Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine


Commentary & Analysis

Displaying 1-100 of thousands of articles

August Shipments: Summer Ends on a High Note

August 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.87 billion, up from July’s $6.47 billion. Year to date, January-to-August shipments are $53.42 billion, not far off 2020’s January-to-August number of $53.68.

Around the Web: Polar Publication. Robotic Writing. Waymo Weirdness. Restaurant Robots. Perilous Punctuation. PURE Processes. Nightmare Nanas. Marvelous Mollusks. Canine Carrier.

A deluxe print edition of the story that inspired The Thing. A 14-foot long robotic pen. Waymo’s self-driving cars are flocking to a dead-end street in San Francisco—and no one knows why… A Paris restaurant replaces its chef with a robot. The Casa Grande (Ariz.) Neon Sign Park. The lack of an apostrophe in a Facebook rant gets an Australian man sued. Apps that delete words from stories leaving just the punctuation. Graphene-enhanced bed sheets. PrimaLoft improves its manufacturing technology for insulation used in garments. China’s “Grannies from Hell.” Hand-crocheted plush octopuses. “The Schnauzer Chariot of Kazakhstan.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly blasting Shatner into space miscellany.

“Creatives In Residence Live”—Meet the Graduates and Follow the Curriculum via Online Learning

As we have been discussing in this space, attracting new talent to the textiles and apparel industry is a key challenge. The industry is quite different than it was 40 years ago! Yet it still has a reputation from those days. UK firm CMYUK is making a contribution with its Creatives In Residence program. In addition to winners learning with hands-on experience at the firm, anyone can join the learning virtually. We need more programs like this! Meet the winners and learn more about the program.

Making Sense of Your Print Options

With so many available options, deciding which print solutions to incorporate into your business can be an overwhelming task. By identifying your business priorities and assessing which companies and technologies best align with these priorities, you can better determine which technologies and services are best for you and your customers.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: MyOrderDesk by Print Reach

Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at Print Reach’s MyOrderDesk, a product that has not only stood the test of time but has now become a foundation block in Print Reach’s automation strategy, with a feature set that clearly reflects a product that has evolved with the times and continues down that path.

USPS’ Informed Delivery Full-Color Marketing Option: Is it Worth It?

The United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery Service is not only growing in subscribers, but it is expanding in services. Its interactive campaigns now offer marketers the option to replace the grayscale scan automatically provided with the service with a full-color “representative” image of each mail piece instead. But is this an option that mailers should rush to embrace?

Digital Packaging: Kodak Ups the Ante Again…

Kodak has been successfully operating a transformation strategy that has shored up the company while investing in innovation in their core strengths of print (with an emphasis on digital), advanced materials, and chemicals. With the introduction of an EP press designed for folding carton, packaging, and retail POP, Kodak expands their existing packaging portfolio options to a wider audience.

Look at That: Leveraging the Power of Embellished Print Marketing

In this application photo gallery, Trish Witkowski displays some great examples of embellished self-promotional pieces across several categories, including direct mail, packaging, and promotion.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Austria

In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take an updated look at the printing industry in Austria.

Is the Apparel Industry Stepping Up to Climate Challenges?

As we look ahead to the upcoming COP26—UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties—in November, it’s a good time to take a look at some of the developments in textiles that will help the industry move forward in a more sustainable fashion. Just Style hosted a COP26 apparel panel discussion to explore these moves and we summarize here.

Security Print For Packaging: New Opportunities Post-COVID

As print markets adjust to new realities in 2021, there is interest in diversification into security and brand protection features for packaged goods. Smithers editor John Nelson looks at some security printing trends highlighted in the recent Smithers report “The Future of Anti-Counterfeiting, Brand Protection and Security Packaging to 2026.”

Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 30,048 employees in NAICS 322212 (Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category stayed fairly steady throughout the decade, then spiked in 2019 to 47,980 employees. In macro news, sales of light vehicle sales plummeted in September 2021, even as profits reached record highs.

Around the Web: Facebook Fail. Book Blobs. Rogue Reader. Book Boxes. Wonder Waste. Mask Museums. Chromosome Capers. Composer Cash. Beethoven’s Back! Strava Sketches. Dish Disaster.

