SGIA Expo: It's Show Time in Vegas

You know it’s big, you know it’s fabulous, but what you didn’t realize is how diverse this show’s offerings – on and off the floor – truly are.

When SGIA sought to rebrand its identity beginning in 1995 (first as the Screen Printing and Graphic Imaging Association and later as the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association), the idea was to more easily embrace the wide range of processes and applications that characterized its membership. Many wondered at the time if this signaled the looming demise of screen printing, but in hindsight, SGIA was preparing for the age of imaging that exists today: Digital and analog processes each flourishing in their own right in a myriad of uses.

This year’s SGIA show promises to be the most diverse in the nearly 70-year history of the convention. With full-day educational programs dedicated to industrial printing, printed electronics, wide format, and, for the first time, garment decoration, it’s hard to argue that there’s not something for everyone at this imaging extravaganza.

Last year, an impressive 20,000 attendees gathered in Atlanta. Since the show’s Vegas editions tend to be its best attended – even without the promise of printers drawn by the US debuts of much-hyped technologies revealed at drupa – it seems reasonable to expect an even better turnout. It’s a show populated by commercial printers, industrial manufacturers, garment decorators, vinyl installers, even engineers and academics – and they’re not just coming for free drinks at the blackjack table. Below, find weeklong highlights for every type of printer; then, hear straight from other print providers in the garment, graphics, and industrial sectors what they hope to accomplish at this year’s convention.

September 14-16
Las Vegas Convention Center – Central Hall

The Expo Floor

When: Wednesday/Thursday, 9-5; Friday, 9-3
Who: 500+ exhibitors
Highlights:

The Garment Zone, booth #4617 Check out sales-free demos showcasing CTS imaging, DTG printing, special effect inks, color separations, all-over dye-sub, and more.
Golden Image Competition Entrants from one of the most extensive annual competitions in the industry will be displayed in a gallery-like setting throughout the show, showcasing top projects across a range of specialty imaging categories.
Products of the Year Awarded to products that SGIA says “keep the specialty imaging industry moving forward,” you’ll see signs for winning products all around the show floor.
Educator Row, booths #3985-3999 Interact with SGIA Educator Members and their students (read: future employees), and learn more about graphic communications programs around the country.

General Education
Educational options abound, but here are some of our favorites from each time slot:

Wednesday

Leveraging Open Source Technology for Web-Based Garment Design & Ordering, Rueban James Quesus, Room N119, 9 a.m.
Green or Sustainable: Garment Dream Team with Marci Kinter, Marshall Atkinson, Kim Matsoukas, and Ryan Moor, Room N115, 11 a.m.
Garment Decoration Business Dream Team with Greg Kitson, Vince DiCecco, Marshall Atkinson, Tom Rauen, and Brett Bowden, Room N115, 1 p.m.
Compare & Contrast: Garment Decorating, Screen Printing, Sublimation, DTG, & Heat Transfers, Aaron Montgomery and Terry Combs, Room N115, 3 p.m.

Thursday

Challenges in Mass-Customized Textile Printing, Sharon Donovich , Room N115, 9 a.m.
Sublimation: The Ultimate Diversification Tool, Jimmy Lamb, Room N115, 11 a.m.
Garment Decoration Production Dream Team with Johnny Shell, Lon Winters, Nick Buettner, Samir Sadıkoğlu, and Charlie Taublieb, Room N115, 1 p.m.
Printing Better Whites (It’s Probably Not Your Ink), Alan Howe, Room N115, 3 p.m.

Garment Decorator’s Conference

When: Tuesday, 8-6:30
Where: Room N119
Highlights:

Education Stencilmaking with Dave Dennings, wearable textile electronics with Jesse Jur, CPSIA with Marci Kinter, analog vs. digital with Mark Coudray, and more
DTG Manufacturers Panel with Rich Thompson, Lawrence Davenport, Matt Rhome, and Geoff Baxter
Lunch and Reception Network with other garment decorators and industry experts at the inaugural event

Wide-Format 101

When: Tuesday, 1-5
Where: Room N115
Highlights:

Technology & Markets Overview, Dan Marx
Color Management Strategies, Josh Hope
Materials & Finishing, Kitt Jones
How to Market Your Business, Brian Hart

Industrial Printing Symposium

When: Tuesday, 8:30-5; Wednesday, 8:30-12
Where: Room N109
Highlights:

Education Single-pass inkjet with James Gill, the relevance of screen printing with Mike Ruff, ceramic tile printing with Tim Saur, decoration of 3D surfaces with Debbie Thorpe, printed packaging with Dan Marx, and more
Two in One Attendees are welcome to choose sessions from the concurrent Industrial Printing and Printed Electronics Symposiums
Breakfast Provided each day at 7:30

Printed Electronics Symposium

When: Tuesday, 8:30-5; Wednesday, 8:45-12
Where: Room N113
Highlights:

Welcome and Introduction, Neil Bolding
Education Advances in flexible substrates with Art Dobie, printed electronics in the third dimension with Kenneth Church, medical applications with Xiaoying Rong, smart devices with Mark Lowe, and more
Reception Join attendees of the Industrial Printing Symposium for a 5:00 reception on Tuesday

