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

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


Fab Lab Uses Digital Printers, Cutters, and Engravers to Spark Interest in STEM Education

One way to get more students interested in studying science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) topics is to give them access to software and tools they can use to design, create, or customize their own products. That’s the concept behind Fab Labs, which are being opened in libraries and community centers nationwide.

For example, the Blue Ridge/University of Arizona 4-H Fab Lab is an “open source, open door” digital fabrication facility. It gives students in grades K-12 and community members access to the digital design tools, electrical platforms, 3D printers, wide-format printer/cutters, laser engravers, and training they need to make their own graphics, stickers, 3D objects, and product prototypes.

State-of-the-art equipment for 3D printing, laser engraving, milling, graphics printing, contour cutting, and product customization was donated by companies such as Ultimaker, Epilog, and Roland DGA. 

The Roland equipment includes a VersaUV LEF-12 UV flatbed printer, VersaCAMM SP-300i wide-format printer/cutter, CAMM-1 GS-24 desktop cutter, and MDX-40A milling machine.

Recently, the Fab Lab hosted students from the White Mountain Apache Tribe as well as leaders from 4-H chapters in Pima, Coconino, Apache, Maricopa, and Navajo counties.

“By giving young people the opportunity to make everything from digitally printed banners to 3D milled prototypes, we’re helping to create the next generation of STEM professionals,” said Kevin Woolridge, co-director of the Blue Ridge/UA 4-H FAB LAB. The simple operation and impressive capabilities of the devices in our lab make it possible to interest and engage users of all ages.”

Members of the White Mountain Apache Tribe 4-H Junior Leadership Academy display the bumper stickers and banner they created. (Photo: Roland DGA)

The visiting students from the White Mountain Apache Tribe STEM Program used the Roland printer and software to create banners that the Canyon Day Robotics team used at the IVEX IQ Junior High World Championships in Kentucky.  The students made supplies they needed for three different STEM projects on the lab’s 3D devices.

“The students used our Roland VersaUV LEF-12 UV flatbed printer to produce VEX Robots name tags that incorporated their very own graphic designs,” noted Co-Director Steve Gouker, who represented the University of Arizona’s 4-H program in the Fab Lab. “Seeing the light in the kids’ eyes when they got to hold their finished projects was amazing. It was like they were opening presents on Christmas Day.”

According to Bruce Goode, Director of the White Mountain Apache Tribe STEM Program, the students enjoyed their first visit to the Blue Ridge/UA 4-H FAB LAB tremendously. “It was a valuable learning experience for everyone involved,” said Goode. “We intend to continue exposing our Native American students to STEM projects and new technologies by bringing additional groups to the lab.”

Leaders of the Pima County 4-H Chapter in Tucson visited the Fab Lab to explore how to use the lab to provide members with access to 21st century learning opportunities. While the chapter’s 800 members focus primarily on agriculture-based learning projects, the organization is seeking to bridge traditional 4-H projects with modern STEM education.

Members of the Apache County 4H Chapter display the summer-camp banners they printed on the Roland VersaCAMM SP-300i wide-format printer/cutter at the Blue Ridge/University of Arizona 4H Fab Lab. (Photo: Roland DGA)

Vincent McGurk, a 4-H alumnus, Pima County 4-H Americorps member, and one of the individuals that toured the facility, used the lab’s Roland wide-format inkjet to print out several new banners. A 4-H member who aspires to become a graphic designer, designed the banners. “This was the best day at work ever!” said McGurk. “I can see how we can get kids excited about using this kind of cutting-edge technology.”

By utilizing open-source technologies, the Pima County 4-H Chapter plans to create new projects for young people interested in the STEM field, and will use the lab’s real-world production capabilities.

“Awareness of our lab and the great learning opportunities we offer is growing rapidly,” said Woolridge. “There’s already significant interest in establishing a “mini” Fab Lab in Tucson to complement our main Blue Ridge/UA 4-H facility in Pinetop-Lakeside.”

The Fab Lab concept was started by MIT’s Fab Foundation. A Fab Lab is a place where students, parents and community members can interact, learn and create in an atmosphere of 21st century learning, skills and tools.

Trend Report Shows Changing Role of Print in a Digital World

A trend report “Hello, Print in a Digital World 2018” illustrates more than 70 creative ways brands are combining the tactile, sensory nature of print with the real-time technological powers of digital. Thanks to augmented reality technologies or specialty inks, printed billboards, posters, magazine ads, and packages are serving as platforms to more engaging and immersive digital experiences.

The report was written by Michael Chase, Chief Marketing Officer at St. Joseph’s Communications, a full-service, smart-content factory that helps brands navigate the world of omni-channel communications.

