For nearly a decade, I have been directly involved with the programming for several SGIA conferences, from the Membrane Switch Symposium to the more recent Industrial Applications & Printed Electronics Symposium. I have been attending these types of conferences for even longer, but not long enough to say I attended their first iterations.
On many occasions, my industry colleagues have spoken about their experiences at the first Membrane Switch Symposium and I sometimes find myself feeling jealous that they saw that first symposium evolve into what became last year’s inaugural FP3: Functional Printing, Process & Products conference. I now hope to look back on FP3 in the distant future and feel a sense of pride in seeing how it’s grown and matured, much like my own children.
The FP3 conference, unlike its predecessors, was designed to attract and inform a diverse group of companies, from smart textile manufacturers to business best practices professionals to industrial printers. They would all come together to listen, learn, engage with and be inspired by industry leaders covering both technical innovations and business-related topics.
I had the opportunity to be part of the diverse FP3 agenda as I presented my company’s involvement in the 2018 Winter Olympics U.S. team’s Ralph Lauren (RL) jackets. In tandem with the “Collaboration Leads to Innovation” theme, Michael Burrows of DuPont and I shared our companies’ involvement with the printed flexible heater used to warm the athletes. Our presentation opened with a short RL promo video of the jacket and its heating technology while SGIA’s Sarah Helminiak modeled the garment for the audience.
This was followed by an overview and discussion on how each of our companies became involved with this project and ultimately collaborated on the key components of the heater system. We discussed the challenges we faced during the project’s different phases and the creative solutions developed to overcome these hurdles. Next, Michael discussed how the heater technology continued to evolve into a robust heater system for the wearables market, which segued into a conversation on the various pathways attendees could follow when seeking their own collaborative opportunities.
Overall, I was very pleased with the outcome of our presentation and the conference as a whole. With FP3’s second installment around the corner (May 5–7; Itasca, Illinois), I look forward to seeing it continue to grow and widen its impact in the years to come, as does Michael, who shared his own sentiments on the conference:
“There were three things that struck me most about FP3. The first was the focus on the challenges and opportunities uniquely facing the North American printed electronics industry. The second was the curation of an excellent series of presentations that didn’t at all fit the company intro/product explanation presentation template we’ve come to expect. Finally, it is clear the FP3 organizers are, above all, committed to delivering value to the show-goers — and having a bit of fun along the way.”