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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.

Cherchez LaPlume: A Massachusetts Printer Thrives Despite Challenges

In the past three years, Lawrence, Mass.’s LaPlume & Sons Printing experienced a gas explosion and then the pandemic—but then this 85-year-old family business has faced its share of challenges over the decades and has managed to change with the times.

Our Unique Attachment to Paper

The products we produce are on paper, so paper is part of our business. Yet we need to break our attachment to the analog (paper) as a tool for running a dynamic custom manufacturing business.

Gartner: Marketing Budgets Are Not Bouncing Back to Pre-Pandemic Levels

Even as CMOs’ 2020 marketing budgets were being slashed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMOs were hopeful that those budgets would bounce back in 2021. But Gartner’s just-released “CMO Spend Survey” tells a different story. Not only are budgets not bouncing back, but they have dropped to the lowest level in the history of the survey. Is there any good news for PSPs in here?

What’s Your Sales Succession Plan?

One consequence of the pandemic has been an increase in employee turnover, especially in sales. Pat McGrew talks about how print businesses can cope with top sales talent exiting the company.

New Campaign Uses Signage to Promote Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

Bikeatoga, a non-profit organization that promotes bicycling and bicycle safety in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., has launched a lawn signage campaign to help prevent vehicle-bicycle accidents.

Paper Prices Climb: How to Warn Your Customers Early

Printing costs are going up, and we need to start letting customers know prices will too. Customers need advance warning—no one likes surprises. Contributor John Giles advises you to be proactive and tell your customers, particularly your top customers, about the pending increases.

Modern Litho Continues on Growth Path, Pursuit of Innovation

Over the last several years, Jefferson City, Mo.-based Modern Litho has experienced growth both organically and through acquisitions as it expands its footprint within Missouri. In this interview, Jeff Davidson discusses the company’s strategy, how acquisitions are key to its growth and diversification, and its latest investments in IT infrastructure.

Reanimate the Customer Experience

How do you evolve your business and imbue your culture with a customer-centric ethic that  actually modifies your organizational DNA? Preston Herrin offers four steps to becoming a customer-experience-driven company.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Denmark

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 Denmark.

June Shipments: A Lateral Move

June 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.65 billion, unchanged from May. We usually see declines from May to June, but at least the lateral move has halted two months of declining shipments.

Around the Web: Pressure Patch. Grape Graphene. Step Signs. Code Column. Corrugated Construction. Pall Pebbles. Emphasis Enigma. Travel Trauma. Fowl Fabio.

A new wearable patch can monitor blood pressure. New graphene paper can extend shelf-life of fruits. Calorie-counting stair signage. A first-person essay written by a QR code. The new “packaging real estate boom.” Why is the English language as erratic and haphazard as it is? Turning cremains into decorative pebbles. How fast can you type the alphabet? The 1962 Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic. How much trouble is the travel industry in? Remember that time when a goose collided with Fabio’s face? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Delta variant miscellany.

Paper Suppression: Will It Be the Final Nail in Transactional Mail’s Coffin?

Everywhere you look, whether online or off, enterprises are sending customer communications that beg, plead, and sometimes even force consumers to go paperless. Although COVID-19 has accurately been dubbed “the great accelerator,” ongoing market shifts probably won’t prove to be the final nail in the coffin that represents the death of printed bills and statements.

Carpet Printing Technologies Compared: How Have They Evolved and at What Cost?

With so much emphasis being placed on customization of interior and home décor enabled by digital printing technologies, can we even customize our carpets now? Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares this Texintel guest post by Bob Balings of Bob Mats B.V., which highlights different carpet printing technologies and their pros and cons, with lots of great advice about selecting the right technology for your work.

True Print Personalization: Is It All Talk and Little Action?

To what extent is this industry merely talking about relevance-based personalization and to what extent are we actually doing it? Insights from Who’s Mailing What!, a national database of direct mail, raises some interesting questions.

Understanding the Human Resistance to Technology Change

Projects like a Print MIS/ERP transition always create resistance to change. The most common resistance to change is fear but it generally is disguised under a barrage of logical objections.

Johnson’s World: Poop on the Playground

You offer great quality, terrific service, and competitive prices, yet some prospects still won’t work with you. Why? Steven Johnson uses a colorful analogy to show how customer disinterest can come from some unexpected places.

Printlink Finds the FireJet 4C Color Inkjet Press Ideal for Envelopes

Feeding envelopes through a printer is not necessarily an easy task, especially since there are so many sizes, configurations, and variations in thickness—even batch to batch. Yet Printlink has found an exceptional bespoke press solution that highlights what can be accomplished with production inkjet.

What Does the Post-COVID Future of Apparel Look Like?

We’ve been speculating about how the textiles and apparel industry will come out of the pandemic—how much will change, how quickly, and how much will remain the same? To help with this thought process, the School of Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University has published a study entitled "Repeat, Repair or Renegotiate? The Post-COVID Future of the Apparel Industry." We summarize the results in this article.

The Target Report: Packaging Industry Consolidation in Every Direction—July 2021 M&A Activity

Fort Dearborn & Multi-Color Join Forces, Mt. Royal Expands, and more…

Around the Web: Dining Documents. Felt Foods. Potato Packaging. Graphene Gold. Poster Portal. Microscopic Matter. Ant Aficionado. Neat Knife. Space Server.

The history of the restaurant menu. A “textile artist” specializes in food. French fry packaging made from discarded potato peels. Does it surprise you that graphene played a role at the Olympics? Changes are coming to Google Drive—consider yourselves warned. Pop Charts sells very cool infographic posters. Cornell researchers capture the highest-resolution image of atoms ever seen. An eight-year-old “entrepreneurial ant dealer.” Ron Popeil passes away. SpaceX is looking for a spaceport bartender. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Olympic miscellany.

