WhatTheyThink

Commentary & Analysis

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June Printing Employment Down Y/Y

Overall, printing employment ticked up from May to June 2018, but on a year-over-year basis is down -1.8% from June 2017. Among the creative markets, PR is the place to be.

Around the Web: Amazon to Replace Libraries? – Book Fore-Edge Painting – The Truth About Recycled Clothing – Japan’s Looming “Y2K”-Like Problem – This Week in Printing History

Forbes columnist suggests replacing public libraries with Amazon stores, for some reason. The economic costs of comma misuse. Built-in sun protection for garments. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Graphic Arts Companies Feel the Pinch of Aluminum Tariffs

Last month, the Trump Administration levied a 10% tariff on imported aluminum and a 25% tariff on imported steel. At present, the tariffs are having the biggest impact on manufacturers of aluminum lithographic plates—although that may be just the beginning. Plate manufacturers are deciding how best to respond, while industry associations are helping to fight back.

Identifying Successful Sales Practices for Print Providers

Every company has a sales process. Although these processes are sometimes well-established and well-documented, this is not always the case. If you’re struggling with your sales process, this article provides a quick-start guide on performing a sales audit.

Faces of Finishing: Mark Nixon of Scodix on the Triumphs and Challenges of Bringing Disruptive Technology to Market

In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with Mark Nixon, GM and VP Sales for Scodix NA, about creating a market and elevating print with disruptive technology.

In The Mail: July 2018 — What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

July brings a mixed bag of postal/mailing news, from The White House supporting the idea of privatizing the USPS to the Postal Service gaining approval for internal performance audits, CAPS yielding to EPS, STOP on its way to becoming law, and both ID and IV adding features.

Adobe PDF Print Engine 5: PDF 2.0 Coming Soon to a DFE Near You

Adobe announced Adobe PDF Print Engine 5, their core technology used by many Digital Front Ends driving print production equipment. This release makes PDF 2.0 print-related features available for OEM implementation.

Taking Stock of Industry Associations

It’s been some time since we have taken a look at the state of our industry associations. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne conducted 17 interviews in late Spring 2018 with key industry players to get an update on status and strategies. We don’t cover every organization in the industry—there are simply too many—but it gives a good overview on the organizations and resources available to help printing businesses be more successful.

Purissimo from Devan Chemicals: A Textile Treatment Bringing Hope to Pet Allergy Sufferers

Do you have a cat or a dog? Or would you like to, if only you or someone in your household weren’t sensitive to allergens shed by cats and dogs? Devan Chemicals has an answer that may help. The company recently launched a technology to make textiles free from allergens shed by cats and dogs. Purissimo™ is a probiotic-based solution and is completely natural. We spoke to the company to learn more.

Around the Web: The Virtual Dressing Room – Cool Threads – Underwear Knife – Biobased Car – This Week in Printing History

Try on clothes virtually. As bad as flying is, it used to be worse. World’s first biobased, circular car has been successfully designed and built. Men’s boxer shorts turned into a knife. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Get Ready for Change…Make Digitally Printed Packaging a Part of Your Future

Although digitally printed corrugated packages serve to enclose products, develop displays, and create shipping containers, they can also be used as billboards for savvy brands to advertise and increase consumer engagement. This article explores how brands can take advantage of printed packaging to differentiate their marketing messages.

When Color Memory Fails, Do Brand Standards Matter?

We are in a color-obsessed industry. Brand colors, in particular, are critical. When it comes to specific shades of color, however, studies show that consumers’ color memories are really poor. Considering this, along with the inability to maintain brand color standards in a digital world, where does the value in maintaining brand standards really lie?

Succeeding in Spite of Print Software’s Weaknesses

A culture of finding ways to optimize software in your business is something you can control. The successful printers will be the ones who are getting the most of their print software tools—mostly by being open to evolving their own workflows to fit the how the software works best.

Twenty Technical Innovations Set to Transform Packaging into a Sustainable Industry

Smithers Pira presents the highlights of its latest study, identifying the top 20 technical innovations that will underpin a greener and more sustainable future for packaging.

Don’t Box Me In—Boxes On Demand Are Coming Just in Time!

Ecommerce has created a new demand for custom corrugated boxes. To satisfy that demand, the purchase of Plymouth Packaging by WestRock has created a new momentum for producing custom sized boxes on demand at a time when the demand for variable-sized boxes in exploding.

