Editions   North America | Europe | Magazine


Commentary & Analysis

Displaying 1-100 of thousands of articles

Appropriateness, Sustainability, and Availability: The Three Big Concerns in Choosing Signage Materials

Whether you are producing printed signage using the inkjet printing technologies we most commonly write about in WhatTheyThink, or constructing signage from traditional building materials, choosing the right material for the right job is perhaps the number-one consideration for any project. At the same time, there are two (at least) factors affecting the choice of materials for signage: availability and sustainability.

What is Carbon Capture and Why Is It Important?

There is a lot of discussion around companies and governments reducing their carbon footprints, aiming toward carbon neutrality by some date, and changes they plan to make to accomplish these sustainability goals as part of the effort to bring the climate crisis under control. But little is being said about a companion approach: carbon capture and repurposing. This article defines carbon capture and presents its current technological state.

Book Publishing Establishments—2010–2020

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 2,357 establishments in NAICS 51113 (Book Publishing). This represents a decrease of 21% since 2010. In macro news, October retail sales were up.

Around the Web: PRINT Props. Typography Tutorial. Site Slaughter. Swift Seat. Wandering Walls. Car Copy. Galactic Graphene. Star Start. Cold Color.

The 2023 PRINT Awards are now open. Friedrich Nietzsche’s Malling-Hansen Writing Ball. A branding expert talks about creative a bespoke typeface. A website that “deteriorates” every time someone visits it. Volkswagen’s motorized office chair can cruise up to 12 mph. A cubicle with motorized walls that can follow you around. Get a Hot Wheels version of your own car. A portmanteau word generator. Graphene is going into space. The James Webb Space telescope captures a protostar. Coors has developed nail polish that changes color when its temperature drops to a level acceptable for drinking a Coors Light. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Aquario Textile Design Software Delivers Essential Tools for the Surface Pattern Designer—Create, Color, Repeat, and Print

The design of textiles now demands speed, accuracy and embedded data. The patterns we create are no longer single use, and in a digitized world, their final product form, material application, and flexibility must now be considered and often incorporated into the original artwork. WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan looks at Aquario Textile Designer offers a comprehensive suite of professional apparel and textile design tools with which to prepare and perfect the origination and production of a textile pattern or product.

It’s All About the Experience: This Year’s Digital Signage Experience Awards Finalists Transform Public Spaces

Tomorrow, the winners of the Digital Signage Experience Awards—or “DIZZIES”—will be announced, honoring the cutting edge in electronic signs and immersive multimedia experiences. Our friends at SNA Displays had their LED display technologies used by four nominees in the running. We take a look at these digital signage installations.

The Leadership Challenge Is in the Context

In his last article, Wayne Lynn talked about the contextual realities that permeate leadership. Those realities often have paradoxical elements that require the leader to modulate his/her approach to most effectively deal with the situation in front of them. In this article Wayne goes a step further by describing what he believes is the crux of the leader’s context in the current environment.

Content Marketing Requires Content—Where Do You Get It?

In today’s marketing world, content is king, and marketing in the printing industry is no exception. But printers aren’t writers, a challenge compounded by the fact that printing industry content tends to be highly technical. Coming up with content is a skill of its own. Where do you find it?

When Solutions Cause More Problems

Solving challenges in your print business that involve your software solutions can be tricky because your team has a strong bias to how you are currently working and generally no experience of how other companies are utilizing the software.

Sign Connection—On the Horizon: Seven Tips for the Return of Events

If you attended PRINTING United last month, you know that virtually everyone is happy that live events are back. And as many of us have found out, they are not without their risks, COVID-wise. SpeedPro VP of Marketing Danielle Yuthas offers seven tips for hosting events safely and effectively.

Producing Board Games Is Not Child’s Play

The global board games market (including puzzles and card games) was valued at $13.75 billion in 2021, and it is expected to reach a value of $30.93 billion by 2028, at a CAGR of 13.7% according to The Global Board Games Market report from Skyquest. European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a comprehensive look at the forces affecting this dynamic industry—from the surge in board game sales during the pandemic, to increasingly digital production of games, and more sustainable production processes.

Who Will Pay for Climate Change? Climate Pledges Fall Short and Developing Nations Call Out the Failures at COP27

The Conference of the Parties (COP) is in its 27th year, and achievements have fallen far short of expectations. COP27, which is underway as of this writing, has for the first time seriously put the issue of loss and damage on the agenda, with the hope that there will actually be some sort of resolution before the end of the conference, and that developed countries will actually follow through on their promises.

