To learn about printers, inks, or any aspect of printing it really helps to attend a printer trade show

But which trade show, in which country? There are expos focused on printing just on glass. There is a totally different trade show for printing only on ceramic tiles (floor tiles, wall tiles, tiles for tables).

Lots of trade shows for signage. Others for labels; and different expos for packaging. Now there are expos on 3D printers, on industrial printing. But which are not really as good as their PR releases claim they are?

So which printer expo? In which part of the world is best?

Circa 1998 or 1999 we began attending expos. By 2001 we were attending expos in many different countries. By 2005 we added even more expos in Europe. Soon we began to study the expos in China and began attending them. We learned so much from being in Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai that now some of the expo organizers have asked for us to be their consultants. Now (November 2014) all the really big expos are finished for the year (I am at IAAPA in Orlando, not a printing expo, since we also attend photo expos and expos which have other technology (such as IAAPA).

Although there are a few smaller expos in later November, the important printer trade shows begin in 2015, in January, in Dubai (SGI). Then the largest wide-format and signage expo in the world, APPPEXPO 2015, is in China. So below we list the larger expos which we will attend in 2015. We also like local and regional expos such as Panamá Expo Gráfica.

Every year at least one additional expo in a foreign country invites the FLAAR team to visit their expo so that we can write about their expo. We are always interested in expos in Scandinavia, in the Baltic Republics, in Eastern Europe, in Korea, Malaysia, Viet Nam and all neighboring countries, in Indonesia, the Philippines, and in South America (Peru, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, etc). The FLAAR team can be reached via FrontDesk “at”
Here are the expos that we will definitely attend in 2015.

SGI, Dubai
January 11-13, 2015

SGI, organized by IEC, is the most visited signage and wide-format inkjet printer expo in this entire region. We attend year after year, every year. We hope to have three people here in 2015.

Last year we also attended a signage expo in a nearby Emirate several months after SGI: the other expo had two booths with inkjet printers.

So how can you know which to attend? It’s the same for other Emirates: we lectured at a signage expo in Abu Dhabi four or five years ago; really enjoyed it (also since my father’s architectural company did the airport here (and in Riyadh, Saudia Arabia). But that expo fizzled completely and I am not even sure if it exists any more.

Since we have experience in the Middle East, we can provide tips on which expos to consider, and which to skip (also the daughter of my sister is a lawyer in well placed multi-national firm in Dubai). FLAAR also writes articles for the leading signage and printer trade magazine in the Middle East, ME Printer.

Graphics of the Americas, Miami
Feb 26-28, 2015

We like the fact that this expo includes office printers in addition to wide-format inkjet. FLAAR has attended GOA for more than a decade. Dr Nicholas lectures in Spanish and also has lectures in English at GOA 2015.

D•PES Printers & Engravers Expo, China Sign (Spring) Expo 2015

The entire situation with expos in China has changed totally for 2015. Several expos have even moved out of their traditional host city and moved to a totally different city (and a completely different time of year).

Other expos remain in their traditional city, but have changed time of year and changed physical location within their city.

For these reasons FLAAR offers the chance for you to speak directly with Dr Hellmuth by phone or Skype or in-person, to discuss which expos in China for 2015 you can skip, and which are absolutely worth attending.

Shanghai, March 11-14

APPPEXPO has grown year by year (we have been attending over 6 years). Last year you could find more UV-cured printer brands and models here than in all other expos in Europe, USA, Canada, and Latin America combined.

Lots more media, substrates and printable materials than any other expo. Plus traditional signage, plus LED and LCD dynamic digital signage. Even toner printers.

We hope to fly six of us to APPPEXPO in 2015. You can very easily figure out which of the expos around the world are best for printers, inks, media and substrates, software, cutters, laminators and cutters, and LED dynamic digital signage by seeing which expos are attended by Dr Nicholas (and by how many of his team fly to this same expo).

To make an appointment for a meeting and consulting, or to ask for all this plus a Subscription to the FLAAR Reports, simply contact us: FrontDesk “at”

If it is more convenient to fly Dr Hellmuth to your office (anywhere in the world) he is available (flew over 483,000 km last year, this is over a quarter of a million miles, each year). Increasingly we are providing in-person consulting at expos around the world. So below we list the expos that Dr Hellmuth will attend in 2015.

