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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.


From Hybrid Workflow to i300 White Paper Factory: Some Numbers

Thanks to some internal numbers from United Mail, we get a look inside the cost savings and QC improvements of switching from a hybrid to a Canon Solutions America VarioPrint i300 workflow.


Setting Up Estimating in Your Print MIS (Premium Content)

Your Print MIS should be your trusted system of record for your business; the estimating module is the most critical component of your Print MIS. When you implement estimating brilliantly, it provides you a healthy daily dose of ROI forever.


Heidelberg 2.0—Reinventing a Classic (Premium Content)

How do you reinvent a 160-year-old business to address the new market requirements? This is a challenge that we have been seeing over and over again, and many companies have not been able to make that change. Heidelberg seems to have found the formula that looks at their internal organization, but more importantly, at their customers’ changing requirements as well.


Textile Innovation in Rhode Island (Premium Content)

Officially launched in September 2018, the Rhode Island Textile Innovation Network (RITIN) is another example of initiatives across the country that are working to revive the U.S. textile and apparel industry, both with innovations that improve efficiency and to reshore textile and apparel manufacturing. We spoke with RITIN steering committee chairman and CEO of textile company Trans-Tex Michael Woody to learn more.


EFI Reggiani Unveils the EFI Reggiani BOLT—World’s Fastest Digital Textile Printer (Premium Content)

EFI Reggiani held a gala launch event for its new EFI Reggiani BOLT single-pass digital textile printer at Reggiani’s Bergamo, Italy, headquarters. Attended by nearly 300 media, customers, and potential customers, the event generated a high level of excitement. With high-quality print speeds of up to 90 meters per minute, this press looks to be a game changer for high-volume digital textile printing.


Prepress and Postpress Services Establishments

In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2016, that number had dropped to 1,545. (The Census Bureau stopped breaking out prepress and postpress establishments separately in 2012.) 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.


Around the Web: Dry Leather. Secret Envelopes. Movies and Typography. Eyewitness Alexa. Informed Identity Theft. Farewell, Mon Kg

Mix-and-match jigsaw puzzles. Postcards from World War I. The bestselling books of 2114. Alexa stars in a reboot of "Rear Window." Friendly skies, unfriendly seats. Weighing in on the kilogram. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.


Taylor Communications SCS: Transforming to Meet Changing Market Demands

Recognizing the challenges associated with making the digital transformation in customer communications, Taylor Corporation created a new organization called Taylor Communications, Secure & Customer Solutions, Inc. (Taylor Communications SCS). This article explores how Taylor has taken its printing and mailing capabilities to a new level by integrating its communications with advanced digital platforms to enhance the customer experience.


Wide-Format Graphics Make the Magnificent Mile More Magnificent (Premium Content)

After a decade in the ad agency world, Shira Kollins took her graphic design and production background and launched SpeedPro Chicago. By taking an active role in local business associations—and being “pleasantly persistent” when it comes to sales and marketing—she has built a business creating cutting-edge display graphics for some of Chicago’s biggest retailers and restaurants.


After Your Print Software Strategic Decision (Premium Content)

Once you make a print software decision, you have to enforce it by communicating the strategy clearly and then repeatedly. Your people will forget, your business will evolve, sales people will appear from other solutions trying to convince your team of a different path.


Commercialism (Premium Content)

Europeans in general like Americans, American culture, and American entrepreneurship. However, one of the things Europeans often find difficult to understand is the extent to which money seems to influence almost every aspect of American business. Our European correspondent Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV explains.


Consumers Love Packaging More Than Ever

As if you needed one more reason to add packaging to your product mix! A new study from WestRock, a leading provider of differentiated paper and packaging solutions, shows that consumers are loving packaging more than ever. The study, “2018 Packaging Matters,” outlines the key factors that influence consumer decisions.


Austin Community College Seeks to Spur Industry Growth with Fashion Incubator (Premium Content)

Austin Community College in Texas has launched an innovative Fashion Incubator with the goal of creating a real-to-industry learning environment in partnership with the City of Austin, Gerber Technology, and others. This is a unique approach to bringing new talent into the industry and giving new fashion-oriented businesses a jump start.


