How OOH Agencies Aided Local Communities During COVID-19 Crisis

When COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates reduced the number of commuters, travelers, and event-goers exposed to out-of-home messages in urban centers, OOH agencies quickly adapted. They posted public health messages, supported small businesses, and thanked the frontline heroes in hospitals. They also provided data and insights to help brands understand some of the changes in audience movements and behaviors. Here are a few examples:

Amplifying the Ad Council’s COVID-19 Messaging

In March, the Ad Council, White House, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS), and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention convened OOH industry leaders to bring critical COVID-19 safety messaging to the American public.

By donating ad space on premium out-of-home advertising billboards, kiosks, and car tops, the OOH industry helped amplify the important Ad Council messages that were also being broadcast on TV and promoted through social media.

OAAA (Out-of-Home Advertising Association of America) published a landing page from which members downloaded the Ad Council’s creative assets for COVID-19 campaigns. While each OOH company provided customized support, all Ad Council’s creative assets were designed to drive audiences to www.coronavirus.gov, the centralized information resource from HHS and the CDC.

The Out-of-Home Division of Circle Graphics donated printing and placement services to get the Ad Council’s creative assets in markets that have limited availability of digital OOH signs.

“The American public looks to the Ad Council in times of crises, and Circle Graphics hopes getting printed materials strategically placed by our partners Clear Channel, Lamar Advertising, Outfront and others extends the reach of these life-saving messages,” said Rod Rackley, president of Out of Home at Circle Graphics.

Clear Channel Outdoor created OOH “stay-at-home” content for the #AloneTogether social distancing campaign and featured it on digital billboards across their entire network. (Photo: Ad Council)

“Out of home has historically played an essential role in informing our communities and residents on how to stay safe during times of uncertainty and crisis,” said Scott Wells, Chief Executive Officers, Clear Channel Outdoor Americas.

Other OOH companies that supported Ad Council messaging included Firefly, Intersection, Lightbox, Octopus Interactive, and ReachTV.

Firefly supported COVID-19 work across their platform on digital screens topping ride-share vehicles and taxis in major markets.

Intersection ran the creative on their assets in New York City and worked with the Ad Council to launch multiple distribution efforts nationally.

The Lightbox OOH video network ran public service announcements across their video screens in malls across the U.S.

Octopus Interactive activated its nationwide network of digital displays inside ride-share vehicles to deliver the Ad Council campaign’s ads to passengers.

ReachTV launched the Ad Council’s COVID-19 public service announcements on TVs in 90 different airports and posted videos on the ReachTV Celebrity Fan pages on Facebook and Instagram.

Uber activated its cartop OOH ad space technology to bring the campaign’s messaging to multiple markets across the U.S.

“We’re incredibly grateful to all of our extraordinary out-of-home partners who are ensuring that these critical messages are being seen by the American people,” said Lisa Sherman, president and CEO of the Ad Council.

Using Vehicle Advertising to Support Gig Workers

Wrapify is a fast-growing OOH company that enables gig-economy workers to earn extra money by displaying ad messages on cars they drive for ride-share and delivery services such as Uber, Lyft, GrubHub, and Postmates.

The “Delivery Drives Relief” vehicle wraps featured space for the logos of 10 local restaurants or other businesses. Campaign profits went directly into the pockets of participating delivery drivers. (Photo: Wrapify)

On March 24, Wrapify announced an 8-week “Delivery Drives Relief” campaign to help gig economy workers who transitioned from driving passengers to delivering meals, groceries, and supplies to millions of home-bound workers and their families. While ride-share use dropped as much as 70% during the COVID-19 shutdown, drivers hoped to replace some of that income by making deliveries for restaurants and other local businesses.

The wrap graphics Wrapify designed for brand partners encouraged people to “Flatten the Curve: Get It Delivered.” The campaign was conducted on 1,900 gig-work/delivery vehicles in cities in which restaurants were hit hard by the COVID-19, such as Las Vegas, Atlantic City, and Savannah, Georgia.

Promoting Hyper-local OOH Advertising

Billups is an advertising technology company that uses data analytics to help OOH and DOOH advertisers plan and measure campaigns in a manner that meshes with digital advertising campaigns.

In April, they published research about how COVID-19 shutdowns had affected exposure to OOH campaigns. The study found that while airports, restaurants, hotels, malls, and other sites experienced significant decreases in foot traffic, essential businesses such as grocery stores, gas stations, pharmacies and general merchandise stores were seeing higher numbers of visitors.

To enable brands to stay connected to their audiences, Billups recommended shifting OOH ads from traditional high-traffic sites such as highways and urban transit platforms to hyper-local OOH sites in neighborhoods.

For example, Billups suggested that brands place empathetic COVID-19 messaging on neighborhood street furniture or on signs near grocery-store entrances. They even proposed reaching consumers at home through printed door-hangers or advertising inserts with pizza, restaurant takeout, or Amazon delivery boxes.

Helping Local Businesses

Some OOH companies, such as do-it-outdoors promoted their ability post brand messages on mobile hand-washing stations or trucks used to deliver products to neighborhoods.

During the week of April 13th, they also ran three of their largest mobile billboard units along routes that passed every grocery store, healthcare clinic, hospital, and pharmacy in York, PA. The graphics featured eye-catching ‘Thank You’ messages targeted toward essential local grocery and healthcare workers.

Rachel Frock, the in-house graphic designer for do-it-outdoors, created the brightly colored graphics that emphasized “Not All Heroes Wear Capes.” (Photo: do-it-outdoors)

Orange Barrel Media and its sister company IKE Smart City donated airtime on their digital signage platforms to local businesses and non-profit groups in 18 major cities.

