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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.


10 Industry Changes That Make Me Grateful

Looking back, the industry has changed considerably in 20+ years. Here is a list of 10 changes for which I am grateful. How about you?


Three Things to Stop Doing in 2020 (Premium Content)

As 2020 approaches, it’s a great time to break bad habits that can be costing your business money. Pat McGrew identifies three bad habits for print businesses to break in 2020.


Drive Your Business at the Mailbox: Learn How to Design Better Direct Mail (Premium Content)

Everyone loses when poorly designed pieces make it into the mail, so making direct mail better should be a priority for every print organization that even remotely touches the direct marketing segment. In this article, Elizabeth Gooding offers some best design practices for effective direct mail.


Executive Q&A: Massivit 3D’s Erez Zimerman (Premium Content)

Lod, Israel’s Massivit 3D was founded in 2013, and in the past six years has made a substantial impact with its 3D printing technology. Erez Zimerman joined Massivit 3D four years ago as VP of Global Sales, and was appointed CEO in May 2019. We caught up with Zimerman at the recent PRINTING United show in Dallas.


Shimmy into the Digital Future with AI-Supported Training for Textile Workers (Premium Content)

At the recent SPESA Executive Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Krasley of Shimmy, a company that provides training for garment workers using gamification (to make it more engaging) and artificial intelligence for localization, among other things. With automation increasingly expected to eliminate jobs in the textiles and other industries, upskilling of these workers is a critical investment in our future—and theirs.


Around the Web: Gaga for Graphene! Vexing Valuation. DNA Data. Explaining Ecommerce. Sham Shipping. Stalking Signage. Mysterious Millinery.

A graphene jacket. A costly typo in Utah. Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year. The DNA of things”—creating materials with built-in memory. Intricate paper sculptures of microorganisms. Free shipping isn’t always free. User-tracking billboards—and with whom they share data. Who is putting hats on Las Vegas pigeons? KFC’s chicken-scented yule log. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.


October Printing Shipments: Raise a Glass of Holiday Cheer

The value of printing shipments for October 2019 was $7.65 billion—a pretty big jump from September’s $7.14 billion. October has become the biggest month of the year, and this is the best October the industry has had since 2016.


Future-Proofing Your Workflow

2019 ushered in new levels of interest in improving and automating workflows, but the level of actual implementation was not as high as we would have hoped to see by now. This article explores some of the barriers to workflow automation and offers insight on overcoming them.


What’s the Point of Behavioral Assessments? (Premium Content)

We can have the best business model—i.e., value proposition, profit formula, conversion process, technology, etc.—but if we don’t have qualified people suited to the jobs they hold, it all falls apart. Is this the sort of risk you are willing to take? Shouldn’t you give as much thought to hiring decisions as you do to equipment and software decisions?


Basic Personalization Isn’t Enough Anymore

Where are retailers along the curve of personalized marketing? What is the ROI? What works and what doesn’t? These were some of the questions Liveclicker wanted to answer with its report “Driving Value with Advanced Personalization.”  The takeaway? Basic personalization isn’t enough anymore.


What is Your Print Business Differentiation? (Premium Content)

What do you provide for your sales team to get the upper hand in the marketplace? Do you have differentiation? Are you investing in something that will not only win new customers but keep existing ones?


Flexible Packaging with Inkjet Gets Fast and Wide (Premium Content)

Uteco and Kodak have just announced that they sold the first UTECO Sapphire EVO W product production inkjet press designed for flexible packaging. The “W” refers to “Wide” since this press has a 1250 mm (49 in.) width. The EVO W is the first press to be powered by the Kodak ULTRASTREAM technology. The press supports a higher resolution of 600 x 1800 dpi at up to 150 mpm (492 fpm). Overall productivity can be 4X over existing digital solutions.


Wide-Format 2019: Where Are We Now? (Premium Content)

As 2019 winds down, we take a look at the current state of wide-format printing. Where have we come, where are we now, and where are we going?


Blunt Skincare One of First CBD Companies to Consider Neenah’s Hemp Fiber Folding Board for Packaging (Premium Content)

A cosmetic chemist who has worked with some of the largest beauty brands, Stas Chirkov saw an opportunity to develop his own line of skincare products based on industrial hemp. In this article, he explains how he got started and details how specialized packaging impacts his ability to market his products.


Digital Printing Driving Innovation in Textile Printing (Premium Content)

For decades, digital printing for the fashion, décor, industrial, and graphics industry was relegated to sampling and short-run printing. With the advantages of innovative inkjet technology, the industry is now addressing the demand for environmentally responsible output, innovative designs, and the need to improve supply chain operation. This article examines the latest textile industry trends and the dynamics of digital innovations on this massive industry supply chain, and looks at innovations in design and digital print, as well as cutting and sewing of textile-based products.


Commercial Printing: Consolidation or Regional Expansion? —November 2019 M&A Activity

Mittera acquires business assets of Fuse, Knepper purchases Dual Print & Mail, H.I.G. Capital invests in print (again), and more…


Around the Web: Crafty Carlsberg. Couture Clash. Fatal Fashion. Local Losses. Sham Shipments. Brainy Brush. Cuneiform Cookies. Purring Professors.