The latest trend in book cover design. A DIY “open source ereader.” A new subscription service for under-appreciated books. “The digital death of the collector.” Turning waste into graphene. Celebrating masks. Biohacking DNA to take over gene sequencing computers. How much would Bach make on Spotify? AI helps Beethoven finish his Tenth Symphony. A gallery of “Strava art.” An ill-advised vending machine for china. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly fat bear miscellany.

The Target Report: Private Equity Fuel$ Consolidation of Label Industry—September 2021 M&A Activity

Resource Label Group Acquires Ample Label, Kennedy Group Purchases Color Label Business, Postal Center International Buys Arrowmail, and more…

Nearshoring: Poland Becomes a Leading Supplier of Digital Print for EU Textile Companies

Sustainability is a hot topic in textiles and apparel. One move that is set to help reduce the carbon footprint for the industry is reshoring—producing goods closer to the point of need—which reduces transportation costs and can include establishment of microfactories utilizing digital rather than the often more wasteful analog manufacturing processes. Find out how and why Poland is leading the reshoring charge in Europe in this guest article provided compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan.

Take One and Pass the Rest On: Print-Based Learning Remains Important in Today’s Classroom

Although there is no question that digital learning is playing a bigger role in education than ever before, printed materials remain critical to learning. This article explores why print-based lessons remain a cornerstone of education in the modern classroom.

Would Your Customers Rather Have a Tooth Pulled Than Do Business with You?  

According to a new survey by Insightly/Zogby Research, consumers would rather have a tooth pulled, learn a TikTok dance with their kid, and wait in line at the DMV than resolve an issue with a company’s customer service department. Why? Because companies are over-confident in their customer relationships and are more interested in talking than listening.  

The Great Asset Shortage: Get Creative to Cover Staffing Shortfalls

Finding qualified workers has long been a challenge for the printing industry, a problem only exacerbated by the pandemic. Contributor Lou Caron looks at how we as an industry need to build general public awareness and become experts at hiring.

Is There a Workaround?

You can use software as it was designed, or you can stand your ground and request workarounds to force the software to work like you do today. Your flexibility has a greater impact on your business outcomes. Using that flexibility to optimize software utilization is the most powerful lever in your toolbox.

American Litho Turns to HP PageWide Production Inkjet for Increased Flexibility, Productivity

In this article sponsored by HP, Mike Fontana, CEO of Illinois-based American Litho, explains the decision process behind acquiring two HP PageWide Production Inkjet Presses and the value the company has received from its investments. The ninth largest US direct mail producer touts quality, speed, and support as key decision factors.

Do You Have a Sales Dashboard?

Sales teams are under increasing pressure to handle more accounts, grow those accounts, and deliver on margins. As a result, sales performance software has become a huge business. Pat McGrew rounds up some leading sales dashboard applications.

Label Congress 2021: Surprisingly Well Attended and Informative

While Label Congress was a relatively small event, it appeared to be a very successful one. With a comprehensive educational conference schedule and a small but active expo hall, it delivered what was promised to the exhibitors and, more importantly, to the attendees.

In a Dynamic European Publishing Industry, Print Proves to Be Resilient

Publishing is a major source of print demand and a thriving publishing industry will benefit print as well. Traditionally, both industries relied very much on each other. Like printing, publishing is also now deeply affected by electronic channels and changes in consumer behaviour. European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a look at the state of the European publishing industry.

Digital Unboxing: Packaging Experiences an Innovation Collision

Throughout the industry, from brand identity and messaging to converting and distribution, digital capabilities cause processes in every part of the packaging supply chain to be re-evaluated. Mary Schilling explains how the presence of digital print technology has created stellar opportunities for label, folding carton, and flexible packaging.

August Graphic Arts Employment—Staying on the Plateau

In August 2021, all printing employment was up +0.4% from July, production employment up +0.4%, and non-production printing employment also up +0.4%.

Around the Web: Domestic Droid. Drone Deterrents. Crazy Calculator. Graphene Grab. Wet Wires. Tag Tech. Furry Financier. Robotic Recaps. Conference Closets. Jean Genie. Spreadsheet Stage.

