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I Can’t Believe This Is Happening

HP's PrintOS is a cloud-based platform with browser-based and mobile apps that connect to and extend the functionality of HP production printers. There are multiple tools that provide robust analytics, mobile monitoring, access to PrintOS anytime and anywhere, and security.

Breaking the Electrophotographic Barriers—HP Indigo LEPx and V12

HP has spent the last four years developing ways to overcome the existing production barriers of their EP products and processes. They recently announced LEPx, a unique new imaging technology as an integral component of the V12, their future platform label press.

Come Sail Away: PhotoSails Takes Billboard Advertising Out to Sea

The thought of hopping on a sailboat and heading out to sea is an appealing one at the moment and thanks to a company called PhotoSails, sailing enthusiasts who buy their own boats can defray the cost of their investment.

Marketing in a COVID-19 World: Planning Short- and Long-Term Marketing Goals

Parts of the country are slowly stating to reopen, but rebounding from COVID-19 is not going to be an overnight achievement. WhatTheyThink contributor Joanne Gore walks though some short- and long-term marketing strategies for print businesses to help reach out to customers as they emerge from the crisis—which is still ongoing.

What’s in YOUR Workflow?—Part 1: File Onboarding and Print Prep

Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew provides a “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.

AFFOA Continues to Make Progress on Fiber Computing Technologies

It’s been almost two years since we wrote about the work that Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is doing to develop functional fiber computing solutions that will likely be the basis for moving us into Industry 5.0. Seems like we don’t even have Industry 4.0 under our belts, but technology does move fast these days! We spoke with the AFFOA team, including CEO Alexander (Sasha) Stolyarov, Chief Marketing Officer Eric Spackey, Senior Director of Business Development Natasha Spackey, and Chief Technology Officer Jason Cox, to get an update on what has transpired in the past two years.

4 Ways To Increase Profitability In 2020

Whether you’re looking to improve your press operations or your production capabilities, as converters, we need to constantly adapt to changing markets. And 2020 has been one of the biggest curveballs for every business. But one thing remains the same: we need to evolve to maintain relevance. So this year, make the most of what you have and consider what you can do to spend smart and build profits through efficiency. Here are the top 4 ways you can increase your business profitability in 2020.

HP PageWide Industrial Web Presses: The Most Productive, Versatile, and Upgradable Web Presses on the Market

The strength of HP’s print leadership is demonstrated in the HP PageWide Industrial Web Press portfolio; a proven press platform with over 10 years in worldwide production environments built on two billion dollars invested in inkjet technology research and development.

Around the Web: Slack Sitcom. High-Res Rembrandt. Grime Game. Scrabble Squawking. Sign Simulator. Classic Covers. Colorful Car. Doomsday Digs.

All 201 episodes of The Office have been recreated in Slack. “The Five Stages of Zoom.” The most detailed online photo of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. New videogame lets you power wash a house. Scrabble fans do not like the new Scrabble Go app. Generate random UK government COVID signage. Generate your own Penguin Classic book cover. A self-censoring typeface for sweary writers. The Plymouth “Paint Chip Barracuda.” The thriving doomsday bunker market. Happy birthday, Ottmar Mergenthaler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly sheltering in place miscellany.

Prepress and Postpress Services Establishments—2010–2017

In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2017, that number had dropped to 1,375. It’s not difficult to understand why the number of these establishments has been dropping: prepress is being absorbed into the printing process itself (especially in digital printing), and more print businesses are acquiring their own finishing capabilities.

CottonBee Customized Textiles Fly Across Europe—A New Business with Mimaki Technology

Digital printing technologies have enabled a wide range of entrepreneurs to get into the industry, something that was more difficult before. An example is Cotton Bee Fabrics in Poland, which has leveraged Mimaki printing technology to transform a side hustle into a viable business.

Calculating the Real ROI

Most businesses believe they are calculating the returns on their investments pretty well. They have ideas about the products they offer and how to charge based on their own calculations that can help them stay competitive and profitable. In many cases, however, they aren’t thinking of everything when determining these values. This article looks at some of the smaller aspects of the equation that can have a big impact on ROI for transactional, marketing, and commercial PSPs.

Being Viable in a VUCA World

Wayne Lynn takes a deep dive into getting a clear understanding of your company’s finances and cashflow, a vital consideration even more vital in these volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times.

If It’s About CX, Why Aren’t We Doing This?

If customer experience is king, then maybe we need to stop making fun of QR Codes and take them more seriously, especially with the growing reliance on cellphones for both in-home and out-of-home interaction and with so many situations in which AR and NFC just aren’t practical. Two lost opportunities for customer engagement tell the tale.

COVID-19 Should be Driving Your Digital Transformation

Crisis creates an environment for rapid innovation. The digital transformation of all business sectors was in progress before COVID-19, and the crisis will continue to separate the digital haves and have-nots.

Finding Hard Profit in Soft Signage

What was once a specialty niche for wide-format print service providers now is a “must-have technology” for producing more mainstream applications. WhatTheyThink contributor Mark Vruno looks at the current state of, and best practices for, soft signage.

The Secret Weapon to Print and Sign Franchise Success

There is safety in the stability of a franchise. WhatTheyThink contributor Joanne Gore looks at the advantages of the franchise model for print businesses.

7th drupa Global Trends Report 2020 Executive Summary

The top-level results from the 7th drupa Global Trends Report 2020 look at how print businesses fared globally in 201219, what their outlook for 2020 is (pre-COVID-19), and what market, technology, and socioeconomic trends are impacting them.

