Demand for Sustainable Print Technologies Will Create New Business Opportunities

More environmentally friendly printing is emerging as a key industry trend for the 2020s. This trend is examined in detail in the Smithers report “The Future of Green Printing to 2026,

Published in August 2021, the report profiles the evolution of circular economy principles, key legislative initiatives, the impact on analog and digital print processes, and all major print product segments (Books, Magazines, Newspapers, Advertising, Catalogs, Commercial, Security applications, Transactional print, Printed décor and textiles, Packaging, and Labels).

Smithers’ “Future of Green Printing to 2026” report examines the current state of green printing, shifting consumer attitudes, and the market shifts that ultimately provide the basis for the growth of green printing.

For example, brand owners and consumers are increasingly seeking and choosing solutions that minimize carbon emissions and waste. Print-service providers (PSPs), ink and media suppliers, and equipment manufacturers that invest in more sustainable solutions over the next five years are likely to be rewarded.

New Business Opportunities

The report examines specific opportunities that will evolve at each stage of the print value chain. For example:

Cutting waste in makeready and set-up will favor wider use of digital (inkjet and electrophotography) print systems. A forecast reduction in the average run length for many print jobs will magnify this impact

The rapid adoption of bio-based solvent and water-based inks will reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds.

Sales of sustainable substrates will increase, including recycled fiber and virgin paper grades from sustainably managed forests. For PSPs there is an onus to limit use of virgin materials and print on recycled paper grades when a premium surface is not necessary

Packaging designers will move away from the existing plastic packaging to fiber-based alternatives. Print-service providers can capitalize on this trend by retooling their print lines to support these less uniform substrates.

New fiber sources for printing papers will be studied, including bamboo or agricultural by-products.

Recycled plastic and biopolymer substrates will be used more widely in some packaging applications

Investments will rise in print processes that minimize the use of secondary raw materials, such as water consumption for wash off.

There will be greater support for technology platforms that enable the collection and reuse of print materials, both in industrial closed-loop and consumer recycling streams.

Reshoring production and printing will improve supply-chain security and reduce carbon emissions and wastage in transit.

Larger organizations can switch to centralized printing models, with a single server assigning job requests most efficiently across its network of presses and end-users. This can also extend into the integration of web-to-print platforms for consumer sales.

For more information, download a brochure from the Smithers website: The Future of Green Printing to 2026 | Market Reports & Research | Smithers

The Smithers Methodology

This report is based on extensive primary and secondary research. Primary research consisted of targeted interviews with printing material suppliers, converters and experts drawn from key markets. This was supported by secondary research in the form of extensive literature analysis of published data, official government statistics, domestic and international trade organization data, company websites, industry reports, trade press articles, presentations, and attendance at trade events.

Groups that can benefit from the information in this report include: print-business owners; suppliers of raw materials and consumables; manufacturers of printing machinery and equipment; print buyers; and consultants and analysts.

About the Author: David Zwang

Print and publishing consultant David Zwang has helped companies increase their productivity, margins and market reach for over 40 years. He specializes in process analysis, automation, engineering and strategic development for firms in the fields of publishing and packaging. He is currently the Chairman of the Ghent Workgroup (GWG), an international organization of graphic arts users, associations, and software developers that is building best practices for publishing and packaging workflows.

Ricoh’s Wide-Format Elite Access Helps Operators Solve Production Challenges on Any Brand of Wide-Format Printer

Print shops can produce almost anything with wide-format printing and finishing devices. But the versatility of the equipment combined with rising customer expectations can also create new challenges–especially for wide-format newcomers who don’t yet understand the intricacies of using a greater variety of specialty materials and workflows.

Wide-Format Elite Access is a new service from Ricoh USA, Inc. that connects wide-format print personnel with seasoned wide-format production experts who can share practical knowledge and best practices for sign and graphics workflows.

This one-to-one connection to industry experts can empower you to quickly resolve production challenges, bridge gaps in your wide-format knowledge, and expand your wide-format product capabilities.

The service is available to all print-service providers, regardless of what brands of printing equipment or software are used in their shop.