Small businesses and non-profits placed ads on Interactive street-level kiosks from IKE Smart City. The kiosks feature full-motion touchscreens that help city residents and visitors learn more about local attractions and businesses. Shown here is a kiosk in San Antonio, TX. (Photo: Orange Barrel Media/IKE Smart City)

“What would our cities be without the local and independent merchants and restaurants, arts organizations, and non-profits that define the culture of our communities? These organizations not only employ more than 50% of US workers, they enrich our lives and make our cities unique. We must support one another as we navigate the devastating effects of COVID-19,” said Pete Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media and IKE Smart City. “Our mission is to utilize our media platform to improve lives in cities, and we are committed to leveraging our assets to help those who are suffering during this time.”

Lessons Learned

As the COVID-19 crisis intensified in March, brands had to quickly shift their ad messaging to be more empathetic to consumers whose lives have been disrupted. OOH advertising companies demonstrated how quickly they could help brands pivot. They also showed how OOH advertising can be a measurable, real-world component to social-media and other other online marketing campaigns.

While many brands cancelled previously scheduled OOH campaigns for March and April, OOH companies encouraged them to plan ahead and reserve prime OOH space for the late summer and fall months as business gets back to normal.

Recommended Reading

The Importance of Brand Awareness During a Crisis.
This post on Medium explains why it’s important for companies to maintain brand awareness and trust during a crisis.

Hyperlocal is the New High Profile
In an OAAA Thought Leadership post, Jan Jeff of Billups notes that “The traditional experience of OOH has completely changed in our current situation. It is normally seen as something to be experienced concurrently, with billboards that reach many people simultaneously, and on a large scale. But, with the seclusion of audiences to their homes and neighborhoods, hyperlocal, which features types of OOH media like bus shelters, street furniture, transit, package inserts, kiosks, and more, all have a unique ability to reach audiences on a more personal level.”

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The Printing Community Got Creative During COVID-19 Shutdown

As COVID-19 shutdowns disrupted the demand for event and advertising graphics, print-service providers quickly found ways to create new products for businesses and individuals coping with different phases of the crisis.

Below are a few examples of the types of helpful products printing-related businesses offered to produce for medical professionals, remote working novices, home-schooled students, and temporarily shuttered local businesses.

Photo Stickers for Medical Workers

To help patients feel more relaxed in the presence of medical personnel garbed in personal protective equipment, two medical students in Israel started a Facebook movement to add photos to protective suits used by medical workers. The page attracted the attention of HP Indigo team employees who helped launch the project by supporting the printing of the first 70,000 photo stickers.

Medical workers in protective gear don’t look quite so intimidating when patients can see photos of the professionals who are caring for them. Photo: HP

Each 5.8 x 8.3 inch photo sticker featured a smiling photo of the medical worker along with their name and function. The medical workers added the prints to their protective gowns and disposed of them at the end of each shift. By early May, HP and its print partners produced and donated 200,000 photo stickers to medical personnel at 16 hospitals in Israel.

Thank You Cards to Healthcare Professionals

Postable, a web-to-print greeting card company offered an online service through which people could create and mail thank-you cards to healthcare workers at the front lines on the COVID-19 pandemic. Visitors to the Postable site picked a design, selected a hospital from a list of hard-hit areas, and typed a message of love and encouragement to the medical workers.

Postable donated 100% of the profits from these cards to the Frontline Responders Fund which helped get critical supplies to front-line hospital workers. The cards were printed on HP Indigo digital presses at Mercury Printing in Memphis. Photo: HP

Sealed Delivery Boxes for Restaurant Take-Out Orders

CompanyBox in Charlotte, NC, developed takeout boxes and bakery boxes that made it easier for local restaurants to shift from operating dine-in operations to fulfilling orders for curbside or home-delivery. The specialty boxes featured a single-use seal that kept the food securely inside the box until the recipient removed the adhesive tear strip. The boxes were printed on an HP PageWide C500 Press with water-based inks approved for food packaging.

CompanyBox started a program to donate the first 100 boxes to local restaurants and planned to produce 100,000 boxes in total. (Photo: HP)

Fabric Face Masks with a Designer Touch

Spoonflower.com is a global marketplace that connects makers and consumers with artists worldwide. A pioneer in short-run digital textile printing, Spoonflower uses digital textile printing equipment from HP, Kornit, and Durst to bring on-demand, eco-friendly, sustainable and scalable manufacturing processes to the textile industry.

By early May, Spoonflower had produced more than 5,800 yards of fabrics that mask makers around the world used to sew an estimated 70,000 face masks.

The Spoonflower team mobilized its in-house sewing team to design patterns that members of the Spoonflower design community could use to sew knit gaiter or double-layer cotton face masks to prevent the prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The ColorCasters color-management consulting firm supplemented their income during the COVID-19 shutdown by using the dye-sublimation printing equipment in their testing lab to make protective face and neck gaiters.

In an April 26 blog post about why ColorCasters pivoted from color management consulting to dye-sublimation printing, Jim Raffel explained that their firm had missed out on the first round of the government’s Paycheck Protection Program design to help small businesses: “We had hoped that it would help us through a few more months until we could travel again.”

ColorCasters already operated an e-commerce store through which they sold color-management training, software, and devices. So they added their line of ChroMasks gaiter style face coverings to their store and started promoting it to their community through social media. “The most amazing thing happened,” Raffel wrote. “Business colleagues from our community purchased large quantities of gaiters for their employees.”  

Although they had to quickly make some adjustments to handle all the orders, ColorCasters doesn’t plan to become a print-service provider full time. “When this is all done – we’re going back to being color management consultants and trainers. It’s who we are, it’s what we do.”

