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The Current State of the Graphics & Sign Industry

SGIA’s Dan Marx shares highlights from the 2015 SGIA Specialty Imaging Industry Survey. What equipment is hot? What products are on the rise, and which are on the decline? In what verticals are the hot prospects? And what is the overall market outlook for the wide-format and specialty graphics industry?


Next-Stage Growth Was Front-of-Mind at Digital Print for Packaging Conference

Digital printing for packaging has room to grow and the means to achieve that growth. There was plenty of room for discussion about making it happen at a recent symposium of experts in Tampa.


10 of 11 Months of Increased Inflation-Adjusted US Commercial Printing Shipments

This chart shows how the US commercial printing shipments have been better compared to the prior year for the last 11 months of reporting by the Commerce Department. What's it mean? We're still averaging $400 million per month less than a similar period in 2010-2011, and we're well below the levels of ten years ago by about -$2.8 billion per month. The recent stability may be the result of several factors. First, weak companies are gone as a result of closures and consoPrinting Shipments Rising, Best April Since 2010lidations, leaving companies that know what modern print users need. Second, there has been a generational change in management to owners and executives who are more comfortable with digital technology because they have always used it, growing up with cell phones, video games, and computers everywhere. Third, the big targets for displacement by digital media have been pulverized, and what remains are specialties and applications more appropriate to a multichannel integrated media marketplace. Fourth, there a more companies using business development techniques (tell us about your target audience and how we can make your digital initiatives more effective) rather than old sales techniques (would you like to see my equipment list?). Then again, it could be the calm before another storm. New data networks are on their way, such as 5G, where two hour movies can be downloaded in six seconds rather than six minutes. Print has a good story to tell, but please, don't make it an old story. Print needs to be fresh and new. The market may be stable now, so use this time well to get ready for the market ahead.


The Stars Are Aligned for ANRO in Production Inkjet Printing

ANRO Communications is well-known in the printing community for its innovation and thought leadership position. In this article, sponsored by HP, Paul DeSantis, ANRO’s Director of IT, talks about how production inkjet has future-proofed the company’s business.


Top 5 Mistakes with Web-to-Print (Premium Content)

Web-to-print is our term for moving customer engagement online. This represents a big change for most traditional business-to-business printers. This article describes the top five mistakes I see when working with printers through this transition from an offline business to an online / self-service customer interaction model.


Commerce Department Revises US Commercial Printing Shipments Data: Revises Shipments Higher for 2013 and 2014 (Premium Content)

Every May, the US Department of Commerce issues “benchmark” revisions to the manufacturing shipments data it reports. Every month, the shipments report is used by economists and analysts at Government agencies, such as the Treasury Department, but also by banks, businesses, and others, to identify strong and weak areas of the economy, and to forecast future economic conditions. The reports are based on a combination of actual and estimated data from economic models.


Today’s the Day: OSHA HCS Compliance Update

If you work with hazardous chemicals or other substances commonly used in printing operations, June 1, 2015, is the deadline for meeting new requirements to OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard (HCS), in particular, new warning labels and Safety Data Sheets (SDS). Here’s what you need to know.


Paper Chase: Mcor Pursues 3D Printing Market with Ingredients That Every Printer Knows

Put ink on paper, and you have a print. Do the same thing as part of a process known as selective deposition lamination, and you can have a three-dimensional object in full, ICC-compliant color.


A Renewed Focus on Core Print Services and a Slowing PSP-to-MSP Migration (Premium Content)

The transition from a Print Service Provider to a Marketing Service Provider has been a topic of discussion for several years now. Although some businesses are making this shift, others are placing a renewed focus on their core competencies. This article cites InfoTrends’ research and explores the challenges that can arise when attempting to make the transition to an MSP.


Microbusinesses Increasing as a Percentage of the Workforce

The Commerce Department released its “Nonemployer Statistics” data for 2013, showing that these businesses increased to 23 million since 2012, and by 30%, three times the rate of population growth, since 2002. Let's call them “microbusinesses.” They are now more than one in seven of the workforce.