New Mariano Rivera Foundation Print Training Center Set to Open in Premium Color Graphics’ New Jersey Facility

The Mariano Rivera Foundation’s Print Design Packaging Development Program has been gaining steam since it launched in early 2021. New trainees are finding jobs, and printers are finding qualified employees. Now, as the program grows, a new training center is set to launch in the Premium Color Graphics’ Carlstadt, NJ facility in January 2023.  

Around the Web: First-Place Fromage. Lice Language. Gorey Gala. Graphene Garments. “Fast Furniture.” Redaction Recreation. Computer Cuisine. Breakaway Baubles.

What won Best Cheese for 2022? The oldest sentence in Canaanite has been found. Entries from this year’s Edward Gorey House All-Ages Envelope Art Contest. A 3D-printed clay humidifier made from industrial waste. A new line of graphene-enhanced activewear that keeps the wearer warm. Cheap, more or less disposable furniture is the next environmental scourge. “Redactle”: a daily game in which the user tries to determine the subject of a random redacted Wikipedia article. Can AI create original, edible recipes? Also: Scientists increasingly can’t explain how AI works. A hacked drone can find the location of every WiFi-connected device in your house. Vlasic has created a scented candle that looks and smells like a jar of pickles. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly post-election miscellany.

Printing Outlook 2023 Sneak Peek: Business Conditions Slipped in 2022

Our preliminary Fall Print Business Survey results are in and our Business Conditions Index dropped slightly from 2021. Last year marked a rebound from the plummeting conditions in 2020, and 2022 likely represents a move toward stability.

Production Inkjet Shopping Guide 1 – Entry Level

This guide aims at providing an overview of the main inkjet presses available for commercial and document-oriented applications. This first in a four part series of articles will focus on entry and low volume devices, the most affordable presses in the market.

3D Printing and the Future of Organ Transplants

3D printing has revolutionized a variety of industries in the recent past, and the healthcare sector is no exception. This article explores how the 3D printing of human organs, also known as “bio-printing,” might change the way we handle transplant needs in the future.

Investing for Success: Caspar Offers a Smart Production Solution for Digital Textile Printing

As the digitization of the textile industry accelerates, on-demand textile printer Caspar’s business model is built for a new decade of industrial manufacturing using smart technologies—they have equipped their smart factory with necessary tools for success. This interview, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, tells the story.

The Reality of SaaS & the Delusion of Software Ownership

You can’t buy software like a press. It must keep moving with the technology infrastructure, the market, and your business. SaaS is a subscription model that better matches the reality of the way you need software to keep evolving.

Ricoh Releases the Dragon: The Ricoh Pro Z75 Goes Into Beta

Even with Ricoh’s background in inkjet and cutsheet digital toner press manufacturing, developing a reliable larger format cutsheet industrial press takes a lot of research, testing, and time. With the Ricoh Pro Z75, this new B2+ press may really be a game changer.

Looking Back to Sell Forward

Sales professionals know how to calculate sales margins vs. contribution margins. They are handy with calculating job pricing, and proficient in sales methodologies. At this time of year it’s worth taking a moment to look back to lay plans for next year!

The Target Report: Direct Mail Providers Stretch Out—October 2022 M&A Activity

Moore Acquires CCA, Postal Standards Drive M&A Strategy; and more…

Cashing In On the Cannabis Craze: The Cannabis Market Landscape

Legalized cannabis has budded into a formidable industry, growing into a bigger market each year. In 2021, it was valued at nearly $11 billion, with CAGR projections of nearly 15% through 2030. The cannabis packaging market alone was worth half a billion USD in 2021 and is expected to reach over $1.6 billion by 2024. Contributor Joanne Gore surveys the current but ever-changing cannabis packaging landscape.

Is There a Future for Sustainable Ecommerce Packaging?

Companies like Amazon have been adding more environmentally friendly packaging strategies, although a lot of plastic is still used. And Neenah has introduced the Neenah Environment Mailer, which is curbside recyclable. Senior editor Cary Sherburne looks at the current landscape of sustainable packaging for mailers.

Around the Web: Polling Problems. Deconstructing Designer. Malleable Mouse. Color Combat. Heat Help. Vinyl Vise. Height Horrors. Skin Souvenir. Convenience Crocs. Puppy Potable.  