DuraVibe Fabric Pretreatment for Digital Textile Printing Opens New Business Opportunities

Digital textile printing is taking off, and solutions that increase flexibility while maintaining high quality standards will help speed this analog-to-digital transformation. We recently spoke with Ann Sawchak, co-founder of Expand Systems, about the company’s DuraVibe fabrics and the role they play in enabling more digital printing volume.

May Printing Shipments Up from April, Closing in on 2017 Levels

Printing shipments for May 2018 came in at $6.77 billion, up +3.1% from April. However, on an inflation-adjusted basis, May 2018 came in below the $6.92 billion reported in May 2017, and is well below the recent high of $7.46 billion back in May 2016.

Around the Web: Pet Allergen-Free Textiles – Social Media Around the World – Pink Is the Oldest Color – 3D Printed Car – A Decade of Smartphone Apps – This Week in Printing History

A new technology can remove pet allergens from textiles (and that’s nothing to sneeze at). The retail transformation heats up. Scientists find the oldest (1.1 billion years) colors. ColorZenith uses Massivit technology to 3D print a classic car for Milan’s La Scala opera house. The Morgan Library & Museum in NYC is exhibiting a unique autograph collection. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Does the Future of Print Start with Digital Marketing?

As the level of sophistication and effectiveness of digital marketing grows, and as the younger generation of marketers who natively understand and use these channels continues to overtake the traditional generation, is the future of print to understand digital marketing and fit into its world rather than the other way around?

Innovation with Print Software

The source of our innovation is moving from the production floor to the customer’s mobile device. We are going from the differentiation based on speed, quality, and finishing to differentiation based on solving customer’s data challenges way upstream of the printing press.

Technical Printing on the Desktop

Epson announced two new entry-level models in its SureColor T Series, designed for technical and AES (architecture, engineering, and construction) printing. These devices are targeted more to end users—architecture and design firms, SOHOs, etc.—than print service providers, which indicates the direction technical printing as market segment is going.

Looking to Enter the European Print Market? Know Where the Competition Really Is

Traditional printers across Europe face stiff competition from cheaper online print service providers—and not just for commodity print products anymore. US printers hoping to enter the European market also face this daunting competition.

What Did Not Happen – June 2018 M&A Activity

Edwards Brothers Malloy shuts down as others consolidate book printing, transactional activity at five-year low, other major closures announced…

Around the Web: New Water-Repellent Textiles – A 3D Printing Playbook – CliffsNotes for Food Labels – Missile Mail! – Public Libraries’ Streaming Services – This Week in Printing History

A new process reduces the environmental impact of water-repellent textiles. Harvard Business Review looks at new possibilities for 3D printing. New health benefits of coffee. The best streaming service may just be your public library. RIP Harlan Ellison. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

DPInnovations: A Complete web2fabric™ Workflow Solution

Web-to-print is well established in the world of commercial printing, and web-to-fabric is now gaining steam in textiles, as the demand for shorter runs and faster turn times for customized and personalized textiles and apparel grows. We recently spoke with DPInnovations about its web2fabric workflow solution which has been installed in more than 20 customer locations.

Whose Job Is It to Create Demand for Print?

What do you think the role of the printing industry and printers, specifically, ought to be in demand generation for print? Do printers even have a responsibility to work together to generate demand for their own product?

Launched During the Great Recession, SpeedPro Marin Realized There Was “No Place to Go But Up”

When Steve Moran-Cassese decided to launch a print business in the midst of the Great Recession, he knew it could only grow—and he was right. A mix of the right equipment and picking up on hot new application trends early on has helped SpeedPro Marin thrive. And, somewhat ironically, the Bay Area’s booming economy has created its own challenges.

Around the Web: Amazon’s On-Demand T-shirts – Cooking a 4,000-year-old recipe – “Cash is grief” – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – This Week in Printing History

A "historical culinary event" featured a 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian recipe carved on a cuneiform tablet. Modern air conditioning was originally invented for a Brooklyn commercial print shop. Amazon beats out Google for product searches. The World Cup gives a lift to streaming services. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Smart Print Manufacturing Makes You Money

Smart Print Manufacturing (SPM) can help companies achieve operational excellence. This article explores how SPM enables workflow automation so businesses can create quality products and services by adding value throughout the supply chain.

Trend Watch: Popularity of Press Coatings Drives “Designer Presses”

Greater awareness of special print effects and press coatings is driving printers to rethink their press configurations to meet the demands of discerning customers who need high-impact, quick-turn, two-sided printing with press coatings at a competitive price.

