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WhatTheyThink

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Pack Expo East: This Is Where the Printing Goes!

Shifts in consumer purchasing, will continue to have an impact on packaging growth due to disruptions in the supply chain, shifts in consumer purchasing, and labor availability forcing consumer packaging groups (CPGs) to think about how they can be more efficient at what they do. Automation and even robots are a big part of the answer.

Johnson’s World—I Call Nonsense: Let’s Dissect Some Internet Tropes

Steve Johnson calls out some nonsense—and what better place to start than the internet, home of social media, which is unequalled for nonsense.

Reading Printed Books Is Good for You—and Your Grades

Research based on the latest PISA educational survey results shows that readers of printed books read more, enjoy reading more, understand texts better, and are likely to have better grades. This confirms previous studies on the advantages of printed books in education.

The Current State of Plastics Recycling

Plastic waste is a significant environmental problem for the world. But the good news is that new technologies, from design through end of life, are making it easier to recycle plastics and have them be a good citizen in the circular economy. The ultimate goal is to eliminate plastic waste. In this interview, we speak with Kara Pochiro, the Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at the Association of Plastic Recyclers (APR) about the ins and outs of plastic recycling.

January Shipments: Let’s Get This Year Right

January 2022 shipments came in at $6.64 billion, down from December’s $7.09 billion. We’re starting the year better than we did 2021 and reverting back to our normal seasonality trends.

Around the Web: Lasting Letraset. Fabulous Fiberboard. Pod Power. Criticizing Classics. Sharing Shaming. Plug Portability. Bee Bricks. Bright Bread. Ear Edibles.

Remember Letraset? There is now an online store dedicated to dry transfer type. Bullish forecasts for digital textile printing. The history of corrugated cardboard. Stephen Colbert’s NFT heist movie trailer. 3D-printed living pods made from graphene-infused cement. Now-classic 20th-century novels weren’t always well-received when first published. Netflix’s new passive-aggressive crackdown on password sharing. A unique approach to portable electric outlets. Construction options that benefit local pollinators. Yukiko Morita’s handmade Bread Lamps are real bread with LEDs inside. Mike Tyson’s new bitten-ear-shaped cannabis edibles. A human slinky! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Better People Decisions

Attracting top talent to your business in this labor market is not for the weak. It helps if you have an employee value proposition that resonates with prospective new hires. How you make hiring, promotion, and development decisions is a key factor in not only making good decisions for your business but can function as a differentiator in the market as you compete for talent. Wayne Lynn weighs in on this issue and has helpful thoughts to consider.

Direct-to-Film Printing: An Emerging Trend in Decorated Apparel

Direct-to-film (DTF) printing is a transfer technology that enables users to print designs onto polyethylene terephthalate (PET) film using water-based pigment inks. This article offers an overview of this up-and-coming technology and also explores how it compares to other printing techniques.

Powering the Design Function for Customized Apparel and Sportswear Production With CorelDRAW

It seems that everything is accelerating these days, and the apparel business is not immune. Digital technologies help brands address both acceleration and changing trends while giving designers more freedom and agility to create. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan explains.

Buying New Print Software

There is much in your control when it comes to choosing the right print software package for your business. It has nothing to do with counting features. It has everything to do with your approach to engaging with the vendor, learning from other printers who already have the solution, and choosing your team wisely.

Is Specing Sustainable Substrates Enough?

As sustainability becomes bigger business, the emergence of recyclable, compostable, and other eco-friendly plastic alternatives for use in packaging, signage, and mailing is growing, too. But making those investments count may take a commitment on the design end, as well.

Is Sustainability Within Reach for Textiles and Apparel?

There is hope for improved sustainability in textiles and apparel, but it is not without its challenges. Cary Sherburne explains how a major need is to get a handle on how to make the supply chain more sustainable—but the efforts to establish take-back programs and find ways to recycle, resell and upcycle garments are not trivial either and present options for all of us to participate in this important effort.

Throwing Shades: What You Need to Know About Textiles and Color Management

Cary Sherburne talks to Mike Scrutton, director of print technology and strategy at Adobe, and Ray Cheydleur, printing and imaging portfolio manager for X-Rite/Pantone, about the similarities and differences between color management for commercial print and for textiles, and some best practices for textile-based color management.