Please understand, however, that an appointment must be made, in advance. We invoice by PDF within 48 hours. If there is another event that you would rather have FLAAR attend for a meeting with you: a conference, expo, in-House, Open House event, that you would like Nicholas to attend (or give a presentation, lecture, or discussion at), this can be arranged. Simply fly Dr Hellmuth to the event and cover the standard fee.

Please understand that appointments need to be made as far in advance as possible.

ISA Sign Expo 2015
April 9-11, 2015

The question we are often asked, is what are the differences between ISA and SGIA and Graph Expo.

Consulting services are available by writing FrontDesk “at”, explain your questions, and we will discuss what level of consulting is optimal for you: a quick phone call or a visit by a FLAAR team to your office. Normally we can handle your questions by phone, Skype, and e-mail.

We invoice in advance and then send our direct phone # and Skype address.

FESPA 2015, Cologne (Koeln)
May 18-22, 2015

FESPA Digital last year in Munich was popular and offered plenty to keep us busy.

It is helpful to know what are the differences between FESPA Eurasia and FESPA in Europe? What about FESPA Brazil and FESPA China? And FESPA Mexico?

SGIA, 2015
Nov. 4-6, 2015

We have been attending these expos for over a decade and have seen them rise and fall (and watched SGIA rise back strongly in 2014).

But the rise and fall is also directly associated with what city they are in, and the city for SGIA 2015 is totally different kind of city than SGIA 2014 or SGIA 2013.

Plus the dates for SGIA 2015 are totally different than in past years.

FESPA Africa 2015, co-located with AFRICA Print July 22-24, 2015

Why do we attend these nice expos in Johannesburg? What is different about these expos (in terms of products available to learn about)?

What is the difference in the organizers of this expo and of expos in other parts of the world? The expo is organized locally in South Africa, by the same experienced team who also produce the most popular signage and printer trade magazine in this part of the world.

What about expos in Brazil, Panama, Peru?

What about FESPA China, FESPA Eurasia; what are the differences between those and FESPA Africa?

We provide answers for expos throughout the world. Dr Hellmuth has lectured at the expo in Panama and many years at the expo in Africa.

Plus we skip other expos because they are too small or too local.

FLAAR has attended the main signage and printer expo in Taiwan, and in Japan. So we can suggest which to attend and which are, sorry, simply not worth it.

What about KOSIGN? Taiwan? expos in Japan?

Plus, what if hardly anyone at the expo speaks English or your language? For example, at APPPEXPO in Shanghai, most of the booth attendants speak English. But in two other countries there were almost no English or Spanish or German or French or Italian speakers in the booths (these are the languages I can understand).

Where print shop owners, distributors, and factory owners found Dr Nicholas in 2014.

We attended so many expos during 2014 the list would occupy too much space:

  • Photo expos
  • Ceramic tile printing expo
  • Printing on glass expo
  • LED dynamic digital signage expos
  • Signage expos.

Travelled about 200,000 km this year. Even attended two expos for amusement parks (one in Dubai; one in Orlando; since these also feature graphic design and display technology).

We really enjoyed SGI in Dubai, APPPPEXPO in Shanghai, Sign Istanbul, SGIA (Las Vegas), Photokina (Cologne) and the printers for ceramic tile expo in Italy and printers for glass expo in Germany.

We heard that VISCOM Paris 2014 was much better in 2014. And everyone who attended SGIA 2014 was pleasantly surprised at this healthy expo. Just realize that the city where an expo happens impacts attendance: for example, Duesseldorf is overpriced for hotels and taxis.

Where people found Dr Nicholas in 2013

Graphics of the Americas 2013, Orlando,
Feb 21-23, 2013

This year GoA 2013 was not in Miami; Graphics of the Americas is in Orlando. Dr Hellmuth will be lecturing on innovative inks, and separately on innovative printing substrates. The last day he will fly directly to China for D-PES.

We enjoy attending Graphics of the Americas every year. This is a good venue for printshop owners and distributors from Caribbean, Mexico, Central America, and South America, as well as all the USA and Canada.

D•PES Printers & Engravers Expo, China Sign (Spring) Expo 2013, 25-28 February.