Amazon’s new “household robot.” Raven vs. Drone. A calculator that converts normal units to wacky units, such as llama’s spits or bees. The “wonder material” poses national security issues. A 3D map of all the underwater Internet cables. A robot built to spray graffiti. “The world’s first crypto asset trading hamster.” Using AI to summarize books. Are “Zoom booths” in offices likely to be a thing? (We hope not.) How to reduce the environmental impact of your jeans. “I’m not sure Google Sheets is the best way to experience theater.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Leveraging Growing 3D Investment Beyond Design for Volume and Speed

In the fashion industry, it's been like long-distance runners who have time to finish the marathon. But now they realize they need a sprint. In this article, written by Yoram Burg of Embodee and provided courtesy of Debbie McKeegan, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor, the role that 3D can play in fashion, beyond simply design, is explored and explained.

Adapting to a Hybrid Workflow: An Essential Checklist

For those businesses that are considering the transition to a hybrid workflow, it is important to understand the IT and security risks involved. This article describes the components of a successful hybrid workflow and explores the role that print will play.

Trends in the New Normal: Changing Consumer Behaviors Are Driving Change In-Store

While the pandemic created many challenges for printers, it also brought opportunities. Some of them were passing, but many will stay with us into the new normal. In this article, sponsored by FLEXcon, Jodi Sawyer explains how being flexible and willing to reimagine businesses to support trends such as BOPIS, digital advertising, and sustainability will be critical for printers to stay relevant moving forward.

The Automation Journey

Automation is about changing a business process. Focus on the business process, involve the people operating the business process today. Keep full automation as a goal, drive incremental improvement as the strategy.

USPS Informed Delivery Growing Quietly

In case you haven’t noticed, the USPS’s Informed Delivery (ID) program has been growing quietly but steadily. It has grown not only in numbers, but also in trust among ID users. Features have been enhanced, and more PSPs are quietly promoting it as an extra value to their customers.

Prime Rate Pursues a Digital Future with HP PageWide Web Press T240 HD

Tomcsányi Péter, CEO and Founder of Prime Rate, a printing firm located in Hungary, started his journey as a book author looking for a publisher and ultimately ended up starting his own printing company. In this article, sponsored by HP, Péter has been expanding Prime Rate’s digital capabilities by installing HP PageWide Web Presses and converting his entire digital color operation to an HP platform.

Smithers Identifies Leading Factors Driving Shorter Print Orders to 2031 

As the industry now looks to achieve a degree of normalcy in the post- COVID world, print orders will become smaller and more frequent. This means print service providers (PSPs) must be more agile and responsive, while for OEMs it is creating a new emphasis on digital print technology and customer support services. This is the subject of a new Smithers report, Impact of Changing Run Lengths on the Printing Market. This article offers some highlights from that report.

The Rise Of Hybrid And Bespoke: Production Design by Application

Digital technologies in print and finishing are in a continuing race against market shifts—and vice versa. David Zwang explains how both hybrid and bespoke print solutions will play an increasing role, and why we are in for some interesting times.

What Drives Your Business? It All Comes Down to a Balancing Act

There is no single driver for a successful business. It always requires a balance. But balance is easiest on a strong foundation, and the best foundation is good people. Contributor Dave Fellman discusses how most printers don’t put enough emphasis on the quality of their human resources.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Sewn Products Industry

The pandemic placed stress on most industries, but arguably one of the most affected was the sewn products industry, which was already facing challenges pre-pandemic. In a recent interview, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne discussed the state of the sewn products industry with SPESA President Michael McDonald and steps that could be taken to ameliorate those challenges.

Change Is Hard, but So Is Winning

From sales to estimating to order entry, Modern Litho’s processes had been steeped in manual touchpoints, and they realized that they needed to upgrade their front-end technology. In this article, sponsored by Kodak, Modern Litho’s Jeff Davidson chronicles the company’s search for and implementation of a new MIS.

