Why The Competition for Tech-Savvy Designers is Heating Up

If you are having trouble finding tech-savvy design professionals to help your business serve clients who want more than print communications, there’s a good reason. A new wave of opportunities for designers is coming from technology companies, start-ups funded by venture capitalists, and professional services companies.

Since 2013, companies such as Google, Facebook, AirBnb, IBM, Deloitte, Ernst & Young, Accenture, PWC, and Shopify have been acquiring digital design firms with expertise in fields such as user experience, app development, creative technology, industrial design, and video storytelling.

Instead of hiring graphic designers and other design professionals to aid in short-term, campaign-related projects, these big technology and professional services companies want design teams that can assist in planning and developing new products and digital experiences for their customers.

Design in Tech

In his 2016 “Design in Tech” presentation, John Maeda, design partner of the venture capital firm KPCB, attributes the recent wave of acquisitions to the growing importance of customer experience as a competitive advantage.

He cites a Temkin Group study that shows that if people have a positive emotional experience with a company, they are 6 times more likely to buy from that company, 12 times more likely to recommend that company, and 5 times more likely to forgive a mistake.

Design In Tech Report 2016Maeda believes a new type of design is emerging that will require designers with skills that are radically different from classic design disciplines such as a graphic communications, fashion design, architecture, interior design, and landscape design.

When designing for digital experiences, he says, “Design isn’t just about beauty. It’s about market relevance and meaningful results.”

Instead of spending weeks or months to create a “perfect” design for traditional distribution channels, designers of digital experiences can have their work instantly delivered to hundreds of millions of users. The design will never be “final,” but continuously evolving through continuous testing and data analysis.

Because classic design and design thinking are not the same as computational design, Maeda believes “The general word – ‘design’ – will come to mean less as we will start to qualify the specific type of design we mean.”

Computational designers will be business-savvy professionals who know how to use research and data analytics in their designs. In addition to coding and testing skills, computational designers will need to be able to design systems and cultures.

Design Education is Lagging

Maeda predicts “The large influx of designers into top services companies through mergers and acquisitions activity will reboot the design industry,” predicts Maeda. “We will see more designers becoming investing partners at VC firms, and eventually starting their own funds.” He said many designers in tech are active angel investors.

Because this new field of design is still evolving, it has been difficult to traditional design schools to adapt their programs. Maeda notes that, “Currently design education lags behind the technology industry’s needs for data-oriented, coding-enabled graduates with business acumen. Many resources are available on the internet to supplement formal education in design. Becoming a skilled self-learner is a critical skill for a new designer.”

SGIA Expo Preview: Industrial Printing Symposium

Industrial printing refers to functional or decorative printing that is part of a larger manufacturing process. For example, industrial printing equipment is used to decorate ceramic tiles, laminates, textiles, glassware, flat glass, packaging, and many different types and sizes of 3D parts.

SGIA-Expo2016Custom technologies and inks are typically required to meet the specific requirements of the product manufacturer.

For insight into opportunities and possibilities for industrial printing, register for the day-and-a-half SGIA Industrial Printing Symposium. It will be held September 13-14 in conjunction with the SGIA Expo September 14-16 in Las Vegas. The Industrial Printing Symposium will discuss technologies, processes, applications, and production strategies in key segments of this rapidly developing field.

Topics to be discussed each day are as follows:

Tuesday, September 13

  • Single-Pass Inkjet Developments as They Affect Industrial Printing
  • Why Screen Printing is Still Relevant in 2016
  • Developments in High-Production and Industrial Textile Printing
  • Utilization of UV Curing Technology for the Industrial Printing
  • Market Solutions to Production and Performance Problems
  • Ceramic Tile Production: Analog to Digital Changeover Timeline
  • Ink Performance Testing: Processes and Limitations
  • Promoting Long-Term Durability/Lightfastness/Fade Resistance

Wednesday, September 14

  • Exploring the Digital Decoration of 3D Surfaces
  • The Wide World of Process Measurement
  • Printed Packaging: A Technology and Progress Report
  • Exploring the Future of Industrial Printing

The schedule includes networking opportunities during a 7:30 am continental breakfast on both days and during a 5:00 pm reception on Tuesday, September 13.

Speakers will include experts from FUJIFILM Dimatix, Durst Image Technology, Nor-Cote International, Nazdar, Global Inkjet Systems Ltd, Meto-Grafics, SGIA, Expand Systems LLC, and other firms.

The sessions at the SGIA Industrial Printing Symposium run concurrently with the SGIA Printed Electronics Symposium.  Registrants can choose to attend sessions at either the Industrial Printing Symposium or Printed Electronics Symposium.

