Some may consider it “the Big Uneasy,” but the news, announced Monday night, was that the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA), in partnership with Napco Media, was retiring the longtime SGIA Expo and launching a new trade show called PRINT United, which will debut in 2019. The aim of the new venture, as the name indicates, is to bring together all the various “silos” of the printing industry—commercial, industrial, packaging, inkjet, textile, etc.—into one “mega-show” that will offer vendors, suppliers, and print service providers a single venue for education, knowledge-sharing, and networking. The impetus for PRINT United was the convergence of markets and segments and the blurring of lines between these segments, driven in no small part by the proliferation of digital technologies. The aim is to offer SGIA members, vendors, and suppliers a forum that will allow them to tap into the opportunities this industry convergence is enabling, as well as access to these myriad markets, technologies, and print providers.

The details are in the press release, and further comment can be found in our video interview with Ford Bowers, President and CEO of SGIA, who will serve as CEO of PRINT United. And while tout le monde had concerns, mostly cautious optimism, about the news, it shouldn’t come as any great surprise, as the Expo, and SGIA as a trade association itself, had been moving in this direction for at least the past half dozen years. The move can be seen more as an accelerant to an evolution that had been already happening. We asked Bowers if there was any fear of losing the vaunted “SGIA Expo” brand, and his comment was that the opportunities presented by the new venture far outweighed any potential loss of brand identity. After all, “SGIA” itself had undergone name changes before. (There was also minimal concern that the new show was launching the year before a drupa year.) It should also be noted that PRINT United solely refers to the trade show, and that SGIA as an association will remain unchanged.

The final SGIA Expo will take place in Las Vegas next October and PRINT United will make its debut in Dallas, Tex., October 23–25, 2019.

Despite the news bombshell (aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?), the Expo itself opened on an exceedingly humid NOLA Tuesday to the strains of Dixieland jazz, and the show’s usual throngs eager to get onto what had already become one of the biggest—if not the biggest—show floors in North America. The “convergence” that drove the PRINT United decision was certainly in evidence. The latest digital UV flatbed printers were only a stone’s throw—and a stone that could be printed on, by the way—from high-production screen equipment, which was not far from the latest digital textile printing equipment, some of which was only a few aisles away from presses pumping out customized packaging. At the same time, an escalator ride away, the Printed Electronic Symposium was taking place. In many ways, print is already united.

Stay tuned for our full show coverage, including new product announcements and other news.