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drupa Preview: Corrugated Re-Envisioned—Part 3: Preprint (Print and Laminate) Even More Choices! (Premium Content)

High color corrugated packaging is growing and will continue to grow. The run sizes are getting smaller to adapt to the new market requirements, and the opportunities for print service providers to jump on this moving train abound. In Part 3 of this series, I focus on the available preprint solutions with some limited product mentions. Selecting which method is better is really based on a lot of factors, including your market opportunities, capital investment, production costs, and internal skills. Although making that determination also involves board and run size as well. Both analog and digital presses are and will continue to be in the mix and grow. It’s a pretty exciting time with some great opportunities.


How George Brown College Is Addressing Workforce Needs and More in Textiles and Apparel (Premium Content)

You can’t attend any textiles and apparel events or speak with industry professionals without the subject of workforce challenges arising. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Marilyn McNeil-Morin about the Fashion Exchange program at Toronto’s George Brown College that has programs in place to help address these issues.


Graphic Arts Employment—December 2019

In December 2019, overall printing employment dropped -0.2% from November, and on a year-over-year basis, it is down -2.4%. Production employment was down -0.5% from November to December (and -4.4% Y/Y) while non-production employment was down -0.1% from November to December—but actually up +1.7% Y/Y.


Around the Web: Sustainable Straws. Mobile Meetings. Floating Fashion. Classic Critique. Latest Lenses. Fractious Footwear. Cleaver Calming,

The growing market for paper straws. A slow elevator designed for fast meetings. A paperboy helps save a restaurant from fire. A balloon-based fashion collection. A new book collects old airline maps. Another new book collects photographs of famous economists. Which classic novels are the most-loved—and most-hated? Contact lens-based displays. Are new running shoes “technological doping”? Merit badges for—oy—“adulting.” Three words: “meat cleaver massage.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Digital Color Print for Labels & Packaging: Aqueous Inkjet Is Rising

Although UV technology currently dominates the inkjet printing market, aqueous printing is gradually rising. This article provides a brief overview of the inkjet printing market and considers what the future may hold for UV and aqueous technologies.


EFI Connect 2020 Rounds Out a Year of Dramatic Change for the Company (Premium Content)

EFI Connect 2020 marked the 21st year this user conference has been held, and the 13th year it has been hosted at the Wynn Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas. This edition marked a year of dramatic change for the company, with the departure of long-time CEO Guy Gecht, a short-lived CEO in Bill Muir, and an acquisition by Siris Group that took the company from public to private. EFI Connect 2020 was an opportunity for customers to gain first-hand insight into what these changes might mean for them.


Emerging and Transitional Economies Drive Growth for Retail-Ready Packaging, Says Smithers Market Report

Demand growth for retail-ready packaging is originating within emerging and transitional economies, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 4.5 million metric tons—nearly half the total global demand—according to Smithers’ latest report, The Future of Retail-Ready Packaging to 2024.


New Insight into Why Targeting Works

When we think about creating relevance in marketing communications, we think about personalizing based on traditional factors such as demographics and past purchases. But the principle of “liking” adds another useful dimension to the equation.


Solving Print Business Challenges with Software (Premium Content)

Describe your business challenges: be specific, be precise. Then let go of any attachment to the “how this business challenge gets solved by print software.” You want your business challenges solved. One of the fastest ways to solve them is to describe them accurately and then to be open to all the possible solutions.


drupa Preview: Corrugated Re-Envisioned Part 2—Direct Print (Post-Print) Lots of Choices! (Premium Content)

In Part 2 of this series, I focus on the available digital post-print solutions with some limited product mentions. Leading up to drupa, I will cover some of the offerings in greater depth. All of the solutions discussed here are “single pass” printers, where the printheads are stationary and only the media moves. They include complete corrugating equipment with built in printing, to a tabletop printer with lots of other options in between. Equipment pricing ranges from in excess of $4MM to as low as $19K. In summary: Lots of Choices!


For Phoenix’s Custom Graphix, It’s a Banner Day (Premium Content)

Since its founding in 2002, Phoenix, Ariz.’s Custom Graphix Signworks has cornered the market on that most commoditized of wide-format applications: banners. We spoke with Mladen Mike Mirkovic, founder and principal of Custom Graphix.