Internet Publishing Employment—2010–2018

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 90,892 employees in NAICS 51913 (Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals). Over the course of the decade, employment in this category grew steadily to reach 275,875 in 2018. In macro news, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 6.5% in Q2 2021.

CMYUK Launches the “Creatives In Residence” Live and Worldwide Design Competition

One of the critical needs in the textiles and apparel industry is attracting new talent. CMYUK is helping address this need by launching a worldwide competition to recognize emerging talent. Its “Creatives in Residence” program will give two young surface designers and one talented videographer an outstanding opportunity to undertake a six-month placement at CMYUK’s advanced digital training and demonstration facility in Shrewsbury in the UK. While this might seem UK-centric, it is a worldwide opportunity. If you know a talented young person that would like to participate, please let them know about this opportunity! Learn more...

Leveraging Direct Mail to Engage Multiple Senses

Because electronic messages substantially outnumber printed communications, direct mail is now the less cluttered channel. Electronic communications also fall short of well-designed printed communications in terms of tactile impact. This article explores how marketers of printed communications can use the sensory elements of direct mail to their advantage.

The Goal of Automation Drives Process Improvements

Automation is the sexy sales and marketing term. Process improvement is where the magic happens. Keep your reality hat on and think about automation at the discrete task level of your business process.

Gartner: Marketing Budgets at All-Time Low, but CMO Council Finds the Opposite

As the U.S. economy continues to bounce back, “state of marketing” surveys are giving conflicting pictures. One says marketing budgets are falling. Another says they are rising. What to make of this conflicting information?

Missing the Signs—Post-Pandemic Signage Largely MIA as Everyone Returns to Normal

Navigating the post-pandemic world in the early days of the reopening could be confusing, as there was little signage that indicated a particular location’s policies regarding mask-wearing, etc. Still, some demand for post-pandemic signage remains, although the major opportunities for sign and display graphics producers were mostly fleeting.

Association Insights: PRINTING United Alliance

PRINTING United Alliance is a member-based printing and graphic arts association based in the U.S. The Alliance team provides economics and market trend insight, education, certification, events, human resources services, the latest legislation affecting our industry, environmental, and health and safety leadership. The Alliance partners with leading industry organizations that echo its mission in serving professionals and their companies across market segments with current, usable resources, both locally and nationally.

Beyond Braille: The ABCs of ADA Signage

Wayfinding and other kinds of interior graphics are good opportunities for signage and display graphics providers. However, it is essential to have an understanding of the requirements for signage to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)—and how some of those requirements have changed post-COVID.

From Fuji Xerox to Fujifilm

2021 marked the year that Fuji Xerox become FUJIFILM Business Innovation and started launching their own product range. While still supplying most print engines to Xerox, FUJIFILM Business Innovation is set to become a major digital printing player on its own. Get ready for an emerging major player in digital print.

Around the Web: Creepy Codes. Fast Fashion. Cookie Cache. Running Robot. Crazy Crutches. Tennis Trivia. Zipping Sipping. Pricey Potatoes. Human Hamster.

Fats Domino toured with Scitex equipment? QR codes could be poised to raise privacy concerns. Graphene goes skiing. Is more expensive clothing necessarily more ethically produced? Keep your Oreo cookies away from your kids by using disguised packaging. How fast can a robot run a 5K? Pogo stick crutches, to make your rehab even more challenging. Philosophical CAPTCHAs to make your logins more challenging. Why are tennis balls yellow? A reusable silicone straw that unzips for easy cleaning. The world’s most expensive French fries. Florida man attempts to run on water from Florida to New York in a giant hamster wheel. Cicada killer wasps! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Olympic miscellany.

June Graphic Arts Employment—Continuing to Get a Little Better

In June 2021, all printing employment was up +0.1% from May, production employment up +0.7%, and non-production printing employment down -1.2%.

Implementing a Vertical Market Approach: Benefits and Opportunities

As opposed to a horizontal market approach (which involves developing a specific product offering that touches many industries), a vertical market approach involves serving specific customers with specific needs. This article explores how implementing a vertical market strategy can help you recognize new and existing opportunities.

Exquisite Italian Silks from Mantero Seta Printed to Perfection with Epson Monna Lisa Digital Technology

Throughout history, silk has been recognized as one of the most, if not the most, exquisite and luxurious fabrics available. Now fabric printers are having huge success with digital printing of this glorious textile. In this article, textile expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares an example from Italian firm Mantero.

Five “Feel Good” Environmental Stories from the Paper and Packaging Industry

Paper and packaging companies are not only consumers of natural resources, but they are striving to be protectors of them, too. Here are five “feel good” stories about how members of the paper industry are doing their part.

Your Business Constraints and Print Business Software

Constraints are real. You can feel limited by them or you can decide to work with them in a way to maximize your results. No business is without constraints. With print software, humans and existing software are critical constraints to embrace.

The Five Steps to Managing Pricing—Part 2

If you are struggling with setting prices or trying to decide when it’s time to change prices, Pat McGrew offers some starting points with this two-part series on five steps for managing pricing. This second part involves looking not just as the products you sell, but the services, too, and then reviewing and executing your pricing plan.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Sweden

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 Sweden.

Pivot! How to Strategically Pivot Your Business Amid Uncontrollable Change in Four Steps

Pandemic and other forms of uncontrollable change can be detrimental for businesses. However, to offset initial disruptions and potentially larger, more long-term implications when hit with the unexpected, leadership at organizations must act swiftly and rally their team. Guest contributor Burke Cueny, VP of Marketing for Alliance Franchise Brands, explains how multiple departments and business units can work together to overcome the crisis.