Corrugated and Solid Fiber Box Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 84,136 employees in NAICS 32221 (Corrugated and Solid Fiber Box Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2012, then continued to rise over the course of the decade, peaking in 2018 at 88,399 before dropping again in 2019. In macro news, three estimates of Q3 GDP.

Around the Web: Paint Power. Getting GO. Follicle Flora. Luminous Leaves. Simplifying Sneakers. Computer Covers. Peculiar Posters. Card Carriers. Worm Wiki. Avocado Art. Butt Biometrics.

Scientists have invented a white paint that cools the surface ton which it is applied. Unlocking a mystery of graphene oxide. How to make a living, growing plant-based wig. Scientists create rechargeable light-emitting plants using nanoparticles. Nike develops easy-to-put-on sneakers for people with disabilities. Relive old memories with a gallery of classic 1980s and 90s computer book covers. AI-generated movie posters. Etsy shops now offer a variety of vaccination card holders. A surprisingly extensive list of fictional worms. The impending age of the smart toilet and your—ugh—“analprint.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

The Paradox of Organization

In the last stage of the process of getting things done we confront the issue of Organization. Being organized and flexible at the same time can be maddening. Without this behavioral competency we can make great decisions on a routine basis and have them fail continually. Wayne Lynn explains why.

Developing High-Impact Direct Mail for All Ages

Direct mail is a key component of the print spectrum, and its importance will only grow as high-speed color inkjet devices bring new levels of quality and productivity to this market. Sending the right promotions to the right consumers can have a significant impact on their purchasing decisions. This article explores the role that age plays in developing high-impact direct mail that gets noticed.

What’s Behind the Transformation in Industrial Digital Textile Printing

Thanks to textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, and Tim Phillips of IMI Europe and Catenary Solutions for this informative article that explains the drivers behind the transformation underway in the textiles industry with respect to industrial digital textile printing.

Johnson’s World—Dear Mr. Schwab: Choose Print

Steven Johnson takes stock of Charles Schwab & Co’s recent decision to replace its printed “On Investing” magazine with an email blast, and provides Mr. Schwab with several reasons why it’s a bad investment.

Study: Don’t Have Great Tracking and Reporting? Print Quality and Service May Not Save You

“Enhancing the Print Customer Connection,” a new report from NAPCO Research/Canon USA, 2021, finds that print quality and customer service may not help printers hold onto customers the way they think. Print management, tracking, and reporting tools may be equally or even more important.

Print Business Growth via Self Service

Self-service is an unsettling concept in the traditional business-to-business print world where growth is achieved by pivoting on every custom request from your customers. Online, self-service businesses embrace constraints and reap the benefits in their bottom line.

Do You Need Data to Sell?

Sales teams want leads, but they also want to know what the state of the market is. There is a sense that having data in hand will make the selling process easier. It might, but it might lead you astray, especially if it reflects a market of the past. Pat McGrew explains how to use data effectively to plan for the future.

Cut Through the Chaos: How to Quantify Your Current Operating Reality

Today, change is happening at an unprecedented rate, and this hyper-change has become a new operating reality for businesses. Customer experience management has matured at the right time to be starkly relevant to business relationships navigating the pressures of hyper-change. Contributor Preston Herrin explains how to use a professionally designed Voice of the Customer survey to gather actionable information about your customers’ experience.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Norway

In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Norway.

How Print Applications Fared in 2020

Ever since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were lots of discussions on how print would be impacted and which print applications would be more or less successful. The German print industry association has not only published 2020 revenues, but has included a breakdown by main applications. European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at real revenue data that shows how print applications fared in 2020.

Weathering The Storm: Carsten Bruhn, President and CEO of Ricoh North America Shares How the Pandemic Affected Ricoh and its Customers

David Zwang talks with Carsten Bruhn, the newly appointed president and CEO of Ricoh North America, about how the pandemic has affected Ricoh and its customers, as well as where the printing industry is going as we emerge from the year of COVID.

Expanding Your Gamut By Limiting Your Ink

Does limiting your ink sound counterproductive to creating an expanded color gamut? Over-inking is a common problem seen in the printing world, and especially when it comes to printing on fabrics. Alder Color Solutions’ G7 expert and color IT specialist Bill Owen explains how this misconception can wreak havoc for printers looking to optimize their gamut.

