PRINTING United 2019 Recap: Everything You Missed at the 720,000 Square Foot Mega-Show
We’re back from PRINTING United after an eventful week in Dallas, and we've finally had time to gather our thoughts on the 720,000 square foot show. That was hard to do, considering the sheer volume of exhibitors, education sessions and equipment demos to take in.
Built on the foundation of the SGIA Expo, the inaugural PRINTING United brought basically the entire printing industry under one roof, with 600-plus exhibitors in just about every print application and segment. The Promo Marketing gang had a front row seat for the show, and now we're sharing our experience with you in case you couldn't make it.
Here are some of the highlights from the show floor, the education sessions and the high-tech audio-visual amphitheater presentations at PRINTING United.
1. Convergence of all things print (including promotional products)
PRINTING United was an absolutely enormous gathering of printers from all disciplines—wide format, packaging, commercial, in-plant, etc. If you can put ink on it, it was there. So, of course, there was a massive contingent of apparel and hard-goods decorating equipment. An entire quadrant of the show floor was dedicated to it. For promotional products decorators (no matter what part of the supply chain you fall into) it presented tons of opportunities to view new equipment, learn new techniques and see how other areas of print can intersect with the promo industry to deliver new solutions for clients and bring you new business
In the education sessions, too, a lot of the subject matter branched out beyond decoration to cover general sales practices. In one session, Jodi Sawyer of FLEXCon talked about how small businesses (micro brands, as she called them) need helpful promotional products distributors to educate them on what they need. Using examples like small breweries, snack makers and product inventors featured on Shark Tank, Sawyer detailed her own experiences in teaching her clients how print and promotional products can help their businesses. They may not know how to acquire labeling for their products. They might want more sustainable packaging for environmental reasons. They may just feel intimidated in approaching a giant printing and promotional products company and asking for help.
While walking the show floor, we also ran into a few familiar faces from the promo side of things, like Logo Mats LLC, Showdown Displays, SanMar, Bella + Canvas, Orbus and more.
2. The PRINTING United Experience Zone
This was a really cool greeting area for attendees, and sort of served as a “thesis statement” of sorts for what PRINTING United is all about. Walking around the area, full of different rooms with different themes, gave attendees an idea of all of the applications available for printed goods. There was a bar area, shelves full of various types of retail packaging, a wall decorated in printed brick wallpaper, a wrapped vehicle, and even an imprinted foosball table. If you were ever wondering just how diverse printed products could get, this was a fun and experiential way to lay it out for attendees, showing just how integral print is to our everyday lives and in every aspect of business.
3. Daily education
Like we said before, there were education sessions all day every day, so attendees could pop into talks about topics they’re already familiar with but want to expand on, or go into something more foreign to forge into new areas of the industry. Just from hanging out in a few sessions a day, we came out with a solid foundation of knowledge about things like color theory, hybrid printing technology, measuring color to match source material, engaging employees and automation to maximize profits.
There was also an entire track of education sessions dedicated to apparel and textile printing, covering everything from using cloud-based tech solutions to revolutionize the decorated apparel supply chain, to case studies on how apparel decorators grew their business.
4. Crash course in technology
Just walking the show floor looking at all of the exhibitors and printing capabilities, we saw firsthand what this equipment can do. We knew about screen printing, laser engraving, sublimation, heat transfer and other methods already, but by talking to people and watching tutorials, we learned more about how certain nozzles make a difference in price and output, what types of inks excel on polyester sportswear, and which screen printing setup you might use for a particular job.
PRINTING United 2020 will be in Atlanta, Oct. 21-23.