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SGIA Expo 2014: Educational Sessions

Takeaways from Stephen Shapiro, Visual Magnetics, and more.




At this year’s SGIA Expo, sessions on digital textile printing and Web-to-print dominated the educational line-up, with a keynote on innovation which offered, if not print-industry-specific advice, a usable road map for solving business problems in ways that don’t mimic their origins.

Below are our takeaways from some of the educational sessions at SGIA Expo 2014:

Stephen Shapiro Keynote

Stephen Shapiro, who studies innovation and presents his findings on the conference circuit, showed us that asking staff to “think outside the box” guarantees they won’t. In fact, he said, “The brain is wired for survival.” So, it keeps basic, repeatable information on tap for speed and efficiency. As we reach into our mental space to solve problems, we naturally encounter answers based on past experience. This makes it difficult to come up with truly new ideas. Thus, expertise, Shapiro says, is truly the enemy of innovation.

Instead, he advised, “Innovate where you differentiate. Differentiators should be distinct, defensible, disseminate, and desirable.” Give up on the idea of revamping every process and procedure. Instead, figure out how you stand out to customers (hint: it’s not your corporate culture). Look for something more concrete: Why, precisely, do customers come to you and not your competitor?

Once you identify your differentiator, find others outside the print industry who have faced similar challenges. Looking at parallel, yet dissimilar companies and ideas will help you to find better solutions. Shapiro offered a toothpaste manufacturer as an example. When looking for better whitening agents, they consulted with laundry experts – another group concerned with whitening – and found a new way to formulate their product. Sometimes, Shapiro says, it’s the way the question is asked: “Reframing the question will bring you fundamentally different solutions.”


Web-to-Print for Wide-Format Digital Printing, Rick Mandel, Mandel Graphic Solutions

Rick Mandel, Mandel Graphic Solutions, spoke about the uses for web-to-print and the different software choices for small, medium, and large wide-format, digital print companies.

He shared from the “Gleanster Deep Dive Report 2014” that 93 percent of top performers rank personalization at the local level as the number one reason to invest in marketing asset management technology in 2014.

“If you personalize, they will come,” he says about customization in the Web-to-print retail and distribution markets. “If you allow choices, they will put it up.”

Successful UV Curing: As Simple as a Day at the Movies, Jim Raymont, EIT, LLC

If you’ve ever had a stack of prints come out looking perfect only for form a sticky, ruined mess, you know how disastrous a bad UV cure can be. EIT’s Jim Raymont discussed common errors print operators make, including poor time and temperature calculations.


Compare a UV cure, Raymont urged, to baking a cake. If the recipe calls for 40 minutes at 350 degrees, will the cake still be tasty after 20 minutes at 700 degrees, or 80 minutes at 175? Certainly not. In the same way, unwanted variance in wavelength, energy (irradiance), and time (energy density) in a UV cure can spoil the chemistry behind the reaction, causing cure failures.

Raymont suggested tracking irradiance (watts per square centimeter), a measure of adhesion, to establish either absolute or relative levels. (A relative level could help detect changes that predict cure failures, if not define problems that exist at the outset of testing.) Then, define an ideal UV processing window – how high or how low, for example, can temperatures go before there is under- or overcure?

And if you find unexplained changes in UV output, check some common sources of output issues:
1) Supplied electrical power – whether from area brown outs or factors like a Monday morning start-up.
2) Cooling systems can be impacted by seasonal changes or blocked air flow from, say, animals attracted to warm vents.
3) Bulb installation – brands vary in quality, and substituting mercury bulbs for mercury-gallium can cause variance in UV output.

Overall, Raymont said, don’t rely on luck. Measure and track your output. That way, you’ll know if the problem is in the cure or in the operator’s chair.

Leveraging Sustainability in P-O-P, Naomi Mukai, Visual Magnetics, Sustainability Zone

Visual Magnetics surveyed industry peers – including PSPs – to better understand behaviors around the use of eco-friendly materials in P-O-P displays. Three out of 10 respondents were owners or executives at their companies, representing a total of 18 countries. The company found that print providers are influenced most by cost when considering a purchase of sustainable materials for a P-O-P application, followed by a general concern for environmental impact.


The survey also found that 60 percent of respondents do not educate customers on sustainable alternatives. Visual Magnetics’ Naomi Mukai suggests adding sustainable messaging to marketing materials, and using symbols, seals, and certifications to actively inform customers. This can be done in a way that is region-specific – companies on the West Coast are more motivated to purchase sustainable products if they are FSC-certified, whereas companies in the Northeast are more concerned about products that are made from natural materials.

“Being green is more than having eco-friendly product offerings,” says Mukai. “’Green’ can enable you to save your company and your clients money. It can also attract good customers you weren’t expecting.”



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