Carlsberg Group replaces plastic ring carriers and shrinkwrapping with innovative adhesive dots. The environmental toll of haute couture. A textile-based horror movie. The death of local news. An interactive look at the graphic design and development of New York City’s subway map. An AI system attempts to write about printing shipments. “A fitness tracker for your mouth.” A new look at Marco Polo’s last year in Venice. A Welsh password generator. Cats teaching economics. A $1 hotel room—exhibitionists preferred. A smoke-breathing Godzilla Christmas tree. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly, Baby Yoda-free miscellany.


First Look: Industry Business Conditions 2019

Preliminary results from our 2019 Business Outlook Survey show that one-fourth (24%) of survey respondents reported that, compared to 2018, revenues for 2019 were up more than 10%. That’s the highest this has been since we started our annual survey in 2015. Elsewhere, though, things are a bit more muted.


The Role of Spandex in Digitally Printed Athleisure and Performance Sportswear (Premium Content)

Spandex, Lycra, elastane: Whatever would we do without these stretchy, comfortable fabrics. And digital textile printing adds even more flexibility to what can be done with them. Textiles guru Debbie McKeegan explains.


Exploring the Barriers—Real and Imagined—to Augmented Reality

Many print service providers are considering if and how AR solutions might improve their product offerings. This article explores some of the perceived barriers to AR adoption. Although some of these barriers are very real, some PSPs may be surprised to learn that the impact of others has been exaggerated.


Heat Transfer Dye Sublimation: The Next Profit Opportunity for Commercial and Display Graphics Printers (Premium Content)

Cary Sherburne looks at how print businesses can profit from offering heat-transfer dye-sublimation services, including textile-based products, as well as mugs, metallic substrates, and more.


2D and 3D Printing Have More In Common Than You Think (Premium Content)

The technological innovations that propel 3D printing also drive advances in 2D printing technology. Whether software, firmware, or fluids, what manufacturers learn about jetting materials for 3D printing can be applied to 2D printing—and many familiar names in the 2D printing space are active in 3D. In this article, Pete Basiliere of Monadnock Insights reports from Formnext, the largest 3D printing technology conference and exhibition, and identifies where 2D and 3D printing technologies overlap.


Trends in Digital Video Advertising

Round-up of digital video advertising trends and top-line data on the digital video advertising market.


The Print Customer’s Narrative (Premium Content)

A customer narrative documents the experience of doing business with you—from the sales process all the way through invoicing—from the customer’s perspective.


AATCC and SGIA Join Together to Present the Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0

The Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0, jointly presented by AATCC and SGIA, is a great way to wrap up a year full of dynamic change for the industry. It’s a full agenda designed to address the needs of everyone, from those that need a primer on digital textile printing, to those looking to expand their digital footprint, to developers who want to bring to market solutions closely attuned to existing and emerging market needs.


How To Sell Enhanced Printing (Premium Content)

“Digital enhancement” or enhanced printing is one of the hottest trends in the industry and has been the talk of many recent trade shows—but enhanced print doesn’t sell itself. Pat McGrew offers some tips and strategies for selling enhanced printing to maximize ROI.


CannaBath: From Massage Therapist to CBD Entrepreneur (Premium Content)

The market for CBD-based products is exploding, and will grow even more once a few of the regulatory issues have been ironed out. California-based CannaBath is an example of an entrepreneurial company that has brought CBD-based bath and body products to market and has benefited from a creative approach to packaging these products in partnership with San Diego-based Hippo Packaging.


Cyber Risk Management in the Printing Industry (Premium Content)

If you have one employee, one customer, one supplier, you have data, and that makes you a target. Are you ready for the inevitable?


Product Spotlight: Konica Minolta’s AccurioJet KM-1 LED-UV Inkjet Press Delivers 90% Uptime for Franklin Direct Marketing

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne interviewed Craig Chumney, Vice President of Baton Rouge-based Franklin Direct Marketing, to gain insight into how the acquisition of a Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 UV inkjet press has enhanced his business.


Before-and-After Shots Show Anti-Greenwashing Efforts Are Working

Two Sides North America has been on a campaign to remove greenwashing. Here’s visual evidence that it’s working.


BOBST Ups the Stakes with Next-Generation Hybrid Press and More (Premium Content)

BOBST has been providing solutions to the printing and packaging industries for four generations, and more recently has added digital textile printing to the mix. Cary Sherburne talks with CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst.


Digital Print Output to Grow 65% over Next 10 Years, According to New Smithers Strategic Forecast

Digital print output is forecast to grow by 65% over the next 10 years to reach $230 billion by 2029. This dynamic growth rate will be driven by incursions into package printing, as well as books and other graphic printing areas, according to Smithers report The Future of Digital Print: Long-Term Strategic Forecasts to 2029.


Know the Signs: A Non-Print Signage Primer (Premium Content)

Print businesses have been expanding into signage by leaps and bounds—but print signage is only the tip of the iceberg. “Signs” comprise a lot of different manufacturing products and materials.


Color Management: Gandhi, Pop Music, the Human Psyche, and Resolve (Premium Content)

How are the players in the print production process like a group of musicians playing on stage? Idealliance CEO Tim Baechle offers advice for filtering out all the noise we are bombarded with and focusing on “playing in time” with others in the supply chain.


Buy a Sweater, Adopt a Sheep (Premium Content)

As the textiles and apparel industry continues to take heat for its highly negative impact on the environment, some companies are taking creative approaches to not only creating sustainable garments, but pushing the industry to take more aggressive steps toward carbon-neutral operation. Sheep, Inc., is one of those companies.


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