If you register before August 23, you can receive $100 off the full registration fee of $425 for SGIA members and $475 for non-members.

The Durst Rho Vetrocer is one example of some of the industrial inkjet printers introduced in 2015. This printer was developed by Durst Industrial Inkjet Application GmbH for the permanent decoration of flat-glass products such as glass doors, divider walls, and building facades. It uses a ceramic ink specifically formulated to print on glass. The inks are permanently fused to the glass during a post-print baking stage in an in-line infrared dryer.
The Durst Rho Vetrocer is one example of some of the industrial inkjet printers introduced in 2015. This printer was developed by Durst Industrial Inkjet Application GmbH for the permanent decoration of flat-glass products such as glass doors, divider walls, and building facades. It uses a ceramic ink specifically formulated to print on glass. The inks are permanently fused to the glass during a post-print baking stage in an in-line infrared dryer.

Graph Expo Preview: Must See ‘Ems and Executive Outlook Conference

Even in this age of “printvergence,” printing-related trade shows continue to have different audiences, cultures, and traditions. In this Graph Expo preview, let’s look at two outstanding traditions: the MUST SEE ‘EM Awards for innovative products and the Executive Outlook pre-show conference. Together, these traditions make it easier to understand what new products are most exciting at the show and why they are being introduced.

Graph Expo

PrintGraph Expo is the largest print-centric trade-show in the Americas. Graph Expo 16 will be held September 25-28 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

Here, you’ll see products and services related to inkjet, digital, offset, flexo, gravure, and hybrid printing. And, you can network with attendees from a variety of fields, including: commercial, transactional, package, and in-plant printing; mailing; publishing; marketing; and signage and display.

Graph Expo is produced by the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) for multiple printing-related trade associations.


To help show-goers learn about some of the most innovative new products, the Graphic Arts Show Company publishes a list of “MUST SEE ‘EMS.” The list is compiled by a committee of anonymous industry experts. They evaluate and rate new products submitted for consideration by Graph Expo exhibitors.

MustSeeems_2016The 2016 MUST SEE ‘EMS in 11 major categories are listed below and will be described in detail during a free webinar on August 25 at 1 pm EDT:

Sales and Order Entry

Infigo Software Ltd.: Catfish-Mega-Edit

Pixopa: Web-to-Print Solutions

Radix Software Services: Unified W2P Advanced B2B nConnect

Prepress and Premedia

CGS Publishing Technologies: ORIS Flex Pack // Web Visualizer

Electronics for Imaging: Optitex Collaborate

Ultimate TechnoGraphics: Impostrip Automation v10 AutoNesting

Xerox: Xerox FreeFlow Core version 5.0

Xerox: Xerox FreeFlow Digital Publisher

Color Management and Quality Control

Canon U.S.A.: PRISMAsync Color Print Server – G7 Calibration

Electronics for Imaging: EFI Fiery Color Profiler Suite G7 Calibration and Verification

Lake Image Systems: Discovery Roll Inspector

Variable, Transaction, and Multi-Channel

Electronics for Imaging: EFI Digital Marketing Automation Platform

HP Inc.: Link Technology

XMPie, a Xerox Company: Campaigns on Demand

Pressroom: Analog Presses

RYOBI MH Graphic Technology: RMGT 920ST-5-A+LED-UV

Pressroom: Digital Presses

Canon U.S.A.: Océ VarioPrint i300

Electronics for Imaging: EFI Nozomi C18000

HP Inc.: HP Indigo 12000 Digital Press

HP Inc.: HP PageWide Web Press T390 HD

MGI USA: Meteor Unlimited Colors Press Series

Xeikon: Trillium One

Xerox: Xerox Brenva HD Production Inkjet Press

Pressroom: Wide-Format

Electronics for Imaging: EFI AquaEndure Inks

Electronics for Imaging: EFI Armor Erase UV Coating

Epson America: Epson SureColor S80600

Postpress and In-line Finishing

C.P. Bourg: Bourg Preparation Module

MGI USA: JET Varnish 3D Evolution

Scodix: Scodix Ultra Pro Digital Print Enhancement Platform with Scodix Foil

Imprinting, Mailing, Shipping and Fulfillment

BCC Software: Integratec API Platform

Neopost USA: MACH 6

Neopost USA: Neopost AS-650

Solimar Systems: Inkjet Mailing and Efficiency Solution

Management Systems

Electronics for Imaging: EFI and Esko Integrated Workflow for Digital Packaging

Electronics for Imaging: EFI Corrugated Packaging Suite

HP Inc.: Print OS

Xerox Direct to Object Inkjet Printer can print on three-dimensional objects.
Xerox Direct to Object Inkjet Printer can print on three-dimensional objects up to 1 cubic foot in size.

