GRAPH EXPO 2016 Made a Splash for This Millennial Print LOVER

If you’ve read my last two articles then you know how excited I was to have the opportunity to walk the show floor and attend some of the events at GRAPH EXPO this year. I talked to a lot of people, went to a lot of booths, saw a lot of amazing print technology.Graph Expo crowd

There was some buzz leading up to the show and even a little at the show that the event was much smaller than it has been in previous years. Perhaps this had to do with drupa, perhaps it’s just people talking. Christine Alexander wrote in her recap article in 2015:

“I’d already heard a lot of mixed emotions about what to expect over the last couple of months…”It’s getting too small” or “They’re moving it to Orlando next year – is this the end of Graph as we know it?”

I bring this up because it’s interesting to me that these rumors leading up to last year’s show were the same as it was this year. Being a first-time attendee I can neither confirm nor deny the accusation, but what I can do is give you my impressions as a first-time attendee. The single most important truth of the show in my opinion: print is alive and thriving! More, it’s evolving. My suspicion is that GRAPH EXPO will be around for a long time to come.

Here are some of the HOT topics buzzing around the show floor this year:

Tactile Printing

Neuroscience says that the act of touching something creates more meaningful experiences in our brains. Don’t believe it? I have one word for you: Scodix. Yep, there’s no surprise here. I pretty much wanted to move into this booth and never leave it. Explaining how amazing Scodix is to the senses is nearly impossible because the effect truly comes from the experience gained by touch.

Below is a picture of foiled prints coming off the the Scodix Ultra Pro Digital Foil station. It’s no wonder Scodix has received a “Must See Em’” in the Postpress and In-line Finishing category three years in a row.

scodix graph expo 2016

In addition to Scodix was Eagle Systems. Their foil is visually stunning. When they say they put shine to their print, there’s no denying how visually stunning these prints are. Their technology is an attachment that goes on press: a shining finish to any print. Also notable in this category is the fact that they have discovered a way to foil on uncoated stock.

These are just two examples. Trust me when I say, there was no lack of tactile print at GRAPH EXPO this year. Even such companies as GPA and Relyco were there to demonstrate their fine papers and substrates. It goes to show the direction the industry is moving.

The Next Generation Workforce in the Print Industry

This topic I heard brought up uncountable times on the show floor and in sessions, but perhaps most notably in the Printerverse on the educational panel, Obi Wan-a Job: The Workforce Awakens. Securing young talent for the print industry is a real concern. How do we recruit more students for the industry?

Vanecia Carr from Domtar Blueline said in this panel: “If you really want to attract new employees, you have to change the way you talk about yourselves so that they are actually attracted to you.”

students at graph expo 2016

It was refreshing to see the students around the show floor on Wednesday. Young people passionate about print. One group, in particular, couldn’t seem to make their way out of the Canon booth. This said I don’t think I am alone in my surprise that there weren’t MORE students than there were. No wonder this was such a HOT topic in the Printerverse education panels and beyond. What is the next step in recruiting young talent?

Wide Format and Digital Printing

Wide Format Printing is where it’s at. One of my absolute favorites was the Canon Arizona 6170 flatbed printer. This was amazing to watch in action; but, even more, amazing were the prints that came out of it. Not to mention the fact that it can print on a guitar. That’s right, it can print on a GUITAR!

Like The Arizona, I too couldn’t take my eyes off the HP Latex 3500 as it gracefully pushed out large sheets of vivid color. And ooh, did you see the wall of prints from the HP Indigo 12000? I am now embarrassed to admit how long I stood looking at that wall…

hp graph expo 2016

It’s impossible to name all the amazing print technologies demonstrated at GRAPH EXPO 16; all the companies who are innovating the print industry, all the equipment, all the seminars, Printerverse Panels, and yes, the puppies! Seriously, there were cute adorable little hound dog puppies. It would take me 20 more articles of this length to describe the show in absolute detail.

Last, I wanted to say that, although, I did not see as many of the Printerverse’s educational panels as I would have liked, the attraction was definitely a big deal. So much so that people were talking about it across the entire show floor. People crowded the Printerverse booth. It is the only place where you will see competitors unite to discuss and educate. It’s no wonder Deborah won the Girls Who Print “Girlie” Award. That, I was lucky enough to see. Congrats Deborah, you deserve it.

girlie award 2016 graph expo

Now I’d like to know, what was your favorite attraction at the show?

Jennifer_Grace_PrintMediaCentrJennifer Grace is a freelance marketer who helps companies achieve results through strategic business development, content creation, and social media marketing. She is a writer, photographer, and lover of print. Her experience in print sales and marketing helps printers authentically connect with their customers, prospects, and millennials. Jen is a contributor to Print Media Centr’s News From The Printerverse, and a regular at #PrintChat Wednesday’s at 4PM ET on Twitter.

Connect with Jen: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn | jen@lovetreemarketing


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