Convergence Was in Action at PRINTING United
Convergence. Depending on who you talk to, where you talk to them, and what they’re doing, that word can have a wide range of meanings. Merriam-Webster alone has four different definitions for the term, but perhaps the one that truly resonates is this: “the merging of distinct technologies, industries, or devices into a unified whole.”
That is, at its heart, the entire reason PRINTING United was created. This show was born from the realization that printers no longer label themselves as “commercial” or “packaging” or “signage.” In some cases, they aren’t even “printers,” but rather have moved to embrace the role of communications specialists of all stripes and flavors. But while it may be easy to talk about convergence and the infinite possibilities it offers to every print shop in the global community, it can be harder to pin it down in practice.
Across the PRINTING United show floor here in Dallas, OEMs are living and breathing convergence, embracing new and creative applications for their products and services. They have taken this proverbial bull by its horns, and aren’t afraid to go on the wild and exciting ride ahead.
“In our view, convergence really reflects the fact that the traditional definitions of printers and print technology are rapidly disappearing as digital devices lower the cost of entry and increase the value of output in market segments front direct mail to label, packaging, wide-format, and textile,” says Kevin Kern, senior VP, Business Intelligence Services and Product Planning, Konica Minolta (Booth 9536). “At PRINTING United, we are embracing convergence by exhibiting new products in categories of decorative print, high-speed ink, label, and production color, demonstrating our investment in growth businesses that will create new opportunities for our customers to increase revenue.”
“PRINTING United is a great example of the industry converging in one place. Together with our amazing partner relationships we have on the show floor, we can represent our entire ecosystem of products — all in one place — to the print industry,” says Ken Hanulec, worldwide VP of Corporate Marketing, EFI (Booth 8233). “And, if you look at any corner of the floor, and you are likely to also see EFI solutions. Ricoh (Booth 7001), for example, is not only showing our wide-format technology, but is also featuring our Fiery DFEs on its cut-sheet production printing equipment. Similarly, Fiery DFEs are running on digital production equipment in the booths of many additional partners, including Canon (Booth 7061), Konica Minolta, Kyocera, OKI (Booths 11545, 8011), RISO (Booth 10935), and Xerox (Booths 12345, 12541). And, for the first time, Fiery even has a presence with multiple, leading finishing equipment vendors.…For me, that’s a real and tangible example of convergence and the industry coming together to show a broader, more comprehensive range of cutting-edge technologies. PRINTING United is second only to drupa in terms of the range of solutions we can show and partnerships we have on the show floor.”
New Markets, New Opportunities
One interesting example of convergence playing out across the show floor is the explosion of digital textile technologies, and the wide range of applications and verticals they are poised to impact. Once the purview of garment or soft-signage printers, PRINTING United is proving that every shop, no matter its specialty, can potentially find a lucrative textile application.
“The direct-to-garment printer industry has come to a fork in the road,” notes Victor Peña, founder & CEO, OmniPrint International (Booth 2210). “The industry can either take the new path to convergence, or remain on a path to obsolescence. Convergence inspires uniformity for industries. Obsolescence destroys. It is a time for transition in the industry — one must keep up or be left behind. For OmniPrint, convergence means setting new standards for the industry with not only the technology but the customer experience as well.…Convergence is raising the bar, while pushing the industry forward as a whole. Everyone is invited to witness the leading-edge technology we have to offer and see how we’re taking things to the next level at the OmniPrint International booth.”
Beyond textiles, PRINTING United exhibitors are showcasing how shops can take one investment and turn it into new growth areas far beyond the initial reasons for the purchase. Convergence, after all, isn’t just about stuffing a shop floor full of every technology under the sun. It is about strategically choosing technologies that will propel a shop into new markets, new jobs, and new customers.
“I’ve always felt that Roland has a solution for almost any industry you can think of,” says Andrew Oransky, president and CEO, Roland DGA (Booth 4616). “We can demonstrate how businesses in retail, apparel, manufacturing, packaging design, graphics and signs, and a host of other markets can use Roland devices to generate more revenue. Conversely, that means once someone has a Roland device, they can add new offerings for customers outside their core business, which creates growth opportunities. The days of specialized print shops that only serve limited markets, or only perform limited applications, are over. Printers are fighting for their total share of the print buyer’s promotional spending wallet, and they need technology that helps them do that successfully.”
“Convergence is not a new concept to Fujifilm Graphic Systems Division, having served the differing needs of the commercial, newspaper, sign & display, and packaging markets for more than 85 years,” notes Brent Moncrief, VP strategic marketing & brand management, FUJIFILM North America Corporation, Graphic Systems Division (Booth 8220).
Convergence in action is also about bringing together more than just diverse technologies, or new applications, however. Just as print shops of all sizes are becoming solutions providers for their customers, OEMs are also looking to demonstrate that they offer far more than just technology. The days of buying a box and then not hearing from anyone until it’s time to upgrade or have something repaired are long past — another example of how convergence is changing everyone’s business, in every corner of print.
“Convergence is really the cornerstone of PRINTING United — bringing all different types of print technology and print providers to one place,” said Heather Poulin, senior director, marketing, Commercial Printing Business, Ricoh USA. “In the Ricoh booth, we didn’t just design a booth — we designed an experience. In our booth, you will see a convergence of not only our products and technology, but our charitable initiative, our interactive hands-on 5th Color Lab, our live wide-format application install demonstration, our interactive continuous-feed inkjet virtual demo, as well as a fun scavenger hunt. At Ricoh, we have a passion for print, and we invite attendees to come to our booth and see the many ways we can help their businesses thrive.”
Convergence might be an industry buzzword, but at PRINTING United, there is no booth, no corner of the show, where you can’t experience that concept coming to live. The future of print — in all forms, on all substrates, in all verticals, in all sizes — is brimming with possibilities. And PRINTING United is the place to take dreams of what could be, and turn them into definitive action. The only questions left then, are where will your next steps lead, and who can help you get there?
Toni McQuilken has been writing and editing for more than a decade. Her work includes B2B publications – both in print and online – in a range of industries, such as print and graphics, technology, hospitality and automotive; as well as behind the scenes writing and editing for multiple companies, helping them craft marketing materials, write press releases and more. She is a self-proclaimed "tech geek" who loves all things technology, and she knows that she is one of a select group of people who get to do what they love for a living.