EFI Connects With Users at 20th Connect Conference
Few other graphic arts industry conferences, if any, can lay claim to hosting 20 annual user events, let alone the ability to consistently grow attendance, provide product demonstrations, and organize a wide range of targeted breakout training sessions and engaging general keynote sessions. But EFI Connect 2019, held at the Wynn Las Vegas from Jan. 22-25, once again delivered on its promise.
More than 200 technical and managerial sessions, focused within 17 different topics, were geared toward commercial printing, signage and graphics, packaging, as well as the emerging opportunities in industrial digital textile and digital corrugated package printing.
The Solutions Center conference hall — which incorporated numerous large banners to help guide attendees — featured five EFI wide- and grand-format printers on the floor along with several EFI partner booths. Numerous workstations were also set up for 1:1 demonstrations on EFI’s enhanced Productivity Suite and new Fiery solutions. Of special note were:
- The world premiere of the EFI Fiery FS350 Pro digital front-end (DFE) platform. It features “smart white” white toner/ink savings, Smart Estimator cost estimation capabilities integrated into Fiery Command WorkStation 6.3, and Fiery ImageViewer that enables split views of color edits and late-stage color changes.
- For EFI superwide-format printers, the upgraded Fiery proServer Premium 7.1 DFE launched at Connect uses GPU-accelerated Fast Drive technology to process jobs twice as fast, on average.
- EFI announced the latest-version EFI MarketDirect integrated customer engagement and revenue enablement platform, offering new social media, 3D visualization and inventory management capabilities. MarketDirect software includes the addition of EFI Digital StoreFront Web-to-print software, now rebranded as MarketDirect StoreFront. Also previewed was EFI IQ cloud services for color and equipment output management, tracking, smart analytics, ink ordering and predictive maintenance.
- Demonstrations of the new, 126˝ EFI VUTEk h5 hybrid flatbed/roll-to-roll superwide-format LED printer with 7 picoliter, 1,200 dpi output capabilities and 4- (optional) or 8-color modes plus white. The h5 (a field upgrade to the h3 model) produces up to 109 boards/hr. It was joined in the Solutions Center by a VUTEk 3r+ roll-to-roll printer, a VUTEk FabriVU 340i soft signage aqueous dye-sublimation printer with in-line calendering, an EFI Pro 32r roll-to-roll printer and an EFI Pro 24f flatbed LED model.
Virtual reality demos of the VUTEk HS 125 Pro printer and the Nozomi C1800 single-pass LED inkjet press were also featured. The Nozomi 1800 now incorporates three printing (Photo, POP and ECO) modes and up to 97% Pantone spot color reproduction capabilities, a new white ink, as well as new top feeder and enhanced coater offerings.
For the second year, EFI also partnered with IDEAlliance to offer an accelerated G7 color management training program led by G7 Expert Trainer Don Hutcheson.
But Connect 2019 wasn’t just about educational sessions, new product demonstrations and peer-to-peer networking opportunities. It also provide attendees with direct access — and to hear keynote presentations delivered by — senior EFI executives, including new CEO Bill Muir, who celebrated his 99th day on the job by delivering the opening keynote address.
In addition, state-of-the-products updates were provide by EFI CFO Marc Olin and Senior VP/GM of Productivity Software Gaby Matsliach.
Maintaining Connect’s “fireside chat” general session tradition, Muir led a 1:1 sit-down interview with Joe Popolo, CEO of The Freeman Co., who described Freeman’s evolution from a trade show exhibit and graphics services firm into a provider of integrated experiential marketing services.
With 7,000 global employees, Popolo advised the Connect audience to not lose sight of their core business as they launch new offerings, and to focus on selling more products and services to existing clients.
Just as compelling was a fireside chat held with 15-year-old fashion and fabric designer Ariel Swedroe, who created her own Swedroe by Ariel apparel company at age 8 based on her grandfather’s creative collage artwork.
And another keynote speaker general session featured a behind-the-scenes look at Cirque du Soleil’s costume workshop and how EFI Reggiani digital textile printing and EFI Optitex 2D/3D CAD modeling technologies are speeding costume creation, sizing and fabrication processes.
If you missed EFI Connect 2019, next year’s conference will be held at the Wynn in Las Vegas from Jan. 21-24, 2020.