The Custom Print Software Project

When you need a custom software solution, think about assembling a puzzle rather than building from scratch. The software landscape is full of integrate-able pieces that can give you ‘expected’ functionality so you can focus your custom development on what makes you ‘unique’.


The Pizza Box—Yes, the Pizza Box—Reimagined

When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, it may be because someone has printed or drawn the moon (or another visually arresting image) on the box.


Two Paper Makers Forge Alliance for High-End Packaging (Premium Content)

Trust, a handshake, and an eye on luxury packaging are behind the newly formed partnership between Mohawk and Arjowiggins Creative Papers.


No Letup in Experiments with E-Ink and E-Paper

If e-ink and e-paper haven’t yet taken the world of graphic communications by storm, that doesn’t necessarily mean they never will.


Cordoba Printing Brings Print On Demand to Israeli Publishers with Kodak PROSPER 1000

Adding production inkjet to its book printing operation is enabling Cordoba Printing & Binding of Israel to adjust to drastic changes in the Israeli book market as well as to pursue new business opportunities. Learn more in this article sponsored by Kodak.


Revised Annual US Commercial Printing Shipments Show Stability in Recent Years

Last week, the US Department of Commerce released its annual revisions to manufacturing shipments. Printing shipments estimates were increased a total of approximately $10 billion combined for 2013 and 2014. The data softened the decline in 2013 shipments by a considerable margin and also reaffirmed the recent rise in printing shipments over the last ten months. While shipments in 2014 were still below 2013 on an inflation-adjusted basis, the pattern of the last few years shows a decline in shipments that is more muted than the Commerce Department originally reported. Our advice is the same: this is breathing room that can be used for restructuring of print businesses with forward-looking strategies that can take advantage of the next waves of communications technologies, while implementing sales and marketing processes that are appropriate for the times ahead.


Has your Print MIS Estimating Fallen Apart? (Premium Content)

Estimating is a core function for Print MIS software, yet many printers fail to implement this part of the system to a trusted level, hence there is a lot of retreating back to Excel. Estimating is a critical function that needs to be part of your integrated and measureable print management information system.


Digital Signage Assistants


In Praise of Packaging Engineering, with Specimens that Speak for Themselves (Premium Content)

In a package, you see the design, but you experience the engineering: the underlying combination of technical merits that make it practical to use as well as delightful to behold.


Challenges In Sizing the Sign and Display Market (Premium Content)

By all accounts, the sign and display industry is growing by leaps and bounds. But getting accurate sizing data is fraught with difficulties—difficulties that have largely been caused by the very factors that are driving growth.


Why Can’t We All Be Employed by Employers Like Hammer Packaging ?

Rochester, NY, is distinguished for many things connected to the printing industry. Hammer Packaging is keeping that tradition alive in an exceptionally employee-friendly way.


Reinvention: Centered on the Customer (Premium Content)

During the 2015 Inkjet Summit, service providers acknowledged that much of the innovation in their markets was done in collaboration with customers and driven by the dynamic changes in the clients’ specific businesses. This article explores how inkjet technology is delivering key advantages to transactional printing, direct mail marketing, and publication printing applications.


NAICS 323 US Commercial Printing Establishments

These data about US commercial printing establishments are from the newly released 2013 County Business Patterns published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At the turn of this century, there were nearly 38,000 establishments engaged in commercial printing and services; in 2013 there were nearly 27,000. These data do not include inplant printing departments or packaging, but do include label printers and trade services. An establishment is a separate location in a practical definition, and a firm can own more than one establishment. The number of establishments is in response to the size, scope, and nature of overall print demand, but there are other factors.


Latest Analysis of Employment and Retail Sales Data (Premium Content)

Dr Joe. digs into the last 2015 GDP trends, last Friday's overall unemployment report, and US commercial printing employment.


Focus, Priorities: The Future of Your Print Business (Premium Content)

Looking backwards won’t help you navigate the uncharted waters of the future. The print businesses of the future will adapt to remain relevant in a digital, online, and data-driven world.


Eeewww or Edible? Nanoscience May Have an Answer for Food Packaging

Deciding when packaged food has gone bad is a tough call that we often get wrong. At MIT, they’ve come up with a guesswork-eliminating solution.