Vehicle Wrap Training

When: Four full-day sessions, Tuesday-Friday
Where: Room N104
Who: PDAA Master Certified Instructor Shane Courtney of Core Graphics & Signs leads a small, 10-person workshop for beginner to intermediate graphic installers

OSHA Training Workshop

When: Tuesday, 10-4; Wednesday, 8-1:30
Where: Room N107
Highlights: Receive the OSHA 10-Hour completion card after studying walking and working surfaces; fall protection; exit routes; emergency action plans; fire prevention and protection; personal protective equipment; hazard communication; electrical; machine guarding; lockout/tagout procedures; and industrial hygiene

Printed Electronics Roundtable

When: Wednesday, 1-5
Where: Room N113
Highlights:

Key Application Areas Come with questions on advanced screenmaking, review of printing processes, market and product types, how to bring R&D to full production, and compliance
Instructors Len Allison, Edward Cook , David Dennings, Ray Greenwood, and more
Community Reception Social Networking Hour

Screen Printing: What’s drawing you to the show this year?

Tim Bennett, Image Options: Apart from maintaining and developing new networking relationships, which is a given, it will be the first US showing of many of the technology and devices that were introduced at drupa earlier this year. Although we attended drupa, by now it’s possible to see what is reality and [what is] smoke and mirrors. We just relocated Image Options to a new, state-of-the-art, 102,000-square-foot facility in order to expand many of our current services, which reach well beyond print, so the show is important at many levels this year in particular.

Dolf Kahle, Visual Marking Systems (VMS): Automation and lasers. Automation has been our key goal as we work to achieve higher employee productivity. The digital printing and finishing equipment has allowed factories to gang-run multiple machines with little setup time. We are constantly looking for the next innovations. Past examples are multiple-bed zones to allow continuous production.

Lasers are becoming better and faster to replace steel-rule die cutting. We don’t currently have one, so we’ll be looking at all their capabilities – not only to cut finished product but to help make tooling for printing beds and embossing presses.

SP: Who makes up the team that you’ll bring to Las Vegas?

Christopher Bernat, Vapor Apparel: [Note that Vapor Apparel is both an attendee and an exhibitor at this year’s SGIA; we asked for their perspective as an attending garment decorator.]. Our team will include members of our sales group, the director of production, and the head of our creative team.

TB: Our purchasing manager generally attends with a heavy, pre-planned schedule with all of our suppliers; after that, it’s searching out what is new. This year, there will be four of us in total as we are in the process of final selection of new equipment.

DK: This will be the first SGIA show I am missing in many years. However, the key person in my organization to look for new innovations in manufacturing is my chief operating officer and the technical genius behind VMS, Ron Gizzo. He will be taking our art director and digital printing foreman because they are out-of-the-box creative thinkers also. The key person to look for new materials is my chief information officer, Tim Mitchell. He is also our expert on computer automation, purchasing, shipping, and receiving.

SP: What are you hoping to accomplish at the expo? What will you do in terms of preparation to accomplish this?

CB: We are looking for new workflow systems and we need to identify our next dye-sublimation printer platform.

TB: We anticipate making final decisions on enterprise software and print and finishing technologies that we’ve been following since the European announcements. SGIA also provides an opportunity to have the manufacturers’ senior management on hand for more complex transactions.

DK: VMS has a working strategic plan that is created by the senior management team annually with input from the entire staff. After our SWOT analysis, we create our strategic goals with key result measures that have specific action steps. When we go to SGIA, we know what we’re looking for.

However, that’s only half the goal. The other half is to roam the show for new ideas, innovations, and out-of-the-box thinking that we can incorporate at VMS.

SP: SGIA has launched the first-ever Garment Decorator’s Conference, with topics ranging from stencilmaking and polyester printing to DTG and wearable electronics. Anything you’re hoping to learn this year? Are you keeping an eye on evolving technologies?

CB: This conference reinforces our commitment to garment printing as an industry segment. We hear owners in this community talk about the need for more business management and sales-related topics. I’ll be presenting on how to build your e-commerce print-on-demand business, and am looking forward to listening and learning from others. The garment sector is critical to SGIA moving forward, and we are committed to this community that has seen over 20-percent growth at the expo since 2011.

Most of us return to work Monday with an extra briefcase full of promotional flyers, blisters on our heels, and a slight hangover. What does your post-expo workday look like? How do you process what you learned?

TB: We meet with the appropriate stakeholders as a group to discuss what we’ve learned and what, if any, decisions have been made that affect them from a production or workflow standpoint in particular. Even if staff don’t attend, I believe it’s important that they feel informed about the decisions that are made and why.

DK: I have written an expo summary to all the VMS staff after returning from the show. It addresses our specific needs and the creative new ideas we found. Action steps are taken that relate to our strategic plan.

SP: What’s your favorite Las Vegas haunt?

CB: If I don’t have time to hit the serenity of the Valley of Fire, you might see me at STK at The Cosmopolitan hotel. Great steaks; better soundtrack.

TB: That’s the hardest question yet – there are so many – but Julian Serrano is a great tapas restaurant; Del Frisco’s for steak; and Bartolotta [now Costa di Mare] for fabulous fish and sophistication.

DK: In Vegas itself, I’m not a gambler. But I enjoyed The Chandelier room in The Cosmopolitan and the VooDoo club on top of the Rio (great view of the city).

Read more from our August/September 2016 issue.

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