July Shipments: Back on the Decline

July 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.45 billion, down from June’s $6.69 billion. Year to date, January-to-July shipments are $46.44 billion. At this point in 2020, year-to-date shipments were slightly higher at $46.83. The recovery is proving more challenging than the actual pandemic, it seems.

Around the Web: Collaborative Coalition. Faster Fashion. Cool Kicks. Community Cookbooks. Bean Bother. Ape Art. Screw Support. Outside Office. Rowdy Runners. Lego Larceny. Non-Existent Net.

You’ve heard of “fast fashion,” which is bad? Now there’s “faster fashion,” which is good. Graphene-enhanced sensors allow shoes to diagnose physical and cognitive disorders. E Ink-based displays may be able to play video. Loop helps create reusable packaging. Nebraska’s Morris Press has been printing community cookbooks for decades. A new social media challenge: “beaning.” Bored ape illustration NFTs sell for $24.4 million, for some reason. A new hammer-based screwdriver for getting out corroded screws. A Japanese homebuilder develops home-office sheds for WFHers. A 24-mile NYC road race based on “The Warriors.” A Dutch “toy heist.” The Internet doesn’t exist. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Avoid The Stall: How to Keep a Customer Advancing Through the Sales Process

Statistics indicate that most “stalls” and “stops” in the sales process are associated with a lack of rigor during the qualify stage. Contributor Lisa Magnuson explains how to avoid “The Stall.”

Important New Developments and Product Launches: Direct to Fabric Digital Machinery

Despite the constraints of the pandemic, manufacturers of digital direct-to-fabric printing solutions have been hard at work bring innovative solutions to a market which is already bouncing back. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan highlights the most important developments and product launches in this growth area.

Can You Hear Me Now? Improving Presentation Technology for Hybrid Office Environments

Smart workplaces are quickly taking over more traditional offices. For our businesses to cope in an uncertain future, today’s newest technologies must be blended with the updated versions of commonplace tools like projectors and audio equipment. This article discusses some recent innovations that can help those seeking truly smart offices.

Get Your Marketing On: 2021 Shopping Season to Be Earlier than Usual

If your clients are waiting to start their holiday marketing, you might want to send out the alert: Holiday shopping is likely to start earlier this year.

Sir Speedy Statesville Thinks Outside the Box to Help Local Community During Pandemic

Sir Speedy franchisee CJ Sudman shares insights on operating as an essential business during the pandemic and how he and his team were able to help local schools and businesses find unique solutions to acquire necessary PPE materials.

Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: Liftoff

Jennifer Matt takes an in-depth look at Liftoff, not a traditional web-to-print solution, but one that has expanded its feature set into other software areas (e.g., CMS, ERP). For example, the Liftoff product suite allows you to create content like blogs on your web-to-print solution.

Paper Shortages and Price Increases Cause Turmoil in Germany, Europe, and Elsewhere

WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports on a recent call organized by the German Printing Industry Association (BVDM) to address paper shortages and price increases. While the issues discussed were specific to the German market, the dynamics are similar throughout Europe—and likely all developed economies as well. Find out what this may mean for paper availability and pricing as we head toward 2022.

Finishing Out 2021: Create Goals to Promote Fun, Positivity, and Success

Guest contributor A.J. Titus, President of Signarama, offers some tips and strategies for taking advantage of potential growth gains in the next 12 months—and how to have some fun doing it. It all starts with creating goals.

Franklin Printing: Committed to the Craft of Printing

Farmington, Maine-based Franklin Printing has a long history of leveraging technology to enhance the craft of printing. Most recently, the company has added an HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD, the first production web press to be installed in Maine, as part of its evolution into the future of print.

Sign Code Crackdown: Post-Pandemic Life Returns Enforcement of Signage Regulations

Two recent court cases—one in Tennessee and one in Texas—have created new wrinkles in exterior sign code regulations. Meanwhile, communities are trying to apply EMC regulations to internally illuminated signs, and authorities are returning to stricter enforcement of regulations on temporary signage that had been relaxed during the pandemic.