Excitement and Information at InfoFLEX 2022 and the FTA Forum

After three years, “there is a lot of catching up to do.” That was the mood at the FTA event in Ft. Worth. About 1,000 very energized people were there to meet colleagues, see new developments, and hear about how they can optimize their production systems.

Is There a Robot in Your Future?

Robots and cobots are increasingly being used in a variety of manufacturing and warehousing operations, but they have not yet made their way at scale into apparel manufacturing. Do you have one in your home or business? I do. Three actually. Here we talk about how robots and cobots are being used today, and give an example of an apparel factory that is leveraging robots for increased accuracy and efficiency.

The Show Goes On: Visit the ISA International Sign Expo 2022 in May

ISA President and CEO Lori Anderson looks forward to the International Sign Expo 2022, coming to Atlanta in May. It will be the first in-person Sign Expo in two years.  

Sign Manufacturing Employees—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 70,507 employees in NAICS 33995 (Sign Manufacturing). This NAICS category tumbled in the wake of the Great Recession, ultimately climbing to 76,944 employees in 2019. In macro news: Inflation continues to continue to climb.

Around the Web: Wreck Retrieval. Cover Clairvoyance. Container Questions. Salmon Suits. Battling Baker. Menschy Mirror. Head Heist.

The wreck of the “Endurance” was found—as was footage of it actually going down. The magazine cover as a contrary indicator. The Gender Pay Gap Bot called out hypocritical companies on IWD. Why do bottles have indented bottoms? And why did bottles used to have rounded bottoms? An excellent webinar on graphene in textiles. Hooking synthesizers to plants, for some reason. Seattle is being sued by fish. A “smart mirror” that actually sounds kind of cool. A box of human heads was stolen from a truck in Denver. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly salvaged miscellany.

Meet Vehicle-Wrap Competition Host Dirk Moebes

Contributor Mark Vruno talks to Dirk Moebes, the vehicle-wrap competition organizer from Germany who has been generating excitement at industry trade shows for more than two decades.

Ukraine’s Printing Industry Stands Strong

As the unprovoked war in Ukraine continues to unfold and the world watches in horror, we have been in touch with the leader of a print media company in Boryspil, a city not far to the East of Kyiv. In this heartbreaking article, Igor Agarkov, publisher of Print+ magazine, Polygraphy of Ukraine directory (Ukraine), and administrator of the Social network of printers, shares his experience, views, and request to the world, and those of some of his colleagues based on questions we provided to him after he reached out to WhatTheyThink.

Michael Cinco, the Grand Master of Dubai’s Elite Fashion Scene, Adds a Sophisticated Twist of Print with Epson

Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares the story of Dubai fashion designer Michael Cinco, who has turned to digital textile printing to create truly amazing designs.

Looking for Business? Partnering with a Print Distributor Might Be a Good Next Step

As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and move into the endemic phase, many printers are taking stock of their businesses, asking, “What’s next?” For some, working with a print distributor might be a great option.

The Sign Connection—It’s About Time: Expand Your Tool Kit with E-Commerce

The growing importance of e-commerce has been difficult to miss, especially during these turbulent times. The flexibility that e-commerce enables has been key to navigating the pandemic for print businesses and their clients. This guest article, by Carrie Wood of Alliance Franchise Brands, looks at the implementation of e-commerce in the Image360, Signs By Tomorrow, and Signs Now centers.

The Great Workforce Exodus: Quit Thinking Like a Printer

As reported across the country for the last several years, there is a growing shortage of trade workers, and our industry has become one of the worst hit. PIASC President Lou Caron addresses the problems the industry has retaining and attracting workers, and suggests some possible solutions. 

What D’Ya Know About Your Hardware Investments?

New equipment investments are wasted if the devices are not put into production quickly. Set the team and the business up for success. Pat McGrew tells you how.

Is Printing in Xerox's Future?

Three years after introducing a new business strategy, Xerox is organized into traditional Print and Services, PARC Innovation, CareAR, and FITTLE. Yet it is the ~$200 million share of Print & Services’ ~$525 million free cash flow that funds Xerox’s new businesses. What does this mean for the future of printing at Xerox? Contributor Pete Basiliere reports from Xerox’s recent analyst event.

