An honest preview of the year to come. The Great Gatsby is now in the public domain—and there is already clamoring for a Muppets version. A new H.G. commemorative coin has a couple of errors. Google’s Verse By Verse uses AI to help us write a poem. DALL·E uses AI to generate images from text prompts. An oral history of Bed Bath and Beyond’s big blue coupon. The origin of the Pez dispenser. The AR version of the New York Times crossword. An often hysterical mashup of North By Northwest and Star Wars. Denmark’s…bizarre idea for a children’s cartoon. McDonald’s China launched a Spam and Oreo burger, for reasons passing understanding. KFC has a combination game console/chicken warmer. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.
The customer communication process is becoming increasingly complex. Thanks to ongoing innovations in customer segmentation and data mining, businesses now know more about their customers than ever before. This article explores the latest strategies for delivering data-driven communications.
A recent report from McKinsey stated that 58% of fashion executives expected that assortment planning was a key area for 2021. The direct result means “less is more,” holding less stock and replenishing at speed in-tune with data and sales analytics. But how do they get that done? It means overcoming decades of doing things a certain way, and we all know that change is difficult. Further driving the need to make these changes are increased focus on sustainability and the need to restructure supply chains. These can be accomplished by, among other things, simplifying fabric printing, and as textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan points out in this article, that requires increased use of digital technologies across the board.
Many print companies have reinvented their business models and service offerings to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, but not every printer can develop a new proofing solution or create 100% automated, touchless production. But that doesn't mean that you can’t make changes that improve your ability to weather the pandemic and set yourself up for success. Heidi Tolliver-Walker offers some tips from an organization outside the printing industry.
Integrate with your customers’ systems so that your technologies have relationships just like your people have relationships. The more ties that bind you and your customers together, the less likely you will divorce!
Pat McGrew offers her list of three recommendations for print businesses to start doing that will help them grow and thrive. The print business may continue on a roller coaster as we move through the first half of the year, but that makes it a great time to tune your workflows and ensure you are getting the most from each of your systems.
If you are interested in textiles and how they are woven through human history (pun intended), The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World is a well-written and very informative history of how fabrics have been part of human history from the beginning. In this article, we take a look at silk—not it’s history so much, but at where it might go from here.
As we enter 2021, we have reasons to be optimistic, maybe even over-optimistic. So let’s put the old year behind us (to the extent that we can), jump feet-first into the new one, and resolve never to use terms like “the new normal” or “pivot” ever again. Instead, let’s look at some of the substantial new opportunities for wide-format graphics and signage. What can we be over-optimistic about?
Amazon launches made-to-measure T-shirts. 3D printing with graphene. 3D printing pollen grains. Checking in with the inventor of the QR code. Are robot pets a solution for COVID-induced loneliness? A “find the fake written language” visual test.” A European map of different forms of quotation marks. The dispute over Cap’n Crunch’s rank. Sax kittens. ELECTRONICOS FANTASTiCOS! Poems based on A Christmas Carol. Replace the Yule Log with this Dumpster fire video. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s blizzard of miscellaneous items.
“Retail” embodies vastly different kinds of businesses, all of which have fared differently during the pandemic. As a result, rather than V-shaped, perhaps we should think of it as a K-shaped recovery. But what does that mean for retail graphics?
Although the ongoing pandemic is certainly not the first hurdle that the printing industry has encountered, printers have proven themselves to be very resilient during challenging times. Past recessions have certainly impacted the print industry, but they didn’t happen seemingly overnight the way COVID did. This article explores how PSPs are leveraging their core competencies to uncover new opportunities that will carry them to the future.
2020 was not the year we expected it to be. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer reviews some of the key developments that shaped the printing and communication industry in 2020 in Europe—and most likely in the years to come.
How do you switch an entire industry to sustainable technologies and increased profitability? It’s been done in the past, of course, but never on the scale of the multi-trillion-dollar textiles and apparel industry. While it may seem impossible to turn this large ship in a new direction, the past year has caused some significant shifts to happen. Here’s what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say about this shift and what it may mean for the future.
2020 has forced us to rethink every aspect of business, including where and how it’s conducted. Thankfully, we have the technology, skillset and expertise to create a better customer experience, share and engage with buyers, partners, and customers, and showcase our essential role as print professionals. Contributor Joanne Gore looks at the changes the year has wrought on the way we communicate.
Is the COVID-19 pandemic fueling a rise in the use of QR codes? Yes, and for a simple reason—they provide a safe, touchless way to communicate between businesses and their customers. We see this anecdotally, but data from a recent poll by MobileIron support this observation, as well.
