WhatTheyThink

Commentary & Analysis

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Too Cool to Part With: The Superfan Company Creates Special Print Projects for Superfans

Brittany Hodak co-founded The Superfan Company to make “cool collectible stuff for superfans”—coffee table books, deluxe packages for albums and DVDs, subscription magazines, fan boxes, metal commemorative tickets, limited edition tour books, and more, elaborate, print-centric items that help bring fans closer to a beloved musician or athlete. We spoke with Hodak about her own journey that started at a local radio station and led to The Superfan Company—and an appearance on Shark Tank.

Now THAT’s the Way to Get the Message Out!

A look at one printer’s effort to reach out to the design and marketing community to promote the value of direct mail—and not just any direct mail, but direct mail designed to drive website traffic. It’s a real eye-catcher and great inspiration.

Production Inkjet—The Waves Continue: Ricoh Pro VC70000

In 2011, David Zwang began a series that looked at the current production inkjet product offerings from a wide range of vendors, discussing how they are being, or could be, used. Since then he has continued to evaluate and report on new developments. The latest product is the new Ricoh Pro VC70000, which rounds out the Ricoh VC Pro production print offerings with an impressive press targeted at higher-quality offset-to-digital migration with the ability to print on many commodity coated offset papers with higher ink densities and without the need for precoat.

Smithers Pira Tackles Digital with Two Conferences

Smithers Pira hosted two terrific digital printing conferences in Chicago earlier this month—Digital Print for Packaging and Digital Textile Printing. Both had great content and were very interactive. In this article, we’ve just scratched the surface of what was covered. We highly recommend putting these conferences on your calendar for next year!

In The Mail: June 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

Summer comes in with a flurry of reports: Household Diary Study finds mailed payments losing a lot of ground to e-payments…OIG report says USPS should do more to retain customers…Universal Postal Union study ranks USPS eighth in the world. Plus: Updates on PRC and BOG nominees.

New Pantone Polyester Standards Address Increased Demand for More Vibrant, Saturated Color

Pantone has been providing color standards for the fashion, home, and interiors marketplace since 1987. Cotton standards were introduced in the mid-1990s. Since then, Pantone has developed additional textile color standards, including today’s announcement of 203 new colors for polyester. We spoke with Laurie Pressman, Vice President at Pantone Color Institute, to learn more.

Big Printers' Writedowns and Interest Payments Are a Big Drag on Printing Industry Profits

Writedowns in the first quarter of 2018 for commercial printers with $25 million or more in assets were $157 million, or 1.9% of sales. The assets may be written down, but the borrowing that was created to finance them remains. Interest expense was 4.8% of sales. For the quarter, losses were -1.47% of sales. That rate of loss made average profits before taxes for the industry a mediocre 3% of sales—which means that printers with less than $25 million in assets must have done well.

Around the Web: No More Sweater Pilling – Body Scanning – That Micro Moment – Flexo Innovation – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – Escalators!!! – This Week in Printing History

Australian researchers have found a way to minimize unsightly pilling and help garments look better longer. HyperCard, the first application for creating interactive documents, was inspired by an acid trip. Fad Fashion? Micro Moments? Learn the new textile lexicon. Rats break into an ATM and eat $17K in cash. A random slide from Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends Report.” Amazon’s Alexa will soon be sharing your hotel room. A keyboard that can fit in your pocket. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Pricing for Digital Part 3: Challenges in Developing Comprehensive Pricing Plans

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The final in a three-part series, this article explores the challenges that providers must overcome when developing comprehensive customer communications pricing plans.

Leadership Is Essential to Web-to-Print Implementations

The transition between sales and implementation of web-to-print systems can be a rough road for the implementation team and the customer. The leadership of the implementation belongs with the printer—all too often the customers take the leadership and run the project off a cliff after spending lots of time and money.

Enhancing Label Production with Smart Workflow Automation

Leading companies in the labels business are benefiting from smart workflow automation. While some feel intimidated by the thought of changing a workflow that works—maybe not as well as it could—we've talked to folks who have made the transition and can't imagine how they actually functioned before.

