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MGI AlphaJET: An Industrial Print Factory? (Premium Content)

MGI’s AlphaJET is unique and it goes to the core of their company’s DNA: building “application-based” printing presses. However, it is designed to support a much wider range of solutions than just commercial printing applications, with a primary focus on packaging and industrial. It sure looks like a print factory…


Reed Between the Lines: Evolving Sign Codes Impact Exterior Signage—and Potentially More (Premium Content)

One of the most important issues concerning the production and installation of exterior signage is the ever-evolving sign codes and regulations. The landmark 2015 SCOTUS decision in Reed v. the Town of Gilbert is still impacting city planners, and, in turn, signmakers and their clients. What should PSPs know about sign codes? What are the latest issues regarding sign regulations? And why might vehicle graphics be the next frontier for sign codes?


Sewbotics: The “Last Mile” in Automated Apparel Technology (Premium Content)

As brands look to take time and waste out of the apparel design and manufacturing process, there is a strong focus on automation. Much progress has been made—yet the sewing stage has provided challenges. Softwear Automation is tackling that challenge with SewBots—robotics designed to automate the sewing process. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Softwear Automation’s Chief Commercial Officer, Pete Santora, to learn more.


Screen Printing Employees—2010–2016

In 2010, there were a total of 57,674 employees in U.S. screen printing establishments (NAICS 323113). By 2016, screen printing employment had grown to 63,056—the opposite of what we have seen in general commercial printing during that same period.


Around the Web: The Perception of Lines. Loving Lydian. Platform Shoes? Young Entrepreneurs Spurn VCs. A Sixfold Dos-à-Dos Book. The Case of the Missing Mile Marker Signs.

Why we perceive horizontal and vertical lines differently. An old typeface returns. Superior sleep with pricey pjs. Nike’s new sneaker is a fitness tech platform. Finding alternatives to venture capitalists. A 16th-century book that opens six ways. Why do Mile Marker 480 signs keep disappearing?


Mass-Optimize Your Workflow in 2019

Although many personal resolutions fizzle out by February, your workflow resolutions should be targeted and easy to follow. Keep things simple by committing to three resolutions and automating three tasks. This article explores why building mass optimization into your print production workflow should be a key initiative in 2019.


Print Software Integrations Are Integral to Your Print Business (Premium Content)

Integrated software is a requirement for an end-to-end workflow. You will be faced with lots of decisions around integration when you’re purchasing new software tools. Never let integration to be a yes/no question—it requires much more exploration and understanding.


Consumers Are More Willing to Share Data than Ever...Under Certain Conditions 

As you help your customers gather data to improve their targeted marketing, the good news is that consumers are more willing than ever to share it. But it’s not a given. As a recent study reminds us, trust and transparency are key to getting them to open the vault.


Flatland: What’s New(s) and What’s Next for Flatbed Wide-Format Printers? (Premium Content)

It’s been nearly 20 years since the advent of the flatbed wide-format printer. They’ve come a long way, baby; what’s new with the technology and where do they go from here?


RayWear Gives Cannabis Workers as Much Protection as the Plants (Premium Content)

Do you use sunscreen when in the sun? Of course you do. But if you are working under the powerful lights used to artificially grow plants—say, legal cannabis—are you taking the same precautions? Because that light can be as dangerous—or even more dangerous—than sunlight. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Daniel Jordan, founder of RayWear Clothing Company, who has made it his personal mission to provide clothing that will protect cannabis workers from the harsh environments in which they work.


Graphic Arts Employment Held Steady in December (Premium Content)

Overall printing employment stayed roughly the same from November to December 2018, and, compared to December 2017, declined -1.6%. Non-production printing employment was up a bit in December, production employment down by about the same bit. PR employment continues to be the industry growth spot.


Around the Web: The Truth About Parachutes? Loud Packaging. Faux 5G. Personalized Cartography. Kohler’s “Intelligent Toilet.” Jazz Graphic Design.

New barefoot training footwear. What color is your parachute—and how safe is it? 5G connectivity is coming—but accept no imitations. Are paper maps back on the...map? If it were really intelligent, would it be a toilet? The visual look of jazz. Is it better to read a book or listen to it? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


The Importance of Awareness for Print-Based Augmented Reality

As businesses seek to remain competitive in today’s increasingly digital landscape, many are turning toward content that is enhanced with augmented reality (AR). This article discusses how print providers can inform their clients about AR content in printed products. It also explores some barriers to market entry, including app surplus and the limited use of AR headsets.


Inkit Changes the Way Clients Do Direct Mail

This Minneapolis-based startup is changing the way retailers and others are thinking about direct mail. No batches. No minimums. Just programmatic direct mail generated by a trigger determined by the customer that puts the mailer into the queue in real time.


The Manifestations of Fear in Print Software Implementations (Premium Content)

Software implementations evoke fear in the minds of your employees—these fears are manifested in a variety of ways. You should be looking for fear, not reacting to the symptoms of fear that cause all kinds of issues with print software implementations.