Prima-Tex Helps Customers Understand Differences Between Digital and Analog Textile Printing (Premium Content)

At last month’s AATCC/SGIA Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0, I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Tio and his brother Patrick of California-based Prima-Tex. His active and informed participation in the conference discussions were an inspiration, and he agreed to a subsequent interview for this article.


Here Is Your 2020 Sales Template (Premium Content)

One of the most important activities at the start of the year is a quick review of the processes that go into ensuring the smooth flow of business. Often overlooked is how sales team members gather the information needed to bring a job into production, whether it is a new job or one that has been in production for years. Pat McGrew offers a template to use to standardize the information captured during the sales process.  


Commercial Printing Establishments—2017

The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates the number of establishments and other data. In 2017, there were 25,256 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). The majority of these establishments (71%) have fewer than 10 employees.


Around the Web: Lavatory Literature. Modulated Mummy. Ubiquitous Unicorns. Streaming Salvos. Tiny Type. Cranium Confusion. Forensic Flipping. Pigeon Parade.

“Facility” is a new print magazine all about bathrooms. Giving voice to a 3,000-year-old mummy. Op-eds from the future. The opening salvos in the streaming wars. Stores are compensating for poor packaging design choices. Dante’s Inferno for language pedants. The battle over a cryonically frozen head. A home renovation show that remodels crime scenes. A concerto for orchestra and typewriter. The Nevada Avian Milliner is back. Also: Robopigeon! Hide the statues! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


The Perfect Print: Understanding Resolution and Color (Premium Content)

Any time textile professionals gather, color management is always a topic of discussion. It becomes even more complex when introducing digital fabric printing into the mix. WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan shares insights on achieving the perfect print.


The Most Important Number(s) in 2020

As we enter another new decade, several points of disruption are expected to emerge. This article provides a brief overview of the developments that print service providers should be mindful of, as well as the financial and operational information that should be used for strategic business growth.


Purchasing a Web-to-Print Solution (Premium Content)

You purchase software to solve business problems. When evaluating software, keep your focus on the challenges you want to solve. This will keep you open-minded about all the possible ways your challenges might be solved, rather than attachment to one specific solution.


Want More Donor Revenue? Write a Better Thank You Letter

Data insights and expert testimony tell a powerful tale: a nonprofit’s “thank you” letter matters more than many people might think. Get it right and donors feel great and are motivated to keep giving. Get it wrong and they disconnect. So get it right!


drupa 2020 Packaging Preview: Corrugated Post-Print Re-Envisioned—Part 1 (Premium Content)

There are “two primary” corrugated print manufacturing processes for high graphics: a multi-process method of printing on a top sheet (liner) which is then laminated to the corrugated material, or, alternatively, a single process method of printing directly on the corrugated material, sometimes called “post-print.” In this article, we will look at the award-winning Bobst THQ (Très Haute Qualité) FlexoCloud technology focused on corrugated post-print production, and perhaps some alternative methods.


Direct Objects: Thinking—and Printing—Outside the Box (Premium Content)

One of the most exciting growth areas in print today is direct-to-object (DtO) printing, but challenges of ink adhesion, transport, and feeding abound. I spoke with Peter Baldwin, Director of Marketing for East Dorset, Vt.’s Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS), about some of the issues—and opportunities—involved in direct-to-object printing.


Springs Creative Leverages 133 Years of Textile History for Today’s Digital Printing (Premium Content)

At the AATCC/SGIA Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0 last December, one of the high points was a presentation by Kathy Phillips, Vice President of Design/Trend at Springs Creative, a show-and-tell that highlighted the company’s rich history in textiles, beginning with the founding of the Fort Mill Manufacturing Company in 1887 by Samuel Elliot White. We talked with Phillips to get more detail on this fascinating story to share with our readers.


3D Printing: Seven Technologies and a Multitude of Materials (Premium Content)

More than 30 years since the invention of 3D printing, a host of materials in addition to plastics—metals, alloys, composites, and biomaterials—are all used by companies worldwide to make everything from prototypes to finished goods. In this article, Pete Basiliere looks at the various 3D printing technologies and materials.


November Printing Shipments: Off for the Holidays

The value of printing shipments for November 2019 was $7.03 billion—a pretty big drop from October’s $7.65 billion, but we kind of expected it, as November and December see business slow down for the holidays.


Around the Web: Fabricating Food. Smart Sweats. Clever Kicks. Receipt Wrap. Slaking Slack. Erroneous Ebooks. Mellotron Music Musing.