The Final Column: The Security Guard Will Take Your Badge and Escort You to the Lobby

Back in 2002, Dr. Joe agreed to do a regular column for WhatTheyThink for “only one year and no more”...for 15 years. This farewell column explains how it started, behind-the-scenes intrigue, the problems, and why it turned out the way it did. And then…he explains the exciting adventures ahead.

Annual IPMA Conference Looks at the Changing Face of the In-Plant

The 54th annual IPMA Conference provided a look at the current state of the in-plant printing department, with more than two dozen sessions and a vendor fair focusing on new opportunities such as interactive print and wide format, and overcoming top challenges such as outsourcing.

Around the Web: Bats in the Biblioteca – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – DIY T Shirt Printing – “Recycled” Ancient Manuscripts – Bloomsday – This Week in Printing History

A library in Portugal uses a colony of bats to help preserve old books and documents. The UK is confounded by the name change from “Salad Cream” to “Sandwich Cream.” The new heroes of our age: Country Time Lemonade and Domino’s Pizza? A random slide from Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends Report.” Uncovering lost “data” from ancient manuscripts. What happened this week in printing and publishing history. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Highlights from DSF 18: The DOCUMENT Strategy Forum

Celebrating its 10th year, the 2018 DOCUMENT Strategy Forum (DSF 18) was held last month in Boston, Mass. This peer-driven, peer-reviewed, and peer-produced conference is designed to educate professionals on how to deliver and manage customer communications, customer engagement, and information management. As was the case in previous years, the 2018 event offered a wide array of educational sessions, executive round tables, panels, and inspiring keynotes. Visitors had plenty of opportunities to network with industry peers or any of the 44 exhibitors in attendance. This article reviews some highlights from DSF 18 through the lens of customer communications.

Latest Innovations in Your Print Business

Do your innovation projects take into consideration what would be best for your customers? Your customers want to know that you’re innovating to solve their challenges.

Technology and the Changing Face of Flexographic Printing for Packaging

Technological advances and market trends are forever changing the face of flexographic printing. Smithers Pira values the global flexo print market in 2013 at $147 billion, with a forecast for 2.3% CAGR. Key to this growth are packaging-related industries including corrugated board packaging, flexible packaging, bags and sacks, and others.

MWW Upholds Tradition While Pursuing Innovation

MWW On Demand has leveraged automation and technology to gain its position as the single largest weaving and on-demand printing company for textile-based products in the U.S. The company employs digital printing technologies for heat transfer sublimation, direct-to-garment, and direct-to-textile, and is one of the few—or perhaps the only—company that maintained a large fleet of looms when others began sending weaving offshore. The result is a vertically integrated, environmentally sustainable, on demand manufacturing operation that is a model for the future of textiles.

Full-Time Employment, Sets New Record, Up +904,000, But Does It Really Feel that Good?

The May employment report was regarded as good, but when you dig past the top-level numbers, it was better than it looked. However, while the 3.8% unemployment rate looks good on the surface, it really can’t be compared to when it was last attained nearly 20 years ago. So many workers left the workforce that this figure implies a tighter labor than it really is. We will really know we have a strong economy when the active labor force starts increasing.

Around the Web: GDPR as Sleep Therapy – Vintage NSA Workplace Posters – “Smart Hemp” – New iOS AR Features – Mary Meeker Slide Roulette – Mermaids for Hire – This Week in Printing History

Government Attic discovered a load of NSA workplace posters from the 50s, 60s, and 70s—you can even get them on a T shirt. A 3D printer outputs custom-designed pancakes. Don’t call it “dope”: hemp used for intelligent textiles. A random slide from Mary Meeker’s “Internet Trends Report.” What happened this week in printing and publishing history. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Corrugated Gets Glam—May 2018 M&A Activity

DS Smith builds out US platform in corrugated, Traxium acquires two, LSC buys and sells, Deluxe automates soft skill, and more.

