Advancement; College of Agriculture, Forestry and Life Sciences; Wilbur O. and Ann Powers College of Business

Flexographic Technical Association signs on as inaugural sponsor of Clemson’s VR print training platform


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CLEMSON — Flexographic Technical Association (FTA), the premiere destination for flexographic resources, has signed on as the inaugural sponsor for Clemson University’s new virtual print training platform developed by the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics.

The Sonoco Institute’s new virtual print platform features a highly immersive and engaging print lab where users can operate a press and utilize all of the tools and measurement devices found in a traditional pressroom. An initial phase of the platform received rave reviews earlier this year at FTA’s INFOFLEX 2019 exhibition in New Orleans.

“Attracting and developing tomorrow’s flexographic workforce is something we take very seriously and we are excited to sign on as the inaugural sponsor of this state-of-the-art virtual training platform,” said Joe Tuccitto, FTA director of education.

In the past 10 years, the print industry has seen a 25 percent decrease in employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. While Clemson University’s top-ranked graphic communications program is thriving, something new and cutting-edge is needed today to help attract talent to the print workforce.

The initial phase is modeled after the institute’s own print lab and flexographic press, though the ultimate goal is to develop an all-encompassing print environment for scalable training experiences and industry recruitment. This inaugural gift from FTA will allow the Sonoco Institute to begin development of phase two.

Photo of a Virtual Press Simulation
Starting with a narrow-web, flexographic press, the Sonoco Institute is creating a platform for interacting with and understanding the print process.

“We’re ready to move beyond the concept and develop this into something that will be useful at high schools, career centers and our supporting companies’ facilities,” said Bobby Congdon, Sonoco Institute assistant director.

Sponsorship supports application development, undergraduate student research through Clemson’s Creative Inquiry program, curriculum development and testing at local high schools to gauge industry response and feedback.

“Supporting a project like this is a fantastic opportunity to shine light on your company’s commitment to workforce development,” said Chip Tonkin, Sonoco Institute director and chair of the graphic communications department at Clemson.

The platform will be utilized at FTA’s Fall Conference (Oct 28-30 in Charlotte) to transform its main stage into a fully functional pressroom. It will show how virtual reality can provide cost-effective, zero-waste and scalable training, then attendees can watch live as an instructor teaches a new flexographer how to set up and run a virtual flexo press on-stage.

Opportunities are available for additional companies to support this initiative as Presenting Sponsors. Sponsors at this level will have the opportunity to align their company with this groundbreaking training tool through Clemson media, onsite recognition (in both the real and virtual world) and to help support an annual graduate student award that will be named in their company’s honor. Presenting Sponsors will also be invited to participate in beta testing and will have the opportunity to serve as industry advisors for the application deployment strategy.

Click here to learn more.


Flexographic Technical Association
Chartered in 1958, FTA is a professional society dedicated to bringing all members of the flexographic printing community—printers, suppliers, consumer product companies, educational institutions, prepress houses and others–together by providing opportunities for the free exchange of technical ideas and discussion of mutual concerns. It is a proponent of maintaining and advancing quality standards and includes 1,350 member sites that represent more than 35,000 individuals. Foundation of FTA, founded in 1974, is the educational arm of FTA and is dedicated to supporting and advancing the flexographic printing industry.

Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics
The Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics uniquely combines the synergies that exist between the Graphic Communications and Packaging Science departments at Clemson University. Founded in 2009, it is the only university program in the country with this one-of-a-kind, multidisciplinary approach to packaging. The Institute leverages its core campus strengths along with the knowledge and participation of its industry partners to make significant contributions at three levels: as an academic stimulator, an industry resource for training and research and a driving force to bring new technologies and innovations to the packaging and graphics markets.

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