VW ID.4 Touchless Branding Experience

Creating an immersive experience is about maintaining brand integrity at all stages and within a physical space. Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgett uses a recent VW EV test drive experience as an example of how brands can create memorable and effective immersive experiences.

The Target Report: Printing Papers Get Squeezed Out—February 2022 M&A Activity

McKinley Paper Buys Midwest Paper, Sealed Air Acquires Foxpak Flexibles, and more…

HP Indigo Brings New Products, New Energy to DSCOOP 2022: A Conversation with Haim Levit

DSCOOP is back to in-person and the Indigo team is excited to be there. In this sponsored interview, created from written answers provided by Haim Levit, he reviews Indigo’s 2021 performance, advances in automation, new products being launched at DSCOOP, and a DSCOOP update.

January Graphic Arts Employment—Print Production Drops from December, Non-Production Up Slightly

In January 2022, all printing employment was down -2.6% from December, with production employment down -4.1%. Non-production printing employment offset that a bit by being up a modest +0.9%.

Around the Web: Language Learning. Smell Search. Creepy Casing. Teutonic Typeface. Nefarious Knockoffs. Graphene Guest. Bionic Basher. Tater Tale. Witchy Ouijas.

An animated history of the English language. What would Wordle have looked like in the 1980s? Why do new books smell different than old books? The myths and realities of books bound in human skin. The typeface used on German license plates was designed to thwart forgery. Fast-fashion knitwear faces a knockoff problem. Graphene guest stars on an episode of NCIS. VR boots that simulate walking. A drummer with an AI-enabled bionic arm. Heavens-Above tracks the satellites currently orbiting over your location. The origin of the potato chip. When in Salem, Mass., visit the museum dedicated to Ouija Boards. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Getting Real About Finding Labor

An industry dealing with labor shortages nestled inside an economy with labor shortages is a rough place to be. Competing not only with other members of the print-related ecosystem but with companies outside it who have significant recruiting advantages is not for the faint of heart nor for the uninformed. Wayne Lynn takes a look at how large companies create places to work that attract the people we want to hire very effectively. Can we learn from them?

The Importance of First-Party Data in a Cookie-Less World

Data can vastly improve the quality and relevance of customer communications when it is used correctly, but too much information can make implementation cumbersome. Adding to the complexity of using data, consumers are becoming more vigilant about safeguarding their personal information due to increased awareness about data privacy and security. This article explores how marketers can still develop effective campaigns with the impending death of third-party cookies.

Why Made To Order Manufacturing Matters: Combatting The Fast Fashion Movement

We've been pushing in this space to remove the concept and strategy of fast fashion from our minds and hearts and the way forward for brands.  It is an unsustainable and destructive path for the industry and the earth. This piece, authored by Printful and provided compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, provides compelling arguments that reinforce  that message.

Eyeing the Packaging Market? Check Out Desert Harvest’s Commitment to Scrapping Single-Use Bottles

Trends toward sustainability and cause marketing could be a ticket to differentiation in the packaging market. Check out this nutritional supplements and skin care company to see what this looks like.  

Transformations: The Keys to Success

David Zwang talks to Alon Bar-Shany Chairman of Highcon, Executive Chairman of Redefine Meat Ltd., Chairman and CEO of Twine Solutions, and former General Manager of HP Indigo about the digital transformation of graphic arts, printing, and packaging.

What is Your Integration Strategy?

When you move to integrating with software systems external to your business (e.g. at your customers or your suppliers), it’s time to think about your integration strategy or architecture. You can waste a lot of time and money redoing the same thing repeatedly or you can have a strategy that simplifies how you interact with external systems and reuse components each time.

I’m Sorry, Dave: The Rise of AI in Print and Packaging

There is a wave of innovation in print and packaging equipment and workflow systems that are beginning to implement artificial intelligence, not just within an individual system but across complete supply chains between different systems, processes, and even extending to semi-autonomous labor. David Zwang rounds up the current state of the art.

The Great Unboxing: The Packaging Boom and What It Means for PSPs

Contributor Joanne Gore looks at the evolution of packaging, and focuses on some of the new technologies—from more sustainable materials to interactive elements—that are dramatically enhancing the “unboxing” experience.

