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Print Applications in Times of COVID-19

WhatTheyThink European Section Editor Ralf Schlözer looks at how the COVID-19 crisis will impact various kinds of print products—both in the short term and the long term.


Neenah Coldenhove Brings Digital Transfer on an Industrial Basis to Natural Fiber Fabrics with Texcol® Digital Transfer Paper (Premium Content)

One of the more popular means of digitally printing to fabrics is heat transfer dye sublimation where images are printed on a sublimation transfer paper and then processed through a heating unit (calender) to sublimate the image into fabric. Until now, this process has been limited to polyester or polyester blends. Neenah Coldenhove is addressing this shortfall with its new digital transfer paper for natural fibers.


The Lull Before the Tempest—March 2020 M&A Activity

Transactions continue apace up to mid-March, then abruptly stop. What’s next, and more…


Screen Printing Establishments—2010–2017

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 5,187 establishments in NAICS 323113 (Commercial Screen Printing). This represents an increase of +16% since the decade began.


Around the Web: Design for Doctoring. Fashion Forward. Coffee Table Chemistry. Postal Peril. Album Advice. Kooky Colors. Breakfast Bricks. Drone Dating. Portable Potter.

Designer Ariel Swedroe designs and sews masks for Miami health care practitioners. Will fashion’s move toward sustainability survive the COVID-19 crisis? A lavish picture book about the chemical elements. Will the Postal Service survive the COVID-19 crisis? Classic album covers redesigned to promote social distancing. “Overly descriptive color palettes.” Is Merino wool an answer to the marine microplastics pollution problem? A “building block waffle maker.” A real-life rom-com for the viral age. Does a USB drive get heavier as you store more files on it? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.


Supply Chain Disruption in a Pandemic and the Benefits of a Digital Workflow

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant shortcomings in today’s supply chain structure. As companies look to reconfigure their supply base, do they also nee to think about radically restructuring manufacturing processes? This thoughtful piece from textiles industry expert Debbie McKeegan addresses that issue.


How PSPs Can Get Their Groove Back

There’s no denying that times are tough. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most print service providers were seeking ways to increase their business revenue while also working smarter and faster. This article explores how PSPs can uncover new opportunities as they work through this crisis, and perhaps even grow from it.


Wide Format and Signage: Essential Services in the Time of Crisis

How are wide-format and signage providers coping with the COVID-19 crisis? Some are playing important roles in providing safety signage, while others still serve businesses that are classified as “essential.” In the first of a series of “check in” articles, we look at how the crisis has impacted the wide-format and signage market.


What’s COVID-19’s Long-Term Impact on Mail?

What will be the long-term impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the printing industry? There are three possibilities: It will shift even more communications to digital channels as marketers reduce their direct mail spend during the lockdown and keep it that way; direct mail volume will remain unchanged; or direct mail could see a resurgence as marketers and their customers develop a newfound appreciation for the channel they’ve been missing.


drupa Preview—Canon VarioPRINT iX Targets Commercial Print (Premium Content)

Canon has announced the next generation in its VarioPrint line of sheetfed inkjet presses. The varioPRINT iX series is built on a new platform, based on the experiences from the current i-series platform, and is designed for commercial print applications.


April Fools & Utilizing Top Talent During COVID-19

First an April fools laugh, then some more insight on how to deploy your best resources during the COVID-19 pause in capitalism.


Selling CYMK+: A Starter Guide (Part 2) (Premium Content)

One of the popular additions to print shops around the world is the ability to create products that add white ink, embossing, debossing, foil, iridescent and neon colors, metallics, varnishes, texture, and unique folds to create high value. We call it CYMK+ because much of this work is created on digital presses and the ability to add enhancements is the plus. The breadth of options for enhancement provide myriad possibilities, but that might make it hard to find a talk track for the sales team. In part two of this two-part feature, Pat McGrew explains how to build a sales kit to sell CMYK+ capabilities.


The Print Industry Gets High on ROI: Partnering with Cannabis Providers Through Publications and Packaging (Premium Content)

Our multi-part series on the “Cannabis Gold Rush” continues with Joanne Gore’s look at opportunities in cannabis publishing, as well as packaging, and she offers some advice on partnering with cannabis businesses.