Cary Sherburne talks to Diana Wyman, Executive Vice President at the American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC), about the state of the association, the occasion of its 100-year anniversary, and its upcoming plans.
Selling during the pandemic is like selling during a widespread economic downturn. You have to figure out the market segments who are least impacted or, in COVID-19’s case. find the companies who are positively impacted. Directing your sales efforts is critical to closing new business.
Marc Olin co-founded ProGraph in 1989 right out of college and has stayed with the same company through its many iterations since, through formation of PrintCafe and acquisition by EFI. Effective December 1, 2020, Olin has left EFI to explore his next chapter. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Olin to revisit history and get a look toward the future for this industry veteran who has contributed much to the industry over the years.
The COVID crisis laid bare the weaknesses and fragility of the textiles supply chain, and brought to the fore a renewed interest in and need for digital textile production and more environmentally sustainable practices. Cary Sherburne takes a look back at the year in textiles.
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 last installment for 2020 features a look at the printing industry in Turkey.
Trish Witkowski looks back at the major trends in binding and finishing—including a growing interest in embellishments, book-of-one, and robots/cobots/automation. She also looks at a large handful of new products and solutions that hit the market in 2020.
According to the Q3 2020 ISA Quarterly Economic Report, it’s going to be a long, hard slog to full recovery, and not just domestically. 2021 will be an improvement, but don’t expect the “new normal” (whatever that is) until 2022.
With €7.6 billion in revenue and more than 50,000 employees, the graphic arts industry in France is sizeable and the fourth biggest in Europe. But there are additional print segments as well adding to a total print market of close to €16.1 billion. This is the fourth installment of a series of articles on the size of and trends in the printing industry in key countries in Europe.
As was the case with so many events this year, the Digital Textile Printing Conference, hosted by AATCC and the PRINTING United Alliance, was held virtually over two days. The inability to meet in person didn’t stop these organizations, their speakers, and attendees from spending quality time reviewing the latest trends and looking ahead to 2021 and beyond.
Pantone announces its color(s) for 2021. Various dictionaries announce their “words of the year.” A lexicon of annoying marketing buzzwords. Sigh: IKEA discontinues its print catalog. The IOC adds breakdancing to the 2024 Olympic Games. Get books delivered the same day by bicycle (offer only available in Milan). Know your US states—or lack thereof. Mt. Everest gets bigger. The Immortal Bard gets vaccinated. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s continuing to get into the seasonal sprit miscellany.
UK-based Screenworks is accelerating its growth by blending screen printing with digital printing, including investments in tools and solutions to enable production of a catalog of protective, antiviral, promotional, workwear, and day-to-day wear products and accessories. Read more from textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan.
As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, the Customer Communications Management (CCM) market is undergoing radical changes on an evolutionary scale. In order to better understand the forces behind this evolution, late last year, Aspire CCS surveyed businesses across the globe, interviewed stakeholders in every facet of the market, and published an extensive report entitled, “The State of CCM-to-CXM Transformation.” The final entry in a four-part series focuses on how enterprises can leverage the unique forces currently disrupting the industry to transform their customer communications workflow into a vehicle that drives revenue by maximizing a consumer’s lifetime value.
E-commerce is likely having a significant impact on your processes and business prospects. This article explores the growing importance of e-commerce and highlights how printing companies can use it to their advantage during these changing times.
Ricoh is not a newcomer to production inkjet. But as a late-comer to cut-sheet production inkjet, how do you compete with both the existing B2+ and A3 presses in the market at the same time? Apparently, they figured it out!
2020 was a transformative year, not so much for new and significant developments in label and packaging printing technologies—although there were some—but for triggering increased awareness of the value of digital packaging production. David Zwang looks back at the year’s label and packaging products and technologies.
The future of your customer service department still involves skilled labor. In fact, the labor is more skilled than it is today and it will be able to handle more volume because of the self-service tools your customers will have access to. Customer service will turn into customer success—a proactive element to drive more business and maintain loyalty thru convenience.
Cary Sherburne talks to EFI’s Frank Mallozzi about the launch of the second-generation Nozomi digital corrugated press, its trade event plans, and winning an InterTech Award for the EFI Reggiani BOLT digital textile printer.
WhatTheyThink Print Software section editor Jennifer Matt looks back at the year 2020 in software, some of the trends that emerged from the pandemic, and how software has become an important element in helping print companies adapt and pivot.
