WhatTheyThink

Commentary & Analysis

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Book Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

In 2010, there were 2,973 US book publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 2,440. Book publishers are especially well-represented in Non-Employer Statistics.

Around the Web: Fussy Font. Rotten Restoration. Cheering Chandler. Cool Covers. Fragile Facemask. Telephoning Tenors. Violin Vegetation. Loopy Lexicon. Segway Sayonara.

Goldman Sachs designs its own typeface—with some important caveats. Art restoration is best done by a professional. Raymond Chandler: king of the opening paragraph. How does a book cover become iconic? French researchers develop a transparent glass facemask. “Opera by phone.” A string quartet performs for an audience of plants. AI-generated fake English words. The Segway is being discontinued; the word “segue” is now safe. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.

Miyakoshi Flexes its Packaging Muscles with New Inkjet Press

Last week, Miyakoshi Printing Machinery launched the MJP30AXF web-fed digital inkjet press, focused on the short-run, flexible packaging market. The company is positioning the MJP30AXF for success in the fast-growing flexible food and beverage segment by using water-based, pigment inks that the company says are safe for food packaging. Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding takes a look at the MJP30AXF.

World Environment Day—Precious Resources and Textile Manufacturing

Earlier this month was World Environment Day, founded by the United Nations in 1974. It’s a good time to step back and re-examine how the textile industry, the world’s second largest polluter, can make changes to become more sustainable. Textiles expert Debbie McKeegan notes that sustainability can’t be a luxury item; it has to be an essential element.

Mass Optimization: How Small Changes Can Save Big Money

Customers’ needs are evolving, and many might request office and marketing collateral as well as posters and signage in the same order from their preferred print service provider. Each application will have a unique set of requirements, workflow tasks, and output technologies. This article explores how mass optimization can improve automation and boost workflow efficiency.

Funny Marketing Fails NOT to Try Yourself

It’s been a long, difficult road recently. Time for some levity...and some actionable marketing lessons thrown in as a bonus. Here are some marketing fails you don’t want to try yourself.

2020 Top 100 Small Commercial Printers

Each year, Printing News invites small commercial print business owners to participate in our Top 100 Shops Survey. This article presents the results of that survey, this year’s Top 100 small commercial printers, and profiles of the Top 6.

Projects: Getting Stuff Done in Your Print Business

Every business has projects. Every business treats them differently. The range is enormous; from no project methodology to bureaucratic craziness. Print businesses of all sizes would benefit from a simple project methodology because it can quickly eliminate the most common reasons why things just don’t get done.

Hybrid Software Brings Packaging Workflows to a New Level of Automation

Packaging has been going through a digital renaissance of late, and as the printing and converting hardware has been evolving, the workflow software to maximize the utilization of that hardware has been evolving as well. Based on these latest updates and solutions, it is apparent that Hybrid is looking at the requirements of Industry 4.0 and the interconnected business and manufacturing landscape.

The SGIA/PIA Merger Explained

On May 1, 2020, the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) and the Printing Industries of America (PIA) merged to become PRINTING United Alliance (PUA). Ford Bowers, President and CEO of the combined organization, reveals many of the details of the merger and what it means for members.  

Spreading Smiles...Not Cooties: Personalized Masks Bring a Little Humor During Difficult Times

Inkjet Insight co-founder Mary Schilling describes how she used her digital printing skills to start a cottage industry making masks...with a little help from her friends.

Will On-Demand Manufacturing Be the New Normal Post-Pandemic for Textiles and Apparel?

How much of the post-pandemic “new normal” will involve on-demand manufacturing for textile-based products? Already we are hearing from on-demand manufacturers that their businesses are seeing increased demand, both due to the pandemic-related supply chain disruption and a general move in the industry to more efficiency, less waste, and more sustainability. In this story, we provide examples of how an on-demand manufacturer is helping both startups and brands achieve these goals.