Delivering Relevant Benefits in Print Sales

Sales is about catering your company’s solutions to the specific challenges that are relevant to their current situation. There is no better way to lose a prospect’s attention then to talk about subjects that aren’t relevant to them.

Too Cool to Part With: The Superfan Company Creates Special Print Projects for Superfans

Brittany Hodak co-founded The Superfan Company to make “cool collectible stuff for superfans”—coffee table books, deluxe packages for albums and DVDs, subscription magazines, fan boxes, metal commemorative tickets, limited edition tour books, and more, elaborate, print-centric items that help bring fans closer to a beloved musician or athlete. We spoke with Hodak about her own journey that started at a local radio station and led to The Superfan Company—and an appearance on Shark Tank.

Now THAT’s the Way to Get the Message Out!

A look at one printer’s effort to reach out to the design and marketing community to promote the value of direct mail—and not just any direct mail, but direct mail designed to drive website traffic. It’s a real eye-catcher and great inspiration.

Production Inkjet—The Waves Continue: Ricoh Pro VC70000

In 2011, David Zwang began a series that looked at the current production inkjet product offerings from a wide range of vendors, discussing how they are being, or could be, used. Since then he has continued to evaluate and report on new developments. The latest product is the new Ricoh Pro VC70000, which rounds out the Ricoh VC Pro production print offerings with an impressive press targeted at higher-quality offset-to-digital migration with the ability to print on many commodity coated offset papers with higher ink densities and without the need for precoat.

Smithers Pira Tackles Digital with Two Conferences

Smithers Pira hosted two terrific digital printing conferences in Chicago earlier this month—Digital Print for Packaging and Digital Textile Printing. Both had great content and were very interactive. In this article, we’ve just scratched the surface of what was covered. We highly recommend putting these conferences on your calendar for next year!

In The Mail: June 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

Summer comes in with a flurry of reports: Household Diary Study finds mailed payments losing a lot of ground to e-payments…OIG report says USPS should do more to retain customers…Universal Postal Union study ranks USPS eighth in the world. Plus: Updates on PRC and BOG nominees.

New Pantone Polyester Standards Address Increased Demand for More Vibrant, Saturated Color

Pantone has been providing color standards for the fashion, home, and interiors marketplace since 1987. Cotton standards were introduced in the mid-1990s. Since then, Pantone has developed additional textile color standards, including today’s announcement of 203 new colors for polyester. We spoke with Laurie Pressman, Vice President at Pantone Color Institute, to learn more.

Big Printers' Writedowns and Interest Payments Are a Big Drag on Printing Industry Profits

Writedowns in the first quarter of 2018 for commercial printers with $25 million or more in assets were $157 million, or 1.9% of sales. The assets may be written down, but the borrowing that was created to finance them remains. Interest expense was 4.8% of sales. For the quarter, losses were -1.47% of sales. That rate of loss made average profits before taxes for the industry a mediocre 3% of sales—which means that printers with less than $25 million in assets must have done well.

Around the Web: No More Sweater Pilling – Body Scanning – That Micro Moment – Flexo Innovation – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – Escalators!!! – This Week in Printing History

Australian researchers have found a way to minimize unsightly pilling and help garments look better longer. HyperCard, the first application for creating interactive documents, was inspired by an acid trip. Fad Fashion? Micro Moments? Learn the new textile lexicon. Rats break into an ATM and eat $17K in cash. A random slide from Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends Report.” Amazon’s Alexa will soon be sharing your hotel room. A keyboard that can fit in your pocket. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Pricing for Digital Part 3: Challenges in Developing Comprehensive Pricing Plans

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The final in a three-part series, this article explores the challenges that providers must overcome when developing comprehensive customer communications pricing plans.

Leadership Is Essential to Web-to-Print Implementations

The transition between sales and implementation of web-to-print systems can be a rough road for the implementation team and the customer. The leadership of the implementation belongs with the printer—all too often the customers take the leadership and run the project off a cliff after spending lots of time and money.

Enhancing Label Production with Smart Workflow Automation

Leading companies in the labels business are benefiting from smart workflow automation. While some feel intimidated by the thought of changing a workflow that works—maybe not as well as it could—we've talked to folks who have made the transition and can't imagine how they actually functioned before.

