Senior Editor Cary Sherburne reports on the results—such as they were—from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s most recent conference, COP27, held in November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt.
Taktiful’s Kevin Abergel talks to three experienced digital embellishment producers about how they get the best results from different papers, laminates, and foils and how they feed that knowledge back to their customers.
The textiles and apparel industry overall has seemingly made little progress toward stated sustainability goals, but there are bright spots that light the way to a more sustainable future for the industry. In researching this article, we spoke with three thought leaders in the industry who we hope will act as an inspiration to others, accelerating the industry transformation that must ultimately occur, including Adobe, Raspberry Creek Fabrics and Spoonflower.
What do we talk about when we talk about “software” in the context of display graphics production? When it comes to print production, and especially “workflow automation,” what we’re usually talking about is “RIP and print” software—and getting this software to talk to all the other software in the shop.
Reviewing your workflow on a regular cadence can lead to continuous improvement. It can also lead to continuous savings! With every new software tool and every new device there will be opportunities for more efficiency and optimization. Here is how to build your profit maximizer.
Increasing numbers of small and mid-sized businesses are investing in DIY marketing automation. Platforms such as MailChimp, Pardot, and HubSpot lower the barrier to entry, but without the marketing and database expertise to put them to use, those tools are little more than window dressing. Heidi Tolliver-Walker explains how understanding where and how to plug in can be of significant value to those customers.
With the shifting market directions of procurement and print production there is a lot to be learned about the new requirements, processes, and pain points of the customer base. Building a “one size fits all” solution will usually fall short of those goals. Ultimately the solution needs to fit the specific needs of a PSP and their customer and partner relationships.
Overall printing employment was essentially flat in December 2022, being down -0.1% from November, and essentially unchanged from December 2021. Production employment was up +0.4% while non-production employment was down -1.1% from November.
Monotype released its 2023 Type Trends Report. The mystery of Frank Herbert’s “Dune” typography revealed. The growth in demand for…newspaper boxes? A rabbi delivers a sermon written by ChatGPT. A visual game in which you are shown a photograph and have to identify what year it’s from. What time is it on the Moon? Rolex is suing a maker of children’s clocks. You might want to pay attention to “Road Closed” signs. Trader Joe’s announces its (controversial) Customer Choice Awards. A former Chicago area school district official allegedly stole more than $1 million worth of chicken wings. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Sustainability in printing is an increasing priority across the world, with print buyers paying more attention to the carbon impact of all their business activities. This can provide a demonstrable commercial advantage for those print systems and operations that give a genuine reduction in environmental impact. In this article, Smithers shares its latest insights into the short- and medium-term impact of the drive to greener printing.
Digging into the results of our Fall 2022 Business Outlook Survey for the our annual Printing Outlook 2023 report, they showed an industry that is indeed “back in the black.” However, new challenges other than the pandemic plagued print businesses in 2022, and while many of them are easing as we head into 2023, new challenges are on the horizon.
It has never been harder to survive and thrive in the graphics industry. Increasingly, the bar is rising on what is required of owners, CEOs, and employees. Are you thinking about how to improve the overall competence of yourself and your people?
Printers are complaining of the lack of qualified candidates and a higher-than-expected amount of turnover. While this section of WhatTheyThink is titled Software, the focus is often more on people than software. After all, people are what make your software investments' ROI. Software is simply potential.
We are starting the year with standards to embrace a year of optimization, automation, and growth. The focus this time is on the groups that help us manage the standards. These are the groups to watch because they are managing the processes that lead to changes in existing standards as well as new standards.
More printing companies are finding opportunities in packaging production as more targeted and shorter packaging production runs increase and new digital tools help reduce the skill sets required. However, many are finding that different production tools and workflows as well as new processes are required to optimize and succeed.
