Even in the early stage of research in the field of graphic arts (as early as 1931), when only very few institutes existed, there had been ideas and discussion about co-operative projects. Although no formal steps were taken to implement this early proposal, the institutes that did exist kept in touch with each other and useful exchanges of ideas took place whenever possible. In 1951, on initiative of the English and Swedish graphic arts research institutes, the first international conference was held in England with PATRA (as Pira International was then known) acting as host and organizing institute. At this 1951 conference six countries were represented, namely: Denmark, France, Holland, Germany, Sweden and Great Britain.
The conference proved very fruitful not only in the formal exchange of information, but also in bringing together the scientists and technologists from the various countries and enabling them to discuss their problems and findings. The first conference set the pattern for those which followed and they have since been held at intervals of two years. Friendship and contacts between the staff of various institutes have developed to an extent that would scarcely have been possible in any other way.
In the early sixties, the number of printing research institutes throughout the world increased steadily and several industrial or state-sponsored institutes working on related subjects had come into being. More and more of these organizations wanted to be represented. It was felt that a co-ordinating body would strengthen contacts and enable more ambitious activities to be realized. Therefore, formal establishing of IARIGAI in 1965 was a logical outcome of a growing scientific and technical collaboration between graphics arts research institutes throughout the world.
Consequently, a founder committee was established which set about drawing up a constitution on which could be based an International Association of Research Institutes for the Graphic Arts Industry. It was agreed that the objects of the association should be to cultivate and promote international co-operation between the various research associations and institutes engaged in research work on the science and technology of printing.
The first full meeting of IARIGAI took place during the eighth international research conference held in Finland in June, 1965 under the joint auspices of Graafinen Tutkimuslaitos (Graphic Arts Research Institute of Finland) and Oy Keskuslaboratorio Centrallaboratorium (The Finnish Pulp and Paper Research Institute). The formation of IARIGAI was warmly supported and all institutes eligible were invited to join.
IARIGAI exists for the exchange of knowledge for the benefit of the industry as a whole; its research conference is consequently important. The proceedings are published for general sale and represent a valuable contribution to the science and technology of the graphic arts and, therefore, to the profitability of the industry.
Since 1974, at intervals of two years, IARIGAI has interspersed the biennial research conference with so-called management conferences. Whereas the research conferences are intended to provide a forum for researchers to present their work to fellow researchers, the management conferences enable senior management to discuss their problems and policies.
Besides regular research conferences and management meetings, the Association also organizes symposia on different topics and supports or encourages simmilar events organized by its members.
As all the IARIGAI research institutes provide information services, their documentation staff collaborate closely and met as a group annually. Some of IARIGAIs member institutes have made available online bibliographic databases covering scientific, technical and marketing information for the printing industry. This exemplifies the way in which IARIGAI member institutes are providing an interface between the industry and the many sources of information throughout the world.
The research conferences - which used to be open only to member organizations, are now fully open to the industry, academic organizations and non-members as well. This is an important step to achieve a greater interchange between research and industry, and to create a network among people who are involved or interested in graphic arts research.
The Members in the General Meeting 1997 approved also a one year interval for the IARIGAI International Research Conferences. In 2000 IARIGAI changed its full name into the International Association of Research Organizations for the Printing, Information and Communication Industries, maintaining, however, previous acronym, under which it is recognized in the international research community.
The Association feels that the close relationship it has established between member organizations and their staffs has helped to maximize the benefits that each institute can render to the graphic arts and media industry.