The PRINTING United Digital Experience
Transitioning PRINTING United from an in-person event in Atlanta to a comprehensive digital platform has been an ambitious undertaking. But after months of preparation, the PRINTING United Digital Experience is set to begin on Oct. 26. It will encompass three power-packed weeks of hosted global programming and new product unveilings, running through Nov. 12 — and one of those days will be devoted entirely to the in-plant community.This series of community-based, content-rich Insight Days will deliver a program like no other.
Addressing all print market segments — in-plant, commercial, graphics/wide-format, digital textile, apparel, software/workflow, mailing/fulfillment, and more — the programs will be delivered in a professionally hosted industry news format. In this program, the printing industry will together experience a variety of focused tracks and exclusive ways in which vendors and customers can interact.
PRINTING United Alliance Chief Economist Andy Paparozzi says that, according to the consensus of 60 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, the American economy will grow robustly in 2021 — by its fastest pace in nearly 40 years. That will give the printing industry a big boost, flipping the mindset from cost reduction and survival to capital investment and growth.
“The printing industry greatly needed this event to go on this year, both from a sales perspective and for peer engagement in general,” says Marco Boer, VP of IT Strategies. “PRINTING United’s convergent roots allows for a seamless transition to this exceptional online platform, one which we are proud to support. Our team appreciates the opportunity to share in experiencing the newest technology that companies in our industry have worked so hard to bring to market and waited all year to debut.”
What to Expect
Each of the 14 Insight Days will provide a dive into a specific industry segment. Starting with an opening keynote, each day will include speaker-hosted sessions and moderated panels covering current industry topics, and will showcase new products through a series of demonstrations direct from customer experience and demo centers around the world. Industry experts from all print segments will be on hand, presenting engaging content each day. In the opening segment on Oct. 26, Paparozzi, along with Lisa Cross and Nathan Safran from NAPCO Research, will set the stage for Insight Days. This fast-moving session will provide a statistical view of the printing industry today, both within and across segments. Using data gleaned from several recent research reports, this session will address key areas for growth, measurements of production and profitability, and hiring practices. Further, this session will tie industry-specific research findings into broader economic trends.
The In-plant Forum
The In-plant Forum on Nov. 2 will be packed with relevant sessions for in-plants. It will kick off with a keynote by Consultant Howie Fenton, who will discuss how in-plants can shift from just surviving during the pandemic to thriving. He’ll talk about revenue recovery, rebuilding operations, accelerating digital adoption and rethinking the organization.
Then, a panel of in-plant managers from the University of Illinois and Iowa State University will show examples of innovative wide-format applications they are producing in-house and talk with IPI Editor Bob Neubauer about how they were produced and installed. Another panel discussion will bring together in-plants that use production inkjet presses to talk about their transition to inkjet and some of the considerations they faced.
To help in-plants plan their future growth, Consultant Greg Cholmondeley will give a presentation on how to create a five-year strategic plan. And a presentation on workflow will highlight how one in-plant has prospered by automating its processes. Between sessions, in-plants will get to see demonstrations of some of the products that were to have debuted at the live PRINTING United event.
For the Sign and Graphics Producer
During the opening day, when the focus turns to sign and graphics production, the keynote will focus on wide-format growth markets. As in-plants know very well, COVID-19 has changed the face of the wide-format graphics sector, but there are some applications and markets that are growing. This keynote will dive into what you need to know in order to be part of the industry’s growth and the next normal.
Also, a special panel discussion will highlight how businesses are making capital equipment investments in the shadow of COVID-19. During this panel, Denise M. Gustavson, editor-in-chief of Wide-Format Impressions, will moderate a discussion with leading graphics business owners. They will delve into the reasons why they made these equipment purchases in the middle of a pandemic — and how it has impacted their recovery and future growth prospects.On Oct 30., the second day focused on the sign and graphics markets, the attention turns to the finishing and workflow side of wide-format. This day’s keynote will focus on how to build a manufacturing mindset. With the rise of digital finishing equipment and intelligent workflow software, building an automated wide-format graphics factory is within reach. But how has digital finishing equipment and workflow software changed to reflect the move from an “arts-and-crafts” mindset to a “manufacturing” mindset? This session will focus on why this change is critical to future success.