The U.S., for several years, has been trying to bring back manufacturing across the board, including textiles and apparel. The pandemic and the resulting supply chain crisis spurred more action toward this goal. But simply bringing back manufacturing and doing the same old things, only here in America, I don’t believe plays into the American ingenuity theme. That’s where new shoring comes in. Yes, bring back manufacturing. But do it in a way that is innovative, automated, sustainable, and yet competitive. For more details about new shoring, there is an excellent article available on “The Sourcing Journal” (subscription may be required).
Sales of paper maps are soaring. Snoop Dogg’s adventures in vehicle wrapping. Massachusetts legislators use ChatGPT to write a bill…regulating ChatGPT. Wearing an ugly sweater can make you invisible to AI, if no one else. Scientists change the Doomsday Clock to 90 seconds to midnight. If it’s not one thing it’s another: now the Earth’s core has stopped spinning. Graphene-based sensors function like “electronic noses.” A Reddit embroidery forum 2022 award goes to embroidered chicken wing wall art. A bunch of aquarium fish pull off a credit card scam (not The Onion). Mountain Dew releases a hot sauce. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 107 establishments in NAICS 511191 (Greeting Card Publishing). Although this represents a net increase of 4% since 2010, it has been a category that has ebbed and flowed over the course of the decade, although we’re not talking about a tremendous number of establishments. In macro news, real GDP increased 2.9% annualized in Q4.
Today’s customers have more options than ever when deciding how to interact with their transactional communications (i.e., bills and statements). Printed mail is no longer the only way to receive bills and statements, but many consumers still recognize and appreciate print’s value. This article cites recent research to highlight the importance of physical mail.
This video interview, conducted by and provided compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, discusses digital textile printing with Adele Genoni, senior vice president and general manager of EFI Reggiani. They discuss new printing technologies and Adele shares her insights on industry trends and how EFI Reggiani technology is evolving to fulfil market demands.
Where are marketers’ budgets increasing and decreasing in 2023? Two studies, R. R. Donnelley’s “Optichannel Opportunity Report” and Neil Patel’s “How Marketers Are Spending Their Money” paint a consistent picture. The money is going where the proof of ROI is.
Expert training, hands-on experience, professional certification, and supportive mentoring: all of these advantages await the young people taking part in a unique partnership for workforce development between the printing industry and a leading charitable institution.
Since there is an increasing shift of consumers from large global brands to smaller local/regional brands, so is the amount of disparate packaging required. However, while the diversity of needs commercial print are feeling the pressures, packaging adds many other level of complexities.
This bi-weekly series of short articles aims at shedding a spotlight on the size of the printing industry in Europe per country and how revenues and employment developed in 2020, when the pandemic impacted the businesses. This time we look at France, the fourth-largest printing industry by turnover in Europe.
There is no denying the negative impact the multi-trillion-dollar global fashion industry has had—and continues to have—on the planet. Some fashion brands are making honest and open efforts to reduce their carbon footprints; some are greenwashing; and some are simply doing nothing. Until consumers take a stand and drive Fast Fashion out of their wardrobes, not much is likely to change. But there is hope on the horizon, according to Paul Foulkes-Arellano of Circuthon Consulting. In this article, learn about Regenerative Fashion, benefit from Foulkes-Arellano’s deep insight, and think about how you can change your buying habits to help reduce fashion’s impact on the planet.
November 2022 shipments came in at $7.16 billion, down from the year’s high of $7.48 billion in October. This should not be cause for concern, as business always drops in November and December as things slow down for the holidays.
Here we go: there is now a “plagiarism checker and AI detector.” The State Department changes its internal document font and war breaks out. Barnes & Noble has had a remarkable comeback—how? A Colorado library closes to clean up meth contamination. Zillow CEO writes that “traditional offices are as outdated as typewriters.” Graphene-enhanced gear can help protect firefighters. Celebrate Burns Night next Wednesday. FEMA attempts to translate typhoon aid instructions into indigenous languages—with surreal results. A new startup aims to make carbon credits credible. A new fridge container has a built-in dial to indicate when it was stored. This Valentine’s Day, send your beloved an “Idaho potato bouquet.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s non-AI-generated weekly miscellany.