The Final Column: The Security Guard Will Take Your Badge and Escort You to the Lobby

Back in 2002, Dr. Joe agreed to do a regular column for WhatTheyThink for “only one year and no more”...for 15 years. This farewell column explains how it started, behind-the-scenes intrigue, the problems, and why it turned out the way it did. And then…he explains the exciting adventures ahead.

Annual IPMA Conference Looks at the Changing Face of the In-Plant

The 54th annual IPMA Conference provided a look at the current state of the in-plant printing department, with more than two dozen sessions and a vendor fair focusing on new opportunities such as interactive print and wide format, and overcoming top challenges such as outsourcing.

Around the Web: Bats in the Biblioteca – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – DIY T Shirt Printing – “Recycled” Ancient Manuscripts – Bloomsday – This Week in Printing History

A library in Portugal uses a colony of bats to help preserve old books and documents. The UK is confounded by the name change from “Salad Cream” to “Sandwich Cream.” The new heroes of our age: Country Time Lemonade and Domino’s Pizza? A random slide from Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends Report.” Uncovering lost “data” from ancient manuscripts. What happened this week in printing and publishing history. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Highlights from DSF 18: The DOCUMENT Strategy Forum

Celebrating its 10th year, the 2018 DOCUMENT Strategy Forum (DSF 18) was held last month in Boston, Mass. This peer-driven, peer-reviewed, and peer-produced conference is designed to educate professionals on how to deliver and manage customer communications, customer engagement, and information management. As was the case in previous years, the 2018 event offered a wide array of educational sessions, executive round tables, panels, and inspiring keynotes. Visitors had plenty of opportunities to network with industry peers or any of the 44 exhibitors in attendance. This article reviews some highlights from DSF 18 through the lens of customer communications.

Latest Innovations in Your Print Business

Do your innovation projects take into consideration what would be best for your customers? Your customers want to know that you’re innovating to solve their challenges.

Technology and the Changing Face of Flexographic Printing for Packaging

Technological advances and market trends are forever changing the face of flexographic printing. Smithers Pira values the global flexo print market in 2013 at $147 billion, with a forecast for 2.3% CAGR. Key to this growth are packaging-related industries including corrugated board packaging, flexible packaging, bags and sacks, and others.

MWW Upholds Tradition While Pursuing Innovation

MWW On Demand has leveraged automation and technology to gain its position as the single largest weaving and on-demand printing company for textile-based products in the U.S. The company employs digital printing technologies for heat transfer sublimation, direct-to-garment, and direct-to-textile, and is one of the few—or perhaps the only—company that maintained a large fleet of looms when others began sending weaving offshore. The result is a vertically integrated, environmentally sustainable, on demand manufacturing operation that is a model for the future of textiles.

Full-Time Employment, Sets New Record, Up +904,000, But Does It Really Feel that Good?

The May employment report was regarded as good, but when you dig past the top-level numbers, it was better than it looked. However, while the 3.8% unemployment rate looks good on the surface, it really can’t be compared to when it was last attained nearly 20 years ago. So many workers left the workforce that this figure implies a tighter labor than it really is. We will really know we have a strong economy when the active labor force starts increasing.

Around the Web: GDPR as Sleep Therapy – Vintage NSA Workplace Posters – “Smart Hemp” – New iOS AR Features – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – Mermaids for Hire – This Week in Printing History

Government Attic discovered a load of NSA workplace posters from the 50s, 60s, and 70s—you can even get them on a T shirt. A 3D printer outputs custom-designed pancakes. Don’t call it “dope”: hemp used for intelligent textiles. A random slide from Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends Report.” What happened this week in printing and publishing history. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Corrugated Gets Glam—May 2018 M&A Activity

DS Smith builds out US platform in corrugated, Traxium acquires two, LSC buys and sells, Deluxe automates soft skill, and more.

Pricing for Digital Part 2: Hurdles in Demonstrating Value through Services

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The second in a three-part series, this article examines the hurdles that providers encounter in the market as they attempt to demonstrate value through their services.

The Selling Power of a Successful Client Event

A successful client event can drive a lot of business your way, and deepen relationships with your customers. This week, Trish will share the secrets of successful events, along with some of the biggest mistakes that can trip up even the most well-intentioned host.

Coloreel Tackles Thread Waste

What if you could cost-effectively color thread on demand? You know exactly how much of each color you need and in what order. You produce what you need, and you can do even very complex embroidery designs using a single head. That’s a dream that’s rapidly becoming a reality. Coloreel is another example of thread on demand in action. We spoke to CEO Mattias Nordin to take a deeper look.