Later that day, a panel discussion will tackle the subject of graphics installation. Often a final, essential step in many graphics jobs, installation ranges from mural and sign application for retail, to wrapping fleet vehicles. In recent years, changes in materials and opportunities have expanded how the skills of graphics installers can be utilized. This moderated panel will discuss the materials, tools, and current business conditions, as well as dive into why certification and certified installers are essential in ensuring success.
For the Commercial Printer
During Insight Days, the commercial print segment will be featured across three dedicated days. On Oct. 28, the day will be dedicated to the high-speed production inkjet market. I.T. Strategies’ Boer, who is also the chair of NAPCO’s Inkjet Summit, will provide attendees with an overview of the current landscape of the production inkjet market. He’ll also explore where and how he sees this market evolving into 2021.
In two panel discussions later that day, Mark Michelson, editor-in-chief of Printing Impressions, will discuss the present — and future — of the segment. The first panel will discuss how high-speed digital production inkjet printing is redefining commercial printing. The ongoing rise of digital inkjet printing technology, and new approaches for differentiation that it enables, creates new business opportunities and greater workflow efficiencies. The user panel will feature two leading book and direct mail printing companies.In the second panel, attention will turn to the cut-sheet market. While production inkjet printing initially took off in the direct mail and book printing spaces, cut-sheet color inkjet printing presses are rapidly gaining ground among commercial printers. Three end users will discuss their experiences with sheetfed inkjet presses, including higher uptimes/productivity, new product applications, and more streamlined workflows.
The following week, on Nov. 3, Insight Days will turn its attention to the offset and analog commercial print markets. The first moderated panel of the day will focus on how to meet shrinking production deadlines. Jim Workman, PRINTING United Alliance’s VP of technology and research, will lead the discussion with business leaders, and will examine how digital technologies have changed their businesses, and what they’ve done to address the increase of shorter runs within shorter timeframes. A second moderated panel that day will be led by Patrick Henry, senior editor of Printing Impressions. During this session, Henry and three commercial printers will explore how current technologies can aid offset printers in competing with digital runs to maintain profitability.
During week three, the dedicated commercial print day, Nov. 10, will cover dry and liquid toner. Michelson will lead two panel discussions as he dives into the topic with the help of commercial print owners. The first panel of the day will focus on how commercial printers are driving their businesses forward with toner-based digital printing. The second panel of the day will focus on how to find success with digital toner — versus the inkjet printing processes.
For Mailing and Fulfilment Centers
For many commercial printers, mailing and fulfillment are profitable value-adds that transform printers into a full-service operation. On Nov. 5, Insight Days will dive into the segment. One session of note will highlight changes in the mailing and fulfillment area, and will discuss how companies can boost bottom lines by offering a line of services that fit in with the needs of today’s marketers and direct mail companies.
Additionally, another session that day will dive into direct mail trends. As the pandemic has taken hold, brands are finding different ways to engage with their loyal customers through direct mail. This session will focus on how direct mail has changed with COVID-19, and what can be expected moving into 2021.
For All Print Providers
Workflow and software needs are two things that span every market segment. In a day dedicated to the topic on Nov. 6, attendees will get a deep dive into the current workflow and software landscape, and will have the opportunity to explore Web-to-print workflows and color management.
Today’s business conditions make the use of online sales and ordering a necessity for many printing businesses. In the first panel session of the day, attendees will learn essential strategies and lessons from a cross-segment panel of printing business owners.