We may be getting close to the death of telephone polling. Scott Albrecht is a designer and artist who “deconstructs letterforms with the intent to reconsider the relationship between message and viewer.” A foldable “origami travel mouse.” More skirmishes in the Adobe/Pantone color war. New cellphone line uses graphene-based heat dissipation.  Audio-Technica brings back its Mister Disc portable record player. Saving the tattoos of deceased loved ones. Avocado prices are the lowest they’ve been in five years. Crocs and 7-Eleven are collaborating on footwear design, for some reason. Busch has introduced turkey-flavored “beer” for dogs. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Periodical Publishing Establishments—2010–2020

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 4,519 establishments in NAICS 51112 (Periodical Publishing). This represents a decrease of 37% since 2010. In macro news, actual Q3 GDP was strong.

A Cloud Prepress Platform for Chicoine Group Clients

Recognized as one of Canada’s most successful offset and rotative printers, the family-owned company Chicoine Group is a leader in the integration of new technological advances. In this article, written and sponsored by Kodak, learn how the company has implemented KODAK PRINERGY On Demand with INSITE to cover all aspects of prepress, from data entry and proofing to online page approval and plate manufacturing.

Up and Coming Talent in the Spotlight at the Epson Design Awards 2022: An Interview with Last Year’s Winner Sophie Wantia

Printer manufacturer Epson and fashion innovator LABELEDBY are organizing once again this year the Epson Design Awards, scheduled for November 15th. In this article, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, we take a look back at last year's winner as an example of what we can expect from the 2022 awards.

The View from the Afternoon: Wide-Format & Textiles and Labels & Packaging at PRINTING United 2022

Richard Romano and David Zwang tag-team a look at, respectively, wide-format & textiles and labels & packaging at the PRINTING United Expo 2022.

Gaining Alignment: Slowing Down to Speed Up

Issues arise whenever you’re trying to work with a team. Do you have a safe and consistent method for identifying issues and processing them so that your business can stay in alignment?

Why Are Brands So Disconnected from Their Customers?  

Merkle has documented a significant disconnect between how well companies think they are doing with their customer experience capabilities and what customers actually think. Why does this disconnect exist? Merkle’s Q3 2022 Customer Engagement Report seeks to answer this question and provide solutions for how to fix it.

Cause An Effect: There Are Multiple Factors to Consider When Estimating for Digital Embellishments

Whether hand-applied, mechanized, or as today increasingly digitized, the embellishment of printed materials to give eye-catching effects has always been an expense on top of the basic print. They are time-consuming and may use more costly materials than standard pigments—but how exactly do you accurately estimate those costs in advance? WhatTheyThink contributor and Taktiful president Kevin Abergel looks at some strategies for creating estimates that won’t scare off the customer or cause the print provider to suffer a loss.

Canon Make-It Returns 2022 with More Launches

European section editor Ralf Schlözer reports on Canon’s Make-It Future-Proof event, which took place October 19 and 20 at Canon’s continuous-feed press manufacturing site in Poing, Germany. Canon used the opportunity to make some new product announcements, such as additions to the imagePRESS V-Series and new Prisma software.

Relatable AR: How to Use Augmented Reality to Tell Better Stories

What is the value of augmented reality in the world of marketing? For Joe Zeff, president of Joe Zeff Design in Pittsburgh, it’s to help his customers tell better stories. Heidi Tolliver-Walker looks at some of Zeff’s recent AR projects.

Microban International Partners with Cosmo for Fresh Feet

Do you ever wonder why some people get bitten by mosquitoes more than others? A recent CNN story says mosquitoes like the smell of cheese and feet. Now Microban and Cosmo may have an answer…at least for the feet part. Their partnership is another example of applying technology to add value to textiles and apparel.

Graphic Arts Employment Down Slightly in September

In September 2022, all printing employment was down -1.3% from August. Production employment was down -1.9% and non-production employment was down -0.1%.

Around the Web: Roland Revelry. Key Kit. Distraction Dismisser. Plate Poster. Pumpkin Palooza. Speech Signing. Silly Simulator. Galaxy Growth. Aldi Advent. Beer Beheading. Plastic Pourers.