Pricing for Digital Part 2: Hurdles in Demonstrating Value through Services

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The second in a three-part series, this article examines the hurdles that providers encounter in the market as they attempt to demonstrate value through their services.

The Selling Power of a Successful Client Event

A successful client event can drive a lot of business your way, and deepen relationships with your customers. This week, Trish will share the secrets of successful events, along with some of the biggest mistakes that can trip up even the most well-intentioned host.

Coloreel Tackles Thread Waste

What if you could cost-effectively color thread on demand? You know exactly how much of each color you need and in what order. You produce what you need, and you can do even very complex embroidery designs using a single head. That’s a dream that’s rapidly becoming a reality. Coloreel is another example of thread on demand in action. We spoke to CEO Mattias Nordin to take a deeper look.

Are You Sending Personalization that Isn’t Personal?

This morning, I received a personalized email that was anything but personal. While this was an email, the mistake could easily have ended up in print, and it offers object lessons for all of us. Before we send out anything data-driven, let’s make sure it reads as if it was written by a human being.

Canon Launches Océ LabelStream 4000 5-Color UV Inkjet and Flexo Hybrid Press

Canon is not just entering the label and packaging press market, but challenging the current label press market with the new Océ LabelStream 4000, a 5-color inkjet hybrid UV press that continues to show their strengths in production inkjet.

Experiential Graphics Are a Growing Subset of Wide Format, But Can Require a Different Approach in Terms of Sales and Production

“Experiential graphics” are a form of interior décor that are becoming a fast-growing part of wide-format and signage. Pursuing that particular application requires a somewhat different strategy than traditional commercial printing—or even traditional wide-format printing.

Gerber Technology: Advancing Automation in Fashion and Apparel

For 50 years, Gerber Technology has been providing solutions for the fashion and apparel industry, from planning through sourcing and production. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Karsten Newbury, Senior Vice President and General Manager, and Mary McFadden, Executive Director, CAD Product Management, to learn about the company’s latest offerings and how they help the industry in the analog-to-digital transformation.

Around the Web: E License Plates – Direct-to-Egg Printing – Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report – 36 Days of Type – This Week in Printing History

California experiments with E Ink-based license plates. Mary Meeker’s hotly anticipated annual Internet trends presentation has arrived. The first “cyberattack” took place nearly 200 years ago. A beautiful and brilliant collection of crowdsourced letter and number designs. ANA Acquires DMA. What happened this week in printing and publishing history. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

USPS Challenge: “Mr. Scratch-Off” Digital Variable Scratch and Reveal Technology

In the ongoing search for new print techniques and technologies for mail, Trish highlights an exciting digital variable scratch-off collaboration between Mohawk, HP and Lawton Connect in Orlando.

Pricing for Digital Part 1: Overcoming Obstacles on the Path to Profitable Pricing

As digital delivery proliferates within the customer communications market, service providers with a legacy in print have been challenged to devise pricing models that position their operations for long-term sustainability. As part of its recently published research study entitled Pricing for Digital: Exploring New Models for Transactional Communications Delivery, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends conducted more than a dozen in-depth interviews with print service providers in North America to gain a deeper understanding of the primary pricing obstacles that stakeholders face in today’s changing market. The first in a three-part series, this article explores the hurdles that providers encounter in the market and considers the approaches they have developed as they attempt to establish profitable pricing models.

Learn from Print Sales Losses

When you lose a sales deal, how does your company react? Do you have a culture of learning from losses or do you have a culture of blaming? A sales loss is a treasure trove of learning—successful companies evaluate and adjust for their next pitch.

Looking for Cool Leggings? Check Out Bombsheller and Its On-Demand Manufacturing Model

Pablos Holman is a serial entrepreneur whose latest venture is Bombsheller, an online source for leggings manufactured on demand. Customers can select from more than a thousand designs, or upload their own, and each pair of leggings, which are available in 10 sizes, is digitally printed, cut, and sewn, with shipment in 24 hours in most cases.

What Do These 5 “Mail Trends” Tell Us?