For many businesses, managing color within just one platform can be a challenge, but how can one manage color — and client expectations — when dealing with multiple analog and digital platforms? Ray Weiss, director of digital print programs for PRINTING United Alliance, will lead a panel of industry experts to discuss how to effectively manage client color expectations.
For the Digital Textile Printer
With interest in the digital textile printing market on the rise, Insight Days has one full day, Nov. 12, dedicated to this segment.
Leading off the day will be a session on how to build a digital textile business from the ground up. Running a digital textile business isn’t just a matter of installing a new press and running fabrics through it. Beyond having the right equipment in place, printers need to know what types of products they are going to produce. This session will take a closer look.
When it comes to digital textile printing, what is “good enough” color? As more brands begin to venture into digital textile printing and experiment with what the technology can provide — from fashion, to home décor, and beyond — how can print service providers ensure jobs are always the right color every time? This session will focus on the factors that need to be considered when printing on textiles, and how color can be matched across not only different fabrics, but to other substrates as well.
For the Apparel Decorator
On Oct. 27, attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to grow their apparel decoration businesses. In the first panel discussion of the day, apparel professionals will focus on how to grow an apparel-focused business model. This moderated panel discussion will address the business ideas, technologies, products, and people that help make it happen. Continuing on the topic of profitability, the next session will focus on how to increase it. For apparel decorators, there are two choices for increasing profitability: One is to do more business, the other is to minimize costs. The speaker will discuss the essential steps every company must take to keep costs low and production on-point. Nov. 9, the second day dedicated to the apparel sector, will focus on direct-to-garment and direct-to-substrate applications. The fashion industry has seen sustainability becoming an important new driver in consumers’ purchasing decisions. Many cross-industry initiatives have helped companies to identify more sustainable work practices across the product life cycle, and several brands have publicly fixed sustainability goals. Later that day, attention turns to the promotional products market. Promotional products are everywhere in today’s society and are produced by printing companies across many segments. While some promotional product producers print, many others are brokers or specifiers. In this panel discussion, Sean Norris, editor-in-chief of Promo Marketing, will dive into the synergy between those who produce, those who sell, and those who buy from them.
In addition to the daily educational program, more than 30 on-demand sessions will be available throughout Insight Days.
Topics will include:
- Building Your Workforce: Promoting from Within
- Industry Outlook: Voice of the Printer
- Innovative Approaches for Employee Health Care
- Top Trends in Print Technologies and Products
- Best Practices in Business Recovery
- Building Your Company Culture
- By the Numbers: KPIs, Metrics, and Ratios
- How to Research New Markets
- Key Strategies for Getting Paid
- Prospecting for Great Customers
- Staying Ahead of the Competition•
- Taking Your Business to the Next Level Nine on-demand sessions will also be dedicated to business growth and industry convergence.
In each of these “101” sessions, Boer and David Zwang, prindipal consultant with Zwang & Co., will discuss the factors print providers need to consider when looking to start a new business unit or expand into a new market. Anticipating better times ahead, PRINTING United Alliance invites exhibitors and attendees to mark their calendars for PRINTING United’s return to a physical venue at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., where the show will take place Oct. 6-8, 2021. Updates and FAQs about all PRINTING United events are available at PRINTINGUnited.com.
While 2020 has seen a number of challenges no one could have anticipated, there are still many bright spots to celebrate in the print industry, with more to come as it moves into 2021. No matter how large or small a print operation, what segments it serves, or who its customers are, one thing unites this industry: print is and will remain essential, and those who find new and innovative ways to turn unexpected challenges into new opportunities will be best positioned to lead the way as the economy and business starts to recover. The PRINTING United Digital Experience is the perfect way to stack one’s proverbial toolkit with everything needed to make sure one’s business comes out ahead.
Denise Gustavson is the Editorial Director and Special Projects Editor for the Printing & Packaging Group, which includes Printing Impressions, packagePRINTING, In-plant Graphics and Wide-Format Impressions magazines, among other brands. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of Wide-Format Impressions.