Roland Corporation turns 50, celebrating their history in pianos with a new model. A working (sort of) Lego typewriter. A distraction-free word processing device lets you write in peace. A Twitter account that posts denied California vanity license plates. Check out Transylvania University’s creepy display of hundreds of jack o’lanterns. Graphene sensors translate sign language to speech. A flight simulator that simulates the experience of being a passenger on a cramped commercial flight, for some reason. The James Webb Space Telescope watches galaxies form around a red quasar. Aldi’s new Advent calendars for this year include a hot sauce calendar. A device that chops the tops off beer cans. Bacardi is eliminating pourers from its bottles to reduce plastic waste. It’s almost time to break out the woolen nose warmers. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Effective Leaders Manage Paradoxes

Leadership is complex. There are many ways to look at and examine it in our efforts to understand what it is and what it does. There are three things that seem to be universal. It is about the interaction of leaders, followers, and the context within which they reside and operate. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at this topic in an effort to start digging out what it is that makes leaders effective.

Making the Most of Direct Mail Communications

Many people are overwhelmed by digital communications, so they’re becoming increasingly skilled at filtering through all that clutter. Mobile messages and online ads can be blocked or ignored, and emails are frequently mass deleted. Direct mail pieces can also be immediately discarded or recycled, but they represent a tangible connection to a brand that is harder to ignore. This article explores some of the trends that make direct mail effective among today’s consumers.

When “Green” Perception Is Reality, How Do Commercial Printers Fare?

In the world of sustainability, perception is reality. Sustainability sells, so perception matters. In the printing industry, what creates the perception of being one of the most eco-friendly printers? What can we learn through the lens of Google rankings?

Diversified Sales Channels (B2B vs. B2C)

The print industry has focused on diversification on the production floor (e.g., digital, offset, oversized, flexo, web, etc.). It’s time to look at diversification in your sales channels—how you get new customers.

Where No Sale Has Gone Before…

Salespeople aren’t mind readers. Whether they are in-house or working remotely, they won’t magically know when new equipment is on the shop floor, or when incumbent technology exits. Let’s talk about how to ensure that everyone is current on what you can product so that everyone is working to fill the machines with the highest margin work.

Sizing the European Printing Industry

European section editor Ralf Schlözer rounds up the latest data on European and UK printing industry establishments, revenues, and production volumes.

What’s the Deal with Envelopes? Industry Insiders Share Tips to Help Work Around the Envelope Shortage

The envelope shortage has been a huge headache for printers, direct marketers, and envelope manufacturers. Contributor Trish Witkowski spoke to several major print, envelope, and mail leaders in the industry and shares some of their  “boots on the ground” insights and advice.

Are Shoes the Next Frontier in Sustainability for Textiles and Apparel?

We’ve been writing about sustainability issues in textiles and apparel and some of the advances that are being made, as well as the barriers—addition to Fast Fashion being one of the latter. But we haven’t really addressed a big segment of the market: shoes. In this article, we delve into some of the advances that will make shoes more sustainable, and also caution our readers not to become over-consumers—of shoes or anything else!

Newspaper Publishing Establishments—2010–2020

According to the latest, recently released edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 6,567 establishments in NAICS 51111 (Newspaper Publishing). This represents a decrease of 16% since 2010. In macro news, early estimates of Q3 GDP getting more bullish.

Around the Web: Freaky Photos. Sign Standards. Silence Solution. COVID Conqueror. Knotty Knitting. Mollusk Monument. Auto Aviation. Star Spectacular. Clam Condiment.  

AI restores and animates 19th-century photos. a pictorial feature on Paris, France’s “graphic standards manuals” from 1893. An important part of environmental graphics can be noise reduction. A new font “uses dots instead of letters,” for some reason. Graphene vs. COVID. A tool for color-matching yarn. A life-size sculpture of a giant squid that washed up in Newfoundland. A flying car now exists…sort of. The James Webb Space Telescope revisits the “Pillars of Creation.” Kellogg’s is teaming with Sugarlands Distilling Co. to develop “Eggo Nog” cream liqueur. “Clam-O-Naise.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

A Life in Signage: FASTSIGNS Spring Hill Owner Comes Full Circle

Ross Cartwright collected signs as a kid, so it was only natural he would end up in the sign business. From local independent Cincinnati sign shop designer to FASTSIGNS corporate trainer, he has now come full circle with his acquisition of FASTSIGNS of Spring Hill, Fla.  