Smart Surveys Expand Sales Options

Surveys can be a great tool to keeping up with customer needs. Contributor Pat McGrew offers some do’s and don’ts for constructing effective surveys that will give you the data you need to better serve your customers.

Ceramic Tiles and the Recirculation Revolution: How the History of Inkjet Technology Changed Interior Design

Guest contributor Dr. Mark Bale looks at how developments in industrial inkjet printheads paved the way for digital printing on ceramics.

UK’s Lil Packaging Commits to Going Green and Carbon-Neutral

European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a close look at the comprehensive environmental sustainability initiatives being pursued by the UK’s Lil Packaging—which has committed to making the entire company carbon-neutral in 2022.  

Around the Web: Wet Wattage. Quit Questions. Pricey Picture. Revising Roboto. Liquid Lenses. Bottle Battle. People Portal. Robot Restaurants Redux. Hellish Hotel. Car Carnage. Cardiac Cod.

The emerging field of “liquid electronics”—and graphene is there! Redesigning corporate logos with a Medieval theme. The Great ReShuffling: meet the new buzzword, same as the old buzzword. An actual, physical object will be the most expensive photograph, bizarrely. Google introduces Roboto Serif. Self-adjusting water-based eyeglasses—in low- and high-tech versions. Coca-Cola’s tepid approach to its refillable bottle program. Beam a 3D hologram of yourself with PORTL. An update on robot restaurant servers. Also: the first robot hotel. A boat full of luxury cars bursts into flames. A robot fish powered by heart cells.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Outdoor Advertising Establishments—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 2,378 establishments in NAICS 541850 (Outdoor Advertising). This NAICS actually grew post-Great Recession, with a slight decline mid-decade before climbing back up to 2,765 establishments in 2018. 2019 saw a massive drop in establishments. In macro news: Q4 2021 GDP revised up to 7.0%.

Image360 Fairfax Takes Pride in Its Work

Image360 Fairfax (Va.) designed, printed, and installed Pride-themed graphics for Fairfax’s Mosaic District, a high-end mixed-use community—images that were deemed highly “Instagrammable,” an increasingly important consideration when designing display graphics.

Designing in a Digital World—How CorelDRAW Simplifies the Creative Designer’s Workflow

If you are not immersed in the world of graphic design, and perhaps even if you are, you may not realize the suite of Corel solutions is still quite popular. Founded in 1985 by Michael Cowpland, with its first product, CorelDRAW, a vector-based illustration program designed to bundle with desktop publishing systems, being released in 1989. Today, CorelDRAW is a vector graphics editor developed and marketed by Corel Corporation. It is also the name of the Corel graphics suite, which includes the bitmap image editor Corel Photo-Paint as well as other graphics-related programs. And now the company points to suite as a solution for textile and apparel design, according to this article provided compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan.

Adobe and Pantone to Part Ways; What You Gonna Do?

You’ve probably already heard that Adobe and Pantone have agreed to disagree. There’s a question of why, but the bigger question is, What are you going to do when the Pantone libraries aren’t included in Adobe Creative Cloud apps anymore? Alder Color Solutions’ Dan Gillespie looks at some options.

Put on Your Smart Glasses

Remote monitoring of all types of equipment used in printing operations has been around for some time. However, its value became even more evident during the pandemic, when it was not possible—or at least difficult—to send technicians on site when a customer had a problem. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks at the current state of “smart glasses” and other remote monitoring options.

What’s It Like to Own a Landa? The View from Early Adopter Virtual Packaging

Jordan Patterson, vice president of Virtual Packaging (Grapevine, TX), shares his experience working with a Landa S10P Digital (Perfecting) Press—how they’ve used it, what their experiences have been, and what new markets the press has opened to them.

Data Collection Obsession: Measuring Results vs. Activities

Don’t delude yourself into thinking measuring more metrics in your company will magically fix broken processes. Measuring more doesn’t fix things, it simply identifies that there are more problems to fix.