TempDefend—Dynamic Digital Signage with Thermal Detection Enables “Protection as a Service”

Last week, 22Miles—a developer of digital signage and wayfinding systems—launched TempDefend, a highly customizable “protection as a service” solution that integrates dynamic digital signage with thermal cameras to scan visitors to a business or other establishment, generating an alert if the visitor’s temperature exceeds 99.5°.

A Tale of Two Cities: The Pandemic Years

Annualized profits for Q1 2020 took a nosedive from $990 million to -$4 billion. Sure, the pandemic hit in the last three weeks of the quarter, but this is an old story that predates COVID.

Around the Web: Cap Catastrophe. Friendly Fencing. Filmy Facemasks. Missing Money. Palatable Paper. Defiant Devices. Terrifying Tweeting.

Pepsi’s Philippines marketing plan goes horribly awry. Social distancing fences bring neighbors closer together. Swiss researchers are developing transparent facemasks. Coronavirus consequence: a coin shortage. A Japanese printing company develops edible pads of paper. One man’s battle with an obstinate refrigerator. Why is Cooper Black such a ubiquitous typeface? Twitter is launching audio tweeting, which can only have positive effects. Basecamp launches a new email platform, for some reason. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Phase 3 reopening miscellany.

A Printing Fan’s Bucket List

Some people just love print, and you can count me among them. It should therefore come as no surprise that my bucket list—the things I hope to do before I die—involves visits to a handful of printing museums and other institutions that are sprinkled across the United States and Canada. This article provides a brief overview of my experiences with these locations so far.

Emerging Textile Trends and What to Expect from the New Normal Post-COVID-19

What can we expect in the textiles and apparel industry post-COVID-19 and what might the new normal look like? Will there be more room for micro-brands? Will consumers shift focus to more sustainable solutions? Textile expert Debbie McKeegan addresses these and other questions.

Survey: Highlights on the State of Digital Packaging

Highlights from “Digital Packaging: The Time Is Now!” (Napco Research) with a focus on changes in attitudes toward digital packaging and how technology is no longer the limiting factor in adoption.

The Print Software Evaluation Process

Evaluating print software is a process that desperately needs to evolve. Step back and look at the business objectives of the evaluation as a starting point to reinventing your approach to purchasing software.

APTech Adapts to Uncertain Times

Thayer Long discusses how APTech has used its lockdown period developing new programs and content to help OEMs and PSPs get closer to their customers.

Kodak Rebuilds and Innovates with New Digital and Offset Products to Support Future Growth

Kodak has been rebuilding, innovating, and is ready reclaim their leadership position. Refocused direction and new products that will support their customers’ needs will get them there.

What Is the Role of the RIP in Process Automation and Supply Chain Efficiencies?

The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the fragility of the global supply chain for textiles and apparel. This is driving brands and retailers to give more thoughtful consideration to how they can streamline that supply chain, bringing production closer to the point of use and eliminating at least some of the inventory risk inherent in the current process. In this article, we explore the role of the digital front end (DFE or RIP) for digital textile printers in making this a viable alternative to the current offshore bulk manufacturing of printed textiles and apparel.

The Sign Connection: Tips for Sign and Graphics Companies During COVID-19

Image360’s Burke Cueny discusses some of the ways that Image360 centers have helped their sign and display graphics customers during the pandemic, and offers tips and strategies as we move forward.  

Around the Web: COVID Cobbler. Clawed Clothing. Yarn Yeomen. Chiropteran Cacophony. Antiviral Vehicles. Bottle Blunder. Venerating Velázquez. Blacklight Book.

Shoes designed for social distancing. A Japanese zoo raises money selling lion-mauled jeans. An online yarn store helps its customers and suppliers get through the crisis. An album based on bat songs. What impact will COVID have on car design? A gin distillery also manufacturing hand sanitizer gets its bottles mixed up. Reenactors bring a Velázquez painting to life. An upcoming cmic book will be printed using fluorescent blacklight inks.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.