The Future of Print

MGI USA: AIS SmartScanner

PrinterPresence: PrinterPresence App for Zapier

Xerox: Xerox Direct-to-Object Printer

Executive Outlook Conference

At the Executive Outlook Conference from 8 am to noon on Sunday, September 25, the “Best of Category” winners in each of these categories will be revealed. A “Legacy Award” will be given to a previous MUST SEE ‘EM award winner that has had a lasting and profound impact on the graphic communication industry.

The Executive Outlook Conference is a fast-paced overview of technologies and marketing trends that are affecting the printing business. Experts provide up-to-the-minute economic and marketing information and technological reports that can give you a better understanding of the huge range of products and services you will see in the Graph Expo show floor.

“Finding New Markets” is the theme of this year’s Executive Outlook Conference. Hal Hinderliter, principal of Hal Hinderliter Consulting Services, will talk about “Finding New Markets: At Home and Abroad.”

Keynote presenter Doug Grant, president of Westamerica Communications, will talk about “Winning the Omni-Channel Challenge: Inside Westamerica’s Journey.”

Nick Bruno, owner and president of Harris & Bruno International, will discuss “Breaking Barriers: Doing Business Internationally.”

Clemson University instructor Erica Walker will give “The ROI Report: The Case for Offering Creative Services In-House.”

Gary Rikes, president of SproutLoud Media Networks, will be interviewed about “Creative Success in an Omni-Channel World.”

Other speakers include: Thayer Long, president of GASC, Andrew Paparozzi, Chief Economist, Idealliance, Cary Sherburne, senior editor of WhatTheyThink.com.

The Executive Outlook Conference concludes with the presentation of the 2016 Positively Print Award. The award honors companies that are promoting the power of print in the media mix.


SGIA Expo Preview: Massivit 1800 3D Printer for Large Format Displays

The Massivit 1800 3D printer is a fast, large-format 3D printer for use in making signs, displays, and props for marketing, advertising, and themed environments. It will be displayed for the first time in the U.S. at the SGIA Expo, September 14-16 in Las Vegas.

Massivit large format 3D printer
Massivit 1800 3D Printer


The Massivit 3D printer can produce 3D objects up to 6 ft. high at build speeds of up to 1 vertical foot per hour. This fast build speed is possible because the Massivit 1800 uses an innovative Gel Dispensing Printing (GDP) technology. The printing gel is a photo-sensitive polymeric material that cures when exposed to UV light.

“The Massivit 1800 enables print providers to produce stunning 3D graphics with the added value of better audience engagement,” said Avner Israeli, CEO, Massivit 3D Printing Technologies, Ltd. “With recent studies suggesting that 3D advertising has five times the stopping power and four times the staying power of 2D advertising, it is clear why this technology is right for sign and display applications.”

Massivit 1800 3D Samples

Carisma, a large-format graphics provider in Brooklyn, New York, has been using the Massivit 1800 since March. They have produced a number of visually striking 3D models for movies, including The Angry Birds Movie.

“Using the Massivit 1800, we produced spectacular, larger-than-life Angry Birds models that were installed onto a number of double-decker buses in the run up to the release of the movie,” said Moshe Gil, CEO of Carisma Large Format. “Initially we produced one 3D model to demonstrate our new promotional capabilities. Sony was immediately taken with the quality, scale and speed and quickly increased the order.”


Massivit 1800 Angry Birds Bus“The Massivit 1800 has allowed us to increase our business opportunities and provide our customers with game-changing, engaging, high-quality applications at a competitive price,” says Gil.

Experienced Leaders

The three co-founders of Massivit 3D understand the sign and display market well. Gershon Miller, Moshe Uzan, and Igor Yakubov were all involved with Idanit, the Israel-based start-up that developed the Idanit-162AD, the first, production-speed wide-format inkjet printer for outdoor advertising graphics in 1996.  Idanit was purchased by Scitex, rebranded Scitex Vision, and later acquired by HP.

Massivit’s CEO Avner Israeli previously worked for Stratasys LTD, a global leader in 3D printing.

‘Print Is Big’ Website Confirms that Print is Not Dead

PrintisBigLogIf your potential clients want proof that print is not dead or dying, encourage them to visit the Print is Big website. The graphics software company Aleyant created this print statistics website to demonstrate the importance of print in the world’s economic ecosystem.

