, software-as-a-service offering from their site. There will be a nominal monthly subscription fee based on actual sales volume to use the full product. This will provide a shop with a complete end to end system to handle customer management, estimating, accounting, inventory, project management, sales, scheduling designing and more.

    Cyrious Software was featured during the New Product Showcase at the Show, and showed off the newest version of their Control OOB (out of the box) software. This latest product has powerful, expanded features for Electric Shops, including Channel Letters, Neon, Service and Install, Cabinets, Pylons and more.

    There were LEDs everywhere and it was finally Philips that got my attention with something just a little different. Philips Affinium™ LED posterbox modules are designed for backlit display signs used in both indoor and outdoor applications. Installed around the inner perimeter of the sign, and directing light inwards, they wash light across the inside of the box. This results in a uniform light across the surfaces without hot-spots that are often common.

    Now last but not least, somebody happened by our booth with a product that wasn't being exhibited at the show. Since that seems to be a new theme for this show, I said "why not?" He proceeded to show me a product by GL USA called Airtech-Glas, which is a light diffusion plate made of synthetic resins carrying bubbles, which makes for an amazing face for backlit boxes or channel faces. It emits 20 to 30 percent more light than its existing competitors, and it's much more flexible than anything I've seen by a long-shot, plus it weighs and costs less. Now distribution is a question that I haven't discussed yet, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention what I saw.

    We started off our ISA International Sign Expo 2009 with unknown expectations, then, we were happily delivered a satisfactory attendance. We went from end to confusing end across the expo hall (that's a topic for another day) and saw the new and the old, friends and foes and wrapped it all up with a car wrap with one more show in the box. Thank you everyone who participated for another great show!

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