By Peter Kallai

We are pleased to report an enthusiastic response to our appearance earlier this month at Graphics Canada Expo – Canada’s longest running showcase for the graphic arts and commercial printing industry.

This event is usually attended by brand owners, large printing companies, packaging companies, label companies looking for new packaging and print solutions as well as technology and equipment suppliers hoping to meet the needs of innovative companies seeking new solutions.

Printable, flexible and wearable electronics (PE) have of course had a tight relationship with the printing industry. Conductive inks can be applied to many substrates through fast and inexpensive automated processes just like those used to produce newspapers, magazines and paper-based packaging.

But the challenge, as always, is to educate a traditional industry on the merits of moving into new market segments, by adapting and upgrading old production methods to serve new applications.

The learning curve for printing and packaging companies is twofold. First, they need a little help to understand how smart labels, tags and other intelligent functionality can be added to their products on a high-speed production line. Second, they must see a compelling business case for doing so in that it will help them create new revenue streams.

We learned from attendees that printing companies need very simple out-of-the-box solutions that can be implemented with minimal effort or change. For example, adding a smart label developed by a third-party tech company is one thing, but we shouldn’t expect a printing company to design and develop a complex electronic component. Printing companies must partner with tech companies that have the know-how.

Under the umbrella of our joint intelliPACK program with the PAC, Packaging Consortium, we staffed a booth and hosted two workshops at Graphics Canada April 6 and 7 in Toronto to spread the word. It was a team effort that included CPEIA Members Jones Packaging, Array Marketing, the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, Sun Chemical and the National Research Council.

We discussed how PE can help consumer brands protect from product tampering, counterfeiting and theft, reduce waste, market themselves better at the point of sale, engage with consumers to build brand loyalty, and improve regulatory compliance and ensure proper consumer usage of controlled substances such as prescription drugs.

Graphics Canada is a big deal. It’s a 50-year-old show that attracts more than 8,000 industry professionals and 200 industry suppliers. Our people on the show floor reported strong interest from attendees to learn more about intelliPACK and other events on our calendar, such as CPES2017 next month.

For many, it was their first introduction to intelligent packaging and its applications. Our booth and workshops attracted the likes of Hershey Canada, Adobe Systems, CCL Healthcare, The J.M. Smucker Company and Konica Minolta.

All in all, it was a fantastic opportunity to reach deeper into a key industry vertical where we see vast opportunity for PE and make vital contacts for the benefit of our Members.

Next up, the CABA Intelligent Buildings & Digital Home Forum

Another priority market vertical for the CPEIA is intelligent buildings and connected homes under our intelliBUILD program. Our partner for this vertical is the Continental Automated Buildings Association (CABA), with which we authored two landmark white papers last year.

We are at CABA’s Intelligent Buildings & Digital Home Forum this week in Santa Clara with the same bridge-building goals we had for Graphics Canada. We will deliver a half -day workshop with presenters from the Xerox Research Centre of Canada, CSAGroup and the CPEIA to highlight the key benefits of our technologies and key applications for this industry.

Here, our exhibition and workshop activities focus on applications for PE in commercial and residential properties. We have also arranged a facilities tour of PARC Xerox. PARC has a long history of developing large-area sensor arrays and is also focusing on the integration of printed electronics with sensors, microchips and other discrete components.

If you or your organization is interested in getting involved with any of our workshops and conference delegations, or have an idea for one, please contact me at pkallai@cpeia-acei.ca