Here we are in 2023, and one theme in our Fall 2022 Business Outlook Survey was that, for those print businesses that languished during COVID and its immediate aftermath, 2022 was the year they got back in the black. Still, 2022 was a challenging year in many ways. Not as challenging as 2020, thankfully, but still not an easy year to navigate, and there is no doubt that 2023 will present its own challenges—and opportunities. Here are some things to keep an eye on.
Have you been wondering whatever happened to Adobe Textile Designer? In this article, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, we learn what Aquarios, who is now licensing and further developing Adobe Textile Designer, has up their sleeves. It is also important to note that the software supports a PDF workflow, which can be more efficient than a workflow dependent on image files.
Have you ever wondered how the big CPGs determine which packaging designs work and which don’t? For many, it’s as much science as it is creative. To get insight into just how much science can go into it, take a peek at Quad Graphics’ Package Insight division.
This year, we are going to explore a wide range of trends, thought-provoking ideas, concerns, and the role of hardware, software, workflow, automation, and standards in how we communicate to clients, customers, and constituents. That is a mouthful. It’s ambitious. But it would be a fascinating ride. The starting point is the role of standards—something our industry tends to honor in words, but not deeds.
It can be challenging for print businesses to be agile, particularly production printing rooted in small-batch, custom manufacturing. To reach the peak of business agility, you may need to be agile using software and software services. Pat McGrew and Ryan McAbee look at how First Line Software’s custom software and data solutions can help improve print business agility.
Hunkeler Innovationdays is not really an expo as you might expect, but is instead a unique gathering and presentation of complete digital print and finishing workflows. There are no expos or other events like this that provide the latest in digital printing and finishing equipment, in live and running complete multi-vendor end to end workflows.
The venture-funded Climate Board, established in 2022, has amassed a wealth of materials on the topic of sustainability, including insights and research, and has conducted a variety of events. It was founded on the belief that knowledge-sharing is crucial to accelerating climate action. Its work attempts to bring solutions, supported by experience and evidence, to drive speed and progress. But there is a huge mountain to climb. A key finding of its research is that for many organizations, “Ambitious goals are more than twice as common as meaningful action.” This is not where we want to be. In this article, we explore some of the challenges and opportunities for mitigating climate change.
European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a close look at AI-generated images, experimenting with some of the tools currently available, and exploring what the implications of AI imagery are for the graphic communications industry.
How worried should creative professionals be about artificial intelligence? A Florence, Italy, street artist who applies whimsical stickers to traffic signs. CNet looks at some dubious introductions at last week’s CES. The FTC has proposed banning companies from requiring that employees sign noncompete agreements. Researchers have found a “cousin” to graphene, which they have dubbed “graphullerene.” Kia’s new logo is illegible. New Wordle-esque game lets you guess the list prices of houses for sale. Good news for mice this week—researchers are prolonging their lives and improving their memories. The James Webb Space Telescope finds its first exoplanet. A fire in a Wisconsin daily causes melted butter to flood nearby streams. Ronzoni discontinues its Pastina and the Internet sees stars. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 664 establishments in NAICS 51119 (Other Publishing). This represents a decrease of 35% since 2010. In macro news, what’s behind the employee shortages?
Production inkjet has been seeing great growth, especially after the enhancements in print quality, but electrophotography continues to have some advantages—particularly for higher ink coverage commercial applications. This article considers some new high-end production digital print technologies that will compete for market share and print volume in the future.
We present a virtual roundtable of Dscoop and HP Industrial Executives. They discuss the upcoming event in St. Louis, the value of the global Dscoop community, and the close connection between HP and its users as they transform the digital print industry in 2023 and beyond.