These five mail trends from DirectMail 2.0 raise interesting questions about how we are (or are not) proving the value of print and the opportunities that are lost when we don’t.

Breaking Into the “European” Print Market: Understand Geographies and Cultures

Morten Reitoft of INKISH.TV kicks off a new series of editorials offering advice for U.S. companies seeking to enter the European print market. In this first installment, Reitoft stresses that “Europe” is not a single, monolithic market.

Kudos to Canon Solutions Americas on Great QR Code Implementation

Canon Solutions America’s use of QR Codes in a recent white paper is a great example of everything done right. This is a model of how to do QR Codes well.

Around the Web: Investing in the Swamp – The Quest for Red Pigment – Scented Postage – The Retail Apocalypse Deferred – Blockchain and Digital Signage – Towel Day

Investing in companies by how much they spend on lobbying. Searching for a safe, bright red pigment. Making your mail smell like popsicles. Exaggerating the death of retail. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Highlights from the 2018 National Postal Forum

Earlier this month, the National Postal Forum (NPF) celebrated its 50th anniversary in San Antonio, Tex., with more than 4,000 professionals from the mailing and shipping industry. In addition to the five primary educational tracks over the four-day event, NPF had nearly 130 exhibitors in the exhibitor hall. This analysis provides highlights from the NPF’s Opening General Session, as well as an overview of the USPS’s latest innovations.

Microfactories and Automation the Stars at TechTextil/TexProcess

WhatTheyThink attended TechTextil/TexProcess in Atlanta, and one of the key messages that came out of the show was the fact that apparel microfactories are a reality. This brings many advantages to the apparel industry, especially in North America and Europe where there is a move to re-shore some part of apparel manufacturing.

Lumii: A Unique New Solution for Label and Packaging Security

At RADTECH, David Zwang saw an interesting solution from a young startup company, LUMII, for label and packaging security. Imagine a high-tech moiré that can provide visually 3D security printing inline without the need for external embellishments or to apply post print.

Web-to-Print is a Tool for Your Customers

Prepress automation, streamlining your customer service department, and reducing the time between inquiry and jobs getting on press – these are common feature requests for web-to-print systems. They are all about you (the printer) – web-to-print isn’t about you! Web-to-print is for your customers!

In The Mail: May 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

NPF Report: USPS puts the spotlight on Informed Delivery & Informed Visibility; PMG Brennan speaks of “shared purpose”…BOG nominees advance…Taskforce gets August deadline…Senator proposes postal banks.

Good News Could Be a Full-Time Job, but for Most Economists It’s Only Part-Time

Some people say that the news is always bad, and they wish someone would report good news now and then. There is good news but no one seems to report it. You’d think that would be a full time job for someone. The economy has set a record for full time employment, and all we hear are crickets. The economy has been doing better lately in some key measures of employment, but the Fed is scaring markets by preparing to raise rates. TINA, meet TAMA, the result of the Fed’s actions; don’t worry, we’ll explain it. The statisticians at the Commerce Department revised printing shipments data. Revising data seems to be a full time job in the Beltway. Dr. Joe clarifies it all for one nearly last time.

Textiles and Corrugated Take the Spotlight at FESPA Berlin

Textiles and corrugated were the two major themes of this year’s FESPA Global Print Expo. Here are some quick hits from the show.

Consumer Durable Goods Orders Moving at Almost 2X GDP Rate

Durable goods orders for consumers (less transportation) are growing at a rate almost two times faster than Real GDP. This data series remains -14% below where it was at the start of the recession in December 2017, and is a critical one to monitor for indications of an improved economy.

Around the Web: Digital ad Revenue - Digitally Colored Embroidery - Media Consumption Habits

Digital ad revenue, digitally colored embroidery, and curbing your media consumption. All that and more this week in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.

Throwback Thursday, Bindery Edition: Trish Asks Trade Binderies About Their Most Useful Vintage Machines

In this special Throwback Thursday feature, Trish reaches out to trade binderies to hunt for funky vintage machines that are still useful in today’s modern workflow. This first edition features fascinating finds from four well-known US binderies.