Home Conferencing Backdrops

During the first week of the shutdown, many people who formerly worked from offices suddenly had to adapt to working from home. The Britten visual branding company in Traverse, MI, was quick to promote their ability to produce easy-to-set-up conference-call backdrops/privacy screens for entire teams of employees. They offered to produce color logos or custom designs on hemmed fabric or vinyl that could easily be slipped onto a study, steel adjustable frame that could be set up or torn down in minutes without tools.

Soon, Britten had set up a landing page highlighting the many different products they could produce for hospitals, city planners, grocery stores, and others affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Companies could provide customized backdrops to employees who would be conducting video conference calls from home. Photo: Britten

Structures and Supplies for Temporary Medical Facilities

Graphics companies equipped to sew soft signage and design custom trade show booths promoted their ability to create temporary medical facilities and other supplies.

D’Andrea Visual Communications showed concepts for custom-built temporary medical facilities (above) and movable privacy partitions (below).
Privacy screen designed by D’Andrea Visual Communications

D’Andrea Visual Communications published a COVID-19 product catalog to promote their ability to build temporary structures, privacy stands, or hospital beds as well as free-standing hand-wipe dispensers or hand sanitizers complete with safety signage.

In a blog post entitled “Fabrication During Troubled Times,” Britten discussed how they could make temporary medical testing stations, cough barriers, hospital isolation gowns, and hand-washing stations in areas without access to running water.

Graduation Light Pole Banners

For Kingsley High School in Kingsley, Michigan, Britten produced Graduation Light Pole Banners that featured photos of each of the school’s 2020 graduates. Parents and administrators wanted to do something special to honor the 88 graduating seniors who wouldn’t have a traditional graduation ceremony. Each student will receive their 24 x 48 in. banner as a memento, after the light-pole banners are prominently displayed along city streets.

Educational Graphics and Safety and Wayfinding Signs

As retailers and businesses began to adapt to new methods of doing business, print-service providers such as 40 Visuals, eSigns, Signs.com, and KDM started promoting their ability to produce new types of signs and graphics for retailers, restaurants, and manufacturing plants.

On March 13, the Houston-based online sign and banner company eSigns.com added new hand-washing sign products and designs to its workplace signage offerings.

“We’ve always offered signs and designs that provide various safety warnings and information,” said eSigns CEO Roy Marsh. Some of the first COVID-19 hand-washing signs they printed were for their own eSigns warehouses and production facilities.

eSigns.com was one of the first print-service providers to promote hand-washing sign designs during the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis. (PHOTO: eSigns.com)

Signs.com offered free downloadable templates that companies could use to quickly print their own temporary health and closure safety signs. Or, website visitors could order custom-printed masks and different types of signs promoting thank you messages, social distancing or store-capacity requirements, and curbside pick-up locations.

40 Visuals published a blog post illustrating the Five Essential Types of COVID-19 Safety and Social Distancing Signs. The blog included photos of: parking-lot pavement graphics; floor graphics for aisle traffic flow and social distancing; stickers on sanitation stations, waste disposal bins, or sanitized products; and wellness barriers for salons and restaurant take-out counters.

KDM typically supplies retail marketing solutions such as in-store branding and custom point-of-purchase displays. They were quick to promote solutions as restaurants and grocery stores adjusted their standard operations. As states started to relax their shutdown orders, KDM published a blog post that discussed how retail signage could help companies safely re-open for business.

During the COVID-19 shutdown, KDM’s newsletter showed how retailers could use KDM signage and branding solutions to attract online shoppers to new curbside pickup locations. Photo: KDM Retail Marketing Solutions

As businesses re-opened, D’Andrea Visual Communications promoted their ability to fabricate acrylic shields for retailers, restaurants, and the workplace. The company offers kits for making shields that could be hung from ceilings, mounted on countertops, or inserted in a freestanding, portable display frames. They also offer custom printed, re-usable face masks that companies could order for groups of employees.

Lessons Learned

Print-service providers equipped with a web-to-print ordering capabilities and an extensive combination of digital printing, finishing, and fabrication equipment rose to the challenge of making new types of products during each phase of the COVID-19 crisis.

But selling these new types of products also required marketing agility. Companies that already had effective digital marketing programs in place seemed best prepared to demonstrate why printing should be regarded as an essential service during crises such as pandemics.

Joint Venture Leads to Durable, Flexible, Washable E-Textiles for Smart Garments

Powercast Corporation and Liquid X have teamed up to enable cost-effective manufacturing of durable, flexible, washable e-textiles that could be wirelessly recharged. Using e-textiles made with printed electronics, garment manufacturers could embed battery-powered health and wealth features, movement monitoring, or LED-based illumination directly into garments.

Liquid X and Powercast showcased a wirelessly rechargeable smart athletic shirt prototype at CES in January 2020. The shirt illuminates using printed electronics, embedded power harvesting technology, and LEDs powered over the air up to 10 feet away from the wireless transmitter.

Unlike smart garments that use snap-on electronics and battery packs that must be detached before the garment is washed, the electronics made with these e-textiles could be washed without the extra battery-removal step

Using Liquid X’s proprietary ink technology, manufacturers can print circuitry directly onto a garment, add Powercast’s wireless power technology and a battery, and seal it all into the garment during the manufacturing process.

First, circuitry is printed on the fabric using Liquid X’s proprietary particle-free ink, including Powercast’s RF wireless receiving antenna.

Next, Powercast’s Powerharvester® RF wireless power receiver chip, a battery, and other components are mounted onto the printed traces.

Finally, an encapsulant provides a high strength waterproof bond to seal in all of the electronics.

To recharge the battery, consumers simply place a Powercast RF transmitter in the closet or drawer where they store their smart garment. It transmits RF energy over the air to the RF receiver embedded in the wearable, which then converts it to direct current (DC) to charge the battery.