Duggal Visual Solutions is a company that has been growing and transforming itself since its inception in 1963, and through it all has maintained their core values of high quality and service to their customers. They have proved that they can, and will, continue to innovate and transform to meet the changing needs of visual communications.
Manufacturing automation in textiles and apparel is moving ahead apace, accelerated by advances in digital technology. But the remaining “last mile,” sewing, continues to be a barrier to reshoring of apparel manufacturing on a large scale. This article explores some of the efforts underway to automate sewing and what impact that could have on the future of apparel manufacturing in North America and Europe.
Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding rounds up the production inkjet press launches serving the document and publishing market in 2020, when they were announced, when they will be commercially available, and the related development trends.
With so many people out of work and many companies struggling due to the pandemic, competition for available jobs is fiercer than ever. it is ever more critical that resumes are structured to meet today’s very different needs in order to stand out and be considered in the job application process. PrintLink’s Arnold Kahn and Dino Scalia offer five ways to get your resume to rise to the top of the pile.
In 2012, there were 348 establishments in NAICS 322219 (Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 290. In macro news, highlights (if you want to call them that) from the most recent Federal Reserve “Beige Book.”
Why get a smartwatch or some other wearable when you can get electronic skin? Global fashion industry profits are expected to plummet precipitously this year. Winners of this year’s International Landscape Photographer of the Year Awards. One word: monolith. Theaters get creative in staging “A Christmas Carol.” Gift ideas for designers and type lovers. A bank turns its building into an Advent calendar. Good grief: Zoom Santa. Get your Santa mask! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s slowly getting into the seasonal sprit miscellany.
Many months in, we’re still struggling to control the COVID-19 pandemic. The good news is that PSPs still have options to connect with their customers and prospects. This article highlights some data from Keypoint Intelligence that seeks to illuminate these possibilities.
Looking for a growth opportunity? Look no further than the digital textile industry. A recent report from Allied Market Research predicts that digital textile printing will grow by over 230% by 2025. This is at least partly driven by a reduction in the cost of digital textile inks. Read what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say about this opportunity.
As it has become clear that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deeper and longer than many expected, printers have an important question to ask: What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not? In this Part 2 on this topic, we look at two additional examples of printing companies that have invested and innovated their way to success.
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 features a look at the printing industry in Portugal.
Humans resist change, even when it provides them real value. If you need a group of humans to change, you have to think about your approach in order to optimize the outcomes. This applies to your existing customers and how they engage with your business.
Billions of euros’ worth of printed products are exported and imported across borders in Europe, although the amounts traded and trade balance differ a lot from country to country. European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a look at the five biggest print markets in Europe and their print trade numbers.
More than two years have passed since Europe’s privacy regulation—the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)—went into effect. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a look at what its impact has been, what its effects on print have been, and why printers and marketers even outside the EU should care about it.
As we wrap up 2020, let’s take a few minutes to look back over what has been a difficult year and highlight a bright spot for the textiles and apparel industry: increased efforts to reinvent the textiles and apparel supply chain, which has been hard hit by the pandemic and the resulting economic disruptions. Inside that effort is an increased focus on sustainability from both establish brands and suppliers and new emerging players.
In 2010, there were 825 establishments in NAICS 32222 (Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 725, despite a spurt of growth in 2012. In macro news, initial unemployment claims were 742,000, an increase of 31,000 from the previous week's revised level.
The knitwear industry is particularly susceptible to money laundering. Movie money looks pretty genuine—but it shouldn’t look too real. Graphene! The annual Bulwer-Lytton Awards. Does a 19th-century Austrian painting depict a smartphone? It’s one of the most iconic war photographs ever—but was it staged? Colognes that smell like ink. Blow your mind with the "Block Universe Theory." All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s wrecking ball miscellany.
As millennials move into leadership and ownership responsibilities in our industry they are uniquely positioned and qualified to take a strategic view of the management and development of our human assets. In this article, Wayne Lynn takes a look at this opportunity and how it can be capitalized upon. Read on to see how the future can be better shaped by better use of our people.
In today’s business climate, it is more important than ever for businesses to engage their customers and prospects via a channel that gets noticed. Although e-mail might seem like the easy choice, today’s digital inboxes are being inundated with messaging. This article explores how brands can use direct mail to connect with their customers and stay top of mind during the pandemic.
In this article, sponsored by Kodak, Senior Vice President John O’Grady discusses the advantages of KODAK Sonora Process Free Plates, including the environmental benefits and pressroom savings that can be realized with process free plates. He also previews the improvements to come in the next-generation SONORA XTRA plates.