The Print is Big site includes facts and statistics about the printing business in the U.S. and worldwide. For example, the $898 billion global print industry is far bigger than the global video game industry ($102 billion), online music industry ($15 billion), and online advertising industry ($133 billion).

“We wanted to provide industry professionals with a ready resource to debunk the ‘Print is Dead’ myth,” explains Aleyant President Greg Salzman. “Print is a vibrant industry that provides necessary services to just about every industry. In North America alone, 8.5 trillion letter-size simplex pages are printed annually, which speaks to how important print still is in today’s marketplace.”

“Print is entering a new era of specialized communication that leverages modern data and analytics technologies and the experiences of a new generation of print business owners who came into the industry at the start of the Internet age,” said Dr. Joe Webb, Director of WhatTheyThink’s Economics and Research Center. “Many communications decision-makers have little personal experience in the strategic and tactical use of print, and it’s up to our industry to demonstrate how multichannel communications can be more effective when incorporating offline media like print.”

About Aleyant

Founded in 2005, Aleyant provides robust software services to the graphic communications. Its flagship web-to-print software, Pressero, is a highly customizable retail and business-to-business storefront interface. Pressero has launched many of Aleyant’s clients into the expanding world of Internet-based print sales.

Aleyant eDocBuilder is a Web-based design and variable data publishing (VDP) system, Aleyant PrintJobManager™ is a mobile, cloud-based approach to MIS that includes a fast means of generating market-driven pricing, job management, inventory tracking, real-time job tracking and estimating.

EFI Unveils High-Speed, Single-Pass Inkjet Press for Corrugated Boards

When I submitted my article about “What’s Next for Single-Pass Inkjet Printing?” for the June/July issue of Screen Printing magazine, not all of the drupa news about single-pass inkjet printers had been announced. So I will be reporting some updates on this blog.

At drupa 2016, Electronics for Imaging (EFI) announced new EFI™ Nozomi single-pass LED industrial inkjet technology that can reach up to 75 linear meters (248 linear feet) per minute. According to EFI’s CEO Guy Gecht, “EFI’s next generation of innovation brings to market the strongest combination of versatility, imaging quality, and production speeds at a total cost of ownership that is far below similar single-pass platforms.”

The media handling, inks, and software platforms for EFI’s new Nozomi single-pass inkjet platform were designed by top engineering, software, and ink teams from across EFI.

EFI’s first use of the technology in the new 1.8 meter EFI Nozomi C18000 inkjet press for high-speed corrugated board production. EFI plans to incorporate the core Nozomi inkjet technology platform into new, high-volume printers for the signage market and other industries.

EFI Nozomi C18000
EFI Nozomi C18000

EFI Nozomi C18000

The EFI Nozomi C18000 is a sheetfed digital packaging press that can print on boards up to 1.8m x 3m in size. It has run speeds of up to 8,100 square meters/hour. A double-lane printing feature makes it possible it print up to 9,000 80cm x 60cm boards per hour.

The LED imaging capabilities provide brilliant, accurate color on just about any corrugated board, including Kemi, Model, and bleached and natural kraft corrugated boards.

According to EFI, the EFI Nozomi C18000 press was not adapted from single-pass printers developed for other markets. Instead, it was built from the ground up specifically for a $130 billion corrugated packaging industry that involves more than 200 billion square meters of printed output each year – or about 25 times greater than the estimated amount of signage and graphics output each year.

To create the EFI Nozomi, EFI combined some of the best features from other development operations, including:

precision, single-pass inkjet imaging systems from U.S. based EFI Jetrion® digital press facilities and the company’s Cretaprint™ ceramic decoration printer operations in Spain. advanced LED inkjet innovations from EFI’s global ink development centers superwide-format press technology from EFI’s U.S. based VUTEk® operations scalable Fiery® digital front end processing and management technology from EFI’s Silicon Valley development center; and cloud-based remote diagnostics and support advancements from EFI’s technical hub in Bengaluru, India

EFI’s engineering, software, and ink teams focused on understanding the unique needs of the corrugated industry and leveraging the latest technology to develop a revolutionary solution.

Users will be able to increase their productivity with digital in nearly any board application, running everything from 14-point cardstock to a full range of corrugated flutes —A, B, C, D, E, F, G, N, O, AB, AC, BC, EF, EF, and triple wall —without slowing down the press.

The corrugated board press prints up to seven colors, including white, and provides high-quality output with resolutions up to 360 x 720 dots per inch with four-level grayscale imaging.

An in-line primer will give customers control over dot gain and ink absorption on different types of corrugated top sheets.

