EFI Connect’s Platinum Conference

The 20th anniversary event brings empowerment to attendees in the digital print industry.

From the attendee gift boxes at registration to the final keynote – a swimwear fashion show – examples of digital print applications were abundant at EFI Connect in Las Vegas, January 22-24. And isn’t that the best way to show customers, dealers, vendor partners, and more than 100 media and analysts from around the globe the power of print? Seeing is believing. And so is networking, learning, and discussing. Attendees gained a plethora of insight on new products, unique offerings, and better business practices at the 20th annual users’ conference. 

A word repeated throughout the show, from session leaders to keynoters, was “empowerment.” The process of becoming stronger and more confident. EFI gift box

“Have a clear vision, empower your employees, and solicit external input,” said Gaby Matsliach, senior VP and GM of productivity software, EFI, on how to drive change in your business. 

Adele Genoni, VP and GM, EFI Reggiani, called fast fashion and textile buyers the empowered consumer. “We are all designers!” Personalization plus online purchasing is a tool for creativity and allows the buyer to be in control.

Freeman, specializing in event marketing and management, prints more than 19 million square feet of signage on EFI machines. CEO Joe Popolo says he grew the company from $600 million to $3 billion in just 12 years through “diversification, acquisition, and global expansion.”

The costume workshop at Cirque du Soleil creates and sublimation prints 4500 custom-fit costumes that are worn each day throughout the world: 13 touring shows and eight resident shows in 50 different countries (seven are in Vegas).

Ariel Swedroe, a 15-year-old fashion designer, has been crafting and printing ready-to-wear, made-to-measure, Miami-inspired swimwear using her grandfather’s art deco designs for half her life. “Dye sublimation is crucial in realizing the intricate designs,” she said. Swedroe has big dreams for her digital print fashion designs. “It’s my passion.”

So, what does empowerment mean to you, your print shop, and our industry? Are you feeling empowered to try something new? Are you giving your employees a voice? Are you letting your clients customize their graphics? 

While you ponder those questions, here are some top takeaways from the conference:

Textiles

EFI Connect display

What’s driving textile printing to digital? Fast fashion, multiseason, and short-run collections plus sustainability (driven by major brands and embraced more readily in Cuba). But isn’t fast fashion and sustainability together an oxymoron? How could these two go hand in hand? Genoni said we have to focus on recycling the fast fashion pieces properly. 

Display Graphics 

The market is estimated at $3.4 billion (hardware and ink) per year, said Ken Hanulec, VP of marketing, inkjet, EFI. Trends impacting display graphics include PSPs growing revenue, expanding wallet share, improving margins, reducing cost, high-value applications, channel expansion, and improving time to market. We’re in a “now” economy. “A decade ago, people would give a little bit of wiggle room for wide-format production time, but the expectation now is 24 hours. So outsourcing isn’t typically an option,” said Dan Johansen, marketing manager, wide-format, Ricoh.

Areas to consider: 

  • The top three wide-format revenue producers are packaging, commercial, and textile printing.
  • High-end shoes and purses: Think of the cost for less than a square meter of UV printing and the profit of selling luxury items.
  • Soft signage: It’s 50 percent cheaper to ship and only requires one person to install. 

Wide Format 

“The demand for wide format is growing and the applications are becoming more interesting,” said Pat McGrew, senior director, production software and services, Keypoint Intelligence/InfoTrends. 

If your business focuses on one thing and your revenues have been flat, now is a good time to expand and offer a new application. Build a platform to broaden capabilities. Grow and diversify without having to revise your entire workflow for your business and your production floor. Look at what equipment, finishing, training, and employees you currently have and assess what you want. Clean out the print sample stacks the minute you get back to your shop, McGrew said. “You need a print sample plan.” Design, print, and finish what you want to sell. And remember: Everyone and their mother is selling wide format.

Quote Worthy 
 “Technology can be messy. Technology can be disruptive. Technology doesn’t always result in the best user experience. Innovation doesn’t always play out the way we expect.  – Bill Muir, EFI CEO, on the honest challenges of change.