Executive Q&A: Brand Print Americas (Premium Content)

Last year, the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) teamed up with the Tarsus Group, the organizers of Labelexpo, to launch a new show called Brand Print Americas. The inaugural event will be co-located with Labelexpo Americas, September 15–17 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, Ill. We spoke with Andy Thomas-Emans, Strategic Director of Tarsus Labels, Packaging and Brand Print Group, about the new show and how it complements Labelexpo.


Equipe Offers Custom Apparel for Brands, Sports Teams (Premium Content)

A growing number of companies are popping up in North America that offer custom apparel produced on demand. This is an important supply chain shift, both from an environmental and economic perspective as weaknesses in global supply chains have increasingly come to the forefront. Not everything, of course, can be produced on demand. But companies like California-based Equipe are demonstrating that local production is not only feasible, but a viable alterative for a growing variety of apparel and home décor items.


Xeikon 2020: New Products in Every Supported Market Segment (Premium Content)

On March 30, Xeikon unveiled its extensive plans for what was to be its drupa 2020 exhibit in an exclusive briefing for the media. Following the briefing, we spoke with Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s Vice President of Marketing, to gain deeper insight into the strategy behind these developments, how being part of Flint Group has benefited the company, and more. In light of the postponement of drupa till April of 2021, Xeikon is putting plans in place to support the industry with continued innovation during the balance of 2020.


drupa Preview Briefing—Xeikon Raises the Bar (Premium Content)

Xeikon isn’t waiting until drupa 2021 to introduce new products they have been working on. The SX30000, Cheetah 2.0, and an upgraded X-800 are designed to reduce operating costs and increase competitiveness compared with other EP press manufacturers and entry level inkjet solutions like the Canon VarioPrint i300, and Xerox’s Rialto and Baltoro.


January Shipments: Well, We Started Great

At $6.94 billion, January shipments were down a little from December’s $6.98 billion, but that was just slightly lower than January 2016’s $6.95 billion—the best January we have had since then. But, elephant in the room...


Around the Web: Medical Masking. Tele Trolling. Mini Marathon. COVID Comedy. Virus Vocabulary. Awful Offices. Weird Webcams. Filter Fail.

So what are we talking about this week? Textile and apparel companies, among others, are helping provide masks and other protective gear for the COVID-19 crisis. Twitter tales of social distancing. “Zoombombing.” Running a 26-mile marathon on a seven-foot balcony. The evolution of Internet humor via coronavirus memes. New coronavirus-related words and phrases are entering the lexicon at a rapid rate. The grossest home offices ever. Webcams that keep eyes out for UFO, Bigfoot, and ghosts. Another livestream, another camera filter left on. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.


Community Building in the COVID Economy

MindFire established the COVID-19 Print Group on LinkedIn to provide a forum for printers to help each other share volumes, information, and advice as more states issue Stay at Home policies and organizations are forced to close, leaving clients without service. In three days, membership has grown from zero to nearly 800 members.


Focusing on Value-Added Services for Market Differentiation

To keep their offerings fresh and current, today’s PSPs must change the conversation and shift the focus away from price and toward value-added services. This document discusses how PSPs can highlight the benefits that customers and prospects can enjoy from value-added services.


Printfullness: A Digital State of Mind and Machine Spawning the Next Industrial Revolution (Premium Content)

We have a new word for you: “printfullness”! A digital state of mind and machine that is spawning the next industrial revolution. It’s a growth of design, process, production and demand. Learn more!


Making Masks and Other PPE to Help with the COVID-19 Pandemic

One thing about a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is that it can bring people together to come up with creative ways to help. We are starting to hear stories about how players in the textiles and apparel industry are doing just that, converting operations to the production of much-needed masks and other PPE, and we wanted to share these inspiring stories with you.


The Postal Strategy: What Will You Do in 2020 to Impact Your Mailing Business? (Premium Content)

The quality of the address on a mailing list can have a significant impact. A single error in an address—a wrong/missing apartment number or an incorrect zip code—can lead to marketing messages, bills, statements, critical privacy, or compliance materials being delayed, misdelivered, or returned. Improving address quality allows your organization to control these costs, improve efficiency, deliver great customer experience, retain loyal customers, and ultimately increase revenues. Postal expert Christine Erna explains how.