Inkjet Makes Staffing Easier: Three Senior Managers Share Their Stories

Contributor Lois Ritarossi spoke with senior managers at three distinctly different print operations to get their perspective on staffing and the changes they have made to fill open positions and grow their business.

How Do Consumers’ Attitudes Toward Sustainability Really Impact Retail?

Everywhere you look, brands are promoting their sustainability to woo a public that increasingly cares about the topic. But caring about something and allowing it to influence their shopping decisions are two different things. How much do these values actually impact how consumers buy?

WhatTheyThink Talks with HP’s Haim Levit

In this article, sponsored by HP, WhatTheyThink talks to Haim Levit, Senior Vice President & General Manager, HP Industrial Print, about the major dynamics impacting the industry and how HP is responding to them.

New Software Tools: Gateway to Business Transformation

Transforming your business can happen incrementally by looking at the daily workflows you execute on and finding areas of improvement. New software tools are a great time to transform your workflows.

Printers Look on the Bright Side: Latest drupa Global Trends Report Sheds a Light on Print

A growth in optimism, increased planned investments, and operational challenges are some of the global print trends. European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at some of highlights of the latest drupa Global Trends Report.

Folding Cartons Digitally Printed and Embellished in One Pass with the KODAK ASCEND Digital Press

In this feature, written and sponsored by Kodak, learn about the new KODAK ASCEND Digital Press, a highly flexible and economical solution for short-run production of paperboard-based packaging.

Sustainable Fibers Gaining Steam

We’ve been writing a great deal about sustainability options for the textiles and apparel industry with the hope that brands and consumers will be inspired to change their wasteful behavior, including getting rid of the fast fashion concept in lieu of longer lasting, more sustainable apparel, use of non-petroleum materials, more local and on-demand production, and more. In today’s article, we take another look at some of the advances in more sustainable fiber that can reduce the industry’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Cannabis and Signage Regulations: Another “Wild West”

With cannabis retail locations now popping up in several states, we’re starting to see more and more signage advertising these locations and their products. And just as it is in packaging, regulations pertaining to cannabis signage are still in a “Wild West” stage and, as you can imagine, vary from state to state.

Around the Web: Plate Pixels. Index In-Depth. Kooky Keyboard. Better Battery. Redirection Revisited. Couch Crying. Hand Holding. COVID Candles. Webb Wolf. Prawn Pillow.

Digital license plates are now legal in California. A new book looks at the history of the index. Google Japan introduces a very long, single-row keyboard. Remembering Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. A graphene-enhanced “SuperBattery.” NASA’s DART mission to repel an asteroid was a success! A “TikTok influencer” buys a accidentally buys a $100,000 couch “as a joke”; immediately regrets it. “Martha Stewart partners with Liquid Death to release ‘Dismembered Moments’ Candle.” Tracking COVID surges using bad Yankee Candle reviews. The James Webb Space Telescope captures a binary star’s “dust shells.” The Bettli Shrimp Meat U Shaped Neck Pillow. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

August August Printing Shipments  

August 2022 shipments came in at $7.16 billion, up quite a bit from July’s $6.67 billion—august business conditions indeed, and reflecting a return to the industry’s regular seasonality.

Print Software Product Spotlight: Web-to-Print Solutions that Adapt to Your Needs with Customer’s Canvas

Sometimes the hardest part of taking advantage of the available marketplace is having tools that work they way you need them to. One size does not fit every situation. That is where Customer’s Canvas comes in. The team at Aurigma work with their clients to craft the web-to-print solution that will work most efficiently for their business.

Challenges and Opportunities in the Production Print Market

In July 2022, Keypoint Intelligence conducted an online survey of 153 print service representatives. This article provides a top-level overview of the participants’ responses about business financials, services and applications, software adoption, and automation.

The U.S. Cotton Trust Protocol Is Awarded a USDA Grant for More Than a Million Acres of Sustainable Cotton Production

Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan does a great job of keeping up with the latest industry news especially as it relates to sustainability. We were pleased to read this post on her site, and thank her for allowing us to reprint it: The U.S. Climate Smart Cotton Program is another example of how textiles in North America, from field, to fiber, to fabric, is working to become more sustainable and this grant awarded by the USDA will help in establishing adoption of climate smart practices on more than one million acres of cotton. Actions like this will be key to more reshoring of textiles to North America.