About Powercast: Powercast, established in 2003, is the leading provider of RF-based wireless power technologies that work in the far field (up to 80 feet) to provide power-over-distance, eliminate or reduce the need for batteries, and power or charge devices without wires and connectors. For more information: www.powercastco.com.

About Liquid X: Liquid X is an advanced manufacturer of functional metallic inks. The company partners with manufacturers in the electronics industry to develop and print functional components for devices such as sensors, heating elements, and smart textiles. Using proprietary particle-free inks, printing capabilities and technical expertise, Liquid X takes an application from concept to commercialization using additive manufacturing techniques. For more information: www.liquid-x.com

SGIA and PIA Merge to Form Printing United Alliance

Just as new types of printing and multimedia companies have been formed through mergers and acquisitions, long-time printing associations are joining forces to better serve the owners and employees of 21st century printing businesses.

The newest consolidation of associations was announced May 1, 2020 when the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) and the Printing Industries of America (PIA) officially combined to create PRINTING United Alliance. The new alliance is the largest, most comprehensive member-based printing and graphic arts association in the United States.

Members of PRINTING United Alliance will have access to extensive education, training, workshops, events, and research as well as government and legislative representation and guidance on safety and environmental sustainability issues. Plus, PRINTING United Alliance members can tap into the resources of NAPCO Media, which SGIA acquired in August 2019.

SGIA CEO Ford Bowers was elevated to President and CEO of the PRINTING United Alliance. The President and CEO of Printing Industries of America Michael Makin is now the Executive Vice President of the unified organization

“PRINTING United Alliance is a reflection of the invaluable partnerships and industry convergence that has evolved over time,” said Bowers.

“PIA is thrilled to join forces with SGIA, combining resources to serve every segment of the printing industry,” said Makin. “Pooling the extensive talent of both organizations, along with the media expertise of NAPCO Media, is a game-changer.”

Printing United Alliance logo

PRINTING United Alliance brings together two forward-thinking associations that have long histories of adapting to ongoing changes in printing technologies and markets.

SGIA History

Founded as a screen-printing association in 1948, SGIA was among the first to recognize how the evolution of short-run, on-demand printing technologies might affect the graphic, textile, apparel, and product decoration markets traditionally served by screen printing firms. First, they changed their name from the Screen Printing Association to Screen Printing & Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA).

After consolidating the Digital Printing and Imaging Association and the Screen Printing Technical Foundation, the SGIA became the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association and broadened its membership to include early adopters of wide-format digital printing equipment.

Today, SGIA membership includes professionals from multiple types of printing businesses, including industrial, graphic, garment, textile, printed electronics, packaging, and commercial.

In 2019, SGIA acquired NAPCO Media, a business-to-business publishing company serving the printing, packaging, publishing, marketing, retail, non-profit, and promotional products markets. NAPCO builds community between its clients and audiences through integrated media programs, research, video services, events, marketing services, and e-learning.

SGIA worked with NAPCO Media in 2018 and 2019 to produce the first PRINTING United expo, Oct. 23-25 in Dallas, TX. PRINTING United was an immediate hit, attracting more 680 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees from all segments of the printing business.

Since the acquisition, SGIA has operated NAPCO Media as an independent media arm. NAPCO publishes Printing Impressions, Wide-Format Impressions, In-Plant Impressions, and Packaging Impressions. as well as Promo Marketing, and Total Retail.

PIA Background

Founded in 1897, the Printing Industries of America and its local affiliated associations deliver services and products that enhance the knowledge, growth, and profitability of members through advocacy, research, education, and networking.

In 1999, PIA consolidated resources with the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), the premier research, technical, and education association in the commercial printing industry.

PRINTING United Alliance Board of Directors

The new PRINTING United Alliance board of directors reflects combined leadership from the previous SGIA and PIA boards of directors, and compromises the following industry executives:

  • Chairman of the Board: Scott Crosby, Transcontinental Holland & Crosby;
  • First Vice Chair: Paul Cousineau,Dow Jones and Company, Inc.;
  • Second Vice Chair: Christopher Bernat, Vapor Apparel/Source Substrates LLC;
  • Third Vice Chair: Michael Marcian, Corporate Communications Group;
  • Treasurer: Dean DeMarco, IDL Worldwide;
  • Secretary: Brooke Hamilton, NPI;
  • Immediate Past Chair: Thomas Cooper III, WestRock;
  • Chair of Chairmen’s Advisory Council: Edward Cook, Jr., ECI Screen Print Inc.;
  • Associate Vice Chair: Scott Schinlever, Gerber Technology;
  • Ex Officio: Ford Bowers, President and CEO, PRINTING United Alliance.

Directors at-large include:

  • Brian Adam, Olympus Group;
  • Nick Buettner, American Cut and Sew;
  • Roger Chamberlain, The Cincinnati Insurance Company;
  • Kristen Danson, MitoGraphics Inc.;
  • Chris Feryn, Premier Press;
  • Kevin Gazdag, KG Graphics Décor;
  • Bryan Hall, Graphic Visual Solutions;
  • Lane Hickey-Wiggins, Douglass Screen Printers Inc. dba DPRINT;
  • Brian Hite, Image Options;
  • Michael Magerl, Trabon Group;
  • Brent Moncrief, FUJIFILM;
  • Joseph Olivo, Perfect Communications;
  • Edward Pidcock, Chillybears;
  • Heather Poulin, Ricoh USA;
  • Timothy Saur, Durst Imaging Technology US LLC;
  • Elaine Scrima, GSP Companies;
  • Michael Wagner, Butler Technologies Inc.;
  • and Joseph Lyman, President, Great Lakes Graphics Association, serving as Affiliate manager.

