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February 2019 Printing Shipments: Starting the Year Off on the Right Foot

Printing shipments for February 2019 came in at $6.08 billion. In keeping with the industry’s seasonality, it’s down from January, but so far 2019 shipments are higher than 2018’s.


Around the Web: Mixed Reality Retailers. Heavy Metal Knitting. Recycled Sneakers. 3D Heart. Lego Printing Press. Changing Music Formats. A Netflix Magazine. Mad Libs Sci-Fi Plot Generator.

The first Heavy Metal Knitting World Championships. Running shoes that can be recycled. A 3D-printed human heart. Danger! Facebook is launching a voice assistant! Run! Cursive handwriting is coming back. Netflix is producing a magazine. “Balloon-related incidents.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Control Waste to Improve Your Bottom Line

Although today’s printers understand that they must automate their print operations, a bias seems to exist between the potential benefits of investing in equipment vs. software. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to highlight the importance of controlling waste. By implementing processes, procedures, and software, printers can accurately measure waste and improve their quality control.


The Proven Path to High Profits: Sell as Much as You Can Produce for as Much as the Customers Will Pay (Premium Content)

The key to effective pricing (aka profitability) is not just understanding costs, but understanding the market for print and what customers are willing to pay. Tailoring estimating and quoting to individual customers, or groups of customers, can help maximize the contribution from current customers, and potentially win customers who may have been hesitant to do business with you.


Pattern Recognition as a Path to Print Business Efficiency (Premium Content)

Your print business is rich with patterns. By looking at patterns we can find ways to codify those patterns into processes that make us more efficient. You need real human processing for your business—free this up by taking the recurring stuff off their plates.


Four Millennials and One Gen Z Dish on QR Codes

I got four Millennials and one Gen Z in a room and peppered them with questions about QR Codes. Did they use them? Why or why not? If they didn’t, what was holding them back? What I discovered is that, in the mind of these generations, if it ain’t broke, why fix it?


When Mayhem Calls—Part 4 (Premium Content)

Planning for a catastrophe is something that every business owner knows they should do. At some point there is usually some effort applied, a plan developed, filed away, and the box checked that there is a business continuity/disaster recovery plan on file. It makes the auditors happy! But, when mayhem actually calls, will your plan actuallywork? In part four of this series, Pat McGrew offers tips on how to design and execute a continuity plan.


Exclusive Interview: EFI CEO Bill Muir and CFO Marc Olin Discuss Recently Announced Acquisition by Siris Capital Group (Premium Content)

A press release from EFI Monday morning caught the industry by surprise. The company announced a definitive agreement to be acquired by an affiliate of Siris Capital Group LLC. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with CEO Bill Muir and CFO Marc Olin to get some background on the announcement.


SPESA President Explains Association’s Value to the Sewn Products Industry (Premium Content)

Are you a supplier to the sewn products industry? If so, are you a member of SPESA? And if you are not, this article from Senior Editor Cary Sherburne lays out why you should be. SPESA’s President Michael McDonald shares his thoughts on the association’s role in promoting and supporting the sewn products industry from the supplier’s perspective.


Outdoor Advertising Establishments—2010–2016

In 2016, there were 2,556 establishments classified as Outdoor Advertising (NAICS 54185). In 2010, NAICS 54185 comprised 2,378 establishments—but note that the Census Bureau changed the name of this category in 2012.


Around the Web: Behind the Seams. Threading the Needle. Imaging the Unimagable. A Good Week for Type. Wikienigma. I, Author. Scamming the Scammer.

The current state of the US textile industry. Ironic commemorative stamps. Making a giant paper dragon. Photographing a black hole. A font of typography news. An encyclopedia of unknowns. Robot-penned books. A screenwriter toys with a Facebook Messenger scammer. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Xeikon in Packaging: Ramping Up, Branching Out

The 2019 Xeikon Café event, which took place in late March, attracted 1,000+ visitors from about 250 companies. This article provides a brief overview of Xeikon’s recent progress while also discussing the effects of its annual event.