Textiles 2030: A New Sustainability Framework

Back in 2015, the United Nations adopted an aggressive sustainability agenda with 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that aim to improve health and education, reduce inequality, and spur economic growth—all while tackling climate change and working to preserve the environment. Participation is voluntary and adoption has been sporadic. That led WRAP, a global sustainability charity to establish Textiles 2030, also voluntary, but aiming to transform the way the UK supplies, uses and disposes of clothing and textiles over the next 10 years. Is this a framework the textiles industry in other countries can adopt?

NY-Metro Printers Recount the Dire Events of 9/11, a Day They Can’t Forget

Operating in the printing district of lower Manhattan, close by the Twin Towers, they became inadvertent witnesses to the worst domestic attack in U.S. history. Twenty years later, the events of September 11, 2001 remain seared into their memories.

Two Indicators: Retail Sales and Industrial Production

This week’s Friday data dump looks at two macroeconomic indicators that will give us some sense of how we are bouncing back from the pandemic—Retail sales and the Industrial Production Index. 

Around the Web: Patent Palaver. Lamp Love. Street Smarts. Elastic Enhancement. Smart Specs. Pestering Popups. Verbose Vegetation. Foolish Fowl. Tuneful Typing. Tiffany Tidbits. Good Gander.

US Patent Office rules that AI cannot patent its own inventions. Restoring the all-important water jug/lamp balance in your life. Graphene is an essential part of “smart digital roads.” Making a dress out of Target bags. Rubber Band 2.0. Good Lord, Facebook is developing smart glasses. A new project documents how awful the web experience has become. Can plants talk? “Ripper,” the duck that repeatedly said “You bloody fool,” apparently. A website that turns keystrokes into jazz piano notes. Virtually perfect Tiffany lamp reproductions…as cookies. Remembering the hospitality of a Canadian town on 9/11. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Paper’s Role in the Growth Potential for Production Color Inkjet

High-speed production color inkjet systems have truly revolutionized the document printing market over the past decade. Although these advancements have been clear, paper has played a quieter—yet no less important—role in the suitability of inkjet technology for various print applications. Factors like ink coverage, paper type, and running cost play a role in the future growth potential for inkjet.

The Target Report Annual Review—August 2021 TTM M&A Activity

M&A activity returns to pre-pandemic levels, label companies are red hot targets for PE-backed roll-ups; new national consolidator in commercial print, direct mail is steady, wide format matures; and more…

Marketing Your Way to Sales Growth

Sales is being reinvented in the age of self-service. When the customer can make a buying decision without parental supervision (aka a sales representative), you can turn marketing into a sales engine.

Takeaways from WhatTheyThink's “Interactive Print” Lunch-and-Learn

Didn’t make the August 25 lunch-and-learn “Interactive Print in the Real World: What’s Really Working?” No problem. Here’s a roundup of the presenters’ main points.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Finland

In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Finland.

Despite 2021 Rebound, Print Equipment Market Faces Increased Competition Through 2020s, Smithers Data Finds

There is short-term positive news for the global print equipment market. Data from the latest Smithers study—The Future of Print Equipment Markets to 2026—shows total global sales value will reach a projected $15.86 billion in 2021, a welcome response after the unprecedented disruption of 2020, when sales amounted to just $13.23 billion.

Around the Web: Foliage Finder. Coal Creativity. Sick Sites. Cosmic Color. Doom Dialing. Forestry Fastener. Vending Vocation. Retro Rock. McDonald’s Mystery.

Find out where and when the best fall foliage is likely to be. Turning coal ash into fibers. “Websites from Hell.” What is the average color of the universe—and does it have a Pantone number? A graphene-enhanced swimming pool. Creative hacking creates a “DoomPhone.” Turning blocks of wood into Velcro. What were the most important scientific developments of the past 50 years? Using a bowling ball for other sports. An Oregon entrepreneur develops vending machines that dispense arts and crafts. Remembering—against our will—the Pet Rock. What the heck was Grimace? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly milk crate stacking miscellany.