“In this time of consolidation, printer members and the supplier community at large are looking for a unified solution to the challenges they face in this era of rapid change,” said Scott Crosby, Chairman of the Board of PRINTING United Alliance. “The new Association will become the place to find answers for everything related to printing. It is a great honor and privilege for me to serve the industry as we look forward to a new beginning.”

PRINTING United 2020

Meet leaders of PRINTING United Alliance and see the results of their merger by attending the PRINTING United 2020 show October 23-25 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta.

You can also expect to see the widest array of printing technologies at any U.S. expo, including printing, and finishing equipment, supplies, and prepress and workflow software for commercial, functional, textile, apparel, wide-format, and package printing.

Whether you are seeking printing equipment for an in-plant printing shop or full-service integrated printing and marketing company, you will find plenty of options and ideas at PRINTING United. For more information about the Expo, visit https://www.printingunited.com/

Additional Information Sources

What they Think: Alphabet Soup of Trade Association Mergers by Mark Hahn

Printing Impressions VIDEO: Ford Bowers and Michael Makin Discuss Merger of SGIA and PIA

Two Virtual Print Industry Events Scheduled for June

The postponement of print-industry networking and product-launch events such as Drupa, FESPA, and ISA Sign Expo has prompted the launch of “virtual events” conducted exclusively online. Events scheduled for June include The Future Print Virtual Summit organized by the FM Future strategic consultancy and the year-round Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition hosted by Resolve Business Management.

FuturePrint Virtual Summit

FM Future will host a FuturePrint Virtual Summit, June 2 to 4, 2020. This not-for-profit online conference for the print community is designed to share essential knowledge, best practice, and inspiration for successful business recovery beyond COVID-19. The summit will bring together global experts and thought leaders from the worlds of commercial, packaging, wide format, and industrial printing.

The conference program will include more than 20 unique sessions and more than 30 speakers from Europe and the US.  There is no charge to attend the summit.

This FuturePrint Virtual Summit June 2-4, 2020 will include presentations in Commercial Print, Wide Format Print, Industrial Print ,and Packaging.

The virtual summit is being organized by two print-industry conference veterans. Co-directors Frazer Chesterman and Marcus Timson ran the FESPA printing shows in Europe from 2003 to 2011 and the EcoPrint and InPrint shows for FM Brooks. They established the strategic consultancy FM Future in 2019 to help print and events businesses improve their communications and storytelling.

“We have been blown away by the hugely positive response that we are receiving for the Virtual Summit,” says Timson. “It’s inspiring to see so many of our industry’s most influential speakers so keen to be involved. We are proud to play our part in helping the industry come together, share knowledge, and stay connected to colleagues and peers during this challenging period.” 

Ben Dodson of the Bespoke marketing and PR agency for graphic-arts companies notes the FuturePrint summit isn’t designed to replace trade shows that couldn’t run in 2020. Instead, “It will be a one-off source of help to stimulate ideas and enable businesses to make critical changes and smart plans for a successful reboot once life returns to normal.”

Partners of the FuturePrint Virtual Summit include: Ricoh, Integration Technology, Bespoke Marketing and PR, Sun Chemical, Meteor Inkjet, Inca Digital, Kao Collins, Memjet, Global Inkjet Systems, Kavalan, Sihl, and InPrint Show.

Content and Supporting Partners include: VIGC, SGIA, ThePackHub, Inkish, LMNS, IMI Europe, TCM, Keypoint Intelligence, IDC, IT Strategies, and PICON. A full schedule of the event will be available shortly. 

“COVID-19 has had a very significant short-term effect on the printing industry. So now we need to come together, via the FuturePrint Virtual Summit to discuss the best possible ways to navigate the future,” explains Arnaud Linquette, Senior Vice President, EMEA, Memjet. “We see a very positive future for Inkjet and when the lockdown eases, we will undoubtedly see an increase in adoption as demand returns.”

To register your interest in participating, visit https://futureprint.tech/futureprintvirtualsummit.

Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition

Resolve Business Management is organizing the Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition. The virtual trade show for printers is scheduled to open in June 2020 and will remain open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Anyone can visit the show from anywhere in the world without the cost of flights and hotels.

The Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition will work the same way a live exhibition does, except that anyone can visit the show 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from anywhere in the world without incurring travel expenses. (Photo: Resolve Business Management)

Show Directors Wayne Beckett and Chris Watson believe the time is right to launch a virtual print show — not only because of current travel restrictions, but also because a virtual event offers sustainability advantages and accessibility for more visitors.

“We know.a lot of companies are geared up for new product launches later this year,” said Beckett. “The expo is designed to give suppliers a regular stream of inquiries throughout the year.” Exhibitors can also use the URLs for their exhibits for advertising and marketing opportunities outside of the Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition.

Each exhibit space will be real physical dimensions in a 10,000 square meter venue. When the show opens in June, registered visitors can navigate through the hall and see 3D products and HD videos in the booths they visit. They can download literature and submit real-time sales inquiries.

Throughout the year, exhibitors can update the products on their stands with a range of interactive content that visitors can explore and download. Through the admin back office of each virtual booth, exhibitors can change the content of videos and brochures as required.

Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition will run a monthly conference program, through which exhibitors can run seminars and demonstrations to a global market.

The inaugural Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition is co-locating with another virtual trade show, IndustryExpo, which opened in January 2020. Printing Expo Virtual Exhibition will be located in Hall 2 on the V-Ex Virtual Exhibition Platform.

For more information, visit: https://www.printing-expo.online/

Inkcups Wins Award for Helix Hi-Fi Direct-to-Shape Inkjet Printer

The 6-color Helix® Hi-Fi photorealistic digital rotary printer manufactured by Inkcups has earned a 2019 SGIA Product of the Year award in the non-flatbed, Direct-to-Shape Printers category.

