SGIA Expo 2016: Top Takeaways

‘Packaging’ may have been the most-mentioned word at the strongly attended Las Vegas event.

Big Picture

Preliminary attendance numbers ticked past 20,000 on just the first day of the 2016 SGIA Expo in Las Vegas, and vendors at every corner of the floor were outwardly optimistic as the show came to a close two days later. It was a show for firsts: Attendees visited the inaugural Garment Decorator’s Conference and awed at the world’s largest 3D printer, while Big Picture’s Women in Print Award winners were honored at the SGIA Chairman’s Reception. Below are a few of the key takeaways that we noted along the way.

Packaging It’s unclear yet what the impact of the intense packaging buzz will be, but growing demand for one-offs and prototyping have in turn spurred widespread interest on the OEM side for technologies – including low-migration inks, intelligent media handling, lightning-fast print times, and advanced color management – more specialized for this market.

Single-Pass Inkjet Printing A number of unprecedented machines previewed at drupa caused an immediate stir of conversation earlier this year, but the reality appears that the commercial impact of this technology may still be a few years off.

Finishing Users’ stories made it clear that the bottleneck at the postpress stage is becoming more and more pronounced. Options for combating this problem varied widely, from new, entry-level options for smaller shops to make the leap and bring finishing in-house, to increasingly automated high-end machines.

Fast Fashion Consumers have new demands – immediate gratification, personal expression, eco-friendliness – influences, and behaviors. Textile imaging innovations were everywhere on the show floor, from dye sublimation to all-in-one direct-to-fabric lines to new direct-to-garment maintenance options and more. The most important thing to remember here is that it’s really all about the ink.

Diversification and Education Vendors expressed a refreshed drive to show customers how to push the limits of the machines and materials they already own. Imaginative new applications included dye sublimating rigid materials, bottle printing, lenticular-like effects, and thermoforming.

Top Customer Concerns Not surprisingly, we heard the words “speed to market” more than a few times. Managing the processes around the printer was a common theme, as well, from color concerns to ERP, web-to-print, and logistics.

Education
Between applying Band-Aids to our heels, sifting through product brochures, and more than a few cups of coffee, Big Picture sat in on some educational sessions.

2016 Printing Industry Sustainability Conference
The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership held a day-long “town hall” of sorts for print shops that are currently certified and for those who are interested in certification. Top takeaways from the day included:
• Employee engagement helps drive sustainability within your company.
• Do your sales people know the ins and outs of your shop’s sustainability efforts? They should.
• Understand the difficulty of becoming certified, but know that if your company is already lean, that’s half the battle.

Industrial Printing Symposium
When SGIA VP Dan Marx asked for a show of hands for printers whose operations were completely analog, none raised their hands. He then asked whose operations were completely digital: None raised their hands here, either, proving that each process still has clear merits in this sector. Marx also stressed the importance of what happens after the press: “The printing press only produces a print. It’s the finishing that really turns the print into a product.”

James Gill of Fujifilm Dimatix gave us a glimpse of the future, pointing out applications like food colorants, customized pharmaceuticals, and wearable charging technology. He says “the ink is the key part of moving into any new market,” and the trick is providing both jettability – specifics for the inkjet community – and applicability – specifics for the end user.

Durst Retail 2020 Part 4: Retail Realities
Martine Padilla, VP of sales, Allen Press, gave the 7:30 a.m. crowd a number of strategies for aligning sales team members with the right print buyer: Every buyer has his or her own characteristics, which in turn call for a different sales relationship. On getting a print buyer’s attention, she says, “I have five minutes. What can you tell me that makes you different from everyone else who’s calling me?” If you’re going to make a sales call, you’d better be ready to answer that question.

Unusual Applications for Digital Textile Printing
Speaker and chemical expert Vince Cahill reminded attendees that the key to digital is that it’s off contact: Imaging on ceramics, silk, performance wear, and any number of fragile materials will open new possibilities as rapidly as PSPs are prepared to execute them.

Golden Image Competition
These annual awards were given to specialty imagers who show "remarkable control and ability," says Johnny Shell in a release. Categories range from fine art to vehicle wraps to retail displays. Noteable winners included:

• People’s Choice and Best of Show: Digital: “Ship to Shore – David Mayhew) by DuraPlaq;
• Best of Show: Graphic: “The Grand Budapest Hotel” by The Half and Half;
• Best of Show: Garment: “Hands of Miles” by Midi Print;
• And Best in Creativity: “Dream of Circles” by DuraPlaq.

For live updates during major industry shows (or to see more from last week at SGIA), check out our Twitter accounts: @BigPictureMag and @Adrienne_BigPic.
 

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