BOHEMIA, NY—FTA has, since its inception, supported flexographic educational and training initiatives. That mission continues with the announcement of the Association becoming the inaugural sponsor of Clemson University’s new virtual reality (VR) print training platform, developed by the Sonoco Institute of Packaging Design and Graphics.
“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.
By wearing a VR headset, trainees are placed inside an immersive and interactive virtual pressroom. Utilizing a pair of handheld controllers, they can adjust the VR press’ impression, registration and other settings, and then run the press and see how those adjustments affect a print job. The scalability, accessibility and safety provided by the platform are crucial to turning around a reported 25 percent decrease in print industry employment, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“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,” said Bobby Congdon, Sonoco Institute assistant director. “This inaugural gift from FTA will allow the Sonoco Institute to begin development of phase two. 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.”
Attendees to Fall Conference 2019 (Oct. 28-30 in Charlotte, NC) will see the VR training platform used to transform the presentation stage into a fully functional pressroom, learn how VR can provide cost-effective, zero-waste and scalable training, and watch Congdon teach a new flexographer how to set up and run a virtual flexo press.