Quad/Graphics Accelerated Insights: A Digital Revolution in Direct Mail Testing

Quad/Graphics has launched Accelerated Insights, a cloud-based software tool to enhance—and some might even say revolutionize—direct mail testing. This article explores the features of Accelerated Insights and describes its effects on direct mailing.

Flies on the Wall: On Sale Now

Psychographic targeting is easier than ever. But can it be trusted? If it can, why aren’t more printers using it? A look inside psychographic targeting and its benefits.

Delegate the Right Jobs to Software

Every industry is being transformed by a new staffing option for the “jobs to be done” and that staffing option is software. Your business needs to get stuff done—some of that stuff needs to be done by humans and a lot of that stuff needs to be done by software.

FESPA Day 2: Whetting the Palate...

WhatTheyThink is live at FESPA Berlin 2018 on Day 2 of the show. Welcome to the concept of the microfactory.

Intelligent Packaging Creates New Markets for Print Industry

In 2018, the combined active and intelligent packaging market value is projected to reach $5.68 billion and will continue to present new value-adding options in the future according to the latest market analysis from Smithers Pira. Read on for more highlights of Smithers Pira’s latest report.

FESPA 2018 Opens in Berlin

The FESPA Global Print Expo 2018 kicked off in Berlin this morning. Here is a quick teaser of some early show highlights.

Where Are Marketers Getting Their Data?

According to new research, marketers are increasingly investing in second- and third-party data to create 360-degree views of their customers. Are your customers doing the same? Are they prepared to compete? Read more. 

Wide Format: Now and Venn

What do we talk about when we talk about “wide format”? How is the term definitionally changing—and what does it even mean anymore? And more importantly, how does whatever we define as “wide format” play nice with other kinds of printing such as industrial, packaging, and commercial? And how can we navigate the “convergence” of these different print silos? Read on for more.

Q1-2018 Rises +2.3%, Slower Rate than Q4-2017

The Bureau of Economic Analysis’ advance report estimated that Q1-2018 real gross domestic product was up at an annual rate of +2.3%, which was slower than the +2.9% for Q4-2017. Because companies and individuals, especially corporations, shifted expenses into 2017 and delayed revenue recognition to 2018 to take advantage of the rates in the new tax law, many key economic data series—such as this one—will be subject to larger than usual revision.

Around the Web - Recommended Reading from the WhatTheyThink Team

Blockchain, Buffett, and blurring boundaries. Silk and sneakers. One space or two? WhatTheyThink’s new regular Friday feature, Around the Web, presents a miscellany of random news items that caught the attention of our contributors this week. Read on for more.

Marketing and Publishing Guru Seth Godin to Keynote PRINT 18

Seth Godin, world-renowned entrepreneur and marketing and publishing guru, will be keynoting this September’s PRINT 18. Cary Sherburne spoke to him about the changing role of print in today’s marketing and publishing landscape. Read on for some insights from one of today’s thought leaders.

New Trends in Color Management

Managing color in today’s ever-changing environment has long been a challenge for printers. No two scanners, monitors, or printers will reproduce colors identically, making it necessary to implement specialized color management systems to achieve an exact match across devices. This article explores some of the options that are available for printers.

Xerox: Innovation and/or Investment

Xerox has just introduced the very interesting Xerox® IridesseTM Production Press into the global market, the latest electrophotographic machine in its product lineup. With all of the media hype surrounding the Xerox Fujifilm merger, this new press shows how well Xerox and Fuji Xerox can work together to create technology that brings innovation and value to the market and the company, something you may not be hearing in the distracting news streams. Read on for more.

The Pre-Mortem to a Print MIS Transition

If you’re on your way to embarking on a Print MIS transition, then you need to sit down and pretend the whole thing was a spectacular failure. Once you’re in that uncomfortable place—work backwards and build a plan to prevent its untimely death.