The venue has been switched from Dongguan to nearby Guangzhou already several years ago. So “China Sign” (D-PES) and “Sign China” are both in the same city, and both in the same time of year.

This raises the logical question: what is the difference between the two expos?

Fortunately FESPA 2013 is not conflicting with the Chinese expos (in 2012 FESPA had a terrible date, same week as the popular Chinese expos).

We can help you answer the questions, should you attend both Chinese expos?

Or skip them both and go to APPPEXPO Shanghai in July?

We can provide answers for these questions, since D-PES, and FESPA, and APPPEXPO each have their attractions. But if you need to make a decision for your company (end-user/printshop owner or manager, or distributor who seeks help with selecting Chinese products) then FLAAR is available to assist.

Just e-mail FrontDesk “at” and request the standard consulting rate info; we provide consulting before, during, and after each expo (we have several clients who have asked for consulting at all of these expos).

Sign China 2013, Guangzhou, 1-4 March, 2013.

We can provide abundant information based on three years attending this expo. Sign China is very different in many respects from the competing China Sign across the street.

Guangzhou is a pleasant city and has a monumental new airport (so is easy to reach internationally). Guangzhou is in southern China so the weather should be good in March.

D-PES has taken over most of the wide-format workflow equipment and not much of wide-format inkjet is left at Sign China for 2013 (other than LCD and LED signage).

The two competing expos used to overlap, which was helpful. In 2013 they do not overlap, but are back-to-back which means you waste more days if you wish to see Sign China after China Sign (D-PES).

For 2015 the entire scene of printer and signage expos in China has totally changed. For this reason more print shops, distributors, and manufacturers are asking Dr Nicholas for tips and his experiences of which Chinese expos are best, and which expos in China are not worth attending?

ISA Sign Expo 2013 April 3-6, 2013

ISA is a great show, and of course Las Vegas is Sin City. But since we go to ISA to study printers, inks, media, substrates, laminators, and cutters, we do not have time for strip clubs and lap dancers.

FESPA Brasil 2013, 13-16 March 2013, Sao Paulo

May consider attending. But since this expo is first-time in 2013, not sure how large it will be, so would attend if airfare and hotel are available. We decided to skip FESPA Brasil this year, and have never attended because it is too small and not international enough.

Ceramics China 2013, 29 May through 1 June, 2013

We will consider attending this expo. We have attended Chinese ceramic printing and Chinese textile printer expos in past years.

FESPA London 2013, 25-29 June 2013

Will attend, but due to the expense of local travel within London, the location within London, and hotel costs in London, may not send a large team. In general we like FESPA but several companies have told us they may skip London due to the expense. Overall, however, FESPA is better organized than VISCOM.

Serigrafia Sign, FutureTextil 2013, Brazil, 10-13 July 2013

We have attended in past years. Not sure we will attend in 2013. However this is larger than any printer expo in North America! Having their expo the same days as APPPEXPO 2013 is really bad planning. Considering that FESPA wants to move into the Brazil market, the poor date of Serigrafia Sign will contribute to poor attendance in Brazil this summer.

What are the differences between ISA and SGIA?

Shanghai International Ad & Sign Expo, APPPEXPO 2013, 10-13 July 2013

One of the great printer expos of the world. Faced with the choice of Shanghai or Brazil, I would pick Shanghai every time. For 2015 the expo is now in March.

We hope to have up to five from FLAAR at this expo, as it is huge.

China is a hospitable country; everyone in the industry there works hard and we really enjoy being in China. APPPEXPO is definitely an expo, and a destination, we highly recommend.

FESPA Mexico, 15-17 August

We are considering attending this expo. Since all the FLAAR staff are bi-lingual, and since our office is in adjacent Guatemala, Central America, a FLAAR Report on FESPA Mexico can be ver popular. But so far we have not made a final decision.

I have enjoyed attending FESPA Mexico in past years when FESPA provided hosting, but have not been encouraged to attend in 2011 or since. Instead I concentrated on Sign Africa (where I write for their trade magazine all year long) and I concentrate on SGI in Dubai (and also I am consultant for this expo plus write for ME Printer in Dubai). But for 2013 I would consider returning to FESPA Mexico.