Ideal for promotional and retail markets, the Helix® Hi-Fi prints multi-color graphics and photos on straight-walled cylinders, tapers, and objects with limited wall curvatures.

Inkcups Helix Hi-Fi digital rotary printer


The Helix® Hi-Fi uses UV LED ink and prints 360 degrees with a maximum resolution of 1200 dpi. The machine’s printable area is 8.6 inches; the system can print on items up to 12 inches in length with a diameter ranging from 2-5 inches.

The new Hi-Fi version of the Helix printer adds light cyan and light magenta inks to the CMYK and white inks on the standard model.

The two light inks enables the printer to produce realistic skin tones on cylindrical objects that will be personalized with facial images.

While the standard Helix® already delivers the best image quality in the industry, the addition of the light colors brings output quality to a new level. The benefits are most dramatic in printing skin tones where true photorealistic images are generated with smoother tone transitions, less graininess, and higher resolution edge effects.

Helix® Hi-Fi can import a series of unique image files and produce high-resolution photo gifts, such as glass candle holders and drinkware such as stemless wine glasses, stainless steel tumblers, and pint glasses.

A built-in programmable tilt system reduces product change-over time and eliminates the need to optimize print recipes for each SKU change.

The Helix® Hi-Fi is delivered as a turnkey package that includes software to integrate with web-based production solutions as well as warranty and service coverage.

The company offers multiple pre-treatment options, inks and other supplies, along with application testing and sample prints upon request.

Metals, glass, plastics, and ceramics are all validated for image durability from handling and washing.

“The Helix® Hi-Fi is unmatched in price and performance,” said Ben Adner, CEO of Inkcups. “The addition of these two inks are a game changer for customers looking to achieve high-quality personalized results. Inkcups has always had a strong business with promotional printing, and we are pleased to lead the industry in the personalization category.”

The Helix® Hi-Fi is engineered and manufactured in the U.S. It will be displayed at the 2019 Printing United show, Oct. 23-25, in Dallas, TX.

About Inkcups

Inkcups manufactures inkjet printing equipment, pad printing equipment, laser plate-makers and corresponding supplies. Their equipment is used in companies that serve the apparel, drinkware, promotional, electronics, medical, sporting goods and automotive markets.

Use X-Rite i1Pro 3 Plus Device to Profile Fabrics and Other Digitally Printable Materials

Now that so many different types of papers, display films, art papers, packaging materials, and fabrics can be digitally printed, the professionals who produce digital prints need more versatile color-measurement devices. X-Rite and Pantone have addressed this need with the i1Pro 3 Plus color-measurement instrument and a new X-Rite iO Automated Scanning Table.

The i1Pro 3 Plus device from X-Rite Inc. and Pantone LLC is a spectral color measurement solution specifically designed for imaging, print, and textile professionals who need advanced calibration and color profiling capabilities to support today’s wide-format and industrial printing applications.

The i1Pro 3 Plus

The i1Pro 3 Plus has been optimized for digital printing on a range of materials and surfaces, including ceramics, textiles, glass, metal, wood, vinyl, plastics, thin films, cardboard, paper, and more.

Commercial, wide-format, grand-format, packaging, and industrial printers can now create ICC profiles for almost any substrate and calibrate print production devices for the highest level of color accuracy.

Background   

As more industries turn to digital printing, customers expect print-service providers to be able to achieve accurate, repeatable color. To do this, production print equipment must be linearized and profiled for each substrate.

Traditionally used profiling devices have limited ability to measure textured, rough, or uneven surfaces. And most, can’t accommodate the many different thickness of materials that can be digitally printed today.

Many devices do not have the resolution required to ensure the highest color quality when printing detailed patterns, metallic effects, or photography images. These shortcomings lead to costly color errors and rework.  

Benefits

“The i1Pro 3 Plus builds on the success of the i1 family of products and removes the variability to create accurate ICC profiles on the widest range of materials,” said Ray Cheydleur, Printing and Imaging Product Portfolio Manager, X-Rite. “Wide- and grand-format users and industrial material printers will see immediate value by incorporating the affordable i1Pro 3 Plus into their prepress and production workflows.” He said users can expect more accurate and repeatable color, a reduction of waste, and an increased return on investment. 

A long-term X-Rite partner, EFI (Electronics For Imaging), also sees the great potential of the i1Pro Plus 3 and supports it in their latest Fiery print-management technologies: “Due to the nature of digital textile production, this large-aperture device is an excellent fit with our latest single-pass EFI BOLT high-speed textile printer. For both color management and quality control, this device will allow our customers to produce accurate color much more easily,” said John Henze, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, EFI Fiery. 

New Features

The i1Pro 3 Plus includes a number of new features. 

The larger, 8mm aperture supports new materials and substrates used in digital printing applications. 

A new polarization filter (measurement condition M3)  reduces specular highlights and shadows on fabrics and ceramics. It provides better blacks and richer colors on rough surfaces and glossy medias, such as canvas prints and fine art photo papers. 

It can simultaneously measure M0, M1 and M2 in a single pass to account for optical brighteners. This enables prepress and print operators to quickly predict how colors printed on optically brightened substrates will look under different lighting conditions.  

A longer ruler can measure the wider charts used in grand-format printing. The ruler includes an ISO-compliant white backer and removable magnetic strips on the top and sides for holding samples in place while measuring.   

A new LED illuminant  improves device reliability. The i1Pro 3 Plus allows for four measurement conditions (ISO 13655 M0; M1: D50; M2: UV Excluded, M3 Polarized).  

It supports transmission scanning for backlit film and materials used in signage. The device can measures high brightness, up to 5K NITs for ultra-bright displays. 