Integrated Workflows Crossing Multiple Vendors

The building of integrated workflows continues to get more complex and require more, not less, vendors. Your decision-making approach must be balanced between solving specific needs and integration up and downstream.

Thinking of Adding an Office Recycling Program? It’s Not as Easy as You Might Think

Have you considered implementing a company-wide recycling program? As part of a sustainable industry, it’s important for printers to consider. But doing so will take some research. It might not be as easy as you think.

How AlphaGraphics Makes It Happen!

What happens when an international franchise network makes it their mission to give back to the thousands of communities they serve? In this article, sponsored by AlphaGraphics, Pat McGrew takes a close look at AlphaGraphics’ “Make It Happen” campaign, a contest in which three deserving businesses won new branding, graphics, signage, décor, and marketing programs.

What’s Your Sales Backstory?

What’s the story you tell customers about your business? Do you have a narrative that everyone in the company uses or is everyone inventing their own? Here are the reasons to have a company backstory and for salespeople to have their backstories.

Hybrid, Crossover, and Bespoke: Have It Your Way!

Print technology and production methods have been changing along with the changing market requirements. All of this coupled with the “can do nature” of print and packaging service providers, continues to push technology and equipment manufacturers in new ways. David Zwang looks at how new modular component production solutions can be integrated and combined with almost all printing technologies including digital, offset, flexo, screen, and inkjet.

Digitization on the Road to Digitalization. What Is the Difference?

“Digitization” and “digitalization” sound similar, and it is common for people to confuse their meanings. Digitization focuses on the data required to objectively communicate product requirements, while digitalization is the process required to implement that workflow. ColorKarma’s Shoshana Burgett explains how the apparel industry needs both to successfully lower costs, speed product launches, and deliver sustainability targets.

Product Spotlight: Canon imagePRESS V1000 Checks All the Boxes!

Designing a digital press for today’s market requirements can be a challenge. Canon’s latest production digital press is the result of years of customer feedback and engineering ingenuity. It focuses on productivity, cost control, automation, quality, and ease of use, individually and collectively.

The Target Report: Private Equity Pieces Together Print & Packaging—September 2022 M&A Activity

Max Solutions Acquires Ellis, Ironmark Lands Millennium; and more…

Around the Web: Perilous Pictures. Trusted Trademarks. Orbiting OOH. Clever Concrete. Toast Time. Clock Creator. Spit Savior. Sustainable Sneakers. Mars Mania. Ranch Redecoration.

Ugh: malware can hide in images. What are the most trusted brands in the US? Do we really need billboards in space? Graphene-enhanced “smart concrete.” Clever spring clip pin is a thumbtack without the tack bit. China’s “incense clocks.” David Mills, the Internet’s “Father Time,” is retiring. Wax worm saliva can readily degrade plastic. The James Webb Space Telescope takes a close look at Mars. Hidden Valley’s “Ranch Home Collection,” for some reason. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Publishing Establishments—2010–2020

According to the latest, recently released edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 29,900 establishments in NAICS 511 (Publishing Industries [except Internet]). This represents an increase of 6% since 2010 and increase of 9% since 2016. In macro news, job openings were down 1.1 million in August while hires and separations (quits, dismissals, and layoffs) were generally unchanged.

Interest in Wide-Format Automation Isn’t Always Where You Think It Is

Last month, WhatTheyThink’s Richard Romano and IDC’s Tim Greene presented a wide-format outlook webinar, and a big topic was automation—but not necessarily where you would think. Here are some highlights of that discussion.

Track Textile Sustainability Progress with Texintel’s Eco News

Sometimes—or maybe even most times—it seems like progress toward sustainability and a more circular life cycle moves at a snail’s pace. But behind the scenes, the industry’s suppliers are making amazing progress. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan tracks many of these initiatives at Texintel’s Eco News. Here are some recent headlines.

Three Audiences, One Objective “Change”

Change can be difficult. You can make it a little easier by dividing up the constituents and hearing from their unique perspectives, basically giving them the airtime they deserve.

Cannabis Pros and Cons: Both in the Workplace and as a Print and Packaging Opportunity

Some printers are finding new growth in supporting cannabis marketing, communications, and packaging in the cannabis marketplace, but all printers need to be vigilant about the workplace issues brought about by the legalization of cannabis and its derivatives in many states. Contributor Lou Caron provides an overview of these issues.