Periodical Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

In 2010, there were 7,221 US periodical publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 5,279. Magazines have been struggling in the Internet age, with closures and consolidations, but also have been seeing a shift in what constitutes “periodical publishing.” Also: we’re officially in a recession (surprise).

The Case for Advanced Inks and Dryers in Production Inkjet Printing

System vendors and paper mills are working diligently to create effective strategies for inkjet printing jobs that require glossy finishes and high coverage levels. These solutions can be separated into inkjet-treated papers and advanced inks and drying systems. Last week’s article discussed the pros and cons of inkjet-treated papers. This piece, the second in our two-part series, addresses advanced inks and drying systems.

Investing in Human Capital

Many of you are worried if you’ve got enough cash and other forms of financial capital to get to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis. This is a short-term issue and, if you survive, maybe you’ll have more cash on hand next time we see a downturn. But what if the market and your business changes so much you have people who are no longer relevant? Wayne Lynn explores some thoughts that can help you plan for and be prepared for this issue.

Five Sustainable Furnishing Fabrics and Where to Buy Them—Choose Eco-Friendly Textiles

There is growing demand for customized home décor as well as sustainable fabric solutions. Textile expert Debbie McKeegan explores five sustainable furnishing fabrics and why it is important to choose eco-friendly textiles.

Becoming A Trusted Advisor: How Service Providers Can Leverage The CXM Revolution to Secure Long-Term Profitability

The Customer Communications Management (CCM) market is undergoing radical changes on an evolutionary scale. Late last year, Aspire CCS surveyed businesses across the globe, interviewed stakeholders in every facet of the market, and published an extensive report entitled, “The State of CCM-to-CXM Transformation.” This second of a four part seriesfocuses on customer communications service providers’ place in the emerging ecosystem by examining the five steps to CXM maturity and explaining how providers can upgrade their technology and strategy to move up the scale, ensuring their long-term viability.

Want Job Opportunities? Create Them!

Part two of Heidi Tolliver-Walker’s interview with Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a job placement service for the printing industry, about opportunities in a post-COVID-19 environment. Kahn describes opportunities for the right candidates to make lateral moves into new areas, such as changing market verticals or applying skill sets to new printing sectors.

COVID-19's Impact on the Print Sales Process

So many trends are being amplified or accelerated by COVID-19; the evolution of the sales process is one of them. Your customers are being asked again to do more with fewer people and less time. They need vendors/partners that can help alleviate the pressure.

What’s the Big Deal About A Sales Process?

Most sellers don’t want to think about their sales process, they just want to sell. But there are many benefits to having a clearly defined ands adhered to sales process. Lisa Magnuson outlines several steps to follow to increase sales.

Fine Dining: How Print Businesses Can Help Restaurants Reopen

As businesses start to reopen, they will have post-COVID print needs beyond safety and distancing signage. To follow up last week’s look at the current signage environment, Richard Romano identifies some of the unique print needs reopening restaurants are likely to have to complement their signage.

Spoonflower Community Responds to COVID-19 Pandemic

With more than 1.8 million design options in its library, and with the availability of easy-to-use mask kits, Spoonflower and its designer community have responded in force to the need for masks, making more than 150,000 non-medical-grade fabric masks. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Michael Jones, Spoonflower’s new CEO, and Kerry King, Senior Vice President of R&D, to learn more about this outstanding response and to get an update on what’s new at Spoonflower.

Regional Print Consolidator Builds Diverse Offerings—May 2020 M&A Activity

Graphic Village acquires DMS ink, Brook & Whittle adds Croydon, and more…

Cutting Safety in the Printing Industry

At any stage in the printing process, a worker may use a cutting tool, which implies a level of risk. As a result, cutting safety is essential, whether in large-scale printing outfits like book printing, or smaller operations like retail screen printing. This feature, sponsored by Slice, offers tips for ensuring the safe use of cutting equipment.  

Around the Web: Wonderful Wodehouse. Addled Addressing. Simplified Cellphone. Correcting Collaboration. Distance Dousing. Coloring Kerrang. Goofy Graduation. Awkward Academia.