Chase introduced the Print in a Digital World report in a presentation at PRINT 17 last fall. He points out that “We are in an information revolution powered by the intersection of two of the most commanding knowledge transfer mechanisms of our time — the Gutenberg Press and the Internet.”

Instead of relying solely on digital content to generate likes, retweets, and clicks, many marketers are finding innovative ways to integrate printed materials into their campaigns.

For example, below some case studies featured in the report:

McDonald’s Canada turned ordinary drink trays into the McDonald’s Boombox.

Travelers on Emirates airlines could scan their amenity kits to unlock augmented reality content such as games and travel tips.

French retailer Castorama created interactive wallpaper that allows children and parents to enjoy storytime together.

An SS+K ad agency holiday greeting card included a custom-designed Google Cardboard mailer that connected recipients to an 360-degree virtual reality bobsled ride.

Google and Vogue collaborated to bring voice-activated content from the print magazine to Google’s Home device. By prompting Google Home to “Talk to Vogue” users can access behind the scenes audio content from selected celebrity interviews.

IKEA “Cook This Paper” campaign used food-safe ink on parchment cooking paper to produce illustrated, interactive recipe posters. At-home chefs added the designated ingredients, rolled them up the parchment paper, and popped the creation into the oven.

Samsonite printed a specially designed sheet that customers convert into a handle-like, paper “Weight Tag.” When customer wrapped the tag around the handle of their luggage and picked it up, they could determine if their packed luggage exceeded the 50-lb. restriction set by most airlines. Special perforations on the tag snapped off when the weight exceeded 50 lbs.

ASICS used thermochromic ink to publish a print ad that folded out to create a mat that readers could step on to see the shape of their foot. A chart on the ad talked about what types of shoes were best for specific foot shapes.

Crust Pizza used capacitative touch technology from Novalia to create vinyl outdoor advertising posters that could play music. The posters encouraged passers-by to remix music on a pizza-shaped DJ deck.

About St. Joseph Communications

St. Joseph’s Communications in Toronto began as a printing company. Today, printing is just a portion of what they do. In addition to printing catalogs, custom publications, and packaging, they assist brands with omnichannel marketing, including digital production, digital signage, augmented reality, social media, custom videography and photography.


Photography Pros Urged to Help Consumers Print More Photos

To highlight the importance of saving images in a non-digital form, Professional Photographers of America (PPA) has partnered with industry leaders to launch the PRINT Movement. It’s a public awareness campaign to help people see the importance of purchasing or creating printed photographs.

It is estimated that professional photographers take approximately 4,160 digital photos a month just for business. And thanks to the enhanced capabilities of cellphone cameras, industry experts predict amateur photographers will take another 3,650 photos per year per person. That means a global population of photographers taking 14 trillion pictures annually.

But there has been a worldwide change in how these photos are preserved. The PPA discovered that a staggering 53 percent of consumers have not printed a photo in more than 12 months, 70 percent do not have photos albums, and 42 percent no longer print photos at all. This is a problem for both amateur and professional photographers.

Technology is changing so fast that many photos taken five or six years ago are stored on devices that are no longer supported. A whole generation of people is likely to look back decades from now and wonder where photos of their childhood, holiday get-togethers, relatives and friends have gone.

“Unless we change our ways, I think time will prove that we have gambled away our family histories – trusting too much in our ability to protect our memories on our phones, tablets and other devices,” said David Trust, PPA’s CEO.

Nashville photographer Krista Lee Newbill of Krista Lee Photography made a business decision to stop selling digital files and only sell prints. This bold move not only helped Newbill rediscover the art of print, it boosted her bottom line. Her customer base increased, her per-session sales average rose, and she started seeing increased foot traffic in her storefront. Clients liked her artisanal images.

PRINT the Movement Brochures“It’s so easy to get busy and not have time for prints,” says Newbill. But she believes professional photographers can play a role in helping more people preserve and display their memories. Professional photographers who want to join the movement can download promotional materials and resources from the PRINT movement website.

Photography conference speakers are underscoring the message that professional photographers should help remind people why prints matter.

For example, photographer Sue Bryce said that instead of simply giving clients disks full of digital images, “We need to return to our roots as professional photographers. We need to print our work, and value this legacy we are capturing.”

“With so much photography never touching paper of canvas today, there has never been a better time to perfect the art of printing and specialize as a print artist,” said photographer Tim Walden.

In addition to PPA, the PRINT movement is being support American Color Imaging (ACI), Bay Photo, BWC Printmakers, Canon, Canson Infinity, ChromaLuxe, Collages, Finao, Fundy Designer, GW Moulding, H+H Colorlab, Hahnemühle, Kodak Alaris, Marathon, Meridian Professional Imaging, Miller’s, Simply Color Lab, Tyndell Photographic Packaging, and White House Custom Colour.

‘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.