Chris Heusch presents at AICC's Digital XperienceThe recent AICC sponsored ‘Digital Xperience’ (Feb. 26 – Mar. 1, Charlotte, North Carolina) was the culmination of a three week ‘Digital Knowledge Quest’ for Chris Heusch, president of ARCH Inc. “We, as an industry, are still on the learning front of the digital print technology,” says Heusch. “As more converters step into this technology, new obstacles are uncovered that must be addressed. Everything from sales, to operating environments, to production and maintenance — it’s all a different ball game. It’s evolving at such a rapid pace that our learning curve is nearly vertical at this time. This makes it difficult for converters to run their daily businesses AND stay in tune with the latest evolutions in digital printing technology.”

Heusch’s latest knowledge quest began two weeks prior to the Charlotte conference with a visit to the Barbarán Open House in Barcelona, Spain to learn about the latest Jetmaster single pass technology. Then it was on to the EFI factory for a look at the latest Nozomi single pass printer for corrugated and visits to numerous single pass press installations across multiple countries and continents. “The popularity of digital printing technology is growing rapidly throughout the corrugated industry, but we’re still in the learning stages. The technology is still evolving and best practices are still evolving. The markets, whether they’re niche or more open market are still developing and at this point in time we’re making every effort to collect and distill this knowledge into solid business practices.”

Heusch and Kelley moderate converter panel at Digital Xperience Heusch was a cornerstone supporter and contributor to the recent Digital Xperience where he served as moderator for two panels, a panel of highly acclaimed boxmakers recognized as leaders in the digital printing market, and a panel of the industry’s leading machinery suppliers. He also participated as co-presenter (with Dusobox’s John Kelley) of ‘The Business Case for Digital Print’, an overview of the state of digital in the corrugated industry from local, as well as global vantage points. “Events like the Digital Xperience are essential to coming on board with innovative new technologies like digital printing on corrugated. These events provide the opportunity to share knowledge and learn from those on the leading edge of the technology.”

While the digital printer may be at the heart of this new technology, it is important to remember that it’s a new process from order to shipping. “The capabilities, the raw materials, the environment, the art prep, the equipment from feed to takeaway… not just the printer… are all different than what we are familiar with in conventional four-color high graphics printing,” says Heusch. “We have come a very long way, but we’ve just started the journey. As in the first days of high-graphic printing on corrugated, we are learning every day, but we still have much to learn. The ability to bring converters and OEMs together to share knowledge, concerns and needs, whether at a conference such as Digital Xperience or in a more personal and private atmosphere, is essential to the growth of the digital market and the success of digital converters.”