Paperboard Container Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 142,868 employees in NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2011 and 2012, then continued to rise over the course of the decade, peaking in 2018 at 147,301 before dropping a bit in 2019. In macro news, office and mall vacancy rates are at historic highs, the pandemic having accelerated trends that had been well underway beforehand.

3D Printing: A Digital Disruption for the Manufacturing Industry

The digital disruption that has already permanently changed a number of vertical markets is now poised to upend the manufacturing industry. This article explores how the benefits of 3D printing are expected to fuel a great many changes in the manufacturing world.

Zimmer Technologies for Digital Textile and Carpet Printing Continue to Disrupt the Status Quo

Last month, we ran a long article about the pros, cons, and challenges of carpet printing. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan interviews the CEO of Zimmer, a pioneer in innovative technologies for screen and digital printing (including carpet), coating, dyeing, steaming, and technical textiles. 

AR Is Not Up and Coming: It’s Already Here

Round-up of key data points from WTT’s lunch-and-learn “Interactive Print in the Real World: What’s Really Working?” The data reinforce why AR is not an up-and-coming technology, but rather one that is already here—and a force to be reckoned with.

Software Expertise Turnover at the Printer

When you lose a press operator, you know what to do. What happens when you lose your Print MIS administrator?

Business Expansion: Helping Customers Seize Opportunities

Beyond CMYK is a $25 billion market and growing. Market research shows that Beyond CMYK print applications increase visibility, influence what gets looked at first, boost dwell time, encourage repeat engagement, and differentiate a print product. In this article sponsored by Xerox, Marybeth Gilbert looks at the Beyond CMYK market and Xerox’s broad portfolio of Beyond CMYK solutions.

Four Tips for Your Sales Succession Plan

Printing companies, already struggling with staffing in the office and in production, have a new concern. Sales team members are resigning, too. Sometimes without much notice, precipitated by requirements to return to an office or return to travel. Pat McGrew offers advice for developing a sales succession strategy to ensure that new salespeople quick acquire the knowledge of someone who is leaving.

Tag! You’re It: Embedding NFC and RFID in Packaging

David Zwang looks at the current state of packaging applications for Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) and Near-Field Communication (NFC), and how and why they are being used.

Engagement Sells: Sit in the Sweet Spot of Interactive Print

How people interact with brands may never return to pre-pandemic habits. Innovative marketing efforts will be required to break through the noise of advertising and create an engaging customer experience that drives buying decisions. Contributor Joanne Gore explains how brands that offer interactive print experiences are more likely to be see increases in conversion rates.

How Prosumers Are Affecting the Fashion Industry—and the Role You Can Play

Are you a prosumer or do you know one? Or is it even a term you are familiar with? This article explains who prosumers are and the impact they can have and are having on the fashion industry, as well as how each of us can play a role as well in helping move the fashion industry to a more sustainable future.

July Graphic Arts Employment—Reaching a Plateau

In July 2021, all printing employment was down -0.2% from June, production employment up +0.7%, and non-production printing employment down -2.0%.

Around the Web: Hell Harp. Musical Material. Graphene Gold. Microplastic Master. Macbeth Mystery. Adult AR. Preying Plants. Fake Flora. Crate Craziness. Square Sustenance.

A working knitted keyboard. Graphene won another Olympic event. A 12-year-old Irish boy invents a magnet that attracts microplastics. Why is Macbeth such an unsettling play? Scholars found “the” reason. A research report on digital adult content looks, upsettingly, at AR and VR (though not QR, curiously…). A new (real) species of carnivorous plant has been discovered. AI creates 300 (not real) plant species. Why is the “milk crate challenge” a thing? Square foods, for some reason. Figurines of The Young Ones. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly milk crate stacking miscellany.

Building a Digital Fashion House: A How To Guide with Michaela LaRosse of The Fabricant

When The Fabricant was founded in 2018, digital fashion barely existed as a concept, and the idea of a digital atelier crafting couture for the non-physical environment? Forget it. Micky LaRosse, Head of Content & Strategy with Fabricant, says the trouble with creating something utterly new is the complete lack of reference points to guide your path. He offers advice to others pursuing this path in this article provided by Texintel.