3D-printed candy. Rechargeable workout clothes. Smart sneakers can improve your running form. A knitted scarf based on a CVS receipt. Living concrete. A new, more accurate typewriter font, for some reason. How Slack has ruined work. Library ebook provider Overdrive acquired by private equity firm. Why was there no ebook revolution in the 2010s? “The” most powerful word in the English language. A journey inside the Mellotron, one of the weirdest musical instruments. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Print Remains a Vital Component of the Transactional Communications Mix

Although there is no denying that digital communications are becoming increasingly popular, consumers’ rising affinity for digital access does not necessarily mean that printed mail will fall to the wayside. Instead, InfoTrends’ research suggests that print will remain an important component of the overall communications mix. This article cites InfoTrends’ most recent transactional communications survey data to explore print’s changing role as market dynamics continue to shift.


The CEO’s Perspective

Peter Drucker once wrote that the one contribution a CEO is uniquely expected to make is to give others vision and the ability to perform. Leadership in an organization is important but to succeed, it requires motivated, energized, and engaged followers.


Creative Ways to Market in Print You Probably Haven’t Considered

Collection of print case studies showcasing how print can be used in ways that most of us have never considered. While many case studies showcase the high-end “most clients can’t afford this” kind of possibilities, these show the use of simple, traditional techniques in ways that make you stop and say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”


Optimize the Print Software You Own (Premium Content)

Treat software like printing press hardware: assume your people and your processes have to change to optimize the new software rather than staying attached to how you think the software should work.


Good Chemistry: Wide-Format Inks Continue to Evolve—Part 1 of 2 (Premium Content)

Whether it be for production inkjet, packaging, wide format, or industrial printing, inks are evolving at a rapid pace to enable the fast-growing range of print applications. This article will offer a look at some of the recent developments specific to wide-format inks—and even more specific to solvent/eco-solvent and UV inks.


The Future of Corrugated—Lots of Opportunity and Lots of Choices! (Premium Content)

One of the more active growth areas for print service providers and of digital printing equipment development is corrugated, and for good reason. Estimates of corrugated shipments in North America are in excess of 420 billion square feet and growing. Estimates for three or more color “high graphics” corrugated production is growing as well with actual output for 2019 anticipated to have 20%–30% share of the overall corrugated volume. Overall, this is an exciting market with a lot of growth potential.


Three Easy Sales Enhancers for Q1 2020 (Premium Content)

Every new year brings new opportunities to grow your business. From printers to the vendors who support them, there is an opportunity in every segment and in every size print shop. Pat McGrew identifies three main “sales enhancers” to add to your 2020 business plan.


unspun Delivers Size-Free Green Jeans On Demand (Premium Content)

If you grew up, as I did, watching Captain Kangaroo, you’ll remember Mr. Green Jeans. These days, Green Jeans has an entirely different meaning, and San Francisco/Hong Kong based unspun set out to define the category.


Establishment Births/Deaths: Industry Attrition Continues to Slow

From 2015 to 2016, there had been an increase of 1,586 establishments, but a decrease of -1,881 establishments, for a net loss of -295 establishments. That’s a smaller percentage change than previous years, which reflects somewhat of a deceleration in industry consolidation.


Around the Web: Fur Fracas. Delivery Droid. Seen at CES. Audi’s Interior. Enhanced E Ink. Scrappy Scrabble. Bloody Billboard. Bivalve Boogie. Crazy Cats.

NYC’s proposed ban on fur (for fashion) causes a kerfuffle. A wearable plant vest that is...er, self-watering. A bipedal delivery robot is now for sale. Japan recycles cardboard to use as beds for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics competitors. A roundup of “highlights” from this week’s Consumer Electronics Show. “Charmin looks to disrupt the toilet experience with new technologies.” An inflatable pub for grown-up parties. At last: a color E Ink display. A deep dive into the history of the board game Scrabble—and the small Vermont town that used to manufacture all the letter tiles. A brilliant billboard advertising the new “Dracula” series. Two words: “disco clam.” Pro tip: don’t see the new “Cats” while tripping on LSD. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


2020: The Year of Data!

Up until now, technologies like cloud computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence have largely been used independently. Moving forward, these solutions will begin to converge, building more sophisticated data-driven workflows. This article explores how 2020 will likely shape up to be a year of data.


