DPES Sign & LED Expo China 2021

Epson and low-end devices dominate



Mark DiMattei, Eric Zimmerman


DPES Sign & LED Expo China 2021 took place from February 27 to March 1, 2021 at Guangzhou Poly World Trade Center in Guangdong, China. There were more than 750 exhibitors, and over 40,000 visitors came to the show. DPES had five themes divided into seven exhibition halls, covering signs and graphics, photography, ink technology, engraving, light-box applications, and LED display.



While DPES 2021 returned to its pre-pandemic attendance levels, PSPs have become more cautious about equipment investment since the outbreak—and appear to be particularly careful about high-end equipment purchases. As a result, the 2021 DPES show saw a lot of announcements of lower-end devices.


That said, Epson used the show to continue advancing their printhead OEM strategy in the Chinese wide format market. Many Chinese companies have officially adopted Epson’s I3200 and S3200 OEM heads. Prior to their 2019 introduction, Chinese manufacturers would repurpose Epson’s business inkjet print heads for use in wide format devices. Epson also took advantage of this wide customer base and directly communicated with low-end OEMs to promote the I3200. Epson’s improvements in technical support for their OEM printheads has allowed them to gain back market share from companies using the unofficial repurposed printheads. Recently, the OEM Epson I3200 printhead was adopted in UV printers aiming to take market share from Ricoh’s Gen5 and Gen6 printheads. I3200 print heads for eco-solvent and aqueous models have also sold well.


Other vendors that exhibited at DPES included:

  • AC Color concentrated on flatbed devices, and their lineup spanned from desktop to traditional-sized flatbeds that are mostly equipped with Ricoh printheads.
  • Dilcan debuted a 3.2m wide UV roll-to-roll device that was customized with 2-8 Ricoh Gen6 heads.
  • FY Union exhibited their current devices with SII printheads, and they also showed their eco-solvent FY-1800ES-K2 equipped with two Brother heads.
  • Fortune exhibited an assortment of UV devices with all three feed types—roll-to-roll, flatbed, and hybrid—along with some solvent roll-to-roll devices.
  • Lanqi exhibited their upgraded UV roll-to-roll and flatbed devices.
  • Smt Jet showed their solvent device with FUJIFILM Starfire 1024 25pl/10pl printheads with customizable quantity.
  • Taotech exhibited their upgraded, new DTG and UV hybrid devices.
  • Yilijet had a very large booth at the show. They exhibited a full line-up of their most popular solvent, eco-solvent, UV roll-to-roll, and flatbed devices.


It will be interesting to see if other printhead vendors will show counter offerings to Epson at July's APPPEXPO ad and sign expo in Shanghai.


It is worth remembering that, while there continues to be a price war in China, manufacturers are starting to show advanced capabilities developed for the medium and high-range market. For example, Handtop (China's leading UV-curable flatbed vendor) showed a new automation concept at DPES. While the printer/system is priced relatively high for the Chinese market, it reacted to the display with enthusiasm. As Chinese PSPs respond to workplace social distance demands and raised labor costs, we expect to see a continued move toward automation in the years to come.


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