Observability 101: If It Moves, Measure It—And Use Tools to Act on That Data

From digital storefronts, to workflow, to hardware, modern print production systems now support the ability to monitor the state of system. We now have a tremendous amount of data at our fingertips. Using modern observability techniques, we can use data from software and hardware to make business and operation decisions that create better buying experiences for our customers and make production efficient and more profitable.

Hundsdörfer Steers Heidelberg Back on Track—A Farewell Interview, Part 2

As Rainer Hundsdörfer prepares to close out his successful tenure as Chairman of Heidelberg, he discusses the inherent company strengths and expertise along with a plan that will ensure Heidelberg will continue to grow in addition to and beyond print.

Printing Outlook 2022: Back to the Future or Groundhog Day?

Digging into the results of our Fall 2021 Business Outlook Survey for the our annual Printing Outlook 2022report, they showed an industry that has largely recovered from 2020, but faces some new challenges and some older challenges now writ large. We’re not exactly back to normal, but we’re closer than we thought possible in a long time. This article previews the just-released Printing Outlook 2022 report.

Are We Really Doing the Right Things to Address Supply Chain Issues?

There’s a lot of talk about a broken supply chain for the textiles and apparel industry. But what’s actually being done to fix it? And what happens if we don’t? Last fall, the Sourcing Journal hosted a Sourcing Summit that addressed these issues. Some excerpts are included in this article, along with a link to the full report, well worth reviewing if you have any supply chain concerns at all!

Labor Doesn’t Have To Be Laborious: How To Use Observational Platforms To Keep Your Business Running Smoothly

Two significant challenges are facing the print industry: labor shortages and inefficiency. They are related, and there is a path to manage them, but it takes more than trying to find people to hire and tightening business and production workflows.

Around the Web: Giving Gear. Clever Containers. LEGO Letterpress. Mitigating Microplastics. Gamut Game. Controlled Consumables. Carvana Craziness. Haute Hardware. Potato Perfume.

What happens to all the T-shirts printed for the team that lost the Super Bowl? A more recyclable approach to beverage containers. Using LEGO for letterpress printing. Samsung is partnering with Patagonia to address the problem of microplastics produced by washing clothes. Test your skills at color matching. Certain types of solvent inks are now regulated as controlled substances by the UK. Graphene-based inks can help with low-power hot water heaters. Carvana’s auto-buying robot buys a seven-year-old car for more than the owner had paid for it. Hardware-as-luxury-jewelry is apparently a thing. A new perfume smells like french fries. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

December Shipments: No Christmas Miracle

As 2021 drew to a close, December printing shipments came in at $7.00 billion, down from $7.10 billion in November, keeping with the usual seasonality of a slow December. For 2021 overall, we came in at $82.87 billion for the year, just below 2020’s $83.73 billion.

Identifying Your Best Prospects: The Importance of a Customer Persona

Creating a customer persona involves developing a deep understanding of your customers’ needs and establishing a plan to address them. Evaluating your current customers in terms of demographics, company size, and industry type is a good place to start, but the findings are often shallow and offer little insight. This article explores the role that data plays in developing a customer persona, and why this practice is so important to business development.

Can We Support Our Future Growth?

Our industry has been transformed by digital technology. On a larger scale, so has our society and the economy that underpins it. It is ironic that changes of such magnitude have us standing on the doorstep of a talent shortage that has no easy answers. In the midst of so much positive change, our leaders have not, to date, created the skills and talent needed to handle the shifting needs of an emerging new economic order. In this article, Wayne Lynn explains our dilemma and kicks off an appeal to industry leaders to adopt a growth mindset, think outside the box, and look to the long term.

“Motivation to Be Sustainable”: Understanding Key Trends and Behaviors

As we move towards a sustainable future, each and every product we consume has an environmental impact. Every choice that we make as designers and printers matters and collectively, we can make a significant contribution to the environmental impact of the products we create across all commercial sectors. Together we can drive effective change for a sustainable future. So says Wilbert van der Lans, Strategy Director at Make Sense, in a presentation he delivered as part of HP’s Sustainable Impact Series. Learn more.

Client Loyalty By Design: A Clear Strategy Rather than Happenstance Is a Powerful Approach

Market conditions and prospects have changed dramatically over the past year or so and it’s become harder, but more important than ever, to have a long-term and deliberate approach to retain your best clients. Lisa Magnuson offers a few considerations you help you build your client loyalty strategy.