Production Inkjet: It’s Not Just About the Technology Anymore (Premium Content)

Canon Solutions America President Peter Kowalczuk and Production Print Solutions Executive Vice President Francis McMahon talk to WhatTheyThink/Printing News about the company’s new emphasis on the services part of the organization and how today’s production inkjet vendors are tasked with not just offering top-of-the-line technology, but playing a more consultative role in helping customers with business development.


It’s Not Just Birds That Migrate—Printers Do, Too

According to a new survey, printers are doing more than adding new products and services. They are migrating into fundamentally new lines of business...and doing it in large numbers.


Workflow Automation and Standard Operating Procedures (Premium Content)

Automation starts with an understanding of the business process and how it’s done “manually.” Documenting this business process is called a “standard operating procedure” which is where you can begin your journey to some level of automation.


Annual Print Franchise Review (Premium Content)

In WhatTheyThink/Printing News’ Annual Franchise Review, Cary Sherburne takes a look at how the five major print franchises fared in the past year—and looks back at the last decade to see how franchises were tracking compared to commercial print and draws some conclusions about the value of franchise networks vs. an independent small commercial printing firm operating on its own.


Embellishments: What’s Old Is New Again and Still Adds Value!—Part 1 (Premium Content)

Embellishment has been a function of print production for as long as there has been printing. In fact, it almost goes back to the beginning of the writing of documents. There is no doubt that embellishment does add value to the printed product. Especially with the more recent introduction of digital embellishment technologies, designed to complement digital printing technologies. New developments in digital embellishment are happening all the time now that it has finally begun to capture market awareness. In part one of this two-part feature, David Zwang will look at the added value and long history of embellishments.


So Many Uses for Cotton! Who Knew? (Premium Content)

At TechTextil North America, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne stopped by the Cotton, Inc., booth to learn what’s new with this staple fiber (pardon the pun) and was amazed at all the uses cotton is being put to these days. It’s not just for T-shirts anymore!


CJK Group Opens Next Chapter with Loan-to-Own Strategy—March 2019 M&A Activity

Thomson-Shore under the Gavel, Salem One and Envision3 Acquire Mailing Services, and more…


Windigo Signs Takes Soft Signage to the Next Level (Premium Content)

Printed textiles are rapidly replacing vinyl and rigid materials for signage, and Tempe, Ariz.’s Next Level Signs has leapt into so-called “soft signage.” Founder Mark Baldwin has launched a sister company Windigo Signs to offer a robust, custom-made, and weather-resistant alternative for outdoor soft signage mounting.


Business Conditions: Up in 2018, Optimism High for 2019

In Winter 2018/2019, we conducted our annual Print Business Outlook Survey and found that business in 2018 was perceived by survey respondents as overall pretty good: 42% said that revenues had increased by six percent or more compared to 2017.


Around the Web: iPhone Airbags (no, not the users). April Fool’s Folly. In Praise of Jet Lag. 3D Color Matching. Screen Sharing Horror Stories. No eBooks for You. One Ruler to Rule Them All.

April Fool’s Day: some cautionary tales. Pantone’s color matching for 3D printing. Be careful when you share your screen. Repossessing eBooks. Gin and tonic toothpaste. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


On the Edge: DSCOOP Moves

DSCOOP is a mature show, so its organizers are continually seeking ways to innovate, educate, and inspire. This article provides some key highlights from this year’s event and the DSCOOP Edge agenda.


Secure Printing Is an Industry-Wide Challenge (Premium Content)

Security printing is no longer about just about foiling counterfeiters. From packaging to book printers to retail to businesses that serve the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry, along with financial printers, protection of files and products must be considered. There is a need for a broader definition of what security printing means and for a greater number of print providers to think of themselves as “security printers.” Maybe instead it should be called “secure printing.”