Ricoh logo

“Wide Format Elite Access gives customers immediate access to skilled print experts with superior understanding of wide-format printing applications and production. Whether printing companies use Ricoh equipment or not, we are here to help them tackle challenges and position their business for future success,” said Heather Poulin, Vice President, CIP Marketing & Portfolio Management, Ricoh USA, Inc. “Out Wide-Format Elite Support Team is made up of industry-leading services engineers who have more than 153 years of combined experience in wide-format. This team was created to help print service providers solve problems and share practical knowledge that helps create opportunity and drive new revenue.”

The complexity of a particular media or process can stall workflows, lead to extra expenses, and generate media waste. Wide Format Elite Access helps printers avoid these pitfalls and address the most common challenges that sign and graphics producers face.

For example, you can learn best practices for:

  • print file setup and inspection
  • identification of hardware and software issues
  • RIP software configuration
  • workflow design
  • substrate selection for specific applications, and
  • creating custom media profiles for color accuracy

Wide-Format Elite Access experts can fast-track support to simplify new wide-format and specialty applications. As a wide-format printer user, you can gain peace of mind and confidence while flattening the learning curve, avoiding production delays, increasing media usage, and maximizing equipment capabilities.

Understanding more about what’s possible with wide-format printing can help you accelerate business growth.

For more information, visit: https://takealookatricohproduction.com/wide-format/elite-access-support/

Organizations that Promote Sustainability in Printing and Packaging

To learn more about sustainability efforts within the printing and packaging industry, the resources listed below can give you a good start.

sustainability resources for printing and packaging

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP)

SGP’s vision to create a true circular economy within the print supply chain. SGP is the print industry’s catalyst to increase business opportunities among brands committed to a sustainable supply chain and grow profits by reducing resource consumption and waste.

SGP provides print buyers with transparent, measurable assurance that SGP-certified facilities will help print buyers meet and exceed sustainability goals.

To become SGP-certified, each SGP printer must commit to:

  • Reduce waste and hazardous materials
  • Conserve energy
  • Source sustainable materials
  • Lower its carbon footprint
  • Create a safer workplace
  • Conform to all relevant environmental health, safety, and labor labs
  • Adopt a third-party recertification audit every two years
  • Undergo a third-party recertification audit every two years.

For information about SGP visit: https://sgppartnership.org/

For information about SGP certification: http://sgppartnership.org/certification/

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition

The Sustainable Packaging Coalition (SPC) is a membership-based collaborative that believes industry can make packaging more sustainable. The SPC brings together businesses, educational institutions, and government agencies to collectively broaden the understanding of packaging sustainability and develop meaningful improvements for packaging solutions.

The SPC has developed tools, applications, and services to help companies take meaningful action toward packaging sustainability.

For example, the SPC has produced a series of online courses on “The Essentials of Sustainable Packaging

Earlier this year, they published a 59-page report: “Understanding the Role of Compostable Packaging in North America.”

More info: sustainablepackaging.org/

Two Sides North America

Two Sides North America is an independent, non-profit organization that uses a straightforward, balanced approach to tell the sustainability story of print, paper and paper-based packaging. Two Sides tackles relevant environmental issues head-on with factual, authoritative information that exposes myths and explains the industry’s true sustainability.

Two Sides North America Fact Sheet
Two Sides North America publishes Fact Sheets such as this one about Paper Production and Sustainable Forestry.

Member companies span the Graphic Communications and Paper-based Packaging value chain, including forestry, pulp, paper, paper-based packaging, chemicals and inks, pre-press, press, finishing, printing, publishing, envelopes and postal operations.

The goal is to gives stakeholders a solid foundation for making well-informed decisions about the use of print and paper products.

For example, Two Sides publishes fact sheets that bust myths such as:

Myth: Going Paperless Saves Forests

Fact Sheet: Paper Recovery and Recycling

Fact Sheet: Wood-Based and Alternative Fiber-Based Papers

Myth: Paper is a Wasteful Product

For more information: https://twosidesna.org/

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC)

The Sustainability Consortium (TSC) is a global non-profit organization working to transform the consumer goods industry by partnering with leading companies to define, develop, and deliver more sustainable products.