How MakerBot Is Shaping a 3D Future in Industry and Education

For a dozen years, Forrest Leighton held marketing roles at Canon USA, and then spent four years with Marcomm Central. Today, he is Vice President of Marketing at MakerBot, a Stratasys company and a global leader in desktop 3D printing solutions. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with him recently to learn more about MakerBot and how 3D printing might be a relevant opportunity for commercial, sign & display graphics, packaging and textile printers.

Getting Flexible in Your Middle Years – April 2018 M&A Activity

Transcontinental TC closes transformative transactions, ProAmpac buys, commercial printers actively acquire; Herbie finally retires, and more.

Standfast & Barracks: Naught to 50% Digital Textile Printing in Five Years

Changing market dynamics, including the increasing proliferation of digital printing technologies for textiles and apparel, are boosting reshoring efforts in many countries. UK-based Standfast & Barracks has worked closely with digital textile printer manufacturer Durst to help accelerate this trend using its Durst Alpha Series digital textile printers. Read more.

InPrint Reflections: Moving the (Digitally Printed) Goalposts

A major theme of last week’s InPrint Industrial Inkjet Conference in Chicago was the emerging distinction between two specific kinds of industrial printing: printing as part of a larger manufacturing process and what we have often called specialty printing. The conference explored the differences between them, where the growth areas are, and what the drivers of that growth are. Read on for some reflections on the conference.

A Big Focus on Small Print Shops

Smaller print shops face many of the same challenges as larger shops, so the need for a single system of record to manage the business is just as critical. Until recently, the only solution was purchasing an expensive print MIS with integration capabilities and pay for professional services to set up the connectivity to the other software solutions. This article explores how things are beginning to change for the better for small print shops.

Faces of Finishing: Julie Watson of Ultimate TechnoGraphics on Building Software for Prepress-to-Finishing Automation

In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with Julie Watson, CEO of Ultimate Technographics, about developing software that drives value by eliminating touchpoints in the bindery.

Stunning 3D Printed Garments a Revolutionary Idea

Tel Aviv-based fashion designer Danit Peleg creates custom garments and accessories using desktop 3D printers. Today, Peleg is also in the process of creating and uploading to her site designs that can be downloaded and printed. Read on for more on her unique projects.

Your Customer’s Workflow Challenges are Your Opportunities

There is a conflux of pressures on businesses today: increase speed, personalize products, respond to the market faster, localize the messaging, and do all this with less people on a tighter budget. Read on for tips on how to cope with these challenges.

How Do You Build Efficiencies through a Print Quality Management Program? 3M Has Perspective

One of the high points of the Color Conference held earlier this year was a talk by Lisa Price, Design Operations Director at 3M. I was able to speak to Lisa recently to get a little more detail about her very successful Print Quality Management Program that helps her manage a network of more than 700 printers worldwide. Read more.

E-commerce Is a $20 Billion Market for Corrugated Packaging—and Growing Fast

New research from Smithers Pira points to major growth for corrugated in serving the fast-developing e-commerce packaging markets. Read on for more detail.

Israeli Fashion Designer Leverages Digital Textile Printing for New Business Model

Fashion designer Michal Ratzman turned to digital textile printing to find a way to make her dress design business more attractive to buyers and more profitable for her. By switching to the sell-then-manufacture model from manufacture-then-hope-to-sell, she is able to provide more customized apparel solutions while eliminating returns, inventory and waste for her on-demand dress manufacturing business, byme.

Direct-to-Shape: An Intriguing Corner of Digital Print for Packaging

Within the direct-to-shape printing for packaging market, digital printing is generally growing as a complement to offset, flexo, and other analog presses that print labels, folding cartons, flexible packaging, and corrugated. This article explores the direct-to-shape market by answering some basic questions about it.

In The Mail: April 2018 – What You Need to Know About Postal Issues

President Donald Trump signs an Executive Order forming a Task Force to evaluate operations and finances of the U.S. Postal System…The PRC Scolds the USPS for performance shortfalls…Promo standstill…No returns needed.

