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SGIA Expo 2014: Recap

Asking questions, new directions for software, and the future of fabric printing.




This year’s thought-provoking SGIA show may have been held in a familiar venue – Vegas again, anyone? – but active buyers on the tradeshow floor and education sessions urging adoption of new sectors made for a productive show for attendees (and vendors, according to many of them), particularly those looking to branch out. 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.

Our top takeaways are below:

Ask questions. As technologies grow and improve, it’s no longer expected that service providers are familiar with every machine on the market. Ask what your printer can do that you’re not yet using it for; ask if there’s one machine that could replace several on your shop floor; ask your customers what types of services they prefer you for, and what they’d rather get elsewhere; ask staff what market demands are impacting their performance, and how you might improve day-to-day operations.

The end of software as we know it. As much as we hate to admit it, the days of buy-it-once-use-it-forever software are nearly over. Hang on tight to your Adobe Creative Suite, because the latest versions of many software programs are cloud-based and require a monthly service fee. Providers are focusing on value-adds to soften the sting; ask for a la carte options to lower the price when you upgrade.

Screen printing softens. While still boasting enviable output, today’s screen printing machines are likely to be replaced by later generations of digital textile printers. We expect many shops currently containing screen presses to switch at the end of the next lifecycle. At the same time, digital printing’s new, ever-improving compatibility with fabric is broadening the scope of digital print service providers.




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