TSC translates the science of sustainability into quantifiable metrics and practical tools for buyers and suppliers to address sustainability issues in their supply chains.  Their product sustainability toolkits enable product buyers to:

  • Compare who leads and lags in sustainability performance
  • Identify suppliers with advanced sustainability practices
  • Reveal opportunities for market advantages
  • Reduce supplier survey fatigue
  • Identify and manage high risk suppliers

The Paper, Pulp and Forestry (PPF) Sector Working Group of the TSC investigates sustainability issues for a wide-variety of forestry products, including books, greeting cards, facial tissue, lumber, and engineered wood products. The working group includes industry experts and representatives of non-profit organizations, and academic/research institutions.

The work of the PPF Sector is being used to develop Product Sustainability Toolkits for paper-based packaging.

For more information: https://www.sustainabilityconsortium.org/

APTech Announces Wide Format Business Master Class

The Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) announced that registration is now open for its six-week “Wide-Format Business” Master Class. The in-depth course provides a blueprint for companies that wish to build a major revenue center around wide-format printing.

The Master Class includes 12 to 15 hours of instruction and begins Tuesday, March 16 with a session from 1:30 to 4:00 pm ET. The other sessions will be held at the same time on the following five Tuesday afternoons.

Each session is interactive, with opportunities for live discussion and answers to questions.

The content is geared for commercial printers, marketing services providers, and other business owners who may or may not already have wide-format printing equipment. The sessions will provide ideas for creating a powerful, wide-format profit center.

  • Week 1: What is the Value of Wide-Format Printing?
  • Week 2: How to Effectively Sell Wide-Format Printing
  • Week 3: Synergy with Sales and Production
  • Week 4: Migrate Offset Sales Staff Reps to Wide-Format Pros
  • Week 5: What You Should Know about Wide-Format Vertical Markets
  • Week 6: Product Diversification Wins Major Projects

The program will be led by wide-format business expert Debbie Nicholson, president of Think to INK!. The content will include plenty of opportunity for live discussions and answers to questions. It will also feature interviews with owners of wide-format business units and experts in equipment and materials.

“Fully understanding the wide-format printing business can be difficult. There is a lot to know on the technical side with so many different ink sets, substrates, and hardware options,” says Nicholson. “It is equally important to understand the best potential clients and progress toward becoming an Order Maker, not just an Order Taker. My goal with this course is to ignite printers to think about the advantages of developing an actionable plan for moving their company toward profitability.”

“We encourage you to invite your leadership, sales, customer services, and operations team to attend this course,” said APTech President Thayer Long. Graduates of the course will have an actionable plan for each company area: leadership, sales, and operations.

The registration fee is $499 for APTech members and $699 for the full six-week course.

A 50% discount is available for multiple attendees from the same company. Contact Julie Shaffer (jshaffer@aptech.org) about this offer.

To learn more about the Master Class, visit: https://printtechnologies.org/WFMC

For more information about the APTech organization, visit: https://printtechnologies.org/

Short Courses on Advanced Digital Printing Technologies for Surface Imaging

Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia plans to offer a series of short courses related to advanced digital printing technologies for surface imaging. The courses will be designed for imaging and printing practitioners, professional designers, and students in universities and colleges who wish to enhance their careers in the imaging industries.

Organizers anticipate launching the courses in the fall of 2021.

Thomas Jefferson University plans to launch a Surface Imaging Advanced Practice Certificate Program in the fall of 2021.


Each course will offer 1.5 stackable credits. Students who earn 9 course credits will receive the Advanced Practice Certification in Surface Imaging.

Courses currently slated for the fall 2021 program include:

  • Surface Imaging Design: Pattern development for decorative print
  • Digital Textile Printing (wet and dry processes)
  • Hard Surface Digital Printing (2.5 D printing)
  • Digital Printing for Flexible Substrates (wallpaper, cling, print/cut, wraps, etc.)
  • Digital Color Management (theory and hands-on)
  • Printing Technology (online – remote)

According to faculty member Mark Mattson, Jefferson’s surface imaging program “is the only educational program of its kind in the world. No other school comes close to the imaging programs offered and exclusive facilities available to its students.”

What is Surface Imaging?