One of the challenges for textiles and apparel with regard to its abysmal sustainability performance is weaning itself away from petro-based fibers, including polyester and polyester blends, which account for about 60% of garment fabrics today. We've written about a number of alternative natural fibers that could replace these detrimental fossil-based plastics. Most recently, seaweed has surfaced as a potentially viable alternative. Sound icky? It’s not. Be sure to read this article compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan that describes the potential of AlgiKnit yarns to make a difference in sustainability for textiles and apparel.
For their New Year’s marketing resolutions, many companies are committing to making better use of Google Analytics to track their traffic and evaluate their marketing efforts. Google Analytics can be a powerful tool, but if you don’t dig deep, it can be misleading, too.
This bi-weekly series of short articles aims at shedding a spotlight on the size of the printing industry in Europe per country and how revenues and employment developed in 2020, when the pandemic hit the market. This time we look at Italy, the third-largest printing industry by turnover in Europe.
The demand for shorter runs is increasing, driven by consumer market shifts across the packaging landscape. However, justifying the cost of digital corrugated production per package/box, when the ink cost is almost 10X the cost of flexo ink, and close to equal with the media in some cases, is difficult unless there is some added value or a more efficient solution.
Flagship Press prints everything from books to direct mail, large format to promotional products, because they embrace their range of offset and digital equipment. But their workflow was slow, hard to maintain, and needed more of the features their volumes demanded. They started the search for a faster more automated workflow. In this case study, written and sponsored by Kodak, the answer was Kodak.
Last summer, we asked our readers, “Are you ready for the Gen Z work force?” As we enter 2023 and the balance between open jobs and available employees still has not balanced out, it’s time to revisit this topic again. Remember that Gen Zers will make up 25% of the workforce by 2025, when they will range in age from 13 to 28. They are a rich source of potential employees—now and for years to come. We thought it would be good to review what they are looking for, how to hire and retain them, as we enter 2023 with an economy this is still a bit chaotic.
Marketing Brew rounds up the most overhyped and overlooked marketing trends of 2022. A new book looks at the history of the crayon. Our own Dr. Joe presents a four-part radio documentary about newspapers in old radio dramas. Graphene is poised to replace silicon as the basis or all electronics. Smart elevators look to take us for a ride. Facial recognition for birds via a “smart feeder.” BMW’s E Ink-wrapped car can display millions of colors for quite the road show. Printed electronics for therapeutic wearables. The cool upgrade on Brava’s smart countertop oven is a…glass window. The “LOL Verifier” is a device that will only let a user type LOL when they are actually laughing out loud. A huge aquarium in a Berlin hotel bursts. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
It’s that time again, time to sift through the data from our annual Business Outlook Survey for the forthcoming Printing Outlook report. As has become an annual tradition, we break out some wide-format specific data to see what trends we can quantitatively gauge.
Events like Epson Design Awards are critical to helping new talent get recognized and established. It is this new talent that is the hope for our future. This year, the recipient was Megan van Engelen. In accepting the award, she said, “I really want to tell my story, and I think that’s more important than saying that the world is dying, because at this point, we need to show people how we can offer solutions and I think that’s what designers are for, and that we show people how we can be more sustainable.” Thanks to textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan for sharing this story.
HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing Report 2023 takes a look at the changes expected for marketers in the coming year. Specifically, there are seven fundamental shifts HubSpot sees occurring among marketers (and impacting everyone else) in 2023. What are they?
Today, Gallus and Heidelberg, after some difficulties in the past, are affirming their roles as “natural relatives” to create the innovation and solution which benefit their customers and the industry as a whole.
You know what they say about cobbler’s children? They never have good shoes because the shoes go to paying customers. We have the same challenge in the print industry. Even companies that offer website design as part of their services offering struggle to create a compelling website for their own services. Let’s talk about that!
As things start to wind down for a little while, many of us step back, think about new year’s resolutions, and take a look at what we do, how we got here, and where can we go in the future. Those reflections, in some cases, also remind us that perhaps life is really about the rewards of giving.