“We are used to seeing bumpy shadow measurements from unpolarized devices on glossy textured medias like canvas. With the new polarization feature in the i1Pro 3 Plus, our M3 measurements are dramatically smoother in the shadows – perfect in fact,” commented Scott Martin, Founder, Onsight, a workflow consultant for print, prepress, design and photography.   

New X-Rite iO Table 

X-Rite’s new i1iO Automated Scanning Table supports the i1Pro 3 Plus. This hands-free test chart reader offers automated color profiling on a variety of substrates with reduced risk of color measurement errors. It is ideal for photographers, designers, and printers who want to speed up and automate the measurement process and eliminate manual strip reading.  

The new i1iO table can be used with a variety of industrial materials including textiles, ceramics, corrugated, etc. and supports materials up to 33 mm thick, with the optional z-axis spacer. It also supports transparencies and backlit materials. 

About X-Rite 

X-Rite Incorporated is a global leader in the science and technology of color and appearance. Manufacturers, retailers, printers, photographers and graphic design houses use X-Rite products to achieve precise management and communication of color and appearance throughout their processes.

For more information, visit www.xrite.com. Connect with X-Rite on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  

About Pantone 

Pantone provides the universal language of color that enables color-critical decisions through every stage of the workflow for brands and manufacturers.

Learn more at www.pantone.com and connect with Pantone on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and LinkedIn

Roland Launches New 8-Color Eco-Solvent Printer

Roland DGA has launched the VersaEXPRESS™ RF-640 wide-format inkjet printer. The 64-inch, 8-color eco-solvent printer can produce outdoor durable graphics with an extremely wide color gamut. In addition to the standard CMYK process-color inks, the RF-640 includes Light Black, Red, Green, and Orange inks. This 8-color inkset enables users to produce exceptionally vibrant prints that can last up to 3 years outdoors.

Roland Versa EXPRESS RF-640 8-Color Ecol-Solvent Printer
Excellent Color Reproduction

The RF-640 8C accurately matches and reproduces colors that are normally difficult to achieve.

With the right media, up to 99% of Pantone® + Solid Coated spot colors are within gamut. This means print service providers who need to match corporate brand colors in signage can hit a specified color with greater ease and precision.

“Colors such as green and orange are notoriously challenging to reproduce precisely,” noted Daniel Valade, Roland DGA Product Manager of Digital Print. “By adding these ink colors, as well as red, the RF-640 8C offers significant advantages and opportunities for print-service providers, especially those working with major brands and corporate customers.”

Red, Green and Orange inks extend the range of achievable colors across the entire spectrum. Along with Light Black, these inks deliver exceptional skin tones and smooth gradients for unsurpassed photo reproduction.

In addition to signage, the RF-640 8C printer is well-suited to produce interior décor, fine art, or other types of images for hotel chains, museums, galleries, entertainment venues, or offices.

Other Noteworthy Features

The RF-640 8C features a state-of-the-art gold-plated printhead with Roland Intelligent Pass Control. The printhead precisely places dots within passes and uses variable dot control to produce ink droplets of up to seven different sizes.

The RF-640 8C comes with ErgoSoft Roland Edition 2 SPECIAL PLUS RIP software. This print management software offers a host of advanced features that optimize productivity, color management, and overall performance. The advanced color replacement and profiling tools within the RIP make it possible to configure precise colors for all major industry swatches.

“Our new VersaEXPRESS RF-640 8C is the result of responding to needs and desires of our customers for a printer that not only offers exceptional value, but also incorporates innovations that will help them build and grow their businesses,” said Valade. “It really comes down to giving our customers a decided edge in an increasingly competitive marketplace – and that’s exactly what the RF-640 8C provides.”

The MSRP of the VersaEXPRESS RF-640 8C is $16,995.

To learn more about Roland’s new VersaEXPRESS RF-640 8C printer, visit http://www.rolanddga.com/rf8color.

About Roland DGA Corporation

Roland DGA Corporation serves North and South America as the marketing, sales, distribution and service arm for Roland DG Corporation. Based in Japan, Roland DG is a world leader in wide-format inkjet printers for the sign, apparel, textile, personalization and vehicle graphics markets.

For more information about all of the products Roland DGA sells, visit: https://www.rolanddga.com/

New 44-in Epson Dye-Sub Printer Includes Epson Edge Software

Epson’s new SureColor® F6370 44-in. dye-sublimation printer quickly and efficiently produces high-quality images on dye-sublimation transfer papers that can be used with a heat transfer press to make promotional products, soft signage, cut-and-sew fabrics, and more.

Like all of Epson’s dye-sublimation printers, the SureColor F6370 is a turnkey solution that includes Epson printhead technology, Epson dye-sublimation inks, Epson DS transfer media, Epson ICC profiles, and Epson service and support.

Epson SureColor F6370
The 44-in. Epson SureColor F6370 dye sublimation printer

The SureColor F6370 also comes with Epson’s new Epson Edge® layout and print-management workflow software with an Adobe® PostScript® 3™ engine.

Other features include a built-in cutter for roll-to-sheet convenience and an optional take-up reel system for unattended printing.

The SureColor F6370 replaces the 44-in. SureColor F6200 in Epson’s line-up of SureColor F-Series printers. Other models include the 64-in. SureColor F9370 and 60-in. SureColor F7200.

“The award-winning SureColor F-Series product line is the number-one selling large format dye-sublimation printer,” said Tim Check, senior product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “We are thrilled to continue expanding the series and providing new features customers have requested.”

Epson Edge Print Software

The new Epson Edge Print layout and printer management software features an Adobe Postscript 3 engine and includes job nesting and textile-printing tools such as step-and-repeat patterns, custom spot color matching, and support for project color libraries,. Users can import new media settings when available, edit media settings and manage projects remotely.

