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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Inkjet technologies have been blurring, or completely eliminating, the lines between commercial and industrial printing. But understanding new print applications and new print markets involves more than technology. We talk with Frazer Chesterman, Director of FM Brooks, which is bringing the InPrint Industrial Print Conference to Chicago next month, about the dwindling distinction between industrial and commercial printing and the opportunities that are emerging.
Q4-2017 GDP estimates were raised to +2.9% from the original estimate of +2.5%. (But beware inventories.) At the same time, shenanigans resulting from the latest tax bill are blurring statistics visibility, especially where corporate profits are concerned.
All printers are seeking ways to embrace a business and production infrastructure that enables them to add new tools as needed and depreciate tools that no longer serve a need. This article provides a brief overview of the platforms that facilitate these skills as well as a specific example of the Chili Publisher platform.
Henrik Christiansen of Graphic Robotics writes about the real meaning of productivity and efficiency in the print production process. This two-part article will address the quantitative side of automation in print.
We love to hate QR Codes, right? But it’s not the codes themselves that are working against near unanimous consumer adoption. It’s the often rookie mistakes made by marketing departments. Are you letting your customers fail at QR Codes unnecessarily?
When new software is implemented in your native environment – that’s when the real learning happens. Everything prior to that point was theoretical. Take this time to learn how this software uniquely meets the needs of your business.
The landmark 2015 Supreme Court case Reed v. Town of Gilbert turned a sign code issue into a First Amendment battle. Three years later, its effects are still being felt throughout the signage industry—for good or ill. Read on for some of the latest developments in signage regulations.
If MSPs want to convince their clients of the value of multichannel marketing, they must be willing to use it to promote their own businesses. That’s why I was excited to see NextPage launching a really fun campaign combining direct mail, email, video, and social media, along with a targeted digital ad buy.
Durham, N.C.’s Spoonflower allows users in its community of more than 3.5 million individuals to design and digitally print their own custom fabrics for curtains, quilts, clothes, bags, furniture, dolls, pillows, framed artwork, costumes, banners, and much, much more. Read on to see how Spoonflower is continuing to transform the digital textile printing market.
In the latest installment of this interview series, Trish Witkowski talks with bindery owner and investor John Helline on the pitfalls and the strategic opportunities involved in the trade bindery business.
Today’s empowered consumers are conditioned to expect instant access to information, goods, and services. These expectations are forcing businesses to reconsider their marketing strategies. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends highlighting the importance of a positive customer experience in driving revenue growth and improving customer satisfaction.
At DScoop 2018 this week, HYBRID Software announced PACKZalyzer, HP PrintOS-compatible software that “will allow order entry or customer service personnel to receive files from clients and get them ready for production before they enter the prepress department.” David Zwang comments on this announcement.
Your sales team must do more than sell. They must be good learners (that means less talking, more listening, and more curiosity about how they can help their customers). Your customer’s time is valuable. When they give you their time they are voting on your value.
In this series, David Zwang will look at how the new requirements of print and packaging manufacturing, and how the demands and opportunities of Industry 4.0, are being facilitated by new bespoke production and workflow methods. He will look at the requirements, technologies, methods, and educational processes necessary to bring it all together. In this article, he looks at some of the issues that can and should drive a decision.
An industry coalition of more than 50 mailing stakeholders expresses opposition to the ratemaking plan proposed by the Postal Regulatory Commission; the USPS rolls out an electronic payment system, reduces truck mileage, continues to lose money. Read on for this month’s postal system update.
The International Sign Association (ISA) Sign Expo 2018 was held in Orlando, Fla., last week. Channel letters, magnetic signage, neon lighting, LED displays, digital displays, 3D printing, and wide-format and display graphics in all their various incarnations were being showcased. Read on for some highlights from the show.
When it comes to managing—and more importantly coaching and developing sales talent—the skills that are required are different than the ones that make a good salesperson. This article highlights research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how high-growth sales organizations develop the best talent.
At an ISA preview event last night, HP presented a new technology for Latex printing on rigid substrates up to two inches thick. Although pricing and availability are not yet available, the company showed sample prints and plans to demonstrate the machine in operation at FESPA in Berlin in May. Learn more.
Epson’s 2018 Digital Couture Project leading up to New York’s Fashion Week caught my attention, and I reached out to the Mark Radogna, Strategic Marketing for Epson America, to learn more about how Epson is approaching the digital textiles market and where the company sees it going in the future.
Your business toolset is changing; software is becoming one of the most important tools for managing, growing, and innovating your business. At Dscoop next week, we are conducting a Print Software Bootcamp to help Dscoop Members learn more about the Print Software toolset.
New Smithers Pira Research forecasts strong growth for thermal printing, identifying retail, transport, and manufacturing as the top three applications for thermal printing equipment and supplies. Read on for an overview of the thermal printing market from 2018 to 2023.
Trade tariff talk has confused the markets, but so have the recent economic data. Employment data look great, retail sales look bad, consumer confidence surges in the lowest third of households by income. Explain that, Dr. Joe! He does, and offers insight into the selection of Larry Kudlow as the President’s economic advisor. There may be no free lunches, but Dr. Joe has some free podcasts and a webinar. Get them now before someone proposes a tariff on electrons.
As a garment decorator or textile printer, have you ever bemoaned the fact that you have to pretreat natural fiber fabrics in order to use heat-transfer sublimation for a brilliant, durable image on natural fiber textiles? Moan no more! The Mosaica Group is introducing a breakthrough product from a European mill that makes heat transfer news. Read more.
Last Wednesday, Dr. Joe Webb presented his quarterly economic conditions webinar, which included a look at the overall macroeconomic environment as well as current printing industry business conditions. Read on for a brief summary of what Dr. Webb discussed.
HP’s Media day focused on packaging this year, which is a very hot topic. This article explores how the PageWide Industrial C500 cut-sheet corrugated inkjet printer expands the number of options for corrugated packages and the people who design them for brands.
It’s been 20 years since Mimaki began its digital textile printing journey, one of the first, if not the first, to do so. We spoke with Ronald Van Den Broek, General Manager of Sales for Mimaki Europe, to gain insight into how the company addresses the growing digital textile market today and it is vision of the future.
In this new series David Zwang will look at how the new requirements of print and packaging manufacturing, and how the demands and opportunities of Industry 4.0, are being facilitated by new bespoke production and workflow methods. He will look at the requirements, technologies, methods and the educational processes necessary to bring it all together. In this installment of the series, he takes an initial look at an interesting new software development that significantly improves the quality of inkjet imaging.
Epsilon’s study “The Power of Me” is a terrific data dump for those looking for insights to help their customers justify moving to—or increasing their use of—personalization. Here are some key takeaways.
OnPoint Manufacturing offers an innovative approach to an on-demand manufacturing model for textiles and apparel. Leveraging digital technologies to streamline supply chains, remove waste and speed time to market is the hallmark of the analog-to-digital transformation of any industry. OnPoint combines a number of interesting technologies to enable this in textiles and apparel for its own manufacturing, and a vision of the future for the industry.
Less than two years ago, Mark Simmons left the retail world and launched a SpeedPro Imaging franchise in Apex, N.C. A knack for networking, a talented in-house designer, and a vibrant local business environment have helped drive Simmons’ success.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.