Got a 3D Printer? Save a Life

As the world reels from the impact of the coronavirus and the increasing scarcity of critical medical equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators, the 3D maker community is stepping in to do its part. Do you have a 3D printer? Join the movement.


Strategic Optimization During COVID-19

Documenting your core workflows can be a good strategic use of key resources who might not be fully occupied working from home.


The Canna-Business: Diving into the Business of Cannabis and its Packaging (Premium Content)

As the articles in our series on the cannabis packaging market have shown, this is a high-growth area—but various pitfalls abound. David Zwang talks to several companies producing packaging for the cannabis market and highlights the opportunities they've found and the challenges they faced.


Covering All Bases: Applied Graphics Keep Evolving (Premium Content)

As the options for applied graphics proliferate, it can be a challenge for print service providers to keep up, and yet it has never been more important to understand how a material will perform both on press and on its intended surface. As a result, consumables manufactures are playing a greater consultative role.


Risk Management Roulette—How to Keep Your Business Cyber Safe (Premium Content)

Everyone thinks they don’t need to worry about cybersecurity—until they do. And when there is a data breach, it can be costly and embarrassing—and maybe even business-damaging. Cybersecurity expert Kevin Keane explains why printing businesses need to take data management and security seriously.  


Catalyst Fabric Solutions Leverages Automation for On-Demand Production of Home Décor (Premium Content)

The continued evolution of digital technologies, including printing, for textile-based products has opened the door to more reshoring of manufacturing as well as on-demand production, ease of customization and more. Florida-based Catalyst Fabric Solutions is taking advantage of all of these trends for business growth.


Managing Employee Stress During the COVID-19 Crisis

This is an unprecedented and chaotic time, the nature of business is changing rapidly, and everyone in the organization, from the top down, feels the stress. Wayne Lynn offers some guidance for business leaders to help alleviate employee stress.


Around the Web: Social Salutations. Demanding Distance. Lavatorial Leaves. Restaurant Relics. Menschy Macmillan. Mammoth Manse. Plane Panes. Terrific Tablet. Mine Music.

More alternatives to handshaking. A Chicago restaurant offers free...dinner rolls. “Social distancing enforcement object.” A field guide to local foliage should the TP shortage become acute. Brooklyn restaurateurs uncover a trove of historical materials from a 19th century restaurant. A woman mistakes cheese for soap. Macmillan cancels its plans to deny libraries access to ebooks. An Ice Age house made of mammoth bones. Faux stained glass window clings for airplanes. E Ink’s new tablet could be a hit. The Shaft Bottom Boys play world’s deepest concert. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.


Printing Establishments—2010–2017

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 25,256 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). This represents a decline of 13% since the decade began.


Designer Spotlight with Jie Ren: A New Generation of Sustainable Textile and Fashion Design (Premium Content)

Designers are quickly becoming aware of the new opportunities offered by digital technologies for the fashion and home décor industries. In this article, we focus in on Jie Ren and his Fashion Collections, reflecting a new era of fashion manufacturing.


Improving Employee Retention with Effective Training

Employee retention is a top-of-mind issue for nearly every organization. Proper training can improve employee retention and increase company growth. This document explores how today’s print service providers (PSPs) are allocating their training dollars.


Marketers Aren’t Always Using the Most Effective Channels, Even When They Know What They Are

According to new research from Printing for Less (PFL) and Demand Metric, marketers are not always using the most effective channels, even when they know what they are. Instead, they use the channels they know and are most familiar with. A look at some intriguing data on channel use and channel effectiveness, including types of direct mail.


Cannabis Packaging Market to Triple in Three Years According to Smithers

The second in a series of articles about the current cannabis landscape, and the potential opportunities in cannabis product packaging. Market research from Smithers—The Future of Cannabis Packaging to 2024—forecasts that as this market evolves, the value of the packaging for legal cannabis products will rise from $493 million to exceed $1.63 billion in 2024.