The winners of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. This Christmas, give the gift of welding classes. How to gift wrap a dog. “The 60 Most Beautiful Books of 2022.” An exhibition called “Building the Book from the Ancient World to the Present Day.” Find out if it’s Wednesday. Seeing red in an image that has no red pixels. Artist and activist Stuart Semple rebels against the color of the year. Graphene-enhanced power sources for flexible electronic devices. What the “fusion experiment” at the National Ignition Facility actually accomplished. Police break into an art gallery to rescue what turned out to be a statue. Dictionary.com weighs in with its word of the year. Adorn your home with the “Cheese Wreath.” Supersize your breakfast with the Big Fruit Loop. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s pre-holiday miscellany.
If there is a story in interactive print these days, it’s accessibility, both for service providers and for their customers. The range of applications is staggering, from 3D product visualizations and virtual try-ons to AR filters, virtual brand ambassadors and 360 tours. Heidi Tolliver-Walker walks through the various platforms and applications.
Foil & Specialty Effects Association (FSEA) executive director Jeff Peterson talks about FSEA’s new Digital Embellishment Alliance (DEA), created as an education and communication initiative for the growing digital embellishment segment of the printing industry.
The process of selling is only becoming more complex with time. Developing and acquiring new business has become a chaotic labyrinth of tracking down prospects, nurturing clients, and closing the sale. Sales leaders must offer tools that create sales efficiency and eliminate the practice of experimenting on valuable clients and prospects. One way to do this is by developing a sales playbook.
We’re hearing more and more about demand for customized wallpaper—or at least there are more providers offering this solution, ranging from family-owned Raspberry Creek Fabrics to Shutterfly-owned Spoonflower. In this article, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, Phil McMullin of Epson talks more about the trend.
This was a year of recovery for textiles and apparel as supply chain issues began to settle a bit, and suppliers were back online after the pandemic. Consumers were also buying—both online and back in-stores, which is good news for brands. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks back at how the industry has slowly started to embrace sustainability and some of the initiatives to keep an eye on in 2023.
Putting ink or toner on a vast range of substrates is something PSPs do daily, and the process is getting a bit easier every year. What is not getting any easier are the operational processes required before and after printing. Pat McGrew and Ryan McAbee explain how job onboarding, proofing and approval, and invoicing are the three most consistent problem areas found during workflow assessments for every type of print service provider.
The world of professional sales has changed dramatically, and if you haven’t reviewed and revised your “Sales Playbook” in the past couple of years, it may be holding you back. Contributor Lisa Magnuson looks at a few critical changes affecting each sales stage.
What will consumers be thinking in 2023? How will they behave and what will drive their decisions? Answering these questions was the goal of GWI, an audience targeting company, in its U.S. “Connecting the Dots” report.
Offset lithography was the predominant printing process of the 20th century, and it has given up only limited ground to alternative printing methods in the 21st. Patrick Henry reports on how manufacturers of offset press equipment still see it as an essential product to deliver and a vibrant business to be in.
Did your business change over the last couple of years? What have you done to cope? Did you hire new people, add automation to workflows, buy a company, sell a pieces of business, or find new ways to navigate supply chain issues? If any of these items look familiar, you are on the same ride as most of your peers. Let’s find the learnings to get ready for 2023.
Bobst has taken a measured approach to entering the digital print fray. Mr. Bobst often states that he prefers to wait for market entry until he has products that are deserving of the Bobst name and will deliver against the high expectations customers have about the company. While initially they offered a few all digital devices, Bobst has now started to integrate their inkjet print technology into their analog product line.
The visual communications industry, covering $37.5 billion in economic impact, employs over 200,000 people in America. An industry that’s attractive to creatives, it offers a long-term, rewarding career with growth potential. To mark this year’s Sign Manufacturing Day, FASTSIGNS celebrated the holiday by showcasing the longevity and excitement of a career in the industry.
