What You Missed at EFI Connect 2022

The 22nd annual EFI Connect user conference was held, as always, at Wynn Las Vegas Resort from January 17-21. Connect attracts EFI users, partners and sponsors from across the globe and from every level of the company, according to EFI. The event had more than 130 breakout sessions presenting the latest tips and trends across all the industry segments EFI supports, including digital printing, industrial corrugated and packaging, textile and building materials/décor solutions.

Special Fireside Chat keynotes highlighted UPS CMO Kevin Warren and Hall of Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera.

EFI Fiery Prep-it software for the preparation, layout, and automated production of print-for-cut jobs also made its debut.

A photo gallery from the four-day conference is available here.

Here are highlights from sessions, keynotes, and panels:

New Applications for Signage and Graphics
Ken Hanulec and Tiffany Bisson

Ken Hanulec, EFI’s VP of worldwide corporate marketing, says customers are consolidating. “They’re getting rid of smaller machines and getting one big printer to do everything,” he says, which helps reduce labor needs.

Here are some trending applications for wide-format printers to consider:

  • Environmental graphics
  • Textured or dimensional printing
  • The fourth wall (ceiling)
  • Acoustics
  • The use of QR codes

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Industry Update
Marco Boer, VP, IT Strategies

Here’s what Boer had to stay about the current state of the print industry:

  • The supply chain issue’s silver lining is there will be more onshoring.
  • The labor shortage is not ending soon, and the “Great Resignation” doesn’t help. Consider automating your shop to help with this issue.
  • Consider corrugated applications for your consumers’ unboxing experiences.
  • Direct mail and QR codes are how you should connect with your customers.
  • Digital textile printing for fashion is on the rise. Brands such as Lily Pulitzer are using the technology to create one-of-a-kind, custom pieces for their customers.
  • Tradeshows are coming back.

Boer also led a session on the “Top Wide-Format Graphics Trends for 2022.” His current top trends include ecommerce, dye sublimation, interior décor and private equity.

State of Affairs
Gaby Matsliach, senior VP and the general manager of the EFI Productivity software business
Matsliach shared the unpredictable business environment we are currently in, including supply chain challenges, labor instability, and product and production demand fluctuations. He teased the MCorr, a flatbed scanning head inkjet press for corrugated packaging to meet demand for shorter runs prompted by the rise in ecommerce, which will be available later this year.

Fireside Chat Keynote 1
Kevin Warren, UPS executive VP and CMO
Jeff Jacobson interviewed Kevin Warren, Fortune 500 marketing leader and UPS executive VP and CMO. They discussed the evolution of digital and ecommerce, with an in-depth perspective of digital’s impact on business now and into the future. Warren has not only been involved in UPS’ digital transformation but has led changes to antiquated rules on employee appearance like natural hair for Black staff, beards and tattoos. He discussed the Great Resignation and his ideas for employee retention, such as information sharing and mentoring.

Warren helped launch the Proudly Unstoppable movement, which is UPS’ commitment to breaking down barriers that get in the way of small business owners achieving their goals.
“Our most profitable segment is small- and medium-sized business,” said Warren. “They needed our help, but our focus was on larger companies where margins were the thinnest.”
UPS partnered with Sophia Yeshi of Yeshi Designs for UPS’ first commissioned artwork titled “Let’s Rise Together.” 600,000 UPS medium-sized Express corrugated boxes and limited-edition envelopes with the artist’s work were printed.

Fireside Chat Keynote 2
Mariano Rivera
Rivera, who played 19 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees and is the only player ever to be unanimously selected to the Hall of Fame, discussed the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Its mission is to provide youth from impoverished families with an education that will empower them for the future, according to its website. EFI will help support underserved youth and the next generation of the print industry through this partnership. Four young men of the Mariano Rivera Mentorship Program were provided with a scholarship from EFI to participate in the annual conference and are the youngest group ever to receive the EFI Certification in the print and digital design industry.

Large Format Pricing
Ron Teller, PrintSmith
“Pricing is like trying to grab air,” said Teller. “It all depends on where you are.” Here are some of his tips to best price a project:

  • Make sure you charge for the RIP and set-up time. “Don’t just charge for the actual printing of the piece. Make sure you’re charging for putting rolls on the machine, pulling up the files, etc.” he said. “Your upfront charges should cover all the costs of the machine.”
  • Make sure you charge for finishing. The cost of a grommet plus labor cost plus pieces/per hour = total unit cost
  • Don’t forget your ink charge.
  • Customers are asking for square area per copy aka the number of consecutive prints vs the actual size of the print. “Give them a discount by the number of repetitive copies of the same original.”

Industry Experts Panel
Frank Mallozzi, CRO at EFI, interviews Adrienne Palmer, editor-in-chief of Big Picture magazine, during an industry experts panel, Linda Casey of Packaging Impressions, Morten Reitoft of Inkish and Tim Greene of IDC. They discussed what’s next, new, and unique in print, packaging, branding and automation.

Watch the first half of the panel here.

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