Examining Important Printing Technology Trends

The Technical Association of the Graphic Arts (TAGA, now part of PRINTING United Alliance) has been disseminating information on technology research and innovation in printing and graphic communications for decades. This March, its free TAGA Presents virtual event examines four diverse topics — sustainable flexible packaging, color matching across processes, business intelligence, and printed and hybrid electronics. 

Plastics RecyclingTAGA Presents will take place in two 90-minute sessions on March 11 and March 23. Kelly Williams, a sustainability strategist at Futamura, will kick off the program with his provocatively titled session, "Re-Thinking Packaging as a Sustainable Profit Center." The glut of discarded single-use plastic packaging is creating an environmental nightmare, since so little gets recycled and it doesn’t biodegrade (although it can break down into microplastic particles then ingested by humans and wildlife). Williams explores the changes necessary for flexible plastic packaging to become part of the “circular economy.” 

As the keeper of data in printing companies, management information systems collect and report data such as inventory, work in progress, and profitability. But as Geert Van Damme of CERM will assert in his presentation, "How Today’s Reporting Has Become an Intelligent Management Tool to Drive Change," companies should use the voluminous data they collect to also analyze trends and improve decision-making. Van Damme will show examples of business intelligence mined from data that frequently gets ignored. 

On March 23, Steve Upton of CHROMiX and Jan Lemieux of Canon Solutions America impart their considerable knowledge of what it takes to match colors across printing processes. Optimizing the match between inkjet, toner, offset, and flexo presses requires specialized knowledge and tools. It is also essential to know how close of a match is possible. Upton and Lemieux tackle this critical issue in their presentation, "What Can You Really Expect from a Color Match Between Processes?"

Printed ElectronicsWhile a small number of specialized companies leverage printed electronics now, a large opportunity looms. David Savastano of Printed Electronics Now concludes TAGA’s event by reviewing new printing applications, from smart packaging and labels to sensors and wearables to displays and lighting. A significant development is flexible hybrid electronics, which combines traditional semiconductor-based electronics with elements of printing. Savastano’s status report, "Printed and Hybrid Electronics: Mounting Applications and Technology Breakthroughs," will underscore why leading companies are keeping track of a market that is merging functional printing with graphics.    

TAGA Presents is suitable for print professionals, technical experts at suppliers, and university faculty and students. It is sponsored by Canon, Dow Jones, Esko, GMG, Heidelberg, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, Sappi, and Sun Chemical. Individuals can register for the free event at taga.org/taga-presents.   

James Workman
Jim Workman is VP, Technology and Research, for PRINTING United Alliance. He is responsible for its annual Continuous Improvement Conference, the InterTech Technology Awards, and the association’s consulting services, as well as serving as managing director of the TAGA.