Are You Sending Personalization that Isn’t Personal?

This morning, I received a personalized email that was anything but personal. While this was an email, the mistake could easily have ended up in print, and it offers object lessons for all of us. Before we send out anything data-driven, let’s make sure it reads as if it was written by a human being.

Canon Launches Océ LabelStream 4000 5-Color UV Inkjet and Flexo Hybrid Press

Canon is not just entering the label and packaging press market, but challenging the current label press market with the new Océ LabelStream 4000, a 5-color inkjet hybrid UV press that continues to show their strengths in production inkjet.

Experiential Graphics Are a Growing Subset of Wide Format, But Can Require a Different Approach in Terms of Sales and Production

“Experiential graphics” are a form of interior décor that are becoming a fast-growing part of wide-format and signage. Pursuing that particular application requires a somewhat different strategy than traditional commercial printing—or even traditional wide-format printing.

Gerber Technology: Advancing Automation in Fashion and Apparel

For 50 years, Gerber Technology has been providing solutions for the fashion and apparel industry, from planning through sourcing and production. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Karsten Newbury, Senior Vice President and General Manager, and Mary McFadden, Executive Director, CAD Product Management, to learn about the company’s latest offerings and how they help the industry in the analog-to-digital transformation.

Around the Web: E License Plates – Direct-to-Egg Printing – Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report – 36 Days of Type – This Week in Printing History

California experiments with E Ink-based license plates. Mary Meeker’s hotly anticipated annual Internet trends presentation has arrived. The first “cyberattack” took place nearly 200 years ago. A beautiful and brilliant collection of crowdsourced letter and number designs. ANA Acquires DMA. What happened this week in printing and publishing history. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

USPS Challenge: “Mr. Scratch-Off” Digital Variable Scratch and Reveal Technology

In the ongoing search for new print techniques and technologies for mail, Trish highlights an exciting digital variable scratch-off collaboration between Mohawk, HP and Lawton Connect in Orlando.

Pricing for Digital Part 1: Overcoming Obstacles on the Path to Profitable Pricing

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The first in a three-part series, this article explores the hurdles that providers encounter in the market and considers the approaches they have developed as they attempt to establish profitable pricing models.

Learn from Print Sales Losses

When you lose a sales deal, how does your company react? Do you have a culture of learning from losses or do you have a culture of blaming? A sales loss is a treasure trove of learning—successful companies evaluate and adjust for their next pitch.

Looking for Cool Leggings? Check Out Bombsheller and Its On-Demand Manufacturing Model

Pablos Holman is a serial entrepreneur whose latest venture is Bombsheller, an online source for leggings manufactured on demand. Customers can select from more than a thousand designs, or upload their own, and each pair of leggings, which are available in 10 sizes, is digitally printed, cut, and sewn, with shipment in 24 hours in most cases.

What Do These 5 “Mail Trends” Tell Us?

These five mail trends from DirectMail 2.0 raise interesting questions about how we are (or are not) proving the value of print and the opportunities that are lost when we don’t.

Breaking Into the “European” Print Market: Understand Geographies and Cultures

Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV kicks off a new series of editorials offering advice for U.S. companies seeking to enter the European print market. In this first installment, Reitoft stresses that “Europe” is not a single, monolithic market.

Kudos to Canon Solutions Americas on Great QR Code Implementation

Canon Solutions America’s use of QR Codes in a recent white paper is a great example of everything done right. This is a model of how to do QR Codes well.

Around the Web: Investing in the Swamp – The Quest for Red Pigment – Scented Postage – The Retail Apocalypse Deferred – Blockchain and Digital Signage – Towel Day

Investing in companies by how much they spend on lobbying. Searching for a safe, bright red pigment. Making your mail smell like popsicles. Exaggerating the death of retail. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Highlights from the 2018 National Postal Forum

Earlier this month, the National Postal Forum (NPF) celebrated its 50th anniversary in San Antonio, Tex., with more than 4,000 professionals from the mailing and shipping industry. In addition to the five primary educational tracks over the four-day event, NPF had nearly 130 exhibitors in the exhibitor hall. This analysis provides highlights from the NPF’s Opening General Session, as well as an overview of the USPS’s latest innovations.

