Where Innovation and Emerging Technology Collide
The Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) is the epitome of what it means to be innovative, so it was no surprise that in 2018 the association launched an equally inventive conference. The inaugural FP3: Functional Printing, Process and Products Conference, explored new technologies and concepts over a three-day period, June 4-6, 2018, in Itasca, Ill., through educational sessions, a sponsor showcase and social events.
The conference, designed by SGIA’s Industrial Applications and Printed Electronics Committee and attended by 135 industrial printing professionals at the Westin Chicago Northwest, consisted of three focus tracks — printed electronics, business topics and industrial topics.
“FP3 was a very informative conference as well as an atmosphere that allowed more openness to networking. The conference not only covered trends in the functional printing industry but also trends on how to hire, retain and create good teams for your workplace. It also covered new marketing trends and how to establish them,” said attendee Aaron Maldonado, a technician at The Boeing Company.
On Monday evening, June 4, 2018, FP3 officially kicked off with a welcome reception where attendees were able to check out the sponsor showcase for the first time and get a sneak peek at what exciting new technologies are in this growing market, meet new faces and catch up with old friends.
Tuesday began with David Hogue, UX Design Lead at Google. He opened the morning with an inspirational and keynote presentation on how humans perceive, understand and behave in the world. Hogue is a UX design leader, product strategist and applied psychologist who uses design, research and psychology to deepen insight into user behavior, guide product strategy and service design systems and solve challenging UX problems. He’s currently with Google, working on the Android ecosystem.
During the presentation “Psychology & Design: Better UX, Better Products,” Hogue dove into how the UX (user experience) and how understanding the magic (rather, he says, isn’t magic) behind how people think will help us create better products and services based on psychological principles and theories. Designing a product must go beyond the physical interface design and into the deeper levels of the experience such as context, goals and culture. Hogue pointed to relevant examples in social media with our human need to be liked and acknowledged and even used “Where’s Waldo” to point our focus of attention in printed items such as a restaurant menu or coupons. Color choices, even font choices can drastically change one’s perception.
Real World Implementation
While Houge touched on the psychological principles behind product design, Michael Burrows of DuPont and Mike Wagner of Butler Technologies, Inc. dove into a real-world example of how all of this comes together to create something tangible. In the featured general session, “Collaboration Leads to Innovation – The Story of the Ralph Lauren Heated Olympic Jacket,” Burrows and Wagner highlighted the massive technological feats conquered through designing and curating the heated parka and focused on best practices for collaborating on a project.
For the 2018 Winter Olympics, Ralph Lauren was tasked with creating the American Olympic team’s opening and closing ceremony uniforms for use in South Korea’s cold winter. Temps on average during this time of year hover around 15 degrees Fahrenheit. As part of the uniform, Ralph Lauren — along with many invested partners — designed and created a parka and bomber jacket that used heat-conducting ink to generate warmth. Both DuPont and Butler Technologies collaborated on the project for the heater technology and heater printing and fabrication, along with Key Tech for the battery pack, Principled Designs for the connector and wire leads, 99Degrees for the heater bonding to the jacket’s liner and Better Team USA for the jacket assembly.
In this day and age, there are very few companies with enough resources and technology to produce every aspect of such innovative products, so partners are paramount. Burrows and Wagner shared with attendees that it is important to have pre-existing relationships between innovators in order to speed up the development process. This allows a certain level of trust to develop over time, lets each other know their processes, as well as strengths and weaknesses. Some other bits of advice they shared: Have the financials and agreements in place, this irons out any paperwork delays getting in the way of the project timeline; and break down the project into smaller, more manageable projects.
Some ways to set yourself up and network with potential future partners include attending conferences and expos, getting involved in collaboration groups, becoming members of local and regional development organizations and meeting people in your field and related fields.