A 100% in-line image-quality inspection system on the press is tied to robust print optimization technologies, including inkjet nozzle, alignment, and uniformity correction for the highest possible imaging quality. The Nozomi press’s permanent head architecture eliminates the downtime associated with replacing consumable printheads.

Energy-Efficient “Cool-Cure” LED Imaging

The Nozomi C18000 will help redefine sustainability in corrugated board production by enabling supply-chain improvements in ink, energy usage, and inventory.

Industrial users of this digital press can eliminate wasteful warehousing of analog-printed packaging and switch to a leaner method of just-in-time delivery of packaging materials matched to each product-manufacturing run.

EFI cool-cure LED UV technology is designed to consumer less power and use fewer materials than systems that use high-power lamps to ensure proper image adhesion.

Printed output from the EFI Nozomi C18000 has received certification for OCC (old corrugated containers) recyclability from the Western Michigan University Recycling, Paper, and Coating pilot plant. Brands can include the certification’s recyclability logo on corrugated board packaging, displays, and other products printed on the press.

Fast, integrated workflow

The press will run with EFI’s new high-performance Fiery XB, bladed-architecture digital front-end. This system will provide fast, efficient job processing and eliminate downtime spent waiting for jobs. It includes Fiery job-management, imposition, and automation tools for peak efficiency.

Plus, the new Fiery DFE for the Nozomi C18000 press will completely integrate with the end-to-end manufacturing execution system (MES) and ERP technologies in EFI’s Packaging and Corrugated Packaging Suites. The system also integrates with Esko workflows for streamlined management, including dynamic scheduling, shop-floor data collection, and more.

EFI also offers fully integrated top- and bottom-feed options, using a patented system that also handles media separation, lift, transport, and alignment at full press speeds. Programmable features support faster, automatic feeding configuration for repeat jobs.

EFI plans to start installations of the Nozomi C18000 press within the next 12 months.

“When it’s commercially available next year, the Nozomi C18000 press will finally give the corrugated packaging market a unique solution to establish a profitable business around on-demand, customized digital printing,” said Gecht.

The Rise of Customer Experience Design Affects Ad Agencies

According to a 2016 SGIA Industry Survey Report, 15.6 percent of graphics producers rated ad agencies as their top declining market. In contrast, the four biggest growth markets were interior decorators/designers (55.7 percent), health care institutions (55.6 percent), environmental graphics (53.5 percent) and hospitality services (46.6 percent).

In my opinion, the decline of ad agencies as growth customers reflects three interrelated trends: (1) the rise of customer experience design; (2) the growth of in-house design teams; and (3) the emergence of different types of agencies for new types of creative services.

As I researched career opportunities for designers for my Creatives at Work blog, I discovered several articles that suggested the traditional advertising agency business model is archaic.

Instead of hiring ad agencies to buy ad space and design campaigns, companies today are hiring multiple agencies to help their in-house teams with specific elements of “customer experience design.”

Customer experience design determines how customers discover a product, learn more about it, buy it, and use it. The goal of delivering a consistently great customer experience is to build a following of loyal customers who will recommend a company’s products to colleagues, friends, and families.

CustomerExperienceWhile paid advertising plays a role in customer experience design, it’s becoming less important. Customer experience is also affected by product performance, packaging, and ease of use as well as customer support, and in-person interactions in stores and at events. Other customer experience tools include personalized communications and the delivery of educational content that is relevant to the customer’s interests.

Recommended Reading

In the article “Are Branding Agencies Still Relevant?” on fastcodesign.com, Paul Woods argues that the traditional top-down “brand-development” strategy is a waste of time: “Increasingly, a brand is defined by what a product actually delivers, not by how the marketers tell us how we should feel about it.”

He points out that many startups forgo lengthy brand-definition processes in favor of getting their products out into the marketplace. After the product is launched, the goal is to deliver positive customer experiences that can help build a community of fans. The start-up can then use real customer insights to refine the products and articulate the brand.

In UX magazine, Chuck Longanecker explains why “Customer Experience is the Future of Design.” He writes: “Experience design (XD) is not just a medium, like an advertising campaign or online app, but rather a strategy to keep customers engaged with a brand through impactful interactions.” It’s a strategy in which everyone in at the company must deliver a unified customer experience: “The idea is to wow customers at every point in their journey.”

Kevin Kelly's cover story on Hypervision appears in the the May 2016 issue of Wired.
Kevin Kelly’s cover story on Hypervision appears in the May 2016 issue of Wired.

The ultimate customer experience may involve virtual reality. In Kevin Kelly’s fantastic Wired magazine article about virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality, he quotes an neuroscience expert who says, “VR talks to our subconscious mind like no other media.”