AR in the Field: Using Holotwins to Promote the Utah Black Business Expo

Augmented reality (AR) has been growing in packaging, nonprofit, and retail, but it’s been used primarily for branding and engagement and much less for direct sales and fundraising. But that is changing. This article looks at one revenue-generating AR application: the use of holotwins to promote the Utah Black Business Expo.

Remote Workers in Your Print Business

We’ll never go back to a preset “normal.” No matter what change happens, there is always this collective delusion that things will return back to a previous state. When COVID started, I admittedly thought we would be sheltering in the place for a few weeks. We are now so far past a few weeks and so far away from a pre-COVID normal, it's hard to even remember what that felt like.

Johnson’s World—The Lizard and the Window Washer: How to Hit the Jackpot when Things Go Wrong

It is when things go wrong clients stand up and take notice. Blow it, and you’ve not only lost a customer, but in today’s world you’ll be publicly tarred and feathered on social media. Handle it well and you’ve made a friend for life.

Three Strategies for Keeping Up with Customers

Just as your own business changes, so, too, have your customers’ businesses changed to meet their own market needs. They may have stopped selling some products or services and added others. They may have had staff turnover, bought additional companies, or sold pieces of their business. Pat McGrew offers some strategies for staying updated on where your customers are and how you can best serve their changing needs.

Hundsdörfer Steers Heidelberg Back on Track—A Farewell Interview, Part 1

Rainer Hundsdörfer took the helm of Heidelberg in 2016 when things were not looking great. In his five-year tenure, they have been able to turn the company around financially and develop a roadmap for the future. Printing plays a big role in that future, but their strengths and opportunities extend beyond.

InfoFlo Print Is Your All-In-One MIS and Web-to-Print Order Management System

In this article, written and sponsored by InfoFlo Print, learn about the fully integrated MIS and web-to-print order management system specifically built for print shops, offering unique features and integrations not found in any other Print Management system.

Are We Approaching Industry 5.0 Already?

 With many of us barely beginning to understand what is meant by Industry 4.0, we’re now moving on to Industry 5.0! Acceleration is certainly a factor in today’s business and industrial environment. In this article, we define both Industry 4.0 and Industry 5.0, and provide examples of how the textiles and apparel industry in North America can accelerate along with the market trends.

Arms of Love: New Automation Options for Wide Format

It took some time, but automation is gradually creeping into wide-format printing, especially on the flatbed side. A templated approach to projects, software, and even robotics are bringing new efficiencies to wide-format workflows.

Sign Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 5,824 establishments in NAICS 33995 (Sign Manufacturing). This NAICS category tumbled in the wake of the Great Recession, ultimately climbing back up to 5,865 establishments in 2019. In macro news: Inflation continues to climb.

Around the Web: Meme Manufacturing. Wordle Weary. Decoding Dickens. Privatizing Palettes. Recycled Rubber. Terrific Toaster. Tomato Tale. Snowy Sobriquet. Feather Fracas.

A “paper engineer” creates printed, pop-up versions of classic memes. More Wordle variants. Better than the DaVinci: the Dickens Code. Privatizing specific hexadecimal colors for NFTs (or something dubious like that). Graphene-based rubber. An award-winning non-electric toaster. Why are tomatoes red? The suspense is over: Minnesota has eight new snowplow names. Spit-take warning: “Pillow fighting could be the next great combat sport.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Designer Q&A: Meet Kristen Dettoni of Design Pool Patterns, A New Format for Interior Decoration

As part of an ongoing series featuring designers in the world of textiles and apparel, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan interviewed Design Pool founder Kristen Dettoni. Founded in 2019, Design Pool is an online business that combines licensing of Kristen's fabric designs with a program linking designers with printers that can do a quality job of producing according to design intent. Learn more about Design Pool and Kristen's award-winning Cryptology designs, the latest addition to her portfolio of designs.

Another Year, Same Pandemic: COVID-19’s Ongoing Impact on Mental Health

Our pandemic-weary society has been dealing with COVID-19 for about two years. This article explores the effects that this global health crisis has had on mental health, and considers some of the solutions that are possible with today’s technologies.

