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Commentary & Analysis

InPrint USA to Showcase the Latest Industrial Printing Opportunities

InPrint USA heads to Louisville, Ky., to showcase the latest opportunities for commercial printers in the fast-growing area(s) of industrial printing. Richard Romano offers a preview, and talks with InPrint co-founder Frazer Chesterman about the show and industrial printing.

By Richard Romano
Published: March 7, 2019

InPrint USA, billed as “The Exhibition for Print Technology for Industrial Manufacturing,” heads to Louisville, Ky., April 9–11.

“InPrint is the place you want to go to if you’re either doing industrial printing or wanting to do it,” said Frazer Chesterman, cofounder of InPrint, which also has shows in Milan and Munich for the European industrial printing market. “There’s a lot of the knowledge both from Europe and the US.” Although the buzzword today is “convergence,” InPrint USA remains a highly concentrated event. “What we are doing is drilling down quite tightly to really give you a focused event.”

Last year’s InPrint Conference in Chicago was more of a think tank of presentations, case studies, and brainstorming sessions, while the upcoming Louisville show is more of a trade event, with no shortage of educational sessions, but also an expo hall and plenty of exhibitors from across the spectrum.

Industrial printing is such a new concept to the commercial printing space that these kinds of articles inevitably demand some kind of definition. We have traditionally been defining “industrial printing” as one of two related kinds of printing: printing that is done as part of a larger manufacturing process, or akin to “specialty” printing, where you are printing on three-dimensional objects or other kinds of materials that are sold not necessarily as print. Applications such as décor, printed textiles, and packaging are often included in industrial printing.

The current focus on industrial printing is all part of the trend—driven largely by digital inkjet—of short-run printing on an ever-increasing number of surfaces, the direction in which a lot of commercial printing has been evolving. “It enables a commercial printer to apply what he or she is doing to a different market and expand their potential,” said Chesterman.

A lot of the focus at InPrint USA, especially in terms of the educational sessions, will be on packaging and décor.

“Decor is a marketplace that’s got considerable potential because it’s much more likely to have short-run production,” said Chesterman. “So whether it’s furniture, wallpaper, wallcoverings, or fabric, it lends itself to bespoke production and to digital inkjet.”

Chesterman also notes that a number of designers are on the attendee list—which he sees as a good sign. “I want to see people who are from the design industry coming and looking at this technology, not so much because they would necessarily buy it, but because they are going to be in the mix in terms of recommending it.” At this stage, educating print buyers such as designers and letting them know what is possible, what they can offer to their own customers, is a major step toward larger adoption.

In terms of the educational program, each day of InPrint USA starts with a keynote presentation. On Tuesday, April 9, Dawn Olson, Director of Client Business Development in Production Print/Industrial Print Solutions for Konica Minolta Business Solutions, will present “How’s Your Altitude?... Morphing Your Packaging/ Label Business From a Hot Air Balloon to a Lear Jet,” in which she will discuss simple operating rules for a common-sense approach to setting goals for packaging and label businesses.

On Wednesday, April 10, Kristen Dettoni, founder of Design Pool, an online resource for licensable patterns specific to residential and commercial interior products,and co-founder of PatternPod, will present “Exploring Décor Market Opportunities” which will look at the ways companies are using print to offer unique experiences, as well as how to capitalize on the print-on-demand market.

Other sessions include Mark Hanley, President of I.T. Strategies, offering industry forecasts for packaging, décor, and functional applications, and a panel discussion moderated by Deborah Corn of Print Media Centr which will offer advice to commercial printers on the revenue opportunities to be had by incorporating industrial print applications in their operations. Other presentations will be led by industry experts from Keypoint Intelligence, as well as vendors such as EPS, Global Inkjet Systems, Kodak, Roland, Siegwerk, and more.

There will be nearly 300 exhibitors in InPrint USA, and the show floor provides a good opportunity to see industrial printing applications live—and ask questions. “We’ve got some exhibitors who come from the more traditional screen print world, and then we’ve got digital equipment manufacturers, such as product decoration like Inkcups and Engineered Printing Solutions,” said Chesterman.

Previous years’ InPrint USA shows had been held in Orlando, and the move to Louisville is a bit of an experiment. “The shift from Orlando to Louisville was a strategic decision,” said Chesterman. The idea was to locate the show more centrally in order to attract more casual attendees who are more likely to drive to Louisville than make the commitment to get on a plane to Orlando. “It’s kind of got that ‘drive-in’ potential. I get a sense that we’ll probably get a slightly different shade of audience.”

Early bird registration ends March 15. To register, visit www.inprintusaexhibition.com.


Richard Romano is Managing Editor of WhatTheyThink | Printing News & Wide-Format & Signage.  He curates the Wide Format section on WhatTheyThink.com. He has been writing about the graphic communications industry for more than 25 years. He is the author or coauthor of more than half a dozen books on printing technology and business. His most recent book is “Beyond Paper: An Interactive Guide to Wide-Format and Specialty Printing.


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