Kelly writes that virtual reality technology “forces you to be present — in a way that flat screens do not —so you gain authentic experiences, as authentic as real life. People remember VR experiences not as a memory, but as something that happened to them.”

New Types of Agencies Are Forming

While many companies are becoming less reliant on paid advertising and ad agencies, most businesses do need help navigating the many complexities and opportunities in customer experience design.

New types of agencies (and print-service providers) are stepping up to help manage complex projects, test emerging technologies, or provide specialized skills.

Today, some agencies focus on creating digital products such as apps, websites, videos, and virtual reality experiences. Others coordinate the design, execution, measurement, and analysis of integrated multi-channel marketing campaigns.

Members of the Society for Experiential Graphic Design collaborate with architects and interior designers to shape content-rich, experiential spaces for stores, airports, museums, campuses, healthcare facilities, and offices. They blend printed and digital signage, artwork, displays, and information kiosks into buildings and public spaces in a way that ensures a consistently positive experience for visitors and employees. (Note: The Society for Experiential Graphic Design was formerly known as the The Society for Environmental Graphic Design. The update from “environmental” to “experiential”  indicates how quickly agencies and design studios are evolving.)

A Talent Drain

With so many new opportunities emerging on in-house teams or for new-era agencies, it’s not surprising that many young designers are leaving traditional advertising agencies behind. One industry analyst believes entrenched Boomer-age executives in ad agencies have been slow to adopt new business models and capitalize on changing technologies.

In a column for Communications Arts magazine, designer Ernie Schenck asks: “If Advertising Is So Great, Why Are We So Unhappy?”

Schenk writes: “An increasing number of young creatives are turning not to advertising, but to companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter, companies where creative freedom is virtually infinite, where their ideas are more likely to result in something tangible, and where, rightly or wrongly, there’s a sense of purpose – compared with the frequently suffocating atmosphere of agencies.”

In Adweek, Jason Zada explains “Why It’s Time to Kill Advertising as We Know It and Start Building ‘StoryWorlds.” Zada believes ad agencies should think like Hollywood and hire “dreamers and executors” who can create story-worlds that play out a story narrative across multiple platforms.

Instead of producing TV commercials or negotiating product placements in TV shows or movies made by Hollywood, ad-agency creative teams could help brands produce their own feature films, short series, live streaming events, virtual-reality experiences, experiential events, museum exhibits, and more.

The creative team might include a producer, writer, director, designer, story architect, and technologist.

Print-service providers should pay close attention to shifting business models within all sorts of creative services agencies, because printed graphics will continue to be needed.

As brands become more active in creating entertaining and educational experiences for customers, print-service providers that can produce a full range of large-format graphics, custom interiors and backdrops, digital signage, and 3D printed objects may be well-positioned to benefit.

Epson Screen Print Editions of Two SureColor Printers Are Now Available

Epson Screen Print Editions

Earlier this year, Epson announced that they had worked with the screen-printing software experts at Freehand Graphics to develop Epson Screen Print Editions of two of their newest desktop and wide-format inkjet systems.

The 17-inch SureColor® P800 Screen Print Edition and the 24-inch SureColor T3270 Screen Print Edition were developed specifically for producing high-quality screen film positives for the screen printing process. The Epson Screen Print editions come bundled with AccuRIP Black Pearl SE™ software by Freehand Graphics and Epson Screen Positive Film.

Epson Screen Print Editions

For the Maker Generation

Epson recently announced that the two Screen Print Editions have begun shipping and can be purchased from screen-printing equipment resellers such as Garston, Graphic Solution Group, Lawson Screen & Digital Products, Nazdar Source One, and Ryonet.

This news should be welcomed by the many young artists, designers, and makers who are enthusiastically using entry-level screen printing equipment to make gig posters, T-shirts, and gifts items for sale on Etsy and at maker fairs.

When I wrote an article about the resurgence of “Old-School Screen Printing in the Digital Age” for the SGIA Journal, the owner of a co-op screen-printing studio told me that many young designers who grew up with computers and automated digital printing enjoy messing around with the inks and getting their hands dirty crafting prints that aren’t as slick and “perfect” as digital prints have become. With screen-printing, applying multiple layers of ink can result in prints that look and feel more like paintings.

But that doesn’t mean every step in the screen-printing process must be done manually. Younger artists who grew up using Adobe design software and professional inkjet printers for printing and proofing aren’t likely to revert to imagesetters and film-processing equipment. Some screen-printing start-ups I visited were using antiquated Epson Stylus Pro inkjet printers retrofitted with third-party ink systems and specialty software.

