BILL 14 conference, Piešťany, Slovakia

by FESPA | 19/10/2018
BILL 14 conference, Piešťany, Slovakia

Graeme Richardson-Locke describes his experience at the BILL 14 conference in Piešťany Slovakia. The FESPA supported event featured a variety of industry specific and technical presentations.

I have recently returned from speaking at the BILL 14 conference.  The purpose of this conference was to provide beneficial information for screen and digital wide format printers. Now in its 14th edition, the conference was originally created in honour of Dr Bill Appleton, the British printing lecturer from Gloscat and notorious print enthusiast. His contribution to four colour process research at McDermid Autotype enabled the production of finer screen rulings and more efficient process control for many screen printers in our global community. Bill has attended several of these conferences in Slovakia as the print association members have a great appetite for discovering new techniques that can improve their business practice.
Caption: The Projects Committee
The conference was in Piešťany, a small spa town in Slovakia with 30,000 inhabitants on the Vah river which is a tributary of the great Danube. The town has earned its place as a leading spa, as its thermal springs emerge at 60°C from a fissure 2.5 mile beneath the landscape. Once the delegates had attended the conference, we enjoyed dinner, ten pin bowling and were given the opportunity to sit in 39-degree water, get covered in sulphuric mud and enjoy a relaxing massage. I was lucky enough to experience all three and I am happy to report I feel years younger, even if my appearance remains unchanged.

Caption: FESPA President, Christian Duyckerts going for the strike
During the conference, FESPA’s president Christian Duyckerts informed us about the latest trends in retail store print and merchandising. Christian described the value to printers of the commercial necessity to create ‘experience’ marketing that gives consumers a reason to keep visiting bricks and mortar stores. In addition, he provided numerous examples of pop-up shops that he has developed at his company, Retail Communicators. These short-term retail units are very popular and allow for the creation of unusual formats. Examples of these include Adidas, who created a shop that was a giant trainer box for the launch of a new range of trainers and Renault who created a snowdome with a car inside.

Caption: Sean Holt, Executive Director presents the FESPA print census​
Sean Holt, the Executive Director of FESPA presented the results of FESPA’s Global Print Census. He provided a comparison of the response of Slovakian printers to those of the wider community. This revealed that whilst there are some local differences the overall views are pretty universal. The Print Census is the largest conducted survey of printers globally and can be attained for free to members of FESPA’s Associations. The Print Census demonstrated that there are 6 key trends which include a desire from printers across most segments to invest in more training in colour management as a precursor to automation. The information has been presented in a straight forward and engaging manner that exceeds the predictable stack of captioned bar graphs.

Afterwards, Gyorgy Kovacs, a FESPA Board Member and long time supporter of our eastern European Associations dived into the subject of ‘Quantum-dots’. The presentation began by looking at examples of nano-pigments found in nature from butterflies to beetles. Then the topic moved towards a new emerging research field that will lead to affordable nano pigments that will feature far wider gamuts than currently available. These pigments that are approximately 2nm in size show different colours depending on size. They offer the opportunity to greatly reduce the ink deposit whilst increasing the intensity. We will watch with interest to see what these future digital developments build into when applied into the real world.

Subsequently, I had the pleasure of addressing the audience with a very warm welcome by Ľudovít Bartoš, secretary of the Slovakian SZSDT print association who introduced my topic on TVI (Tonal Value Increase) and the variable factors that need to be controlled when running out film positives using inkjet printers and RIP software. The key message is that you shouldn’t assume that your inkjet/RIP combination will produce linear tone values where Zero means zero, 50% = 50% and total coverage is 100%. The only way to validate the process is to use a transmission densitometer and software that allows you to create a linearisation curve.

Caption: TVI management
The Slovakian Association asked members to supply a film positive from the FESPA TVI test form so that we could measure and provide feedback on how to improve their process. Although this is only a small component of the colour management process, this was well received and has stimulated interest in a workshop that will take place in February 2019. I think there will be more test strips that will arrive in the post for evaluation. If you are interested in participating, please get in touch so that we understand how you’d like to be involved. I concluded my presentation by explaining FESPA’s belief in the value of its role in ISO TC-130 Printing and Graphic Technologies committee for standards development and our renewed membership to the Ghent workgroup (GWG). I also couldn’t let the opportunity pass without emphasising the value of entering the 2019 FESPA Awards.

There were speakers from suppliers such as Spandex who demonstrated the method used to create multilayer backlit graphics with daytime and night revealed imagery. This process requires the use of intermediate layers of white and black between 4 colour images.

This presentation was followed by further technical presentations.  A notable one was from Michal Kridel from Pasja in Poland who was following up on the results of a workshop held in Slovakia earlier in the year on UV Screen printed special effects. Pasja is greatly respected by the world over for their experience in microlens surface effects, cold foiling and a raft of special effects. The owner and FESPA Polish Association President, Jacek Stencel connected to the event via a live link as he was at Sakurai in London demonstrating his latest multicolor screen printed cold foiling techniques printed on a Sakurai cylinder press. Pasja have invested a great deal of energy and testing to perfect these techniques that provide a superior, lower cost alternative to Scodix or MGI digital foiling process. Of course, they don’t get to offer variable data but when run lengths make Scodix uneconomic their finishes add masses of value. The Sakurai event also prevented Peter Kiddell another valued contributor from past BILL conferences from attending in person, however he also loomed large in the room via the projected live link.

The conference also welcomed Emma Tuddenham, FESPA Associations Manager who managed the Projects Committee a few days earlier. Former and now retired FESPA Associations Manager, Chris Smith made a presentation on shifts in consumer buying behaviour as an independent speaker. Chris has attended every BILL conference since it began so it was good to see him maintaining tradition.

Caption: Estoeric ritual at Bill14
This very welcoming event also included an esoteric ritual, which was the induction into the virtual Kingdom of ‘Bacaland’. This community welcomes printers and offers honorary citizenship to a few lucky individuals every year. I was privileged to be inducted as an honorary citizen with a hearty hug and kiss on the forehead by its king. This final element typifies the strength of the Slovakian print Association, its warmth, willingness to share knowledge and the pleasure of meeting numerous new friends. I for one look forward to my return and to covering more technical topics with this most appreciative bunch.     

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