Strategic Software Projects—COVID-19

We find ourselves in difficult times, the conditions of which are delivering a window of opportunity to do strategic projects that will accelerate your business when the economic engine starts running at full speed again.


The Cannabis Gold Rush: New Business Opportunities in Packaging and Apparel Are Here for the Taking (Premium Content)

The first in a series of articles about the current cannabis landscape. While this is a high-growth market opportunity for packaging converters, it is also still a Wild West environment, and there are many misunderstandings about what it is comprised of, what’s legal and what’s not, and what the actual benefits of cannabis-derived products are from a health and well-being perspective. In this introductory feature, Cary Sherburne provides an overview of the current state of the market, including definitions, and applications, as well as developments in packaging and even apparel.


Selling CYMK+: A Starter Guide (Part 1) (Premium Content)

One of the popular additions to print shops around the world is the ability to create products that add white ink, embossing, debossing, foil, iridescent and neon colors, metallics, varnishes, texture, and unique folds to create high value. We call it CYMK+ because much of this work is created on digital presses and the ability to add enhancements is the plus. The breadth of options for enhancement provide myriad possibilities, but that might make it hard to find a talk track for the sales team. In this two-part feature, Pat McGrew walks through the steps to sell CMYK+ capabilities.


High-Energy Discussions at RadTech UV + EB Conference (Premium Content)

Last week we attended RadTech’s 2020 UV+EB Technology Conference in Orlando. Richard Romano reports on some of the new trends in energy-cured inks for packaging, 3D printing, and how UV technology is helping combat the coronavirus.


Denim Reimagined: A New, More Eco-Friendly Way to Think About Denim (Premium Content)

We all love our blue jeans. They are comfortable, often stylish, but what about their impact on the environment? What if you could have a pair of jeans with an almost indistinguishable look on the outside, but silky soft on the inside, with a 97% water footprint reduction? Sound impossible? With new fabric printing technologies, it’s totally achievable. Read what Dalton Cheng of Intech has to say on this subject and more.


Printed Electronics: Closer Than (But Not Where) You Think (Premium Content)

Printed electronics have been hyped as a potential growth area for printers for years. Pete Basiliere offers a reality check on the current state of printed electronics, what some top applications are, and what printers need to know if they want to pursue them.


Around the Web: Meddling Microbes. Apple AR. Virtual Vestments. Morphing Malls. Wacky Warrants. Crustacean Causeway.

A round up of some virus-laden news items. Apple’s Quick Look adds AR to shopping. Virtual fashion makes “fit pics” sustainable. A Dutch shopping mall that doesn’t sell anything. “Geofencing warrants” trace geolocation data to crime scenes. Building a crab infrastructure on Christmas Island. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Graphic Arts Employment—February 2020

In February 2020, overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from January (-0.1%) and on a year-over-year basis was down -2.0%. Interestingly, production employment was up, albeit infinitesimally.


drupa 2020: HP Indigo Steps Up Their Game All Around (Premium Content)

On the heels of the HP PageWide announcement last week, HP Indigo has now announced some significant technology and product advancements which seem to reaffirm industry shifts, but more importantly highlight the company’s direction going forward.


Don’t Forget to Finish It!

Virtually every printed document requires some type of finishing. The expanding array of digital printing methods has changed the nature of finishing from large-scale devices focused on offset printing to automated methods that often occur alongside a production digital printer. To reach its true potential, the role of finishing must evolve as well. Recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends offers important insights on how print service providers (PSPs) can leverage finishing to win business and drive profitability.


The Economic Case for Employee Engagement (Premium Content)

Having employees that are engaged in and satisfied with their jobs can give a business a powerful competitive edge. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at the positive impacts that engaged employees can have on a print business’ bottom line.


Which to Choose: Natural Language or PR Speak?

How we speak to our customers matters. Are you using natural language or that “PR speak” that investors love but that causes the average person to tune out?  


Printers Need More Selling During Print Software Implementations (Premium Content)

The sales process should extend into the implementation of print software because all humans need to be persuaded of the merits so that they can become enthusiastic about the new toolset.


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