FTA Fall Conference 2019

November 6, 2019

By Kadence Baker

On October 28-30, Sonoco Institute staff, as well as Clemson graphic communications faculty and students, attended the annual FTA Fall Conference in Charlotte, NC. FTA Fall Conference is a technical forum for those involved in the flexographic printing industry – from printers to suppliers, educators and more – to network, learn about new technologies, and share industry insights.

FTA's October issue of FLEXO Magazine that was printed in the Sonoco Institute

FTA’s October issue of FLEXO Magazine that was printed in the Sonoco Institute

Prior to Fall Conference, the Sonoco Institute collaborated with FTA to print their October FLEXO Magazine cover in the Advanced Print Technologies Lab which houses an OMET Varyflex flexographic printing press. The print job was used as a sample piece throughout the conference to compare a flexo-printed cover with an offset-printed cover – the traditional method for printing FLEXO Magazine. Our very own Bobby Congdon, assistant director, sat on several panels with supply chain experts involved in printing the magazine cover to discuss the process.

In addition to the print project, other new projects were introduced by Clemson attendees at the conference. Nona Woolbright, a Clemson GC professor, led the second-ever meeting of a new group called the Women of Flexo, which focuses on the inclusion of more women in the printing industry. During the meeting, they formed a mission statement, discussed goals for the group, and began building a committee that will participate in future FTA events. Some of the goals include starting a mentorship program for young women in print, working with FTA to present topics that women are interested in at future conferences, creating a platform to share dynamic stories of women in print, and much more. To get involved, contact Nona Woolbright.

For Clemson, the main event at Fall Conference was the introduction of StripeVR. This platform combines the printing process (flexography, to-date) with virtual reality technology to create an interactive and realistic training experience for educators and the industry. Users can take advantage of StripeVR to learn about all aspects of the printing process, including each component of the press, platemaking, anilox selection, ink mixing, color measurement, press operation, and much more – almost anything under the sun. The platform can be used to train, troubleshoot and inspire new talent, without the risk of safety or financial loss. At the conference, Bobby Congdon and Nate Newsome, the Sonoco Institute’s VR researcher and developer, demonstrated StripeVR live on-stage for attendees by teaching a new flexographer how to operate the institute’s very own OMET press. 

The Sonoco Institute is seeking industry partners to join FTA in sponsoring this initiative. It is a great opportunity to shine light on your company’s commitment to workforce development. By becoming a sponsor of StripeVR, your company will receive brand recognition inside and outside of the simulation and be a candidate to contribute towards enhancing the platform with specialized insight from your area of the supply chain. Two sponsorship levels have been created to align your company with this groundbreaking technology. For more information, please click here.

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