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SGIA Expo 2017: A Show of Possibilities

(October 2017) posted on Mon Oct 16, 2017

The question on our minds: ‘Is there anything we can’t do?’

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By Kiersten Feuchter

New Orleans welcomed thousands of visitors to its lively – albeit sweltering – streets for SGIA Expo 2017 last week. Exhibitors, press, and roughly 19,000 attendees admired booths displaying scenes from jazz clubs, balcony-lined streets, Mardi Gras, and more. What better way to celebrate the question that seemed to be on everyone’s minds: What can’t you print on?

We saw it all: images printed on cinderblocks, shoes, cornhole boards, lunch boxes, armchairs, and more. Time after time, we heard manufacturers repeat the thoughts of Sharon Rothschild, Massivit product manager: “It’s our customers that are teaching us what’s possible with this technology. … Innovation is infectious.”

A new way of seeing the industry became clear: Manufacturers are no longer selling machines. Print service providers are no longer selling print. We at Big Picture magazine are no longer selling you a magazine. We’re all working together to sell something else: an idea.

Seeing Opportunities
2018 is creeping closer, and in the modern-day market, there’s nothing more valuable than an idea. The ability to take the pressure that’s squeezing businesses from every side and turn it into an opportunity is essential to survive. Perhaps it starts with the internet; some say retail is dying. Perhaps it starts on the shop floor; some say automation will leave us all jobless. Maybe it starts with the price; many say the only way to make a buck is to churn out as many square feet as possible – regardless of quality.

But the mood on the show floor betrayed none of these concerns. The word was “opportunity.” Gabi Seligsohn, CEO of Kornit Digital, posed a question: retail meltdown or retail revolution? If Amazon plans to ship products to Prime customers in under two hours, doesn’t that create an opportunity for local printers across the country?

Epson reported that 20 percent of the world’s water supply is affected by pollution generated by the textile printing industry, a figure that could be reduced by as much as 95 percent if production switched over to digital. Today, only 3 percent of the world’s textiles are printed digitally. If that’s not opportunity, what is?

EFI Senior VP and General Manager Scott Schinlever shared that 99.8 percent of thermoforming production is still run on analog machines. The main barrier to going digital? Awareness. Hello, opportunity.