A tribute to P.G. Wodehouse. A simpler, more surreal approach to specifying physical addresses. Replacing the cellphone touchscreen with a dial. How AI can foster workplace collaboration. A water gun designed specifically for the clergy. Metal magazine Kerrang! turns their covers into coloring pages. NYU’s ill-fated “virtual reality” graduation. What will post-pandemic academia look like? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.

Graphic Arts Employment—April 2020

Here we go: in April 2020, the overall printing employment was down -19.2% from March and down -21.4% from April 2019. We’ve been expecting this.

What’s The Real Impact of COVID-19 On the 2020 University Graduates?

The British Fashion Council and the CFDA both call for the industry to slow down, adopt sustainable practice and reject over consumption. It’s a big ask, and many in the industry want this change, the reality may be that “fast fashion” has created a consumer neurosis within retail and that will take some undoing. Read the full article

The Case for Treated Papers in Production Inkjet Printing

System vendors and paper mills are working diligently to create effective strategies for inkjet printing jobs that require glossy finishes and high coverage levels. These solutions can be separated into inkjet-treated papers and advanced inks and drying systems. This article, the first in a two-part series, will discuss the pros and cons of inkjet-treated papers. Next week’s piece will address advanced inks and drying systems.

Question: Is Daylight Really D50? Answer: Yes!

Ryerson University’s Dr. Abhay Sharma provides a detailed look at color temperature, and why it is important for color management. He also uses his downtime to empirically determine that “daylight” is a very good match to the D50 standard.

The Print Industry After COVID-19

COVID-19 economic symptoms include the weakening of the “we’ve always done it this way defense”—which will have some positive impacts on outdated printer workflows and some negative impacts when customers evaluate print spend under new market conditions.

Got Emotional Connection? Then You’ve Got Profits

What is the secret to keeping customers from switching to a competitor with lower prices, faster curbside pickup, or a coupon that drops at just the right time? Motista, a provider of predictive intelligence, thinks it has the answer. Customer affinity. A look at the conclusions and data from its two-year study.  

Postprint Corrugated: Xeikon IDERA Coming Out Strong

There are currently many postprint corrugated solutions out there, yet most have not gained significant traction in the market. Xeikon, their credibility, and the market understanding of Flint, puts them in a great position to enter and even grow the market.

What Happens When You Ask a Man’s Opinion in Sephora?

Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgett asks a male Sephora employee to give her a guided tour of perfume displays whose packaging he especially likes. His choices were eye-opening, and gave Burgett a new perspective on how men may perceive their choices as they pick out gifts for their wives, girlfriends, or partners.

Why Implement a Hybrid Flexo/Digital Printing Solution? G2 ID Solutions Has the Answer

Colordyne 3600 Series AQ – Retrofit Printer Powered by Memjet offers increased flexibility and 3X increase in job throughput for Florida-based label and packaging printer G2 ID Source.

The Coming Signs of Summer: The Need for Post-COVID Signage

Sign shops were essential businesses when the crisis first hit and they will continue to be essential businesses as the country starts to reopen. Post-COVID signage will be important in both the short term and the long term, and there is no reason why it can’t be creatively designed, professionally printed, and seamlessly integrated into a business’s pre-existing signage and branding. Let’s have a look at what some local businesses have been doing signage-wise.

Tailored Industry Converts 90% of Knitting Capacity to Unique Knitted Masks

Since it appears that masks will be part of our wardrobe for the foreseeable future, we continue to look for unique yet functional mask solutions and the companies that are converting their manufacturing operations to help address this critical need. We wrote about Tailored Industry last year, and recently heard they were knitting masks, so we checked in to get more detail.

A Tale of Two Shows: drupa and ISA 2020 Event Plans Disrupted Over COVID-19

Two of the most anticipated industry events—Messe Dusseldorf’s drupa 2020 and ISA’s Sign Expo 2020—were postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. We spoke with the organizers of these events about their rationale for the new dates, the expected impact on the events themselves, and the impact of the pandemic on the printing industry.