“Surface imaging is a new and emerging concept that extends beyond the boundaries of existing traditional academic fields,” explains Mattson. The faculty at Thomas Jefferson University define surface Imaging as “creating imagery in various physical forms using a variety of digital printing technologies, including direct surface imaging on porous and non-porous substrates and fabrication printing through material deposition (e.g. 3D printing) and subtraction printing technologies (e.g. laser cutting).

The Center for Excellence in Surface Imaging Lab at Thomas Jefferson University was founded in 2000 as The Center for Excellence in Digital Inkjet Printing in Textiles. The lab has been expanding and evolving ever since.

Students in the Surface Imaging Center use a wide array of large-format and grand-format direct-print technologies and network with industry partners, including suppliers of printers, inks, materials, and software.

Graduates of the Surface Imaging MS program have been hired by companies such as Armstrong Flooring, W.L. Gore (Gore-Tex), Lily Pulitzer, Mohawk Flooring, Calico Wallpaper, Anthropologie, and other companies.

For More Information

Final dates, enrollment information, course plans, and further details will be announced soon.

Follow #surfaceimaging on Instagram or Twitter. Watch this short video the Surface Imaging team produced for the 2020 Design Philadelphia Festival:

Surface imaging video

Contact Hitoshi.Ujiie@jefferson.edu or call 215-833-3548 to learn more.

Visit the website of Thomas Jefferson University

5 Takeaways from Wide-Format Printing Insight Days at PRINTING United

As part of the 14-day PRINTING United Digital Experience, industry analysts and business owners discussed growth opportunities for wide-format graphics producers in the post COVID-19 era.

Five themes dominated the outlook sessions, keynote presentations, and panel discussions during the Wide-Format Hardware and Consumables Insight Day (October 26) and the Wide-Format Workflow and Finishing Day (October 30).

Download a guide to each topic covered during the 14 days of the PRINTING United Digital Experience: » Virtual Publication Bin (printingunited.com)

Before COVID, graphics business owners expected 2020 to be a banner year.
In this keynote presentation, Tim Greene, research director of IDC, noted in Q4 2019, 86% of the companies surveyed said large-format graphics work was still growing and 83% said profit margins had grown over the past two years.

The Q4 2019 research also showed that 76% of large-format shops were considering new market opportunities and 83% had planned to invest in different types of printing and finishing equipment.

Business owners in the panel discussions said January and February of 2020 were fantastic months and the year was shaping up to be one of their best years ever.

The COVID-19 shutdowns in March and April 2020 disrupted major segments of the large-format business. Trade shows and events were cancelled and steep declines in travel and tourism devastated the demand for graphics in airports, theme parks, hotels, restaurants, and other venues.

According to NAPCO Research Principal Analyst Lisa Cross, 87.5% of the participants in the study of COVID-19 Business Indicators said their sales declined in March and April. The average sales decline was 52.3%.

In a panel discussion about the future of signs and graphics, two executives of wide-format graphics firms said the COVID-19 shutdown “was a jolt to the system” and “just seemed to happen overnight.” Business owners said they had to make changes quickly, save cash, and prepare to capitalize on the rebound.

The versatility of wide-format printing and finishing equipment enabled companies to pivot to fill immediate and evolving needs. Companies that served essential businesses such as healthcare facilities, grocery stores, and big-box retailers acted quickly to fill immediate needs for social-distancing graphics, safety posters, and window and curbside graphics to announce new pick-up areas and services.

Some trade-show exhibit companies designed and built pop-up shelters for COVID testing centers or temporary medical facilities.

One graphics display company owner said their company not only pivoted to personal protective equipment, but also to corrugated packaging: “That business increased exponentially”

Another wide-format display company executive said the laser fabric cutter the company purchased to make dye-sublimation fabric displays was put to work cutting fabric for face masks and other garments: “It helped us get through the periods when we didn’t have any other work.” The automated cutter freed the sewing employees from having to stop, measure, and manually cut fabric.

During the spring and summer of 2020, wide-format graphics producers started selling new types of signage. For example, when spring graduation ceremonies were canceled, savvy graphics producers created a demand for personalized yard signs and hanging banners to honor individual graduates.