But I love Mexico, naturally I speak Spanish (I have worked in Latin America for decades). And I like to visit Mexico to see all the new books about pre-Columbian archaeology and ancient art of the Olmec, Aztec, Maya, Teotihuacan, Mixtec, Toltec, and Zapotec civilizations there. So I am tempted, but its tough when I am already on airplanes almost half a million kilometers a year. Fortunately Mexico City is a short and easy direct flight from my Latin American office in Guatemala.

Sign Africa 2013, 21-23 August 2013

Well organized expo; we attend (and lecture) every year. For 2013 we hope to have a second FLAAR team member so we can produce our reports more quickly.

Reklama Moscow 2013, 25-28 September 2013

We have attended three years in a row, but to handle travel in Russia it is essential to have a bi-lingual native Russian speaker with you to translate. At present not sure whether we will attend in 2013.

SGIA 2013, 23-25 Oct 2013

Unfortunately this is the same days as IPMEX in Malasya. But SGIA is a good printer and sign expo and we tend to send at least four staff here.

We are tempted by IPMEX Malaysia 2013, 24-27 October 2013

We are considering attending this expo, as we enjoy this part of the world. But since we never heard back from the expo organizers we skipped it

Sign Istanbul 2013, 28 Nov to 1 Dec 2013

FLAAR is consultant to the expo organizers of Sign Istanbul so we anticipate that at least two of us will attend this popular international expo in Turkey.

Where else would we enjoy attending expos

We would like to attend printer expos in:

  • Australia 2013
  • India 2013
  • Indonesia 2013
  • Philippines 2013
  • Vietnam 2013

We would enjoy attending expos in Scandanavia, and Eastern Europe.

We would enjoy attending printer, signage, and digital signage expos in South America.

I would enjoy attending expos in Jordan and countries in Middle East.

Northern Africa printer expos would be another location we would like to get to know the signage expos.

But for these locations, we can attend only when airfare and hotel are covered.

Notice which expos FLAAR will NOT attend:

FESPA Asia / FESPA China: I spent $3200 on an airplane ticket to attend FESPA Asia in Thailand, and got only as far as the Narita Tokyo airport. All that the organizers showed on their website (while thousands of people were stuck all over the world trying to get to a politically messed up Thailand) was PR releases on how great the expo in Bangkok was.

Inadequate assistance was provided to suggest alternative airports, or to organize a shuttle from such an alternative airport. So I have never attended another Asia expo after that (expensive) experience.

As soon as the FESPA Asia expo is in a city that will attract a substantial international audience, and when airfare is provided for our team of minimum two, I will be glad to write about this for our million+ readers. Singapore is too small a market to attract a major audience. I hope it went well, but that is too far to go for a small local expo.

GraphExpo has lost most of the inkjet ink exhibitors, most of the inkjet media companies, and has only a few larger printer exhibitors. We stopped attending when GraphExpo dropped their Wide Format Pavilion. FLAAR had been a sponsor of this segment of the expo in past years.

KOSIGN we have never attended. We like to visit Korea and enjoy seeing the sophisticated printer technology and ink chemistry. But we prefer to attend international expos. To attend a local or regional expo, we would need to be hosted (since it costs airfare, hotel, and meals for us to prepare a FLAAR Report on an expo). Last year we traveled over 480,000 km, and increasingly expo organizers are assisting by providing at least airfare and hotel.

Taiwan expos: we attended once but these are local. We would attend only if hosted.

VISCOM Spain suffered from poor branding. The other VISCOM events have comparable issues. VISCOM Spain (Sign Madrid or whatever it was called is too confusing to take time to remember) collapsed in size already years ago and reportedly has been cancelled for 2013.

VISCOM Paris we enjoy visiting. Its size each year is consistent. Main issue is cost of being in Paris, and often there are other expos elsewhere the same week. But the folks in the Press Room of VISCOM Paris have always been hospitable.

VISCOM Germany we skipped last year because after DRUPA 2012 no need to return again. But VISCOM Duesseldorf or Frankfurt or wherever it is for 2013, we will consider.