Around the Web: Social Sombreros. Fantasy Phone. Elevator Innovator. Germicidal Jetting. Outside Ollies. Rowling Reading. Perishing Painting. Tortured Typing. Loving Letters.

Behind the iconic NYT Memorial Day front page. Restaurants come up with unique (or silly) ways to enforce social distancing. The Zoom Last Supper. A prototype video chat device—from 1918. A Bangkok shopping mall replaces elevator buttons with foot pedals. Shoot sanitizer from your wrist. Two teens turn their quarantine house into a skatepark. J.K. Rowling serializes free children’s book online. Munch’s “The Scream” is fading. A “web typewriter” doesn’t allow deleting. In Ireland, a letter-writing renaissance. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Newspaper Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

In 2010, there were 7,794 US newspaper publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 7,222. The newspaper industry’s woes have been well-documented, but the trouble started well before the Internet era. Also: Q1 GDP revised down.

COVID-19: Putting Sustainability in the Spotlight

Sustainability and the promotion of eco-friendly practices have been a priority within the printing industry for years. This article explores the environment’s ever-increasing influence on the printing market and discusses how COVID-19 will likely heighten buyers’ demands for more sustainable business practices.

Cutting Remarks: Finishing Systems Offer New Tools, Greater Productivity, and More Application Options

A rundown of some of the new tools and features that have come to cutting tables for wide-format finishing. Laser finishing systems also offer unique options for cutting and etching.

Industry Expert Q&A with Thimo Schwenzfeier, Show Director of Neonyt, on the Future of Fashion and Sustainability

Debbie McKeegan has a conversation with Thimo Schwenzfeier, the Show Director of Neonyt and Director of Marketing Communications for Messe Frankfurt, about sustainability in the fashion industry, and how demand for sustainable fashion will only accelerate post-COVID.

QR Codes: Sorry, Folks...They’re Back

Anecdotal evidence suggests that QR codes may be on their way back. In a recent post, I gave two examples of where QR codes should have been and weren’t, and now I’m going to give two examples of where QR codes weren’t, but now they are and why.

The Opportunity of a Crisis (like COVID-19)

There will be a new, new normal after the height of COVID-19 passes. It will be even more reliant on software technologies to connect your employees, your customers, and your suppliers. The time to evolve to this new reality (often referred to as digital transformation) is now—crisis evolution cuts through a lot of the resistance.

Heidelberg’s Digital Strategy After Discontinuing Primefire

WhatTheyThink European Section Editor Ralf Schlözer talks to Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer about the company’s decision to discontinue the Primefire inkjet folding carton press, as well as the company’s overall strategy.

Inkjet Makes a Grand Entry: axpanel Revolutionizes Garage Doors

Axpanel, a custom developer of inkjet printing and industrial automation for XY, rotary, and single-pass solutions, offers solutions for customized inkjet printing on sectional garage door panels.

Sustainably Putting the Wrap on Shrink Sleeves and Labels?

Can a new, more sustainable technology compete in the third largest output value application in packaging? ACTEGA has developed an interesting solution and is poised to find out.

Mattoon High School Student Abigail Carter Wins PGSF Poster AND T-Shirt Design Contest

Each year the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (www.pgsf.org) conducts poster and T-shirt design contests, accepting submissions from students around the country that are pursuing a career in graphic communications or a related field at a U.S. technical school or college. In 2020, Abigail Carter, a high school junior at Mattoon High School in Mattoon, Ill., won in both categories.

Around the Web: Problematic Pangrams. Sans Subtitles. Fusion Facemasks. Mindful Mugs. Daffy Distancing. Globe Grief. Stonehenge Solstice Streaming. Fruity Felons.