“Alexa, Tell Me About Voice Technology”: A Conversation with Bradley Metrock of Score Publishing (Premium Content)

Voice technology is appearing in more and more places—and is starting to become relevant to printing and publishing. WhatTheyThink talks to Bradley Metrock, CEO of Score Publishing, producer of the VoiceFirst Events portfolio which includes The Alexa Conference, the Voice of the Car Summit, and Digital Book World, about the current and future state of voice technology.


ISA Sign Expo Heads Back to Vegas (Premium Content)

ISA Sign Expo 2019 heads to Las Vegas later this month, with four days of educational sessions and its continuously expanding exhibition floor. We spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, about what’s new this year.


Sustainability Initiatives to Impact Growing Functional and Barrier Coatings Market, According to Smithers Pira

Functional and barrier coatings are extremely important in the production of paper and board packaging as they provide a protective barrier against water and water vapor, oil and grease, and oxygen and aromas. The barrier coatings industry faces ongoing change in preferred material usage as governments and brands increasingly look for alternatives to plastic packaging for sustainability and recycling purposes. A new report from Smithers Pira details these new sustainability initiatives.


When Mayhem Calls: Part Three (Premium Content)

Business as usual is great...when business is usual. But what happens when disaster or some other disruption hits the shop? It can be a business killer if it prevents execution of contracted customer work. Do you have an emergency plan? In Part Three of this series, Pat McGrew offers tips on setting up contingency plans for when mayhem calls.


Early Express Rocks with Direct Mail Retargeting

Direct mail retargeting used to be a new and untested technique. Today, an increasing number of PSPs are offering it, and the results are pouring in. Here are two terrific examples from Early Express.


Unique.Fashion Provides Tools, Community for Designers (Premium Content)

The Fashion Institute of Technology and OnPoint Manufacturing yesterday announced a new development in fashion design that will enable more entrepreneurism to occur in this market. Unique.Fashion is a unique web portal for designers and buyers that is set to transform how fashion is marketed and produced. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with OnPoint Chairman Kirby Best to learn more.


PR Establishments—2010–2016

In 2010, there were 8,219 establishments classified as PR Agencies. By 2016, there had been a net gain of +3.2%.


Around the Web: Inside the NYT Printing Plant. Semantic Satiation. NYC’s LED Barge. The Infinite CVS Receipt. Rebuild Your Business. Are App Users Happy? “Harvesting Garfields.”

“The craft, precision, and unexpected beauty of the newspaper printing process.” Rebirth of a paper mill. Keyless in New York. The 14th-Century Mappa Mundi. “Alien”: The Play. Garfield phones storm the beaches. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Is Your Print Production Lifted by a Platform?

The first platforms appeared over four years ago and have steadily increased their performance, functionality, and partnerships over time. This article explores the characteristics of true print workflow platforms and discusses how platforms can benefit print production.


Buying Web-to-Print Software Under Duress (Premium Content)

Your customers want convenience. Printers who prioritize around making it easy to do business with their customers will differentiate themselves. Don’t wait until your best customers demand online ordering and self-service access to the business they do with you—do it proactively and strategically instead of under duress.


Do You Practice This Art of Top Print Executives?

There is a trait that top executives of growing print companies share. It’s the art of being still and listening. Here are three examples of how top print executives do this in their own way...and why.


There Are Opportunities in Labels and Packaging—But Where Do You Start? (Premium Content)

Whether you are already a converter or are a print service provider looking at expanding your product and services portfolio, it is important to develop a long-term strategy in order to capture your share of the changing and developing market. In this new series, David Zwang takes a deep dive into the opportunities, changes, and challenges that you need to focus on in Labels and Packaging.


Graphene in Action: The Kyorene Story (Premium Content)

We recently wrote about graphene as a miracle product. At TechTextil 2019, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne was able to see graphene in action, courtesy of Kyorene. In this story, she speaks with Matt Reid, the company’s director of sales, about current and future strategies of the business, and how he expects to see graphene impact the textiles market.