The American Time Use Survey and What it Means for Print

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics recently released the results of its new American Time Use Survey, which compares how Americans spent their work and leisure time before and during COVID-19. This article considers some top-level findings from the survey from a print industry lens.

Merkle “Media Insights” Report Tackles Impacts of COVID-19 on U.S. Economy

Merkle’s Q3 2021 Media Insights Report looks at the fundamental changes brought to the U.S. economy by the COVID-19 pandemic—changes that remind us that, even once the U.S. economy is back at full steam, it may not look exactly like the economy that existed before the pandemic.

Why Color Is a Management Issue

In this article, sponsored by Alder Color Solutions, Marty Davis, President of Alder Color Solutions, explains how and why color management affects profitability and why upper management should be concerned and involved.

Fear of Launching Customer Facing Software

Launching a new way of interacting with our customers can be scary. It is also the best way to learn how to iterate the solution going forward. The sooner you realize you don’t know how your customers are going to utilize new tools, the better for your business. It makes you a better listener and helps your customers feel heard.

Upcoming Industry Events

WhatTheyThink presents a schedule of upcoming industry events for the remainder of 2021 and 2022.

A Dose of Pharm Insight: Pharmaceutical Finishing Takes One Giant Leap to Automation

Pharmaceutical and small-format finishing is a robust and specialized category that can be very profitable to serve. However, until recently the category was in dire need of a technology overhaul to remove labor from the process, increase quality and security, reduce make-ready times, and increase production and changeover speeds. Trish Witkowski rounds up recent finishing equipment releases that are just what the doctor ordered.

AR, VR & Interactive Print: What’s Really Working?

We’ve been hearing that print is going interactive for years, not just with QR codes, but with technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and near-field communications (NFC). Some of the applications are truly astounding, but are they relevant to the printing industry at large? Heidi-Tolliver-Walker looks at some examples of how “interactive print” is relevant to commercial printers.  

The Great Resignation: A Unique Opportunity for Textiles and Apparel

According to the U.S. Labor Department, more than 4 million Americans quit their jobs in April, a record high, and even more plan to do so as we exit the pandemic. If people are quitting due to boredom or unhappiness but still want to work, where will they look? And how can the textiles and apparel industry, which has long struggled to attract new talent, generate interest among those looking for something new?

Around the Web: Padding Pi. Non-Fungible Nonsense. Bio Brewing. Measuring Microparticles. Fungal Footwear. Literary Lexicon. Swag Scheme. Mosquito Manipulating. Mollusk Meal.

Swiss researchers calculate pi to a new record number of figures. Buy an NFT clipart of a rock for almost $300K, for some reason. Graphene-reinforced concrete. “Biosmocking” is a peek at the future of apparel. AATCC announces the first global standard for measuring fiber fragment release during home laundering. A new sock sneaker featuring mushroom soles and 3D knitted discarded dog hair. Words coined by classic authors. Big brands go direct-to-consumer to gather better data. Genetically altering mosquitoes to make them blind to human hosts. “The Big Sleep” at 75. The firefly squid isn’t just a visual feast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2018

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 253,464 employees in NAICS 3222 (Converted Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2012, then remained somewhat stable over the course of the decade and reaching 245,579 in 2018. In macro news, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) show increased demand for architectural design services, good news for the signage industry.

Expanding Into New Markets: Manchester Print Services Goes from Wide Format to Interior Décor

Manchester Print Services in the UK is one of a growing number of companies driving new business models in the textiles industry, including digital production of interior décor, as well as specialized textile printing for events, exhibitions, and retail display.

Overcoming Implementation Issues

In his fourth of six articles dealing with improving how we get things done, Wayne Lynn looks at getting past issues that delay and potentially stifle the implementation of goal-supporting business decisions. Leaders and their teams need to develop and support the Inventive mindset. Read on to learn more.

Inkjet Uncovers New Opportunities for Print in a Digital Era

Although the print industry is still reeling from the ongoing effects of the pandemic, direct mail communications have seen a resurgence because of their tactile nature and ability to establish a physical connection. This article explores how print service providers can leverage inkjet technology to capitalize on new opportunities in print.