End of the Season? September 2018 Printing Shipments (Premium Content)

Printing shipments for September 2018 came in at $6.52 billion. That’s down from August—and it’s well below August 2017’s $6.76 billion. Are we seeing a new seasonality in the printing industry—or the end of any seasonality?


Around the Web: Virtual Fitting Rooms. Gift Wrap Your Face. Typewriters for Sale. Flying Cars. Music for Cheese. Fungus Footwear. Bionic Mushrooms. Fake News[casters].

Virtual fitting rooms for men. Create customized wrapping paper. Safety apparel for grow lights. Is the flying car on its way? Boots for Mars. Chinese news media introduces AI-based virtual presenters. What’s the deal with “The Piña Colada Song”? All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.


New Services: Are You Ready for the Domino Effect?

As you tease out the last bits of efficiency and productivity from your operations, the primary way to continue to grow your business is to add new services. The question is, which ones? How do you make smart decisions about what is best for your business? Sometimes the considerations go deeper than you might think.


InfoTrends’ Global Forecast Data Suggests Growth in Emerging Countries

United States, Western Europe, and Japan accounted for nearly two-thirds of total production printing placements in 2017. This article provides a brief overview of how global placements and print volumes are expected to shift over time.


A Reversal of Fortune: Paper Mills Gain Leverage—October 2018 M&A Activity

New Dragon acquires and opens shuttered paper mill, CJK rolls on in the book segment, Quad takes on LSC Communications, and more…


Is Your Print Business Freewheeling or Process Driven? (Premium Content)

If you make decisions about your business based solely on the intuition of you and your staff, you are limiting the growth and the scale of business learning that can take place in your organization.


Key Print Trends in Packaging to 2028 (Premium Content)

Smithers Pira shares its recent research that looks at the future of packaging to 2028, quantifying the overall market by packaging type and identifying the major emerging drivers of packaging market growth.


Flexo’s Transformation—It’s All About Controlling Variables (Premium Content)

Flexography is going through a renaissance. While it has been around since the late 19th century, it has never really had a role in “quality” printing, although that seems to be changing. This change is proving that it can fight off the increased use of digital printing for packaging production with better productivity and lower cost. In this article, David Zwang looks at one of the more significant changes facilitating that transformation.


In The Mail: October 2018—What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

The USPS announces new prices for 2019…Postal Service continues outreach on proposed new Marketing Mail Content Standards…U.S. intends to withdraw from 144-year-old Universal Postal Union Treaty…New Mail.dat version for January price changes.


Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall…Innovative Digital Solutions for Fashion (Premium Content)

The digital transformation in textiles and apparel is well underway. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne writes about the drivers for this transformation and how fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff is leveraging digital technologies in unique ways.


Apocalypse Postponed: The State of Retail (Premium Content)

Rumors of retail’s death have been greatly exaggerated (to coin a phrase). But there is no doubt that it is changing. We look at how it is changing, and what that means for POP/retail graphics providers.


Screen Printers—2016

In 2016, there were 5,150 total U.S. commercial screen printing establishments. As with most printing categories, the majority have under 10 employees, but screen shops tend to be smaller than other kinds of printing establishments.


Around the Web: New Flame-Retardant Fabric. Blockchains in Space. Direct-to-Object Printing. Pantone’s “Unignorable” Color. Hamster Power.

Don’t spoil the ends of books...or else. Heidelberg heads to InPrint Milan with the Omnifire. A new meaning of the phrase “high on the hog.” Pantone and United Way develop a new color to raise awareness of social issues. Could you power your home with hamsters? All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.


Where’s the Flash Point for Cloud Software?

Although the industry has not yet hit a “flash point” that would result in the significant growth of cloud-based software solutions, there are indications that this spark may not be far away. This article explores the growth potential and lingering challenges associated with cloud software.


Optimal Use of Your Web-to-Print System (Premium Content)

Your web-to-print solution is underutilized. Do all functional areas of your company—sales, customer service, technology—understand all the challenges your current web-to-print system solves? Probably not. You can’t be “solution focused” without understanding the challenges your toolset solves.