The reopening of restaurants, healthcare waiting rooms, stadiums, and offices led to an expanded range of orders for all types of safety and social-distance signage, including plastic dividers in bars and restaurants, seat barriers, and photo cut-outs to represent fans in the stands.

Now, some acrylic booth dividers are being printed to enhance restaurant decor and social-distancing floor graphics are being updated with brand advertising or holidays messages.

By July and August, wide-format graphics producers were showing some first signs of recovery. Compared to the March/April time period, 38.6% of respondents to NAPCO’s COVID Business Indicators research said their sales activity rose in the July/August 2020 period, 35.5% had more work-on-hand, and 41.7% were doing more quotes.

Not all wide-format print businesses were equally impacted.
According to sign and graphics research conducted by Keypoint Intelligence, 57% of survey respondents said revenues declined by 21% or more during the first four months of 2020. Another 25% of responses reported sales declines of 20% or less. A fortunate 3.4% saw an increase in revenues of more than 10%.

In a panel discussion about capital investments in the shadow of COVID-19, the owner of a trade printing service, said April was a good month for them because they specialized in printing short runs of yard signs. Throughout the spring, they printed thousands of yard signs for dozens of customers who wanted to express appreciation for health care workers and recognize middle school and high-school graduates.

Several panel-discussion participants noted that larger graphics companies with diverse capabilities were better positioned to pivot and survive the year of COVID-19. They predicted smaller mom-and-pop shops with limited equipment and marketing resources would continue to struggle.

One business owner admitted that pivoting to new products isn’t always easy. He likened it to asking an offensive lineman on a football team to suddenly play wide receiver.

Some owners continued to make capital investments, but admit the margin for errors is shrinking and timing is very important. Experienced print business owners know that marketing and advertising budgets are among the first to be cut during economic slowdowns. But they are also the first budgets to be ramped up during a rebound.

One participant commented that in the 2008-09 recession, “We were too slow to make painful cuts, and slow to add capacity to handle the rebound.” He hopes to avoid that situation this time..

“As an entrepreneur, I am always quietly optimistic,” said one owner. Even in the midst of economic downturns, “There is an opportunity in there somewhere.”

Owners are looking ahead to 2021. The large-format business owners who participated in the PRINTING United panel discussions are cautiously optimistic. But they realize that some markets and consumer behavior have changed forever.

While in-person trade-shows and events may re-start in 2021, the live shows are likely to attract fewer people. And, the role of retail stores may have been permanently changed by the surge in online shopping.

Andrew Paparozzi, chief economist, PRINTING United Alliance,. predicted that the real post-COVID recovery will start happening only when we have learned to live with COVID, and people feel comfortable traveling again.

He said participants in the “COVID-19 Print Business Indicators” studies were anticipating growth in online sales of print products and seeing new opportunities in anti-microbial graphics, complex display fabrication, interior decor, and specialty graphics.

IDC analyst Tim Greene agreed that new types of applications will fuel the recovery. For example, although branded hand-sanitizer stations don’t involve large amounts of printed graphics, businesses can make nice margins by fabricating the stands and selling them for use in offices, manufacturing facilities, schools, and other locations.

Printed graphics with QR or NFC codes could support redesigned “touchless” retail environments and printed backdrops might be useful for corporate sales and administrative personnel who continue to video conference from home. The many restaurants and other businesses now offer home-delivery services may want vehicle wraps or graphics.

Analyst Lisa Cross noted that one reason large-format graphics producers are resilient is because almost any surface today is a blank canvas for digital printing. Surfaces can be printed with either decorations to enhance the ambience or brand messaging

A graphic printing business owner affirmed that observation:“Our wide-format segment will continue to grow. People are putting large-format printing on more and more things in creative ways.”

Some owners believe that new customers they picked up during COVID-19 disruptions will continue to do business with them during the recovery.