Paul Marino of Impress Communications Puts 100% Accuracy into Practice with “Picture-Perfect” Bobst ACCUCHECK System

Trish visits the team at Impress Communications in Chatsworth, Calif., and speaks with owner Paul Marino about the challenges and the benefits of installing a 100% accurate quality control inspection system on their Bobst EXPERTFOLD folder-gluer line.

"Do I Have to Go Through an Account Manager?"

Our important customers get our attention and our dedicated resources. What happens when customers prefer online tools over dedicated resources? Read on to find out.

Millennial Marketer: “I Don’t Use QR Codes”

If anyone is using QR codes, it’s Millennials, right? If anyone understands the value of QR codes, it’s marketers. So why doesn’t this Millennial marketer use them? Read on to find out.

SEAMS: Supercharging the U.S. Apparel Supply Chain

In preparation for attending TechTextil/TexProcess in Atlanta in May, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne connected with Will Duncan, Executive Director of SEAMS, a trade organization dedicated to empowering the Made in America movement by supercharging the U.S. supply chain from concept to customer. Learn more about SEAMS and the benefits of joining the effort.

Moving Pictures: Carbon Wraps Brings Art Alive

For about 15 years, Carbon Wraps Orlando has specialized in highly creative vehicle graphics. They took car wrapping to the next level when they worked with local artist Kurt Meister and Avery Dennison to wrap one of his paintings on a vehicle live at the ISA Sign Expo last March. Read on for more about the company and this unique project.

A Significant Speed Boost and Cost Reduction with Hybrid Production Inkjet for Flexible Packaging

UTECO Group, in conjunction with Kodak, has released and will be installing the first Sapphire EVO aqueous-based production hybrid inkjet press for flexible packaging. This newly designed press significantly raises the bar on production speed while lowering operational costs compared with existing digital solutions.

On Demand Manufacturing: A Sea Change for the Apparel Industry

Can apparel be completely manufactured in an automated environment? Not yet. But it’s coming soon and will revolutionize apparel manufacturing. Learn how NextWave, and its partners EFI, Klieverik, Zund, and Henderson are creating an on demand microfactory, which will be on display at TechTextil/TexProcess in Atlanta in May.

The Migration to Digital Continues... But Printed Customer Communications Remain Popular

The results from InfoTrends’ annual transactional communications survey uncovered some surprising shifts in opinions about paper-based and electronic communications. This article cites recent survey data to explore how printed and electronic bills and statements continue to coexist in the customer communications market.

How Is Your Mobile Competency?

Mobile Internet usage continues to grow, including the percentage of users who are mobile-only. Consequently, multichannel marketing strategies must incorporate the full mobile experience. Is your mobile competency keeping pace? Read on to see.

Embedding Real Print Workflow Change

A print software application can do certain jobs for your business. Once you’ve proven it works, don’t forget to execute. Deploy the software so it does that job across your entire organization. Read on to find out how.

Unique Great Northern Solution Fills the Gap Between Corrugated and Folding Carton

Great Northern Corporation added an HP PageWide T400S inkjet press to its operation last year to bring more flexibility to its unique ultra-strong folding cartons. In this post, learn how Great Northern is leveraging offset and digital for more efficiency, and the approach the company has taken to filling the gap between corrugated and folding carton.

Move Over for Mouvent’s New Digital Textile Printer

Following its announcement of its formation as a joint venture between BOBST and Radex last July, Mouvent is now bringing its innovative textile printers to market. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Ghislain Segard, Marketing & Sales Manager for Textile Machines at Mouvent, to get more details about the current product and Mouvent’s strategies for the future. Read more.

Lost in the Economy: Patience

“Staying the course” does not refer to golf, but might be an answer to “Aren’t we there yet?” When all of your economic models are based on something old, and not something new, that could make you blue, and confused. Since we’re now talking about weddings of the business kind, the Amazon-USPS wedding has gotten a lot of press lately. Don’t they take such a pretty picture together? Well, maybe not. The relationship solves one problem and creates another. No, not the in-laws again… what do they want now?

Rarity: Another Reason (Good) Personalization Works

Despite all the talk about personalized mailings, how often do any of us really receive relevant data-driven direct mail? Is the rarity of truly personalized mail part of what makes it effective?