Microfactories and Automation the Stars at TechTextil/TexProcess

WhatTheyThink attended TechTextil/TexProcess in Atlanta, and one of the key messages that came out of the show was the fact that apparel microfactories are a reality. This brings many advantages to the apparel industry, especially in North America and Europe where there is a move to re-shore some part of apparel manufacturing.

Lumii: A Unique New Solution for Label and Packaging Security

At RADTECH, David Zwang saw an interesting solution from a young startup company, LUMII, for label and packaging security. Imagine a high-tech moiré that can provide visually 3D security printing inline without the need for external embellishments or to apply post print.

Web-to-Print is a Tool for Your Customers

Prepress automation, streamlining your customer service department, and reducing the time between inquiry and jobs getting on press – these are common feature requests for web-to-print systems. They are all about you (the printer) – web-to-print isn’t about you! Web-to-print is for your customers!

In The Mail: May 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

NPF Report: USPS puts the spotlight on Informed Delivery & Informed Visibility; PMG Brennan speaks of “shared purpose”…BOG nominees advance…Taskforce gets August deadline…Senator proposes postal banks.

Good News Could Be a Full-Time Job, but for Most Economists It’s Only Part-Time

Some people say that the news is always bad, and they wish someone would report good news now and then. There is good news but no one seems to report it. You’d think that would be a full time job for someone. The economy has set a record for full time employment, and all we hear are crickets. The economy has been doing better lately in some key measures of employment, but the Fed is scaring markets by preparing to raise rates. TINA, meet TAMA, the result of the Fed’s actions; don’t worry, we’ll explain it. The statisticians at the Commerce Department revised printing shipments data. Revising data seems to be a full time job in the Beltway. Dr. Joe clarifies it all for one nearly last time.

Textiles and Corrugated Take the Spotlight at FESPA Berlin

Textiles and corrugated were the two major themes of this year’s FESPA Global Print Expo. Here are some quick hits from the show.

Consumer Durable Goods Orders Moving at Almost 2X GDP Rate

Durable goods orders for consumers (less transportation) are growing at a rate almost two times faster than Real GDP. This data series remains -14% below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2017, and is a critical one to monitor for indications of an improved economy.

Around the Web: Digital ad Revenue - Digitally Colored Embroidery - Media Consumption Habits

Digital ad revenue, digitally colored embroidery, and curbing your media consumption. All that and more this week in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Throwback Thursday, Bindery Edition: Trish Asks Trade Binderies About Their Most Useful Vintage Machines

In this special Throwback Thursday feature, Trish reaches out to trade binderies to hunt for funky vintage machines that are still useful in today’s modern workflow. This first edition features fascinating finds from four well-known US binderies.

Quad/Graphics Accelerated Insights: A Digital Revolution in Direct Mail Testing

Quad/Graphics has launched Accelerated Insights, a cloud-based software tool to enhance—and some might even say revolutionize—direct mail testing. This article explores the features of Accelerated Insights and describes its effects on direct mailing.

Flies on the Wall: On Sale Now

Psychographic targeting is easier than ever. But can it be trusted? If it can, why aren’t more printers using it? A look inside psychographic targeting and its benefits.

Delegate the Right Jobs to Software

Every industry is being transformed by a new staffing option for the “jobs to be done” and that staffing option is software. Your business needs to get stuff done—some of that stuff needs to be done by humans and a lot of that stuff needs to be done by software.

FESPA Day 2: Whetting the Palate...

WhatTheyThink is live at FESPA Berlin 2018 on Day 2 of the show. Welcome to the concept of the microfactory.

Intelligent Packaging Creates New Markets for Print Industry

In 2018, the combined active and intelligent packaging market value is projected to reach $5.68 billion and will continue to present new value-adding options in the future according to the latest market analysis from Smithers Pira. Read on for more highlights of Smithers Pira’s latest report.

FESPA 2018 Opens in Berlin

The FESPA Global Print Expo 2018 kicked off in Berlin this morning. Here is a quick teaser of some early show highlights.

Where Are Marketers Getting Their Data?

According to new research, marketers are increasingly investing in second- and third-party data to create 360-degree views of their customers. Are your customers doing the same? Are they prepared to compete? Read more. 

Wide Format: Now and Venn

What do we talk about when we talk about “wide format”? How is the term definitionally changing—and what does it even mean anymore? And more importantly, how does whatever we define as “wide format” play nice with other kinds of printing such as industrial, packaging, and commercial? And how can we navigate the “convergence” of these different print silos? Read on for more.