Executive Q&A with Francis McMahon

We caught up with Francis McMahon, executive vice president at Canon Solutions America, Production Print Solutions, to talk about Canon’s growth areas, tease some new products and technologies, and explain how using the Grateful Dead as a business model has helped Canon succeed in the production inkjet market.

PRINTING United Preview: North American Debuts for Many Wide-Format Products

PRINTING United is slated for on October 19 to 21 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. As you may recall from past events, the emphasis of PRINTING United is on the “united” part, as it has been designed to be the venue where all the disparate “silos” of the industry—commercial, wide format, packaging and labels, textiles, industrial—come together under one very large roof. The following round-up is a sampling of the wide-format introductions you’ll find on the show floor.

Gallus One: Gallus and Heidelberg Go Full-On Digital

The integration of Gallus into Heidelberg is beginning to show impressive returns, starting with the Labelfire 340 hybrid press and now the Gallus One digital all-in-one label press, a jointly developed press and ecosystem. This new press is designed for the industry’s digital future and the new normal.

Johnson’s World: Listen, Part 13—Musings, Droppings, Streams, and Flashes

Vague musings, name-dropping, streams of consciousness, and occasional flashes of brilliance...from Johnson’s World.

It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s...Graphene: Get in on the Ground Floor with Graphene in Textiles

Graphene is a miracle material with the potential to revolutionize textiles. Senior editor Cary Sherburne takes a look at the current state of graphene-enhanced textiles.

Q2 Printing Profits: An End to the Tale of Two Cities?

Printing industry profits plunged during the pandemic peak but rebounded strongly afterward. But after hitting a peak in Q3 of last year, we’re on a downward trend, with annualized profits for Q2 2022 coming in at $3.92 billion, down a tad from $4.68 billion in Q1 2022.

Around the Web: Mammoth Manga. Number Nests. Royal Remaking. Virtual Voiceovers. Railway Redesign. Robot Rehab. Mouse Microbots. Averting Armageddon.

The longest book in existence is not designed to be read. House numbers that double as birdhouses. The arduous task of replacing Queen’s Elizabeth’s image on money, stamps, and products. An AI-powered speech engine for voiceovers. The complex design history of the London Unground map. BiaBrazil to integrate Graphene-Wear technology into women and men’s activewear. RIT researcher develops a humanoid robot that can teach humans tai chi. Swimming microbots clear pneumonia microbes from mice’s lungs. The James Webb Space Telescope captures details of spiral galaxy IC 5332. No need for Bruce Willis: NASA crashed a spacecraft into an asteroid to alter its orbit. A $10,000 first pumpkin spice latte engagement ring. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

The Eco Stories Textile Challenge to Feature at GREEN GRADS: 50+ Graduates with Ideas to Heal The Planet

50+ participants in the GREEN GRADS program shared their ideas to help heal the planet. Each submitted a portfolio with patterns that reflect their environmental concerns and/or love of the natural world, taking into account eco-friendly textiles, dyes, and methods of production. Green Grads is a not-for-profit event, organized with goodwill and with all time given freely. Read the full story.

Simple Strategies for Increased Sustainability

In addition to being the right thing to do, paying attention to increased sustainability can be a key differentiator in the value you offer to your clients and their brands. Sustainability is a system of change that is designed to protect our environment, and businesses of all sizes can play a role. This article explores some simple sustainability efforts that you can take today.

Executive Q&A: 4Over Demonstrates Continued Growth with a Broad Services Portfolio

4Over is the largest trade-only printer in the United States with 10 locations and close to one million square feet of production space and 1,100 employees. The company offers offset, digital, and wide-format printing, covering a wide range of customer applications. Cary Sherburne talks with CEO Shaheen Javadizadeh, who joined the company in 2020 from the enterprise software industry, about company updates and industry insights.

Interactive Print: What’s Working in the Real World? (2022)—Part 2

Summary of the second half of WhatTheyThink’s August 24 webinar “Interactive Print: What’s Working in the Real World (2022),” moderated by Heidi Tolliver-Walker and featuring presenters Joanne Gore of Gore Communications and Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design. Part 2 of the wrap-up focuses on Zeff’s presentation on his use of augmented reality in his Pittsburgh-based graphic design business.

Sales-Driven Change

You have change agents: they are your sales team. A group of people who are selling change every day. Use that team to help sell internal change whenever possible.