Printing Industry Profits: Urban Sprawl in the Tale of Two Cities

Overall, annualized printing industry profits for Q4 2018 were $3.66 billion—not a massive gain from Q3 but a gain nonetheless (we’ll take it). It also appears that the “tale of two cities” trend is—at least temporarily—on hold.


Around the Web: State Books. Speaking of Food. New Words in the OED. Gen Z and Sustainable Streetwear. “The Scream” Reconsidered. Lost in MySpace. In Praise of Newsletters.

Which book was the most popular in your state in 2018? Did early humans' dietary changes affect speech? What new words did the OED add to the English lexicon? How are Gen Zers’ sustainable buying preferences driving new apparel products? Is Munch’s “Scream” guy actually screaming? People still use MySpace? Have you heard Vienna’s Vegetable Orchestra? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


The Print Management Market: Where Is it Growing and How Big Can it Get?

Through consolidated purchasing, print management providers offer cost savings and upgraded efficiencies that in-plants struggle to match, as well as a wider array of products, applications, and expertise than a single print manufacturer can manage. This article provides an overview of the print management market and discusses key opportunities for growth.


Why Do You Need a Print MIS Administrator? (Premium Content)

Software is like a press; it needs to be staffed. Software is like a press; it needs to be maintained. Software is like your business; it needs to keep evolving. Your most important piece of software is your Print MIS—dedicate the tasks of your Print MIS to one individual.


Forget Passalongs—What If Print Is “Shared” Instead?

Traditionally, when people share a printed piece they have received with others, we use the term “pass-along.” But what if we want to think about print in a more current context? What if we started using the term “shared” instead?” In other words, what if we started thinking about print the same way we think about digital channels?


A Legal Alien in New York (Premium Content)

Our European correspondent reports from the US, and reminds us that small cultural differences can affect how we communicate with each other.


Is Personalization Important to Labels and Packaging? (Premium Content)

We have all seen the studies and even experienced first-hand the value of personalization in direct mail and other forms of communication. But what about the value of personalization in products and packaging? There are a lot of projections into what the market value “could” be, but how do you take advantage of that?


Retail Expert Shares Thoughts on Digital Transformation (Premium Content)

While the retail and apparel industries are moving to more digital technologies and processes, many observers still believe we are in the infancy of the analog-to-digital transformation the industry will ultimately need to undergo. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke to a digital advocate to gain insight into the industry’s progress. Kelly Price, Director of Business Development for consulting firm ArcherGrey, made some interesting observations.


Around the Web: Tome Readers. Apple iArmor? Laptop Typewriter. Tiny Tomes. Sappy Sentiment. Me+Moo.

Print books remain more popular than digital formats. Save the date: WTIN’s digital textile webinar. The first laptop typewriter. Why did people stop wearing hats? An exhibition of really tiny books. Unlucky in love? Try writing to a tree. (No, not D. Eadward Tree.) All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Advertising Agency Establishments—2010–2016

In 2010, there were 13,248 establishments classified as Advertising Agencies. By 2016, there had been a net gain of +1.0%, the ups and downs reflecting the changing role of the ad agency.


What Hololens 2 Means for PSPs

Last month, Microsoft announced the introduction of its Hololens 2 mixed reality headset. This article explores what the upcoming product could mean to the print market, while grounding print service providers’ expectations.


Give Your Employees Better Tools (Premium Content)

New software tools are often rejected because the humans feel like their jobs are being replaced by computers. Software does math better, faster, and more accurately than humans—that is not debatable. But new tools augment brainpower—not replace it.


Do You Know the Psychology of Discounts and Deals?

Part of being a marketing services provider is helping your clients with their marketing, and this goes beyond integrating marketing channels and improving databases. It includes selecting and tweaking the right offers, too. Studies on this topic provide fascinating insight into the psychology of discounts and deals.  


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