Digital Pigment Gains Ground on Analog Production (Premium Content)

In the printed textiles market, pigment inks are a hot topic due to their ability to print brilliant colors on a wide variety of fabrics, often without pre-treatment. WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan explains why.


CMO Council Survey: Channel Choice Matters

To find out what consumers really think about channel preferences, the CMO Council surveyed 2,000 consumers in English-speaking countries across the world. The takeaway? Understanding, tracking, and responding to consumers’ channel preferences has never been more important.


SGP Adds a New Certification and Community Events for 2020 (Premium Content)

The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is complementing its Printer certification with a Supplier certification, and in 2020 will be ramping up its outreach and education efforts with regional “lunch and learn” forums. We caught up with SGP’s Marci Kinter to talk about what’s new with SGP as we enter a new decade.


Meritocracy-Based Business Decisions (Premium Content)

Technology is invading every corner of the print industry, and many print business owners are novices when it comes to technology. How do you make good business decisions when you are not the subject matter expert? Whom do you listen to? How do you know they are qualified? Run your business like a meritocracy.


drupa 2020 Packaging Preview: Actega EcoLeaf (aka Nano Metallography) Digital Metallization Ready for Prime Time (Premium Content)

At drupa 2016, Landa Labs introduced Nano Metallography, a new metallization technology to replace foils for embellishments. This process is designed to produce zero waste at less than half the cost of foil. In February of 2017, Actega Metal Print, a division of Altana AG, acquired the technology and rebranded it EcoLeaf. The solution is now going into beta and will be fully commercialized in time for drupa 2020.


Five Packaging Design Trends That Work

The packaging world is evolving across shape, form, and function. Agencies and designers have novel canvases to work with. Here are a few packaging trends being seen in various markets, and why each is unique. 


The Penguin’s Native Tongue is Now German—December 2019 M&A Activity

Bertelsmann Buys Balance of Penguin Random House, Ripon is Sold, Blackstone Invests in HH Global, and more…


Replicate the Real Thing

One of the fastest-growing applications in wide-format and industrial printing is textures. While a lot has been written about how these kinds of materials are printed, not much has been said about how these textures are created. This article looks at multi configuration scanners from METIS, used to capture high-quality, photorealistic reproductions of existing surfaces.


AATCC and SGIA Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0 Another Huge Success (Premium Content)

For the fourth straight year, AATCC and SGIA joined forces to bring the Digital Textile Printing Conference to the industry, a forum that addressed pressing issues and provided nearly 140 attendees with the ability to learn, network, and provide feedback that will help the associations continue to meet the needs of an evolving industry.


The Next Chapter in the Printing Profits “Tale of Two Cities”

Industry profits data for the third quarter of 2019 were down from $3.05 billion in Q2 to $2.65 billion. Large printers continue to be the trouble spot.


Around the Web: Decade Dilemmas. Fiber Fallout. Paper Packing. Tentacle Trouble. Nifty Notebooks. Clever Keyboard. Helping Hive.

What are technology’s biggest challenges for the next decade? What are the top emerging technologies? Are natural fibers better for the environment than artificial fibers? Paper-based alternative to Bubble Wrap. The eternal struggle: eagle vs. octopus. For sale: Alaskan newspaper. Cost: $0. A teenager installs a 1,500-pound mainframe computer in his parents’ basement. A portable roll-up keyboard for smartphones and tablets. The rebirth of cursive writing? Bees as service animals. Rejoice: Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” is now online! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


Reinventing the Craft Industry Utilizing Digital Textile Printing (Premium Content)

The Maker movement continues to grow around the globe. In this post, WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan outlines how digital technologies are spurring even further growth and opportunity in the UK market. These trends are relevant to North America as well, enabling creative individuals, designers, and artisans to build their own unique businesses and together generate a vibrant craft Industry in ever increasing numbers.


Effective Sales Training Starts with Strategy

Print service providers with the highest growth rates employ great salespeople, so investing in your salespeople makes sense—especially with the rapid rate of change in our industry. New technologies and evolving buyer behaviors leave us with no choice; we either continue to learn or we become obsolete. Print service providers often believe that sales training is the key to closing more deals. Although this is a sound belief, it’s only part of the story. This article explores ways to ensure that your sales training investment pays off.


Most Adults Don’t Learn Until They Have To (Premium Content)

People in your organization have to keep learning new things so that you can continue to optimize your business using new tools (mostly software). Leadership’s job is to deliver the “have to” part of the learning equation.


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