The Leadership Void

In previous articles, Wayne has discussed the worldwide issue of employee disengagement: what it is, what causes it, and how pervasive it is. This article begins a look at root causes. First up is poor leadership, which stems from poor decisions relative to who gets hired, promoted, and developed as leaders for the future. Effective leaders are the only people in an organization who can change the conditions that lead to disengagement.

Labelexpo Americas 2022 Part 2: The Rise of Digital

Labelexpo cemented the reality that digital is very much on the rise and at lightning speeds. The digital equipment is getting more sophisticated and, more importantly, productive. Digitalization is what will provide the platform for the new normal.

Are Fast Fashion Retailers Heeding Environmental Concerns or Still Trying to Sell More Stuff?

In this space, and across many other industry spokespeople, the call for an end to fast fashion has been resonating loudly. But are the brands and retailers—and consumers—taking this call for a reduction in unnecessary consumption seriously? It seems not.


Who are the sales “stars”? In your business? What qualities make them stars? David Fellman explains how to use those qualities to help motivate your less-stellar employees.

Around the Web: Count Conundrum. Lighting Leech. Floppy Fever. “Armor All”? Stick Solution. Carbon Kicks. Fruity Fashion. Hole Hoard. Ring Revelation.

How long should an article be? “Parasitic signage.” The floppy disk is, improbably, still in great demand. Graphene-based waxes and polishes for car detailing. A hand-crafted book about embroidery that was itself embroidered. Solving the problem of disposable chopsticks. New sneakers made from carbon emissions. A non-Pantone Color of the Year: Apricot Crush. An alternative to the skyscraper. An extensive online catalog of manhole covers from around the world. The Webb Telescope takes new pictures of Neptune. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Pre- and Postpress Establishments—2010–2020

According to the latest, recently released edition of County Business Patterns, in 2020 there were 1,168 establishments in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). This represents a decrease of 44% since 2010. In macro news, AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) indicates that demand for design services accelerated in August, boding well for commercial real estate construction and thus signage projects.

Best Practices for Alzheimer’s-Friendly Signage

September is World Alzheimer’s Month—and September 21 was World Alzheimer’s Day—where people and organizations around the globe raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease and other kinds of dementia. As part of this awareness, UK-based print and branding company Solopress circulated some best practices for designing and producing Alzheimer’s-friendly signage and display graphics.

The Wallcoverings Industry Is Set for Disruption and John Mark Ltd Is Leading the Field

One of the trends that emerged from the pandemic was an increased focus on décor -- home, office and otherwise. And that included a resurgence in interest in wallpaper. New technologies, including high quality production inkjet printing and equipment designed specifically to output short runs of customized wallpaper, have made it easier than ever before to produce bespoke wallpaper. And designers and producers alike are taking advantage of this trend. In this article, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, we highlight the work of John Mark Watson of John Mark LTD as an inspiration to others.

Changing Your Customer’s Behavior

Your customers require selling even after they are customers. The selling comes in the form of encouraging them to engage with you in a way that is both convenient for them and improves the outcomes of your workflows.

Interactive Print: What’s Working in the Real World? —Part 1

Summary of the first half of WTT’s August 24 webinar “Interactive Print: What’s Working in the Real World (2022),” moderated by Heidi Tolliver-Walker and featuring presenters Joanne Gore of Gore Communications and Joe Zeff of Joe Zeff Design. This article focuses on Gore’s presentation looking at the evolution of QR Codes from misused novelties to truly useful marketing tools and how to use them successfully.

Labelexpo Americas 2022 Part 1: The Times Are Changing

The level of excitement mirrored the general mood of the industry, and “we’re back but different” was the underlying theme of this event. The takeaway was there is no turning back and rapid change is the new normal, with digitalization as the lifeblood of the infrastructure.

What Print Sales Job are You Looking For?

While hiring sales team members requires art and science, at the same time, candidates for sales positions also need a strategy to make sure a particular job is aligned with your abilities. Pat McGrew explains how job-seekers can ensure that they are the best fit for a given position and company.

Fiery Preflight Pro: Troubleshooting Jobs “Within” the Workflow

EFI Fiery DFEs have been driving digital printers for over 30 years. As the digital printers and the market requirements they serve change, there is a need to bring more automated preflight to the production floor to ensure process consistency, EFI has ensured that their DFE meets those challenges with their customers in mind. This includes the newly released Fiery Preflight Pro, available for Fiery FS500 Pro and newer servers.