Do the New Features of USPS Informed Delivery Really Make It Better?

The USPS continues to add expanded features to its Informed Delivery service, but based on the USPS’s own year-over-year customer satisfaction data, are these new features actually creating a better user experience?

Who is Your Print MIS/ERP Administrator?

The Print MIS/ERP administrator role in your print business is a strategic differentiator. You want as much independence and ability to move at your own pace as possible from the software vendor.

An Imaging Company at Heart: Part 2—SCREEN Is Building an Impressive Digital Packaging Portfolio

There is no doubt that digital packaging is a huge growth area for production inkjet, and SCREEN seems to be targeting the high growth areas. They have been developing a range of digital packaging presses including their currently available prime label presses, and the new flexible packaging press and a folding carton press.

The Target Report: CCL Industries Breaks the Rules—January 2022 M&A Activity

Canadian Giant CCL Acquires Small, Label Segment Still Red Hot; and more…

Canon’s Francis McMahon Discusses Recent Developments at Canon and the Print World at Large

Francis A. McMahon, executive vice president at Canon Solutions America, Production Print Solutions discusses the most recent additions to Canon’s equipment portfolio, the company’s approach to R&D, the 2021 edition of the thINK Forum, as well as his views on focusing on the customer during economic turbulence like COVID.

Packaging Design In The Age Of Instacart

Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgett takes an in-depth look at how “grab-and-go” shopping in the age of InstaCart is forcing brands to rethink their approaches to packaging design.

Post-Pandemic Profits on the Upturn

Shipments have been slowly climbing back from the pandemic recession of 2020, but profits have been on a sharp upturn. However there still remains a bit of a profitability gap between the two major asset class distinctions.

Around the Web: Groundhog Galore. Replacement Rodent. Extra Eyesight. Translation Trouble. Superfluous Sockets. Super Supercapacitors. Timeless Tomes. Pointless Product. Tesla Trouble. Coin Couture.

All about Groundhog Day. Tetrachromats have an extra photoreceptor that lets them see 100 times as many colors as the rest of us. 7-Eleven is testing touchless “floating holographic displays” for self-checkout. A mistranslated sign inadvertently advertises free alcohol. A gigantic, 60-socket power bank could fully charge 5,000 smartphones with 3,000-mAh batteries. A gallery of “automated furniture.” Enhancing the energy storage capacity of graphene supercapacitors used in solar heating. A search engine that finds full-text public-domain books. Why would anyone program a self-driving car to ignore stop signs? A chainmail cocktail dress made from pennies. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly wintry miscellany.

Expanding Into New Horizons: Why British Interior Brand Art of the Loom Invested in Digital Tech

As digital technologies have evolved, their ease of use and affordability continue to drive the digital disruption of the home furnishings marketplace. In this article, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, we learn how British firm Art of the Loom has leveraged digital technologies to evolve its offerings over time. The family has been involved in textiles since 1815!

Apocalypse Soon? Sign Code Case Now Before the Supreme Court Could Forever Alter Sign Regulations—and the Sign Industry’s Business Model

In December, the International Sign Association (ISA) held a webinar that rounded up some of the recent sign code-related court cases. The one currently pending before the Supreme Court—City of Austin v. Reagan National Advertising of Texas—could have cataclysmic implications for the sign industry. The webinar offered some potential outcome scenarios and what the decision would mean for sign producers.

It’s Time for the Metaverse (Yes, in the Print Industry)

What is the metaverse? Why does it matter to our industry now? With real-life applications and accessibility to even small print shops and agencies, the metaverse something that we should all be paying attention to.

Data Integrity in Your Print Business

I feel a little like a broken record regarding the importance of data integrity in your Print MIS/ERP. It seems like I write an article about it a couple times a year. It isn’t getting any better out there and it’s only getting more important to your print business’s ability to profitably scale and innovate.

Printing in Motion: European Print Imports and Exports

Print is being traded across borders and the European Union is making trade a lot easier. However, printing on demand, shorter runs, and streamlining supply chains gave rise to more local print. This trend is illustrated in the print import and export data.

Waiting and Maintaining: APTech Looks Forward to Gradual Return to In-Person Events in 2022

APTech President Thayer Long looks ahead to some of the events the association has planned for 2022.