Federal Reserve Updates Industrial Production Data Series

The Federal Reserve revised 2015–2017 industrial production down from its original reports, meaning that industrial production peaked in 2014 and then slowed. The initial data made things seem better than what consumers and employees were actually experiencing.

Print, Personalization, and Media Integration: Delivering Results to SMBs

Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) offer a great deal of opportunity for print service providers. This article highlights key communication trends and opportunities in the SMB market, as identified in Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends’ recent research study In Search of Business Opportunities: Finding the Right Prospects.

To Robotize or Not? The Real Numbers Behind Production Chain Productivity (Part 2 of 2)

In the second of this two-part feature on production chain productivity, guest-writer Henrik Christiansen of Graphic Robotics addresses the quantitative aspects of automation, and how the robotization of finishing processes in the appropriate production environments can greatly reduce labor costs and improve productivity. Read on.

In Praise of Data: How PRIMIR Industry Research Can Improve Your Business

The Association for Print Technologies (APTech), through its PRIMIR Research Unit and Market Data programs, provides a wealth of woefully underutilized industry research that can be of great practical use to all the links in the print supply chain—not just suppliers and vendors but print service providers, as well. Read on to see how.

Harlequin 12: PDF 2.0 and Then Some, Almost Ready for Prime Time

Global Graphics today announced what appears to be the first PDF 2.0-compatible RIP/Renderer available to OEM partners. Technology Editor David Zwang delves into the details and explains what this means for the market. Read more.

The Culture of Business Meetings

The meeting is a tool that should be used sparingly. It is expensive. It is for a specific purpose (alignment, understanding, status check-in, etc.). It is overused and the art of running a good meeting is underrated.

HP PIAZZA: A Solution to Organize and Streamline Book Publishing

Zwang and Sherburne tuned in to HP’s analyst briefing concerning today’s announcement of PIAZZA, a cloud-based solution designed to make the book publishing supply chain more efficient. By integrating with PrintOS Site Flow, PIAZZA aims to deliver a near-touchless end-to-end book publishing and printing process. Read more.

Bespoke and Hybrid Processes and Manufacturing: Facilitating Technologies Part 2—The Successful Marriage of Ink and Media

In this series, David Zwang will look at the new requirements for print and packaging manufacturing, and how the demands and opportunities of Industry 4.0 are being facilitated by new bespoke production and workflow methods. In this article in the series, he looks at ink and why it is the key technology.

Retail’s Returns Conundrum and How Digital Textile Could Help

Retailers are seeing an unprecedented volume of returns, according to a recent eMarketer Retail story, and they are struggling with how to deal with this while still keeping margins at an acceptable level. Many are burdened with legacy supply chain issues that digital technology could mitigate. This post is a recap of some of the innovative approaches to digital textile and apparel manufacturing that are poised to revolutionize the world of textiles and apparel.

A Wrap to Remember: Kennickell Group Turns Harbour Town Lighthouse Plaid

If you watch the RBC Heritage Golf Classic this week, pay attention to the iconic Harbour Town Lighthouse. In a first-of-its-kind wrap project undertaken by Savannah, Ga.’s Kennickell Group, the 90-foot structure had its red stripes converted to plaid to commemorate the event’s 50th anniversary. Read on to find out more about the company’s dramatic growth in the wide-format market and how the unique project came about.

FESPA 2018 Features “Print. Make. Wear.” Trend with Special Exhibit

Are you going to FESPA 2018 in Berlin? If so, there’s a special treat in store that you will not want to miss. In this article, show organizer Duncan MacOwan explains FESPA’s Print. Make. Wear. exhibit that showcases how digital technologies are transforming textiles and apparel while also demonstrating the ongoing value that analog production processes still add to the mix. Read more.

Press Onward!—March 2018 M&A Activity

German and American rivals agree to merge, Contiweb spun off, Sun and Siegwerk acquire specialty inks, Autajon strengthens US presence, and more.