What’s a Film Positive for Screen Printing?

One key step in the screen-making prepress process is to make an opaque film positive for each color ink in the design. The film positive is placed on a screen coated with light-sensitive emulsions and exposed to UV light. The light activates the emulsions, which harden to become impermeable and form stencils on the screens. The stencils determine which parts of the print surface will receive ink as it is squeegeed through the screen mesh.

For optimal image quality, the density and placement of the black inks on the film positives must be properly controlled. This is particularly true when reproducing photos or complex designs.

The Epson Screen Print Editions

With Epson UltraChrome® HD Ink and UltraChrome XD pigment inks, the Epson SureColor P800SP and T3270SP produce high-quality solid and halftone films up to 65 lines-per-inch (lpi) with high UV opacity and an exceptional black density up to 4.0 Dmax.

The screen-printing studios who upgrade to these new “Screen Print Editions” can also use these film-positive printers to print full-color posters and graphics.

SureColor P800 Screen Print Edition

This 17-inch desktop borderless printer (MSRP: $1,795) is ideal for small screen-printing shops and maker studios that specialize in screen-printing small runs of T-shirts, tote bags, gig posters, and art prints.

The SureColor P800 uses Epson MicroPiezo AMC printhead technology with Precision ink drop control and eight colors of Epson UltraChrome HD ink. (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Light Cyan, Light Magenta, Light Black, Light Light Black, Matte Black and Photo Black). The density of pigments in the Photo Black ink is 1.5 greater than in Epson’s previous-generation inks.

The SureColor P800SP delivers resolutions of up to 2800 x 1440 dpi for outstanding clarity and sharpness.

SureColor T327o Screen Print Edition

The fast 24-inch T3270 Screen Print Edition ($3,495) can be used in screen-printing shops that use more automated equipment to produce longer runs of garments and posters. Its more robust print engine can output up to 40 16 x 20-inch  films per hour.

The SureColor T3270 uses Epson’s latest PrecisionCore TFP production-grade inkjet printhead with five colors of specially formulated Epson UltraChrome XD pigment ink (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta, Matte Black, and Photo Black).

The UltraChrome XD inks were formulated for the fast production of high-precision technical drawings on the Epson SureColor T series of wide-format inkjet printers.

UltraChrome XD inks deliver brilliant color and crisp lines on virtually any paper type and are extremely resistant to smudges and water. The UltraChrome XD inks are sold in three cartridge sizes: 110 ml, 350 ml, or 700 ml. Companies that primarily use black inks to make film positives can use 700 ml cartridges of black ink and smaller cartridges for the color inks.

Specialized Software and Film

The AccuRIP Black Pearl SE software that comes with the Screen Print Editions was developed by Freehand Graphics, a New York-based screen printing business that has been delivering prepress products for more than three decades.

AccuRIP Black Pearl SE software works with all Adobe PostScript design software and has been optimized to provide superior solids and halftone control for textile applications. The easy-to-use interface offers simple ink density controls and one-click pop-down menus for top-quality results with Epson Screen Print Edition printers and Epson Screen Positive Film.

“The team at Freehand is excited to be an integral part of delivering these special screen-print editions to users who appreciate the value of a fast, professional turnkey solution,” said Charlie Facini, CEO of Freehand Graphics.

Epson Screen Positive film is a dimensionally stable, 5-mil clear PET film with a microporous coating optimized for Epson UltraChrome HD inks. Even with the high ink densities required for the solid, opaque blacks in film positives, the inkjet printed films dry instantly.

This means the ink on the film positive doesn’t transfer or stick to the emulsion on the screen. It’s also possible to expose the screen as soon as the positive comes off the printer. Available in cut sheets and rolls, Epson Screen Positive Film delivers a DMAX over 4.0 for precise text and sharp edges, on even the smallet type.

While Epson’s Screen-Print-Editions will appeal to screen-printing start-ups and studios, the printers will also be used in well-established screen-printing firms.

Brad Nichols, art director for Insta Graphic Systems, says the Epson SureColor T3270SP is “an ideal printer that combines production speed, exceptional quality, and extraordinary simplicity —all at a great value.” He said the company had been seeking a quality, cost-effective system that could replace an outdated imagesetter and produce high-resolution film separations for custom print orders.

“Epson is committed to bringing the most advanced solutions to market for proofing, graphic arts, photography, and screen printing professionals,” said Matt Kochalowski, product manager, Professional Imaging, Epson America, Inc. “The new SureColor P800 and T3270 Screen Print Editions combine our most sophisticated graphics printing technologies with the powerful, intuitive AccuRIP Black Pearl SE software to create amazing proofs and exceptional-quality screen positives at incredibly fast speeds.”