Sourcing fabrics is a complex field, and finding sustainable textiles is not as easy as it sounds. It’s much easier for the large vertical brand than it is for the smaller-volume printer. All of which is further complicated by the variance in digital textile printing applications. Textiles expert Debbie McKeegan offers strategies on how to build knowledge and seek new partnerships and stakeholders.
It is hard to think of a time in recent history when we have been so captivated by data. The COVID-19 global pandemic has had us glued to data for the better part of eight months. Data is guiding the day-to-day recommendations of epidemiologists around the world and it will also guide when a vaccine is safe to release. In any industry, a strong data foundation is critical to enable companies to make proactive decisions that will move businesses forward.
As it has become clear that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deeper and longer than many expected, printers have an important question to ask: What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not? In this article, part 1 of two-part series, we look at the research and the first of three examples of printing companies that have invested and innovated their way to success.
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 features a look at the printing industry in Austria.
Take a look at the product mix you offer. What products can you pair up or also offer to increase your offerings to customers? In part 2 of a two-part feature, Pat McGrew helps you identify the “fries” you can offer customers.
In biology, “adaptation is the physical or behavioral characteristic of an organism that helps an organism to survive better in the surrounding environment.” When we look at one of the newer requirements of packaging—sustainability—we tend to limit it to the ecological focus, when the more consequential focus relates to adaptation.
Salespeople who are trying to identify, develop and close big deals right now are facing unprecedented challenges. Lisa Magnuson details three strategies that will positively impact your win rates for contracts worth five times your average deal size.
The pandemic and the economic and political uncertainty have cast a pall on many aspects of our lives. But it’s not all bad news. Graphco President Chris Manley joins the chorus of voices that sees growth and opportunity in printing—some going as far as to call it the Golden Age of Printing. Here’s how Manley explains it.
With €10.6 billion in revenue and more than 62,000 employees, the graphic arts industry in Italy is sizeable and the third biggest in Europe. But there are additional print segments as well adding to a total print market of close to €19 billion. This is the third part of a series of articles on the size of and trends in the printing industry in key countries in Europe.
Two words: mushroom leather. Sustainable wipes. Fashion meets the Internet of Things, for some reason. German e-commerce company acquires body scanning technology developer. Coroplast campaign signs can and should be recycled. The world’s most difficult murder mystery/puzzle—“Cain’s Jawbone”—is solved for only the third time in almost 90 years. The eel as a unit of currency in Medieval Britain. Nannette Streicher, a “mechanical wunderkind,” was an 18th-/19-century piano builder who made Beethoven’s pianos. The world’s most Instagrammed train stations. PSA: don’t cook a chicken in Yellowstone’s hot springs. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s raccoon-menaced miscellany.
October 2020 employment figures are at least moving in the right direction from September, albeit slowly; overall printing employment in October was up +0.8% from September, with the gains predominantly in production staff continuing to come back. Let’s not look at year-over-year changes in graphic arts employment.
From the outside, digital textile printing can look like a plug-and-play operation; but for the specialist practitioner, the commercial reality is often quite different … until now. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares insight into some of the technology advances that can make the process easier without sacrificing quality and accuracy.
The signs and graphics industry has become essential to the recovery of small business communities worldwide, and its value has only grown as the pandemic has gone on. Guest contributor Mike Cline, Vice President of Franchise Development at Alliance Franchise Brands, looks at three ways meaningful graphic displays have shown to be a crucial tool for businesses in both the fight against, and recovery from, the coronavirus.
Although many have adjusted to the changes brought on by COVID-19, 2020 has undoubtedly been a very strange year. A sudden over-dependency on digital channels opens the door for print to present itself as a positive alternative during a stressful year.
The pandemic has changed both the way companies seek to attract new talent and the interview/on-boarding process. In this article, Arnold Kahn & Dino Scalia of PrintLink offer five steps for hiring and keeping great employees during and after the pandemic
Harvard Pinnacle Group in Waltham, Mass., is a digital trade printer. Owner Greg Wallace started the company as a Macintosh training center, and his need for training materials moved him into printing. The company was born digital and has stayed digital.
When you get a chance to learn from someone else’s mistakes, take the opportunity while you can. In a document titled “Top 10 Mailing Mistakes,” the United States Postal Service offers four examples of mistakes in formatting and design that rendered the mail pieces of four real-life marketers unmailable.
Selling during the pandemic is like selling during a widespread economic downturn. You have to figure out the market segments that are least impacted or, in COVID-19’s case, find the companies that are positively impacted. Directing your sales efforts is critical to closing new business.
