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Event Spotlight

PRINT 18

With American politics continuing to dominate the headlines, Harriet Gordon takes a look at the number one print show in the States, as PRINT 18 returns to Chicago

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Printers flock to PRINT 18 in search of the American dream

Land of the brave

As we head into the final quarter of 2018, the state of global politics is becoming more strange. Russia host England’s best World Cup in almost 30 years, while facing investigation for potential chemical weapons abuse in Salisbury. Britain’s government is in turmoil over Brexit, while the EU battles with the rise of the Far Right in Europe. And in America we see one of the most controversial and outspoken presidents in history make giant leaps in bringing peace with North Korea.

This last development is perhaps the most surprising of all. Not known for his diplomacy, President Trump has managed to build a relationship with the notoriously sensitive Kim Jong-un, doing more for uniting the East and the West than anyone could have hoped for. Indeed, while many people are looking to Asia as the new economic superpower, nobody can deny the continued relevance of America on the global stage.

The same is true in the print industry. While the US may seem a long way from good old Blighty, it would be complacent not to keep an eye on the events of this enormous economy. With this in mind, Print Monthly is taking a look at PRINT 18, to see what tips we can pick up from our friends across the pond.

Out with the old

Many of our readers will be familiar with Chicago-based Graph Expo, the key print trade show in the States. PRINT 18 is a reanimated form of this tried-and-tested event, hosted by the Associate for Print Technologies (APTech).

PRINT 18 will be running from September 30th to October 2nd and is located at McCormick Place in Chicago


Running from September 30th to October 2nd and located at McCormick Place in Chicago, APTech says the show answers print’s call by ‘bringing the boldest and brightest innovators, influencers and newest technology together to create connections that showcase and advance our industry’.

PRINT 18 (formally Graph Expo) was listed in the 2017 top 100 US trade shows by the Trade Show News Network


This annual exhibition hosts the largest gathering of print-services-providers in North America, representing attendees from 86 countries. In 2017, more than 22,000 visitors came to Chicago, including nearly 16,000 buyers from 8,565 companies. It is perhaps not surprising, therefore, that the event has been been listed in the 2017 top 100 US trade shows by the Trade Show News Network (TSNN).

The Trade Show News Network also presented PRINT with an award that ranked it among the top 25 fastest-growing events in attendance


“We’re honoured to be recognized by Trade Show News Network again this year,” says Thayer Long, APTech president, continuing: “As the not-for-profit printing industry event owned 100 percent by our members, we have formulated a winning strategy for PRINT that aligns the industry on a path for growth moving forward.”

As the not-for-profit printing industry event owned 100 percent by our members, we have formulated a winning strategy for PRINT that aligns the industry on a path for growth moving forward


Kelly Kilga, CEM, vice president, meetings and events, adds: “PRINT has always delivered the ideal audience to grow the industry. Our printing service providers - 80 percent in 2017 - tell us that purposeful events are their most significant resource for education about emerging technology, business strategy guidance and connections to grow their businesses. And our members (product and service providers) tell us this is why they return to exhibit year after year.”

In addition to this accolade, PRINT has also has ranked in the top 25 fastest-growing events in attendance. The award, presented by TSNN and its parent company, Tarsus Media Group, recognises trade shows demonstrating consistent growth based on number of visitors.”

Long comments: “This award speaks to the evolving expansion of the printing and graphic communications industry. We are proud to be placed in elite company with many of the event industry’s most recognised names.”

Every day is a school day

A key feature of any good trade show is its educational events, and PRINT is no different. The 2018 edition of the show will host The Learning Experience, featuring sessions taught by professionals in business, law, sales, marketing, human resources, operations and technology, from both within and outside the printing industry.

This year’s education programme has over 50 sessions presented in a variety of learning formats, including seminars, hands-on labs, luncheon sessions and panel discussions. New to PRINT 18 are special exhibit floor guided tours led by teams of industry experts. These tours follow topic-specific programmes in the Exhibit
Hall Learning Experience Theater and run each day of the event.

Long comments on this highlight of the show: “Our education lineup this year addresses the biggest challenges facing our industry today, including business growth, workforce development and staying competitive. We are aligning the educational programming at PRINT 18 with enhanced networking opportunities and new technology areas to help drive the entire value chain on a path to success.”

Our education lineup this year addresses the biggest challenges facing our industry today, including business growth, workforce development and staying competitive


Learning Experience sessions are geared toward helping attendees grow their businesses, learn new skills, discover fresh marketing approaches, boost productivity, improve operations and pick up new sales tips. The educational programmes cover topics that fall into six critical areas: Big Picture, Business/Executive Development, How it’s Done, Opportunities and Markets, Printing Operations and Sales and Marketing.