Consolidation in Commercial Printing Rolls On—December 2018 M&A Activity

Mittera acquires Henry Wurst, H.I.G. Capital invests in print, GSB Digital expands in NYC, Alliance adds another franchise system, and more…


Welcome to 2019: The Beginning of the Next Chapter in Print and Packaging? (Premium Content)

2019 has all the potential to become a pivotal year in print and packaging. It is a Hunkeler Innovation Days year and the leadup year to drupa 2020…and available technology is maturing. Strap yourselves in for an exciting year!


Big Opportunities for Small Design Houses (Premium Content)

On a recent visit to Miami, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne stopped by to visit Carla Llull at House of Llull Atelier, an apparel design and manufacturing operation focused on delivering high quality swimwear. House of Llull is celebrating its fifth anniversary.


What’s the Top Use for AR/VR for Marketers?

Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are changing the way consumers interact with brands. But much of this technology is operating in the background. What is the current status of awareness and adoption of AR/VR and what does it mean for marketers?  A survey from GlobalWebIndex provides some insight.


Commercial Printing Employees—2010–2016

In 2010, there were a total of 499,622 employees in all commercial printing and related support businesses (NAICS 323). By 2016, overall industry employment had dropped to 445,992.


Around the Web: 3D Printing Gets Big. Fruit Gets Branded. Textiles Get Transformed. An IoT Toothbrush Gets Updated. ThreadSol Gets Acquired. Edward Gorey Gets Tarotfied.

Phrozen, ironically, helps heat up the desktop 3D printer market. Is the U.S. missing the digital textile transformation bus? A new typeface is based on eye test characters, while another does away with the Latin alphabet entirely. Livetweeting an IoT toothbrush firmware update. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Want Higher Profits? Hire More Women

Research consistently shows that companies with gender-diverse leadership teams have significantly higher profits than those that don’t. The reason? Different approaches to hiring, problem-solving, and relationship-building, all of which have positive benefits on the bottom line.


Selling Print Requires More Than Order-Taking (Premium Content)

Your customers expect more than a “print order taker” print sales representative. Successful printers require a sales team that can dig in and learn about their customer’s business processes that involve print. When you understand the business process that print is involved in, you get the opportunity to solve other challenges and create more value for your customers. This is now an expectation of most customers.


Technology and Brand Trends Contributing to Changing Global Inks Market (Premium Content)

Significant market drivers are having profound impacts on the printing ink market. Technology, changes in world population, and shifts in brand use of printed packaging and graphics, among other trends, are causing disruption in the global inks market that will be seen to 2023. Smithers Pira presents some highlights of its new report “The Future of Global Ink Markets to 2023.”


We Are the World (Premium Content)

With the Christmas season upon us, our European correspondent, Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV, looks back at all the friends he has made in the printing industry around the world, and entreats us to think of all the things that unite rather than divide us.


Wide-Format 2019: What’s Next? (Premium Content)

As we head into 2019 and toward 2020, what are the emerging and accelerating trends in wide-format and specialty printing? The buzzword is “convergence,” which will only accelerate, but what other forces are changing the nature of applied graphics?


October 2018 Printing Shipments: Suitable for Framing (Premium Content)

Printing shipments for October 2018 came in at $7.27 billion. That’s up from September—and it’s well above October 2018’s $7.08 billion. Welcome to the new seasonality.


Around the Web: Easy 3D Printing. Roman Adiators. Russian Fauxbots. Bad Signs. Mass Broadband. HP Sustainability. Chicken Logs.

A cheap, easy-to-use desktop 3D printer. RIP, Evelyn Berezin, inventor of the word processor. Jules Van Sant’s next adventure. Anonymous New Yorkers’ war on signage. A Massachusetts town creates its own broadband. “Please check for all your personal belongings.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


An Augmented Future: How AR is Helping Production Printing

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes a digital or computer-generated display (image, video, or words) onto the real world. Although AR is still young, it has advanced enough to impact multiple industries. AR enables a variety of improvements in the print space, and this article explores how AR is affecting the production print market.


Frustrating, Tedious, and Detail-Oriented Print MIS Work (Premium Content)

The topic of Print MIS software can be a dangerous topic to bring up if you want to keep things low-key or drama-free. Most printers are really frustrated with their MIS. I’ve been working on customer-facing technology (web-to-print) my whole career—the Print MIS is by far the most important software tool you have in your business.


Lessons from a Well-Intentioned Personalized Mailer

A look at a well-intentioned personalized mailing that illustrates why it’s so important to get these communications right. Not just so the client gets the best return on investment, but to preserve your own relationship with the client. Poor personalization = poor results, and poor results = disengaged clients. Nobody wants that.


MakerBot Method Bridges the Gap Between Desktop and Industrial 3D Printing (Premium Content)

MakerBot, a subsidiary of Stratasys, has two primary missions: Helping to innovate in STEM education to better prepare kids for the future, and to help companies bring product to market faster. It is in this latter category that today’s announcement of MakerBot Method falls. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Forrest Leighton and Shawn Miely of MakerBot to learn more.