Greene believes some companies will stabilize their businesses by continuing to expand the ancillary services they were planning in Q4 2019. Some of the most frequently mentioned services that large-format graphics providers planned to add include:

  • Design services (57.2%)
  • Installation (43.3%)
  • 3D printing services (40.2%)
  • Sign permitting (33.5%)
  • Pre-site consultations (27.3%)
  • Packaging or package prototyping (25.8%)
  • Digital signage/digital display assembly (25.3%)
  • Label printing (24.7%)
  • Digital signage/digital display content (24.7%)
  • Direct-to-garment T-shirt printing (24.2%)
  • Narrow format printing (20.1%)
  • Interior decor applications (20.1%)

“COVID-19 has accelerated the need for businesses to evolve,” said Greene. Wide-format graphics companies can evolve in many directions and produce many types of products to reposition their shops for recovery and growth.

He advised print-business owners to develop detailed and data-oriented plan and to continue to invest in production technologies that enable their shops to produce a wider variety of applications,

All of the wide-format graphics presentations and business-leader panel discussions on Day 1 and Day 5 of the PRINTING United Digital Experience can be viewed online at no charge until January 31, 2021. Visit: https://www.printingunited.com/ to register and access the video presentations.

Recommended Resources

PRINTING United Guide to Day 1: Wide Format Hardware and Consumables

PRINTING United: Guide to Day 5: Wide Format Finishing and Workflow

NAPCO Research: COVID-19 Print Business Indicators. Volume 1, No. 3

What Actions Are Groups Taking to Promote An Event Industry Rebound from COVID-19?

Graphics companies have been hit hard by the cancellation of events, trade shows, and conferences in 2020. Here are just three steps that event-industry thought leaders and organizations are taking to encourage an event-industry rebound.

Promoting the Economic Impact of Events to Legislators

The Go Live Together coalition is working to ensure that when the COVID-19 health crisis is over, the voices and concerns of the live event industry will be addressed in local, state, and federal recovery funding. Coalition members come from exposition management companies, associations, convention and visitors’ bureaus, event venues, and exhibiting companies.

The coalition contends that events are a massive incubator for innoavtion and economic growth. Recovery funding will not only help the events industry, but the recovery of the economy as a whole.

Go Live Together members are using press releases and infographics to help local, state, and federal lawmakers understand the economic impact of the trade show and events industry. For example, here are some statistics published by Go Live Together.

The trade show and events industry:

  • contributes nearly $1 trillion annually to the U.S. economy
  • employs 3 million workers,
  • pays $130 billion in federal, state, and local taxes.

Source: Go Live Together Infographic: Business Events Industry Impacts from COVID 19

For more information, visit: https://www.golivetogether.com/

Planning a Three-Phase Comeback

In a post How and When Will the Events Industry Get Out of This?” event industry strategist Howard Givner compares the comeback from COVID-19 to the event-industry’s comeback from 9/11: “Those of us old enough to have been of working age during the aftermath of 9/11 will attest to the fact that nobody can point to a date or even a period of time when the events industry started to feel ‘fully recovered’ from its effects.”

Givner suggests that the event-industry recovery will occur in three phases:

1) Pure Virtual;
2) Local Events that meet state guidelines for gatherings; and
3) Full-Steam Ahead (with instant on-site testing).

“One good thing to come out of all this is we finally – FINALLY! – have the entire world’s attention on the importance of live events,” writes Givner. Now that live events have been removed from our lives, “Everyone is pining away to attend their next music festival, industry conference, strategy meeting or trade show, to experience all those great things that events offer.”

Gathering Opinions from Corporate Exhibit Managers

An article by Travis Stanton in the June/July 2020 issue of Exhibitor magazine provides insight into when face-to-face marketing might resume.

Read the article about the impact on the Pandemic on the Trade Show Industry on page 50
in the digital edition of the June/July 2020 issue of Exhibitor magazine.

In Exhibitor magazine surveys of corporate exhibit managers and trade-show suppliers:

  • 52 percent predicted the industry won’t return to normal until the second quarter of 2021
  • 13 percent said they don’t expect normalcy until 2022
  • 5 percent questioned whether trade shows will ever return to business as usual.

One director of event marketing quoted in Exhibitor article pointed out that even if event ROI is difficult to measure, businesses were able to see the overwhelming value lost by event cancellations in 2020.

The full white paper “EXHIBITOR Insight Report: COVID-19’s Impact on the Trade Show Industry is available at www.ExhibitorOnline.com/COVID19.

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

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.