Catching the Falling Knife versus Personal Branding – April 2015 M&A Activity

April 2015 –Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries


With Flexcel NX, Kodak Promises to Break New Ground in Flexo Print Quality and Efficiency

Can flexography do a better job with opaque whites, hard-to-hold details, and other hurdles for packaging printing with the process? Kodak says yes.


ISA 2015: Trends and Opportunities

InfoTrends’ Steve Urmano recaps the recent ISA Sign Expo with a rundown of some of the major product announcements, as well as a diverse array of other printing and finishing equipment on display.


First Quarter US Commercial Printing Shipments Up +3.5% Versus 2014

The last ten months of US commercial printing shipments have increased +3% compared to the same months of the prior years. For the first calendar quarter, shipments are up +3.5% compared to the same quarter of 2014. There has not been this kind of growth for about ten years. Please note, however, that the Commerce Department is revising at least three years of historical data next week; it's not possible to determine how the data will change. Assuming the pattern of these data remain the same, it's not a long term bottoming of the shipment level that will turn upward again. The march of digital technologies that offer alternatives to print will continue (read what 5G networks will bring in 2020, for example). It's more likely a pause that should be used to reposition well-running print businesses for the future, consider investing in capabilities and businesses that will take advantage of the new communications innovations ahead, and develop alliances with others whose talents will be needed to do so. This might be 2005-2007 playing out again for us. If your business is growing, don't rest on your laurels. Appreciate the flexibility your business has to prepare for the future and use the time wisely. Never hunker down and wait for things to play out.


Access Direct: Reinventing Business with Inkjet Technology (Premium Content)

During the 2015 Inkjet Summit, a number of innovators acknowledged the need to leverage emerging technologies to profitably accelerate business growth. This article explores how Access Direct has reinvented itself as a leader in data management, variable messaging, and inkjet printing. It also demonstrates how Access Direct’s actions parallel the advice given in Josh Linkner’s book entitled The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation.


Organic Search Success and Duplicate Content

The internet search engines do not like duplicate content; in fact they rank your site lower if you are duplicating content from a site that clearly has the authority to that content.


Make Your Customers the Stars of Your Marketing

Your marketing should talk more about your customers than about you. Compelling marketing content is about telling customer success stories to teach and attract more customers who find your content relevant to their current challenges.


Xerox iGen 4 for Folding Cartons: An Update from Europe (Premium Content)

If you don’t think of Xerox’s iGen4 as a packaging press, think again. In Europe, the platform is showing off what it can do in folding cartons for consumer-product and pharmaceutical applications.


PET Project: Label-less Labeling

Every beverage bottle must have a label to identify and brand the product—correct? Not necessarily, says the developer of a direct-printing alternative.


Point/Counterpoint: The Business Case For (and Against) Digital Signage (Premium Content)

Dynamic digital signage is becoming a hotter and hotter topic, and while there are ample opportunities for companies to get in on, if not the ground floor, than at least the mezzanine, it’s not to everyone’s taste. Here are some arguments for—and against.


Q1-2015 GDP Disappoints at +0.2%; Will We Hear the “R” Word Soon? (Premium Content)

The GDP estimate of Q1-2015 growth was at +0.2% when consensus was +1.0%. The estimate will be revised at the end of each of the next two months. That consensus estimate of professional economists has been revised down regularly since the beginning of the year, with many of the original estimates at +3% or higher.


Symeta: Selling Inkjet, Delivering Value

In what is perceived as a commodity-oriented marketplace, print sales reps struggle to maintain a proper balance between features and benefits. This article explores how Symeta (Brussels, Belgium) has transformed its business with strong sales and marketing and a value-based approach to communications.