Quick brown foxes and lazy dogs aren’t necessarily best for font proofing. Disney+ lets you change the typeface used for captioning. Devo is selling “Energy Dome” face shields. Bad design concepts for social distancing in restaurants. How will COVID-19 change fashion? Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is in financial trouble. The traditional Stonehenge solstice sunrise gathering will now be livestreamed. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany. Robbers wearing watermelons rob a convenience store.

March Shipments—Crest of a Wave

As we kind of expected, at $6.96 billion, March shipments were up from February’s $6.48 billion, and well enough above March 2019’s $6.75 billion.

The New Superwide Roll-to-Roll Printing Standard Has Been Set

The Acuity Ultra is a major step up in output, in both quality and productivity. Larger businesses and major luxury brands will be impressed by the machine’s extra width up to 5 meters, the option to print multiple rolls simultaneously, and its ability to print outstanding quality with no compromise on speed.

COVID-19 Prompts Industry Vendors, Workplaces to Adjust Strategies

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past two months have been crazy for us all. Vendors in the office technology space as well as firms with office equipment have adjusted their businesses to handle the rapid changes that our industry has experienced on a global scale. In addition, Keypoint Intelligence has seen many office technology players embracing innovations and philanthropy to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. This article discusses just some of those efforts.

What’s in YOUR Workflow?—Part 2: Prepress and Getting on Press

Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew continues her “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.

Q&A: Designers of the Future Meet Laura Cloughton of Huddersfield University

Hear from a university student about why she chose a career path in interiors, what drove her university choice, and what some of her biggest challenges have been as she develops new designs and collections.

No Disk, All Drive: The Press Operator Controller for Harlequin Direct

At the end of April, Global Graphics Software announced its Direct product range, a new class of software that drives data directly to the printhead electronics without any intermediate disk access. There are three products in the range: ScreenPro Direct™, Harlequin Direct™ and Streamline Direct™. The significance of Harlequin Direct for a PDF workflow is that there is no longer a need to RIP ahead.

Survey: Problem-Solving Is Great, But Making Money Is Better

A look at the conclusions from “Market Trends 2020,” a new report from Chief Outsiders, a network of top CMOs. The bottom line: We have become accustomed to marketing being driven by buzzwords like “customer engagement” and “focus on the customer,” but those things now must be tied to real, measurable company growth.

WhatTheyThink Technology Outlook Week Q&A—Production Inkjet

We had a lively Q&A session during the Production Inkjet webinar, and ran out of time to address everyone’s questions. Below are answers to the questions we could not get to during the session itself.

The Real Work of Software Optimization

Learning is the real work of software optimization. Once you really learn the application you own it. Once you own it, then you have the chance of reaching its full potential inside your organization.

I Can’t Believe This Is Happening

HP's PrintOS is a cloud-based platform with browser-based and mobile apps that connect to and extend the functionality of HP production printers. There are multiple tools that provide robust analytics, mobile monitoring, access to PrintOS anytime and anywhere, and security.

Breaking the Electrophotographic Barriers—HP Indigo LEPx and V12

HP has spent the last four years developing ways to overcome the existing production barriers of their EP products and processes. They recently announced LEPx, a unique new imaging technology as an integral component of the V12, their future platform label press.

Come Sail Away: PhotoSails Takes Billboard Advertising Out to Sea

The thought of hopping on a sailboat and heading out to sea is an appealing one at the moment and thanks to a company called PhotoSails, sailing enthusiasts who buy their own boats can defray the cost of their investment.

Marketing in a COVID-19 World: Planning Short- and Long-Term Marketing Goals

Parts of the country are slowly stating to reopen, but rebounding from COVID-19 is not going to be an overnight achievement. WhatTheyThink contributor Joanne Gore walks though some short- and long-term marketing strategies for print businesses to help reach out to customers as they emerge from the crisis—which is still ongoing.

What’s in YOUR Workflow?—Part 1: File Onboarding and Print Prep

Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew provides a “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.