Looking for an athletic garment that is both waterproof and breathable? With new developments from Polartec, that will become easier as its new Power Shield laminate is incorporated into garments expected to come to market in the fall of 2023. We spoke with Michael Cattanach, Polartec’s Global Product Director, to learn more.
According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 594 establishments in NAICS 51114 (Directory and Mailing List Publishers). This represents a decrease of 64% since 2010. In macro news, estimates for Q4 GDP are in the +1.4%–3.4% range.
The OED’s word of the year is…something. Google’s search of the year. GE buys all the ads in the New York Times. A barcode tattoo that can be scanned by a store checkout. A 504-page photobook of people cleaning things. The Northern Lights Photographer of the Year’s 25 best aurora photos. Why are city streetlights turning purple? A graphene-based artificial muscle that is 17 times more powerful than human muscle. Is Grawindy the “next generation of wind technology”? Reusable elastic lids to replace plastic wrap. Artemis I is on its way back from the Moon. “Busch Light Bush Lights” let you drape “electric glowing cans” across the greenery in your yard, for some reason. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Give your people the tools to become self-aware. Teach them to move beyond their self-defeating behaviors. The closer they get to their full potential, the closer your business will get to its potential. Contributor Wayne Lynn explains how.
As we get back to in-person trade shows, suppliers to the textiles and apparel industry are proud to show off the latest innovations, assuring producers that despite the difficulties of the pandemic, supply chain and more in recent years, their development efforts continue. In this industry round-up, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares some of the latest innovations that are driving digitization across the supply chain.
A willingness to learn can be greatly enhanced by creating a safe environment for mistakes to happen. Documented processes are a tool that removes shame and blame from work mistakes and helps the organization get better.
Every year, What They Think offers insights into the print production outlook for our industry. This year was no exception. Our webinar “The Print Production Outlook: The Digital Transition Continues” looked at production technology shifts and the trends driving them. Sponsored by Canon Solutions America, the webinar was moderated by Richard Romano with presenter WhatTheyThink European Section Editor Ralph Schlözer.
This bi-weekly series of short articles aims at shedding a spotlight on the size of the printing industry in Europe per country and how revenues and employment developed in 2020, when the pandemic hit the market. Kicking off the series is Germany, the largest printing industry by turnover in Europe.
Designers and others who were accustomed to hearing Adobe’s creative software natively speaking Pantone’s language of color are now listening to a dialog that comes with an unanticipated price tag. As a service to its members and to the industry in general, Printing Industries Alliance presents this overview of the situation and its consequences for end-users.
For some time now, we’ve been asking, “What’s in your closet?” This is in the context of making your lifestyle more sustainable as the world struggles with a growing climate crisis. While governments, NGOs, corporations, and others are working to improve sustainability and reduce their carbon footprint, it really will take all of us to get this done. Learn how serious reconsideration of your wardrobe can be a contributing factor.
In mid-October, the European members of the Graphic Users Association met up in Munich after a three-year, COVID-induced hiatus to explore together the far-reaching potential of the new KODAK PRINERGY platform, benefiting from the extensive expertise of workflow professionals, and learn about both new and existing but unexplored features and tools to help customers further develop their business success. This article, written and sponsored by Kodak, recaps the highlights of the conference.
Meriam-Webster’s Word of the Year is “gaslighting.” The latest perfume that smells like old books. What Siri might have been like in the 1970s. The creepy world of Victorian Christmas Cards. E Ink-based playing cards in search of a game. A father photoshops the real world to resemble his child’s drawings. Graphene is going to be tested on the moon. “Apple Health, but for dogs.” In the 16th century, you could sue animals. The James Webb Space Telescope watches galaxies collide. Coming soon to a theater near you: “Bambi: the Reckoning.” Olive Garden’s matching family pajamas. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's go-to information source with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, WhatTheyThink Email Newsletters, and the WhatTheyThink magazine. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire the industry. We provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today's printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.