New EFI CEO Bill Muir Conducts Third Quarter Financial Analyst Call (Premium Content)

With its new CEO in place for just two weeks, I wanted to tune in to the company’s third quarter financial analyst call to get a feel for his approach to the business. This brief article summarizes what I heard and my thoughts on EFI moving forward.


T.J. Maxx Changes Its “Go Paperless” Messaging

Two Sides has reported that brands are moving away from “Go Paperless—Go Green” messaging because of negative publicity around greenwashing. As consumers start to recognize these ads as dishonest and really intended to save companies money, brands are switching from environmental messaging to convenience messaging instead. T.J. Maxx is one of them.


Edifice Rex: Vomela Conquers the Building Wrap (Premium Content)

The Vomela Companies, headquartered in St. Paul, Minn., started in 1947 doing promotional product printing. Now, 71 years later, the company has expanded through both organic growth and acquisition to produce retail, POS, décor, event, and fleet graphics for a wide variety of local and national brands and venues. Their most recent project: wrapping 3M’s 14-story corporate headquarters.


Ariel Swedroe: Best Fashion Story Ever! (Premium Content)

What were you thinking about at eight years old? Probably not the career that would be your life’s passion! That’s when Ariel Swedroe began her fashion career. At Age 11, she began exploring digitally printed fabrics. Today, at age 15, she has a full-fledged fashion business. But she’s not stopping there! You’ll love this story. 


Adobe Project Paras Extends Photoshop CC Textile Design Capabilities (Premium Content)

Designers in textiles and apparel typically use Adobe products to create their designs. But until now, there have not been textile-specific tools to make the task easier. To address this, Adobe has announced Project Paras, a set of tools that allow designers to stay within Photoshop CC and reduce the number of steps required to complete and preview a design. We spoke with Adobe to learn more.


Graphic Arts Employment Continues to Decline; PR Employment Continues to Grow (Premium Content)

Overall printing employment dropped from August to September 2018, and on a year-over-year basis is down -1.5%. Non-production printing employment was up slightly, indicating that production staff are the hardest employees to find. PR employment is again the industry bright spot, employment-wise.


Around the Web: Cameras In the Lens. Recycled Textiles in the Ink. Color in The Hulk. Apocalypse Not in Retail.

Get a customized reading list from the Brooklyn Public Library. A new process recycles textile waste into dyestuffs. Poor color management made The Hulk green.  Shatner Claus? Thwarting the “retail apocalypse.” 200 years of Frankenstein. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.


Personalized Video Part 2: How to Maximize Effectiveness (Premium Content)

Personalized video advertising is a relatively new marketing method empowered by the digital revolution. This article is the second in a two-part series. It explores how companies can most effectively use personalized video advertising to reach the widest share of audience.


Leaving Las Vegas: Recapping the SGIA Expo (Premium Content)

The final SGIA Expo was a culmination of all the specialty graphics innovations of the past decade or two—with a few signposts (digitally printed, of course) pointing to the future.


Labelexpo 2018 Part 2—Digital Embellishment Going Mainstream (Premium Content)

Labelexpo 2018 in Rosemont, Ill., and PRINT 18 in Chicago are over, and it they were pretty exciting shows. The crowds were enthusiastic and buying from early indications. In this second of two parts I will look at how embellishment is moving from a standalone mechanical process to digital mainstream production.


I Remember Charles Wang

Charles Wang, founder of Computer Associates (now called CA Technologies), passed away on Sunday at the age of 74. Frank Romano looks back at a technology—and VDP—pioneer.


Survey Looks at Digital Print Across the Buyer Journey

This survey by NAPCO Research and commissioned by the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) included something rarely seen in digital printing surveys: a look at the use of digital printing across the entire buyer’s journey.  It’s good news. Retailers are embracing digital printing for more than just direct mail.


Kornit Brings HD Direct-to-Garment Printing to Mid-Sized Businesses with Storm HD6 (Premium Content)

Since launching its high-end Avalanche HD6 direct-to-garment printer and HD upgrade to most Avalanche systems with RAPID ink technology in the first quarter of this year, Kornit Digital has installed or upgraded a whopping 150 HD systems. Now the company has brought HD direct-to-garment technology to within reach of smaller businesses with the launch of the Storm HD6.


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