InPrint USA Show Will Feature Industrial Inkjet Printing, 3D Printing, and More

InPrint USA Industrial Printing Show

Following the successful 2014 launch and continued growth of the InPrint: Industrial Print Show in Europe, FM Brooks of the Mack Brooks Exhibitions Group is launching InPrint USA. The industrial printing show will feature cutting-edge technologies in industrial inkjet printing, screen printing, specialty printing, digital printing, and 3D printing.

The first InPrint USA show will take place April 25-27, 2017 at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida.

InPrint Show USA
Manufacturers who want to incorporate industrial print technologies into their production lines will attend the first InPrint USA show, April 25-27, 2017 in Orlando Florida. (http://www.inprintshow.com/usa/)

Since 2014, the InPrint Show in Europe has been providing a high-quality exchange of ideas for the development of industrial printing technologies for a diverse range of industries, including packaging, pharmaceuticals, automotive, aeronautics, consumer electronics, and interior decor.

A recent survey FM Brooks conducted in partnership with I.T. Strategies showed that demand for industrial printing technology has accelerated worldwide, particularly in North America.

“North America is one of the world’s most important manufacturing regions and a market leader in the field of industrial printing,” explains In Print co-founder Frazer Chesterman.

Companies that have already reserved space on the show floor include Heidelberg, Fujifilm, Thieme, Sensient, Mimaki, Wikoff, Nazdar, Phoseon Technology, TTP Meteor, INX Digital, SPT, Kuei, Metis, Colorgate, ImageXpert, DPS Innovations, and Alchemie.

InPrint USA Industrial Printing Show


“Heidelberg supports the launch of InPrint USA 2017,” says Jason Oliver of Heidelberg. “At InPrint 2015 we showcased Heidelberg’s direct-to-shape technology, the Omnifire 250, and generated a huge response. We expect the same kind of response at InPrint 2016 in Milan for the launch of the Omnifire 1000. The U.S. marketplace is significant both in its size and it innovative culture. We believe our technology will suit the fast developing nature of the market. InPrint is an event that is needed in order for us to connect our ideas and technology to the right kind of people —those focused on industrial print.”

InPrint USA will be co-located with ICE USA, an event dedicated to the conversion of paper, film, foil, nonwovens, and other flexible web-based materials in the Americas.”

For more information about InPrint USA visit http://www.inprintshow.com/usa or contact Mack Brook Exhibitions by phone at 777-358-0330 or via email at inprintusa@mackbrooks.com

To get a taste for the type of information to be covered, visit the Industrial Printing blog or download one of the white papers available from the organizers of InPrint USA. Recent white papers have covered topics such as “Why Is Industrial Printing Booming?” and “What is Industrial Printing?”




B2B Social Platform Helps Commercial Building Designers Discover Products

Printing companies marketing decor products or services to architects, interior designers, and remodelers of commercial buildings may want to join to the Dezignwall community.

Dezignwall is a B2B social market network created exclusively for professionals involved in the design and construction of everything from local nail salons and coffee shops to world-class restaurants, hotels, casinos, and entertainment venues.



The Houzz-like platform functions like a cross between the professional networking site LinkedIn and photo-sharing sites like Pinterest and Instagram.

The social-sharing tools on the Dezignwall platform make it easy for commercial developers and design teams to find sources of inspiration, engage with manufacturers of products, and work collaboratively in a virtual and mobile environment.

Dezignwall’s mission is to help commercial businesses “close the gap between initial discovery and final purchase” of products and services.

Joseph Haecker, the CEO and founder of Dezignwall, understands the commercial design and building industry because he was head of product design for a company that sold custom lighting for hotels and casinos. He saw how difficult it was for product manufacturers to get their products and services in the right hands from the conception of a development project through the purchase order. He believes current advertising methods (sales reps, catalogs, print media, trade shows) lack real-time accessibility and mobile usability.

“I realized that my commercial design colleagues were in need of a Houzz-like website specifically for our commercial needs,” says Haecker.”During the recession, I saw businesses close because they could not engage clients outside of their current marketing reach. What makes Dezignwall different is that we are a business-to-business solution specifically for global commercial professionals.”


Dezignwall seeks to change how commercial design professionals engage, collaborate, and find inspiration. This includes finding and share commercial design products such as custom wallcoverings, textiles, window shades, glass, ceramics, and many other products that can be digitally printed.

Creating a business profile and publishing your product/project photos is free.