Payroll per Employee for Commercial Printing and Content Creation Businesses

The 2013 County Business Patterns report was just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the most valuable of all government economic reports. The data are based on Social Security tax filings made by employers. In this manner, the BLS can count the number of business establishments and the number of employees of those establishments with great accuracy from analysis from the mandatory filings of Form 941, submitted with company payroll taxes. As the data show, content creation businesses have much higher per employee annual salaries. This makes these industries very attractive to new employees, especially those starting their careers. The most interesting to me is the rise in public relations agencies. In the late 1980s, the payroll for ad agency workers was about one-third more than public relations. In 2005, they were about the same. In these 2013 data, PR employees are paid about one-eighth more.


Workflow— Reinventing PRINERGY 7 and Kodak

This article is a part of a series of articles by David L. Zwang that focuses on the processes and products that can lead to the transformation of your current workflows and business to prepare you for the new challenges ahead. In this article, Zwang looks at the release of PRINERGY 7, in the context of Kodak’s reinvention.


Growth Opportunities: A Conversation with SpeedPro Imaging President Boris Katsnelson (Premium Content)

Founded 10 years ago, SpeedPro Imaging is a network of 120 franchises—or “studios”—located in 30 states that specialize in wide-format printing, from trade show and event graphics, to vehicle graphics, to wall murals, and beyond.


New Workflow Chief at Kodak (Premium Content)

We recently learned that Kodak has hired a new workflow chief. Allan Brown, formerly with HP and Xerox, joined the company as General Manager of its Unified Workflow Solutions business. Read what Brown has to say about workflow and Kodak strategies moving forward.


“R&D” on a Digital Press Takes Premier Markings to the Next Level in Label Production

Established seven years ago, this small but visionary shop is a case study in the rise of digital technologies in the label printing segment.


HP Aims to Disrupt 3D Printing with Inkjet Solution Now on Way to Market (Premium Content)

By adding a third dimension to what it already knows about inkjet printing in two, HP hopes to develop the fastest and most capable 3D printing solution yet seen.


Launching Additional Brands Online

What’s more costly, opening up a new successful retail location or a new successful online brand/store? The answer is “it depends”. Just because making a new e-commerce site is “cheap” doesn’t take into consideration all the costs of driving traffic and getting conversions.


Transformation: Are You Taking the Right Steps to Change? (Premium Content)

Service providers of all sizes are constantly talking about the need to transform their businesses from commodity-oriented organizations to marketing and communication service specialists. A recent article from McKinsey & Company details six steps for driving revenue and margin improvements, and these steps are discussed in this piece.


Printing Prices Compared to General Inflation

The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes many indexes of inflation, the best known of which is the Consumer Price Index. The BLS also publishes hundreds of other indexes in the Producer Price Index (PPI) series that track price changes in industries, products, and commodities. This week's chart shows the year-to-year change in CPI (orange line) and the PPI for printing (blue line) on a monthly basis for a little more than ten years. For most of that period, printing prices have lagged consumer prices, often by wide margins. Since December 2004, printing prices are up +14% while consumer prices are up +27%. That is, printing prices are increasing at about half the rate of consumer prices. Or, looked at differently, printing prices are about -10% less than the change in consumer prices: print is getting cheaper every day. But print owners and their workers cannot spend printing dollars when they go to the supermarket; they have to make up for the 10% shortfall in prices somehow. This is difficult since many of the prices printers need to pay for wages and materials more closely follow consumer prices. It's a double-edged problem: lower revenues, higher costs. Profit leaders have figured out how to survive in this environment as they still stand out from their peers. But these double-edged pressures have caused weak companies to leave or offer themselves as consolidation candidates.


Garbage In, Garbage Out, Good Accomplished

How an earth-friendly cleaning products company called method scours the ocean for plastic waste it can recycle into material for new containers.


Temporary Signage and “EMCs” Continue to Rile City Planners; What Aspiring Sign Shops Need to Know (Premium Content)

There are growing opportunities for print service providers in signage—both printed and electronic—but it pays to do your homework when it comes to signage regulations.


Interview with Kevin Cushing on Alliance Franchise Brands, Franchising and More (Premium Content)

Kevin Cushing, formerly CEO of AlphaGraphics, has accepted the position of President of the Marketing & Print Division of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC (parent company of Allegra Network LLC). Hear what he has to say about the company, franchising in general and the importance of a learning environment.


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