AFFOA Continues to Make Progress on Fiber Computing Technologies

It’s been almost two years since we wrote about the work that Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is doing to develop functional fiber computing solutions that will likely be the basis for moving us into Industry 5.0. Seems like we don’t even have Industry 4.0 under our belts, but technology does move fast these days! We spoke with the AFFOA team, including CEO Alexander (Sasha) Stolyarov, Chief Marketing Officer Eric Spackey, Senior Director of Business Development Natasha Spackey, and Chief Technology Officer Jason Cox, to get an update on what has transpired in the past two years.

4 Ways To Increase Profitability In 2020

Whether you’re looking to improve your press operations or your production capabilities, as converters, we need to constantly adapt to changing markets. And 2020 has been one of the biggest curveballs for every business. But one thing remains the same: we need to evolve to maintain relevance. So this year, make the most of what you have and consider what you can do to spend smart and build profits through efficiency. Here are the top 4 ways you can increase your business profitability in 2020.

HP PageWide Industrial Web Presses: The Most Productive, Versatile, and Upgradable Web Presses on the Market

The strength of HP’s print leadership is demonstrated in the HP PageWide Industrial Web Press portfolio; a proven press platform with over 10 years in worldwide production environments built on two billion dollars invested in inkjet technology research and development.

Around the Web: Slack Sitcom. High-Res Rembrandt. Grime Game. Scrabble Squawking. Sign Simulator. Classic Covers. Colorful Car. Doomsday Digs.

All 201 episodes of The Office have been recreated in Slack. “The Five Stages of Zoom.” The most detailed online photo of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. New videogame lets you power wash a house. Scrabble fans do not like the new Scrabble Go app. Generate random UK government COVID signage. Generate your own Penguin Classic book cover. A self-censoring typeface for sweary writers. The Plymouth “Paint Chip Barracuda.” The thriving doomsday bunker market. Happy birthday, Ottmar Mergenthaler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly sheltering in place miscellany.

Prepress and Postpress Services Establishments—2010–2017

In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2017, that number had dropped to 1,375. It’s not difficult to understand why the number of these establishments has been dropping: prepress is being absorbed into the printing process itself (especially in digital printing), and more print businesses are acquiring their own finishing capabilities.

CottonBee Customized Textiles Fly Across Europe—A New Business with Mimaki Technology

Digital printing technologies have enabled a wide range of entrepreneurs to get into the industry, something that was more difficult before. An example is Cotton Bee Fabrics in Poland, which has leveraged Mimaki printing technology to transform a side hustle into a viable business.

Calculating the Real ROI

Most businesses believe they are calculating the returns on their investments pretty well. They have ideas about the products they offer and how to charge based on their own calculations that can help them stay competitive and profitable. In many cases, however, they aren’t thinking of everything when determining these values. This article looks at some of the smaller aspects of the equation that can have a big impact on ROI for transactional, marketing, and commercial PSPs.

Being Viable in a VUCA World

Wayne Lynn takes a deep dive into getting a clear understanding of your company’s finances and cashflow, a vital consideration even more vital in these volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times.

If It’s About CX, Why Aren’t We Doing This?

If customer experience is king, then maybe we need to stop making fun of QR Codes and take them more seriously, especially with the growing reliance on cellphones for both in-home and out-of-home interaction and with so many situations in which AR and NFC just aren’t practical. Two lost opportunities for customer engagement tell the tale.

COVID-19 Should be Driving Your Digital Transformation

Crisis creates an environment for rapid innovation. The digital transformation of all business sectors was in progress before COVID-19, and the crisis will continue to separate the digital haves and have-nots.

Finding Hard Profit in Soft Signage

What was once a specialty niche for wide-format print service providers now is a “must-have technology” for producing more mainstream applications. WhatTheyThink contributor Mark Vruno looks at the current state of, and best practices for, soft signage.

The Secret Weapon to Print and Sign Franchise Success

There is safety in the stability of a franchise. WhatTheyThink contributor Joanne Gore looks at the advantages of the franchise model for print businesses.