VISCOM Milano was the largest of the four VISCOM events but suffered from confusing and inconsistent branding. Once it began to shrink dramatically in 2010 the expo organizers “made every mistake in the book” (such as putting triple width aisles to try to pretend they still needed two halls. This mistake was even worse in 2011 so we skipped Viscom Milano in 2011. Not sure whether we will attend the remains in 2013.

We no longer attend the giclee and fine art expo, ArtExpo. One organizer demanded that we provide a service that I felt was totally inappropriate for them to ask.

PhotoPlus Expo (PhotoEast), is same days as two other expos, Oct. 24-26, 2013 at the Javits Center in New York City. So we will skip this expo in 2013.

Contact info; How to reach Dr Nicholas Hellmuth for consulting

If you wish consulting services we will be glad to assist you. The standard rates are listed clearly in the consulting brochure. There are three options: trade shows in China, trade shows around the world, or normal consulting at your office or factory (or via Skype, e-mail and/or telephone).

With over one million readers a year of the FLAAR web sites and FLAAR Reports, we apologize that it is not realistic to answer general questions: for that please fill out the Survey-Inquiry Form so that we can arrange an appropriate specialist to answer your questions (though normally our FLAAR Reports will cover most of your questions).

We are not able to answer questions about where to sell your old printer (unless it is a grand format machine; we do have contacts for these).We are not a repair service and sorry, are not able to guide you to a repair agency. These kinds of questions you can best ask at any printer expo.?Yes, we can provide training, but to clients who sign up for consulting.

Our telephone and e-mail is for printshop owners, managers, printer operators; for distributors, manufacturers; who wish to request Subscription and/or Consulting services.

Even with 10+ people on staff we are so busy adding to your web site network, and writing reports (and doing all the research for that), that even with a 14-hour day we simply can’t handle things unless you request an appointment for a consulting session (which can be 30 minutes, an hour; or a retainer over a several week or month period). Increasingly distributors and manufacturers are asking for consulting retainers for 12-month periods.

But we can also handle a 30 minute question-and-answer session (as long as it is reserved and covered in advance).

For students and professors we do our best, but to be realistic the most effective way is to fly Dr Hellmuth to your college or university for him to present lecture(s) or a block-seminar (a semester’s worth of presentations over an intense one or two weeks).

FLAAR is also available to give presentations, lectures

We can lecture in Spanish or English or German, on a variety of topics. Contact FrontDesk “at” to arrange Dr Nicholas to present a full-color presentation. Cost is airfare, hotel, meals, and a reasonable fee.

It is sad to realize how many printer expos have gone out of business.

Seybold collapsed already several years ago. In its prime it was larger than SGIA.

DPI was a wonderful expo ten years ago: it then folded.

There was another printer expo in Las Vegas: giant in its day. Not only did it loose traction it disappeared so thoroughly I can’t even remember it’s name any more! It is essential that the other printer expos in America do not have this fate. But if expos don’t co-locate, and if rules and costs remain unrealistic and stifling, one by one the expos will fade away.

PMA never learned to improve, and one by one major printer manufacturers pulled out. There was zero PMA expo in 2011 ! For 2012 they are co-locating with CES, but whether they survive after being too slow to wake up to the need to co-locate remains to be seen. I attended [email protected] 2013, and it was not much better than in 2012. CES however is attended by 150,000 people.

FLAAR is consultant to trade shows around the world, and we have plenty of experience. Our advantage is that being independent, we can more clearly see the pros and cons, ups and downs (that would be embarrassing for a show team member to bring up at a corporate meeting with their boss). As an outsider we can politely make comments and provide a reality check to expo management.

We have FLAAR Reports on the most common mistakes made by trade show organizers.

Since we have been attending printer, signage, and photography expos for over a decade, we have kept notes on how trade show organizers can improve. We have years of experience watching trade shows lose attendees and lose exhibitors (but if they don’t ask for assistance, it is not realistic to help them understand what needs to be improved).

FLAAR is consultant to trade shows around the world, and we have plenty of experience. Our advantage is that being independent, we can more clearly see the pros and cons, ups and downs (that would be embarrassing for a show team member to bring up at a corporate meeting with their boss). As an outsider we can politely make comments and provide a reality check to expo management.

Most recently updated November 14, 2014.
Previous updates: Feb. 4, 2013, January 16, 2006. February 2, 2009, January 2, 2012.