Cognizant Projects +148% Growth in Fashion Designer Jobs, Highlights the Future of Work (Premium Content)

I was intrigued to read in a recent Axios newsletter that fashion designer jobs are expected to increase by +148%, according to Cognizant, a technology and business services company. I reached out to Ben Pring, who runs the company’s Center for the Future of Work, to learn more. And boy, did I learn more!


Around the Web: 3D-Printed Food. Font for Dyslexics. Fiction On Demand. “Retail Rashomon.” Virtual Vermeer. Murdering Mercator. The Future from 1988. Stay Away from 536.

Open Source versions of the Creative Cloud applications. A new font aids reading for dyslexics. Yet another take on what’s happening with retail. Cutting Greenland down to size. Futurists in 1988 predict the jobs of the future. Have a time machine? Skip A.D. 536. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Printing Industry Profits: The Tale of Two Cities Continues (Premium Content)

Industry profits data came out earlier this week, and it was good and bad news. Overall, annualized profits for Q3 2018 were $3.07 billion—not a huge gain from Q2, but a gain nonetheless. But it’s the ongoing saga of the low profitability of large printers dragging down average industry profitability.


The Waning Fortunes of the Time Inc. Magazines—November 2018 M&A Activity

Meredith sells off iconic American magazine titles, Quad/Graphics acquires Periscope, PE continues love affair with labels, and more…


Digital Textiles: The Next Frontier for Commercial Printers

For the most part, commercial printers are locked out of the existing supply chain for digital textiles. This article explores the more accessible textile segments that commercial printers can participate in, including textile-based sign and display graphics and direct-to-garment.


Wide Format 2018: What Kind of Day Has It Been? (Premium Content)

What were the big trends in wide-format and specialty printing in 2018? It’s been a year of convergence and while shops that were likely to transition to wide-format have largely done so, the applications that can be produced are constantly changing, as new materials and new inks hit the market. Let’s have a look at what’s been happening.


Understanding the Software Feature Request (Premium Content)

Software is never done. It has to keep moving to stay compatible. It operates in business processes that keep changing. The consumer expectation of how fast and easy software can change is being set by some of the most valuable companies on the planet.


Data: Wide-Format Still Front and Center

Wide-format is here with a vengeance. One webinar provided a great summary of data on the growth and opportunities in wide-format graphics.


Esko—Firing on All Cylinders (Premium Content)

Esko has been the premier provider of software and hardware solutions for label and packaging prepress. Now that the market is changing, what are they doing to address these new requirements? A lot!


As Industry Convergence Continues, Xplor International and ISA Colocate Events (Premium Content)

The convergence continues: the International Sign Association and Xplor International have announced that in April 2019, the Sign Expo 2019 and XPLOR19 will colocate.  


Prepress and Postpress Services Establishments—2016

In 2016, there were 1,545 total U.S. establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services (NAICS 32312); 51% of these establishments had fewer than 10 employees.


Around the Web: Really Clickable Paper. Chocing Typography. More Gift Wrap Ideas. Guerrilla Signage. Alexa Sleeps with the Fishes. P Is for Pterodactyl. Beard Lights!

A new kind of electronic paper. The science of paper crumpling. How Choc became a ubiquitous typeface. A “guerilla artist” produces life-affirming stealth signage. Alexa has been integrated into Big Mouth Billy Bass, for reasons passing understanding. A collision of vehicle graphics, AI, and public shaming. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.


Achieving Successful Sales in 2019

As 2018 draws to a close, you’re likely doing one of two things: focusing on meeting/exceeding your sales goals for the year or reflecting on why your goal has proven to be unreachable. In many cases, the process used to achieve the goal fails to deliver the desired results. This article explores methods for exceeding your business goals in 2019.


Results Metrics: Why You Gotta Dig

When we look at case studies, we immediately scan to the bottom of the page to see what the metrics are. One case study from IMS Direct illustrates why it’s important to look deeper into the numbers to find the real story.


Print Business Differentiation (Premium Content)

What are you investing in that will result in the true differentiation of your print business? An important question in a market where many commercial printers look alike (same equipment, same sales approach, similar online tools). I think differentiation is about solving additional customer challenges that your competitors don't even know about.


In The Mail: November 2018—What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

PRC approves 2019 price increases…USPS reports $3.9 Billion loss…The Universal Postal Union reacts to U.S. withdrawal…Mailers less satisfied with USPS overall…Marketing Mail controversy continues…Next steps for Regulatory Review?


Grant Graphics’ Print & Cut Conference Offered Wide-Format 101—and 102—for Northeast Printers (Premium Content)

Earlier this month, print shop owners and managers from around the Northeast journeyed to Grant Graphics in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., for a day-long program of wide-format educational sessions and equipment demonstrations.


OnPoint Manufacturing and Gerber Technologies Announce FashionTech Platform 1.0 (Premium Content)

I first got to know Kirby Best when he was running on-demand book printer Lightning Source. And I was interested to see him turn up as Chairman at OnPoint Manufacturing, an on-demand garment manufacturer. We connected for a wide-ranging discussion at the recent Gerber Technology Ideation event, including the newly announced FashionTech Platform 1.0 initiative.


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