As we enter “the new normal,” temperature detection systems and signage may become important elements of compliance and liability for businesses. This article looks at Altoros, a veteran professional IT services and software provider that has entered the temperature signage market.
The cost of printing has always been important. For packaging, which has volume counted in the tens of thousands to millions of pieces of each, it is a primary focus. Since the product manufacturing and time to market are dependent on it, not only is the cost of packaging important, but also the level of productivity.
Despite the technology’s relative infancy, the choice of digital printers is already so widespread that you have to understand every detail of what you are buying before making a decision. Getting it wrong is likely to be very costly! In this article, corrugated industry veteran Nick Kirby looks all the variables involved in selecting a digital corrugated press.
Agility is not an elusive concept, neither is it a disruptive, one-time effort. Rather, it is a quantifiable system of continuous evaluation of your fundamental business practices. The stepping-off point is an assessment of the core practices from which your business culture emanates. Preston Herrin identifies three phases with which you can build purpose and agility into your organization and continually nurture it with the discipline of continuous improvement.
There is no question 2020 has been an unusual year across the board, and especially in the textiles and apparel industry. As the year comes to a close, be sure to attend the 2020 Edition of AATCC and PRINTING United Alliance’s Digital Textile Printing 2020 conference, packed full of the information you need to finalize your plans for a successful 2021 and beyond. Check out the details.
A lot of shops have been doing vehicle graphics for many years, but even more have mot net explored the opportunities to be had. And as with virtually everything else, the COVID pandemic has the potential to alter the market for vehicle graphics.
In 2010, there were 491 establishments in NAICS 322212 (Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing). By 2018, that number had declined to 440, despite a spurt of post-recession growth. In macro news, the BEA’s advance estimate of 3Q GDP saw it increasing +33.1%—a climbing out of Q2’s -31.4% hole.
A street-corner performance artist writes and mails “pick-me-up” letters. Powell’s Books is selling the smell of its bookstore. A history of the ballpoint pen, the “smartphone of its era.” The controversy over “unpublishing.” AI-enabled camera mistakes a ref’s head for a soccer ball. New Kickstarter for a coat made from “coffee yarn.” A malfunctioning 3D printer inspires a new form of textile. At “The Bob Ross Experience,” fans can dress up as and paint along with the PBS art instructor. A 3D art “performance” at the Brussels airport. A whale sculpture prevents a train from plummeting to its doom. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s post-electoral miscellany.
When it comes to developing a sales strategy, LinkedIn is a superior platform because it has done a great job of remaining professional, clean, credible, and reliable. Although other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are also great tools for business development, they tend to intersect more with users’ personal lives. This article explores how LinkedIn can best be used to establish and maintain those all-important connections during the pandemic.
Canvas prints aren’t exactly seasonal products—thanks to the online printing industry you can order excellent canvas prints all year round. But placing an order in late fall can have particular benefits, especially if you’re ordering from BestCanvas.ca. Want to know why? In this article, sponsored by BestCanvas, you’ll find out!
Digitally printing on synthetic paper and plastics is more expensive than running traditional, wood-fiber papers on press, but certain products may be worth the expense, especially in the COVID era. Contributor Mark Vruno looks at the latest in synthetic papers.
One thing the pandemic has boosted is online shopping. And one application that is experiencing terrific growth is direct-to-garment printing, allowing consumers to personalize their T-shirts and other items. Guest contributor Peter Wright, Managing Director of Amaya Ltd., shares more information.
The U.S. Post Office’s Informed Delivery service offers a free interactive campaign feature. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think it through. It’s a great opportunity. Don’t waste it!
While product counterfeiting has been an issue for many years, brands are now determined to address the issue head on. Security is becoming a crucial part of the packaging process, especially in the age of COVID.
Print service providers who can say “yes” to virtually any job are at an advantage today. This article, sponsored by Kodak, explains how the KODAK NEXFINITY is a compelling solution for printers seeking a robust, flexible, effective sheetfed digital color press, delivering running costs competitive with medium-run offset andprints up to 400% more pages per month than competing sheetfed digital presses.
A crisis is also an opportunity, and COVID-19 is no exception. The rate of adaptation taking place is one of the most powerful forces at play in 2020. Entire populations are expanding their comfort zones with online tools, remote learning, and working from home.
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 features a look at the printing industry in Spain.
Colorkarma and Gerber Technology have teamed up to help local manufacturers quickly adjust and ramp up production lines to meet need for personal protective equipment (PPE). Together, they have launched a new PPE Task Force Directory.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to 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.