As well as seminars and labs, visitors to PRINT 18 will be able to learn from expert speakers booked by the show. This year, the keynote speaker will be entrepreneur and best-selling author Seth Godin, who will kick off The Learning Experience on Sunday 30th with a speech and book-signing featuring his best-selling book, What to Do When It’s Your Turn (and It’s Always Your Turn).

In his address, Godin will look back on a century of marketing, industrialism and print, and paint a picture for how we can each make a dent in the future with the work we do. Godin promises the PRINT 18 audience will leave with actionable takeaways that can shape their personal and professional lives into the future.

He comments: “If I could put it all in a memo, I would. But bullet points just don’t work. If you are in the room, I will be able to help you think differently.”

Godin is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. In May 2018, he will be inducted into the Marketing Hall of Fame.

The main event

Keynote speakers are great, but let us not forget what any trade show, in any industry, is built on: its exhibitors.

Without important and interesting exhibitors there would be no visitors, and without visitors, no show.

It is a testament to the longevity and continued relevance of PRINT/Graph Expo that is has retained many of its exhibitors over the years, with many companies choosing to exhibit at the show every year.

Spiel Associates is one such company. In fact, 2018 will be the firm’s 50th showing at the event, as co-owner David Spiel explains: “As other shows have foundered, PRINT/Graph Expo has been the one and only must exhibit show for us for the past 50 years. Other shows have come and gone but the Chicago show, as we have come to call it, is the only show that we have consistently exhibited at.”

Trump Hotel in Chicago: would the controversial US President encourage or deter you from attending PRINT 18?


Founded by Norton Spiel in 1963, Spiel Associates manufactures and distributes binding machines for sale worldwide. The business has since been passed onto Norton’s sons: Michael, Saul, and David. “We celebrated our 50th anniversary as a company five years ago, at, of course, Graph Expo, where we served champagne to our customers. We will be duplicating this celebration this year at PRINT 18,” declares Saul Spiel.

This year, Spiel Associates will be introducing its new, Sterling DigiPunchmaster. David Spiel says: “It’s a Punchmaster high speed punch, with a touch screen. Everyone wants digital and the only way a binding machine can be digital is in its set up process.”

In addition, Spiel Associates will be demonstrating their new line of Digibinder PUR perfect binders. The Sterling Digibinder PUR is an entry level PUR binder which can bind up to 200 books per hour. This adds to their most successful line, the Sterling Digibinder automatic perfect binders, which can bind books from as little as two sheets up to 2.25” thick.

Another organisation committing to PRINT 18 is the Foil and Speciality Effects Association (FSEA), which has announced its partnership with the show. The FSEA will hold several events at the exhibition, aimed at demonstrating the creative potential of print, as executive director Jeff Peterson explains: “Digital overload is leading many marketers back to print. They’re discovering that many new, as well as traditional, foil and specialty effects technologies can help their print pieces grab attention and signal premium branding in ways that just aren’t available in digital media.”

FSEA has three initiatives planned at PRINT 18. Peterson himself will be leading a seminar entitled ‘Definitions and Applications for Specialty Effects on Print’, in which he will discuss new decorating processes now available in the marketplace - from cold and hot foil, to digital inkjet coatings and foils.

Additionally, the FSEA booth will showcase winners from its 25th annual Gold Leaf Awards in 2018, as well as FSEA’s quarterly magazine, PostPress, and white papers on the impact of high-visibility enhancements on shelf presence.

O Factoid: Over 1.2 million lbs. of machinery were moved to PRINT 17, showing that kit demonstrations are still a key aspect of trade shows. O


Finally, FSEA will sponsor a breakfast featuring Chris Eckhart, president of Eckhart and Company and bindery representative on the FSEA board of directors, and Peterson, who together will give an overview of FSEA’s newly formed Binding and Loose Leaf Division. Both active members (trade binderies, bindery departments, and loose leaf manufacturers) and associate members (suppliers to the bindery and loose leaf industries) will be welcome.

Thayer Long, APTech president, comments: “PRINT 18’s value is greatly enhanced by the many associations and trade groups that choose PRINT to present co-located events and programs. We’re pleased that FSEA will shine a light on a segment of the industry that offers compelling opportunities for printers to differentiate and grow their businesses.”

A return ticket to Chicago from London Heathrow in September can cost less than £300


At the time of writing, a return flight to Chicago from London Heathrow costs £300 and takes under nine hours… tempted? One thing, at least, seems to be sure: if you do not make it the States in 2018, the PRINT exhibition will be around for many years to come.


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