September will be the month to rack up those frequent flyer miles, with three major trade shows is as many weeks” LabelExpo in Rosemont, Ill., September 13 to 15; the SGIA Expo in Las Vegas that same week, which is unfortunate for those who are unable to bilocate; and Graph Expo in tony Orlando at the end of the month.

For us followers of wide-format, the most anticipated of these shows is the SGIA Expo, which heads back to the Las Vegas Convention Center September 13 to 16 for its biennial West Coast appearance. Educational programs and sessions are scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, before the Expo officially opens on Wednesday. The SGIA Expo covers the gamut of everything that can be considered “specialty graphics,” from traditional screen and pad printing to the latest digital wide-format, textile, and industrial printing technologies. This year, 3D printing comes to wide-format in a big way; Massivit, which premiered its wide-format 3D printing system at drupa last spring, will be showing its gel dispensing printing technology for large-scale printed objects for the first time in North America.

On a somewhat smaller scale, this year’s SGIA Expo also sees the first-ever Garment Decorator’s Conference on Tuesday, featuring a full day’s worth of sessions that cover the technology, the marketing, and the regulations involving wearable printed materials. One forward-looking session is called “Toward Wearable Textile Electronics—Materials, Integration, and Analysis Strategies,” presented by Jesse Jur of NC State University. Other sessions also look at 3D printing in the context of garment decoration.

As always, vehicle wrapping plays a large role at the show. On Tuesday through Friday, PDAA Master Certified Instructor Shane Courtney conducts a “Wrap Like a Pro” hands-on workshop for beginner to intermediate vehicle wrappers.

As always, colocated with the SGIA Expo is the Printed Electronics Symposium, two days’ worth of sessions—Tuesday and Wednesday—exploring a wide variety of topics related to additive printing and manufacturing, culminating in a four-hour Printed Electronics Roundtable on Wednesday afternoon.

Another colocated event, also being held Tuesday and Wednesday, is the second annual Industrial Printing Symposium, an overview of the technologies, application opportunities, and production strategies for industrial printing. Topics run the gamut from industrial textiles to digital ceramic tile printing.

On Tuesday afternoon, SGIA is reprising its half-day “Wide Format 101: Four Steps to Profitability” workshop, a guide to entering and succeeding in the wide-format inkjet market. SGIA’s Dan Marx begins with an introduction to wide-format printing, Mimaki’s Josh Hope talks about color management, Roland’s Kitt Jones discusses materials and finishing techniques, and Brian Hart of Hart Consulting Services tells you how to market and sell wide-format output.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, SGIA’s Rick Hartwig, a WhatTheyThink contributor, will be conducting his annual 10-Hour OSHA Training Workshop, providing tips for employee health and safety and how to prevent accidents, as well as detailed information on understanding the latest industry-specific OSHA regulations and compliance.

This year’s Expo also includes nearly 50 educational sessions grouped into four tracks: Graphics and Sign, Garment Decoration, Business Management, and Color Management and Workflow. A small sampling of sessions includes:

  • “Unusual Applications for Digital Textile Printing,” presented by Vince Cahill, President of VCE Solutions, which looks at wall coverings, home décor and apparel, and even digitally printed electronics for textiles.
  • “The Printed Packaging Landscape: An Overview,” presented by Kevin Karstedt and Jamie Dotson.
  • “How to Differentiate Yourself in an Increasingly Commoditized Market,” presented by Mark Coudray of Coudray Graphic Technologies.
  • A “Green or Sustainable” panel discussion related to garment printing, featuring SGIA’s Marci Kinter, Atkinson Consulting’ Marshall Atkinson, Vans’ Kim Matsoukas, and Ryonet’s Ryan Moor.
  • A “State of the Graphics Industry Panel” featuring SGIA’s Dan Marx,  IT Strategies’ Mark Hanley, IDC’s Tim Greene, and InfoTrends’ Steve Urmano.

As always, much of the action is on the show floor. In Booth #4617 is an expanded Garment Zone, offering the latest in both analog and digital garment printing and decoration, from traditional screen printing to dye-sublimation, to direct-to-garment printing.

This year’s Expo also includes Educator Row, in which secondary schools showcase their graphic arts programs, and put their graduating students in front of potential employers. Participating schools include California Polytechnic State University, Clemson University, North Carolina State University, Philadelphia University, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

We expect that there will be some major product announcements during the course of the show. WhatTheyThink will be reporting from the show, so be sure to check our SGIA Expo coverage.