An Imaging Company at Heart, SCREEN Is Building Quite a Production Inkjet Portfolio

The roots of SCREEN are in imaging, dating back to its founding in 1868. The company has leveraged that expertise to create a significant imaging powerhouse which includes industry leading equipment for the production of displays, printed circuit boards, and semiconductors. They also continue to maintain a significant role in the production of printing equipment including high performance inkjet presses for commercial and packaging.

Cotton: The Myths vs. Reality

In today’s world, we are inundated with misinformation and disinformation, and it is a constant daily battle to separate the wheat from the chaff, the truth from fake news. This is not limited to politics and healthcare. It’s also a factor in how the fashion industry—in cotton in particular—is portrayed. This article is a summary of a recent report by Transformers Foundation highlighting common myths about cotton. We recommend reading the full report and/or listening to a recent Supima webinar for the entire story.

Good Help Is Getting Harder to Find—and Keep: Print Industries Affiliates’ Latest Wage & Benefits Survey

Last month, Print Industries Affiliates hosted a webinar that presented the results of their annual printing industry Wages & Benefits Survey. This article provides some of the top-level findings, some of the short- and long-term implications of today’s employment situation, and strategies for coping with these new challenges.

All Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 16,147 employees in 322299 (All Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). This NAICS category bounced up and down over the course of the 2010s, ending with 15,177 employees in 2019. In macro news: Yesterday was Q4 GDP Day!

Around the Web: Graphene Galore! Blood Book. Sayonara, SATs. Salacious Solving. Bad Bedding. Suspense Sting. Top Tales. Dairy Devices. Compromised Cars. Robot Restaurant. Retro Runners.

Graphene-Info updates all its graphene market reports. Saddam Hussein’s “Blood Qur’an.” The SATs to go all-digital in 2024. Sweary and lewd versions of Wordle. Due your research before naming bedroom furniture products. Where did the “three notes of suspense” originate? A new book looks at Haruki Murakami’s T-shirt collection. Here we go: “wearables for cows.” A teen hacker gained remote access to Teslas around the world. Inside the Beijing Olympic Village cafeteria. Sneakers designed like old VHS tapes. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Digital Production Printing: Selling Value in a Changing Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic created numerous challenges for the digital production printing market, including a decline in demand for print services and reduced investments in new production technology. This article cites recent forecast data from Keypoint Intelligence to explore key dynamics, challenges, and opportunities within this market.

Meet Textile Designer Lucy Swann and Discover Her Unique Creative Journey and Fashion Designs

As part of our continuing “meet the designer” series, compliments of textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, we introduce you to Lucy Swann, who has been designing beautiful surface patterns for the fashion industry for many years. She talks about her journey, how the industry has changed over the years, and her diversification efforts.

EcoPrint’s Content Marketing Is a Model of Authenticity

Clients are increasingly looking for vendors who “walk the walk” when it comes to sustainability. A look at EcoPrint, a printer committed to environmentally responsible services, as an example of how one shop does this well.  

Self-Service Resistance in the Print Industry

Self-service is a strategic move. It takes leadership. The status quo is a powerful resistance machine which should not be underestimated.

European Print Industry Snapshot: Turkey

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

Top Three Sales Mistakes to Avoid for 2022

The coming year will be one of rebuilding for everyone in your supply chain, including your most regular customers. They may be taking time to look carefully at all their relationships and their budgets, so you need to be visible to remain in consideration as they update their plans. Pat McGrew offers some tips for ensuring that your most loyal customers stay that way.

Interruptions vs. Opportunities: Know the Difference in Order to Make the Most of Your Day

There’s a maxim in the military which states that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy.” The practical application of that is simply that you plan based on what you know now, and then change your plan based on what you learn later. Dave Fellman explains how, If your priorities change, your plan must change.

Opportunities for Signs and Display Graphics in a Changing World of Retail

Much has been written about the Great Resignation and how worker shortages are affecting many businesses, a situation exacerbated by the pandemic. The retail industry is one that has clearly been heavily affected, leading to an increase in cashier-less checkout to help these businesses stay viable. This is a dramatic trend that also offers interesting opportunities for sign and display graphics businesses.