Q1-2018 Rises +2.3%, Slower Rate than Q4-2017

The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ advance report estimated that Q1-2018 real gross domestic product was up at an annual rate of +2.3%, which was slower than the +2.9% for Q4-2017. Because companies and individuals, especially corporations, shifted expenses into 2017 and delayed revenue recognition to 2018 to take advantage of the rates in the new tax law, many key economic data series—such as this one—will be subject to larger than usual revision.

Around the Web - Recommended Reading from the WhatTheyThink Team

Blockchain, Buffett, and blurring boundaries. Silk and sneakers. One space or two? WhatTheyThink’s new regular Friday feature, Around the Web, presents a miscellany of random news items that caught the attention of our contributors this week. Read on for more.

Marketing and Publishing Guru Seth Godin to Keynote PRINT 18

Seth Godin, world-renowned entrepreneur and marketing and publishing guru, will be keynoting this September’s PRINT 18. Cary Sherburne spoke to him about the changing role of print in today’s marketing and publishing landscape. Read on for some insights from one of today’s thought leaders.

New Trends in Color Management

Managing color in today’s ever-changing environment has long been a challenge for printers. No two scanners, monitors, or printers will reproduce colors identically, making it necessary to implement specialized color management systems to achieve an exact match across devices. This article explores some of the options that are available for printers.

Xerox: Innovation and/or Investment

Xerox has just introduced the very interesting Xerox® IridesseTM Production Press into the global market, the latest electrophotographic machine in its product lineup. With all of the media hype surrounding the Xerox Fujifilm merger, this new press shows how well Xerox and Fuji Xerox can work together to create technology that brings innovation and value to the market and the company, something you may not be hearing in the distracting news streams. Read on for more.

The Pre-Mortem to a Print MIS Transition

If you’re on your way to embarking on a Print MIS transition, then you need to sit down and pretend the whole thing was a spectacular failure. Once you’re in that uncomfortable place—work backwards and build a plan to prevent its untimely death.

How MakerBot Is Shaping a 3D Future in Industry and Education

For a dozen years, Forrest Leighton held marketing roles at Canon USA, and then spent four years with Marcomm Central. Today, he is Vice President of Marketing at MakerBot, a Stratasys company and a global leader in desktop 3D printing solutions. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with him recently to learn more about MakerBot and how 3D printing might be a relevant opportunity for commercial, sign & display graphics, packaging and textile printers.

Getting Flexible in Your Middle Years – April 2018 M&A Activity

Transcontinental TC closes transformative transactions, ProAmpac buys, commercial printers actively acquire; Herbie finally retires, and more.

Standfast & Barracks: Naught to 50% Digital Textile Printing in Five Years

Changing market dynamics, including the increasing proliferation of digital printing technologies for textiles and apparel, are boosting reshoring efforts in many countries. UK-based Standfast & Barracks has worked closely with digital textile printer manufacturer Durst to help accelerate this trend using its Durst Alpha Series digital textile printers. Read more.

InPrint Reflections: Moving the (Digitally Printed) Goalposts

A major theme of last week’s InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference in Chicago was the emerging distinction between two specific kinds of industrial printing: printing as part of a larger manufacturing process and what we have often called specialty printing. The conference explored the differences between them, where the growth areas are, and what the drivers of that growth are. Read on for some reflections on the conference.

A Big Focus on Small Print Shops

Smaller print shops face many of the same challenges as larger shops, so the need for a single system of record to manage the business is just as critical. Until recently, the only solution was purchasing an expensive print MIS with integration capabilities and pay for professional services to set up the connectivity to the other software solutions. This article explores how things are beginning to change for the better for small print shops.

Faces of Finishing: Julie Watson of Ultimate TechnoGraphics on Building Software for Prepress-to-Finishing Automation

In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with Julie Watson, CEO of Ultimate Technographics, about developing software that drives value by eliminating touchpoints in the bindery.

Stunning 3D Printed Garments a Revolutionary Idea

Tel Aviv-based fashion designer Danit Peleg creates custom garments and accessories using desktop 3D printers. Today, Peleg is also in the process of creating and uploading to her site designs that can be downloaded and printed. Read on for more on her unique projects.

Your Customer’s Workflow Challenges are Your Opportunities

There is a conflux of pressures on businesses today: increase speed, personalize products, respond to the market faster, localize the messaging, and do all this with less people on a tighter budget. Read on for tips on how to cope with these challenges.