The Epson Edge dashboard, a remote-printing management software, gives operators detailed views on current printer activity, ink supply levels, and error messages. The software can also remotely perform cleaning cycles and various maintenance cycles and update printer firmware.

Dashboard users can check the status of up to 10 printers, including all SureColor F-Series, SureColor F-Series Direct-to-Garment, and SureColor S-Series wide-format printers.

Epson printers are also compatible with leading RIP workflow software.

Epson Printhead and Accessories

The Epson PrecisionCore® TFP® printhead supports fast print speeds (up to 680 sq. ft./hr.), precision dot control for print quality and sharpness, and resolutions up to 1440 x 720 dpi.

The PrecisionCore print chip is ideal for dye-sublimation ink chemistry and was co-developed with Epson UltraChrome DS inks for extreme reliability.

The new roll media adapters lock into place to prevent unwanted roll movement and the built-in cutter makes it easy to trim sheets of printed paper for use in the counter-top heat transfer presses used with promotional products and smaller photo gifts.

The optional take-up reel streamlines the process of using a rotary calendar heat press to transfer images from rolls of printed paper to rolls of polyester textiles for soft signage or cut-and-sew fashions.

The user-accessible maintenance panel provides easy access to the printhead, wiper and wiper cleaner, and features simple instructions to complete routine maintenance checks.

Inks

The SureColor F6370 printer uses four colors (CMYK) of Epson UltraChrome® DS inks, including a High Density Black.* The inks produce vibrant color saturation and contrast and are sold in 1.1 liter, easy-to-change pouches. This pouch capacity provides about 10-percent more ink than the ink supplies for previous models.

The UltraChrome DS inks are Eco Passport by Oeko-Tex. This textile industry safety standard ensures that chemicals and colorants used in the textile production are safe for clothing worn by adults, children, and babies.

Images printed in reverse on rolls of transfer paper can be cut into sheets or rewound on a take-up real depending on what type of heat press will be used to transfer the print to the polyester fabric.

Transfer Papers

Epson offers four high-performance transfer papers optimal printing with Epson UltraChrome DS inks on the SureColor F series printers:

Multi-purpose paper can be used to transfer images to a variety of products, including mouse pads, T-shirts, and ceramics.

Photo paper is optimized to transfer images to hard surfaces with minimal grain.

Textile-adhesive paper is recommended for producing fabrics and apparel.

Production is a lightweight paper for roll-to-roll sublimation transfer printing.

All four papers have a unique chemical coating that allows for heavy ink loads with low cockling, superior clarity, and sharpness.

Support and Availability

The Epson SureColor F6370 Standard Edition is available now through authorized Epson Professional Imaging resellers for $8,495 MSRP. The optional take up reel will be available in Fall 2019.

The SureColor F6370 offers a standard Epson Preferred Limited Warranty, a one-year program that includes toll-free advanced telephone access Monday through Friday and usually next business-day on-site service in the unlikely event of any hardware failure.

For additional information about Epson’s complete line of wide-format printing solutions, visit www.proimaging.epson.com.

Roland DGA Unveils Multi-function Dye-Sublimation Printer

Roland DGA Corporation describes their newest wide-format dye-sub printer as an intelligent multi-function dye-sublimation printer. That’s because the Texart RT-640M uses specially formulated Texart SBL3 sublimation inks that enable you to print directly onto coated polyester fabrics or on different types of sublimation transfer papers.

The direct-to-textile print option on the Texart RT-640M simplifies the production of dye-sublimation fabrics for soft signage and trade show graphics. The ability to print to different types of transfer paper lets you create a range of products, including sublimated hard goods and rigid signs to apparel and decor fabrics.

Roland multifunction dye sublimation printer
The Roland Texart 640M multifunction dye sublimation printer enables you to print directly on coated polyester fabrics or transfer media for photo panels and other rigid substrates

Roland’s Texart SBL3 inks are available in 4-color (CMYK), 8-color (CMYKLcLmOrVi), and 8-color fluorescent (CMYKOrViFyFp) configurations.

Features

The RT-640M includes several advanced features:

  • The media take-up incorporates adjustable front rollers for no-skew printing, as well as magnet weights for improved tensioning and performance.
  • State-of-the-art 8-channel printheads deliver unmatched color and image results on a wide range of materials. The heads also optimize ink coverage for lower operating costs.
  • The Roland Bulk Ink Switch System features 1000 cc pouches and automatically switches to a back-up pouch for non-stop printing in a 4-color configuration.
  • An ink collection channel within the platen facilitates direct printing onto mesh, flag, voile and other thin textiles.

The Texart RT-640M comes with ErgoSoft Roland Edition 2 software. This software offers unique tools for textile dye-sublimation and allows users to RIP up to eight jobs simultaneously.

ErgoSoft Roland Edition 2 boasts an Aurelon PDF engine with 64-bit native support, plus unlimited hot folders and job cost estimation. Other features include a new smart fill function, rectangular image nesting, variable data, and a huge range of color profiles, and more.

“The RT-640M is an unbeatable investment for anyone looking to get into the dye-sublimation market,” said Lily Hunter, Roland DGA Product Manager, Textiles and Consumable Supplies. “This value-packed inkjet offers the most flexibility you can get in an entry-level sublimation printer. Its multi-function capabilities allow users to easily and cost-effectively produce everything from flags, soft signage and backlit signage to ChromaLuxe photo panels, apparel, and décor.”

To learn more about Roland’s new Texart RT-640M multi-function dye-sublimation printer, visit https://www.rolanddga.com/RT-640M.

For more information on the complete Roland DGA product lineup, visit https://www.rolanddga.com.