7th drupa Global Trends Report 2020 Executive Summary

The top-level results from the 7th drupa Global Trends Report 2020 look at how print businesses fared globally in 201219, what their outlook for 2020 is (pre-COVID-19), and what market, technology, and socioeconomic trends are impacting them.

Mimaki Expands Product Portfolio with 3D Printer, OKI Partnership, Dual-Ink-Set Textile Printer

In light of event cancellations during the pandemic, many companies are turning to virtual events to get their news out. Mimaki held a virtual press event recently, packed with industry news and announcing a five-week Virtual Print Festival to keep the industry informed and ready to move forward. We tuned in to learn more.

Graphic Arts Employment—March 2020

Another of the Scenes from the Before Times: in March 2020, the overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from February (-0.7%) and on a year-over-year basis is down -3.1%. Obviously, this is the calm before the storm.

Around the Web: Horrible Hornets. Friendless Fish. Lovely Letters. Clothing Cuisine. Tenuous Time. Billboard Rebirth. Virtual Visiting.

Murder hornets and aggressive chickens. Boy, 2020 has it all! An aquarium wants people to FaceTime lonely eels. A long Twitter thread about an 11-year-old’s love of writing letters. You are what you eat, which is also what you wear. All about chintz. Microsoft Word finally stops the insanity of double wordspacing after a period. Why have we lost all sense of time? Are llamas our pandemic heroes? Take virtual tours of some of the world’s most beautiful libraries. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Alphabet Soup of Trade Association Mergers—April 2020 M&A Activity

Trade Association Mergers Reach an Apex, Commercial Printing Tuck-Ins, and more…

FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs Flies High with New Maggie McFly’s Location

FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs won the Grand Prize at the Wide Format & Signage/FASTSIGNS Awards, held during the annual FASTSIGNS International Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., back in January. The six-year-old franchise won for interior and exterior signage for Maggie McFly’s ninth location at Albany’s Crossgates Mall.

Changing Buyer Behaviors: Strategies for Sales Success (Part 2)

The sales process has changed dramatically over the years. This article is the second in a two-part series. The first article explored the complexity of today’s selling environment and drivers of purchasing decisions. This piece outlines the strategies for a new sales paradigm as we navigate these uncertain times.

Why Antimicrobial Fabric Treatments Will Be a Big Part of Our Textile Future—Latest Developments

In a changed world, will we see more functional fabrics that include such things as antiviral and antibacterial capabilities? Fashion and textile expert Debbie McKeegan thinks so. She discusses the future of smart textiles in the context of PPE, wearables, and protective clothing for fashion, sportswear, interiors, and hospitality.

5 Reasons the COVID-19 Lockdown Is a Great Time to Send Mail

I recently interviewed an executive at a large print shop, and in that conversation, we discussed the role of direct mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. With direct mail becoming increasingly sophisticated and printers investing in both printing and finishing equipment that enables more creative pieces, we discussed how now is actually a great time to be sending mail.

Ceramics Printing Goes Digital

Printing on ceramic objects is a great business opportunity for printers and sign shops of all sizes. Although there are multi-million-dollar ceramic printing systems on the market, the good news is that it can be easy and affordable to enter the market for short to mid-sized runs of decorated ceramic products. Senior editor Cary Sherburne explains how.

The Who, What, and Why of Print Software

Some basic questions—who? what? and most importantly why?—of print software will greatly increase your chances of optimizing your print software investments.

Inkjet Disrupters: Five Ways Transaction Printers Can Survive New Competitors

Lower barriers to entry and entry-level inkjet presses have created opportunities for new competitors for transaction printers. Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding offers strategies for how transactional printers can competition-proof themselves.

Color Revolution 2020—Exciting New Products from X-Rite Pantone

Ryerson University’s Abhay Sharma rounds up and evaluates three revolutionary new color management and measurement products from X-Rite Pantone: a new plugin for Adobe Creative Cloud, the latest Color Bridge fan deck, now aligned with GRACoL, and a next-generation i1Pro 3 measuring instrument.