Mimaki Expands Product Portfolio with 3D Printer, OKI Partnership, Dual-Ink-Set Textile Printer

In light of event cancellations during the pandemic, many companies are turning to virtual events to get their news out. Mimaki held a virtual press event recently, packed with industry news and announcing a five-week Virtual Print Festival to keep the industry informed and ready to move forward. We tuned in to learn more.

Graphic Arts Employment—March 2020

Another of the Scenes from the Before Times: in March 2020, the overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from February (-0.7%) and on a year-over-year basis is down -3.1%. Obviously, this is the calm before the storm.

Around the Web: Horrible Hornets. Friendless Fish. Lovely Letters. Clothing Cuisine. Tenuous Time. Billboard Rebirth. Virtual Visiting.

Murder hornets and aggressive chickens. Boy, 2020 has it all! An aquarium wants people to FaceTime lonely eels. A long Twitter thread about an 11-year-old’s love of writing letters. You are what you eat, which is also what you wear. All about chintz. Microsoft Word finally stops the insanity of double wordspacing after a period. Why have we lost all sense of time? Are llamas our pandemic heroes? Take virtual tours of some of the world’s most beautiful libraries. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Alphabet Soup of Trade Association Mergers—April 2020 M&A Activity

Trade Association Mergers Reach an Apex, Commercial Printing Tuck-Ins, and more…

FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs Flies High with New Maggie McFly’s Location

FASTSIGNS of Saratoga Springs won the Grand Prize at the Wide Format & Signage/FASTSIGNS Awards, held during the annual FASTSIGNS International Convention in Phoenix, Ariz., back in January. The six-year-old franchise won for interior and exterior signage for Maggie McFly’s ninth location at Albany’s Crossgates Mall.

Changing Buyer Behaviors: Strategies for Sales Success (Part 2)

The sales process has changed dramatically over the years. This article is the second in a two-part series. The first article explored the complexity of today’s selling environment and drivers of purchasing decisions. This piece outlines the strategies for a new sales paradigm as we navigate these uncertain times.

Why Antimicrobial Fabric Treatments Will Be a Big Part of Our Textile Future—Latest Developments

In a changed world, will we see more functional fabrics that include such things as antiviral and antibacterial capabilities? Fashion and textile expert Debbie McKeegan thinks so. She discusses the future of smart textiles in the context of PPE, wearables, and protective clothing for fashion, sportswear, interiors, and hospitality.

5 Reasons the COVID-19 Lockdown Is a Great Time to Send Mail

I recently interviewed an executive at a large print shop, and in that conversation, we discussed the role of direct mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. With direct mail becoming increasingly sophisticated and printers investing in both printing and finishing equipment that enables more creative pieces, we discussed how now is actually a great time to be sending mail.

Ceramics Printing Goes Digital

Printing on ceramic objects is a great business opportunity for printers and sign shops of all sizes. Although there are multi-million-dollar ceramic printing systems on the market, the good news is that it can be easy and affordable to enter the market for short to mid-sized runs of decorated ceramic products. Senior editor Cary Sherburne explains how.

The Who, What, and Why of Print Software

Some basic questions—who? what? and most importantly why?—of print software will greatly increase your chances of optimizing your print software investments.

Inkjet Disrupters: Five Ways Transaction Printers Can Survive New Competitors

Lower barriers to entry and entry-level inkjet presses have created opportunities for new competitors for transaction printers. Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding offers strategies for how transactional printers can competition-proof themselves.

Color Revolution 2020—Exciting New Products from X-Rite Pantone

Ryerson University’s Abhay Sharma rounds up and evaluates three revolutionary new color management and measurement products from X-Rite Pantone: a new plugin for Adobe Creative Cloud, the latest Color Bridge fan deck, now aligned with GRACoL, and a next-generation i1Pro 3 measuring instrument.

How to Stay in Business in Rocky Times—Market and Promote!

This is a great time to evaluate your go-to-market plan and see if it needs some augmentation or modification—or a complete overhaul. In the second of two articles, Pat McGrew offers some ideas for jump-starting your marketing plans.  

It’s In the Bank: Keep Document and Brand Packaging Secure

Ensuring the security of printed documents and brand packaging is still a major concern for governments, businesses, and the individual consumer. Joann Whitcher rounds up some of the latest trends and technologies in security printing,

Raymond J. Prince, 1944–2020

Frank Romano remembers Raymond Prince, who passed away last week.

Kornit NeoPigment Robusto Softener Addresses Hand Feel Issues with Pigment Inks

As the textiles and apparel industry works to improve supply chain management and reduce its environmental footprint, many view pigment inks as the Holy Grail—print on any fabric, no need for pre- or post-treatment in many cases. What’s not to like? The hand feel, that’s what. Here’s what Kornit is doing to address that issue.

Book Printing Establishments—2010–2017

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 500 establishments in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). This represents an decline of -6.7% since the decade began. In other data news, the BEA released Q1 2020 GDP growth. Click on through, if you dare.

Around the Web: Print Preferred. Vexing Video. Catty Commissioner. Commando Correspondent. P&G’s Paper Packaging. Socializing Suit. Postal Pets. Animal AR. Compelling Clogs.

FedEx Office offers a new deferred payment printing service. The potential psychological effects of using Zoom. Pro tip for Zoom meetings: don’t throw cats. Pro tip for remote Good Morning America segments: wear pants. P&G is using paper-based packaging for its Old Spice and Secret brands. Reusing discarded plastic fishing nets. A Hazmat-like suit designed for virus-free nightlife. Unusual gift items from the Post Office. Put a tiger in your living room. A popular YouTube channel is nothing but drain-unclogging videos, for some reason. Roger Dean livestreams designing the new Yes album cover. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantining miscellany.

Changing Buyer Behaviors: Strategies for Sales Success (Part 1)

The sales process has changed dramatically over the years. This article is the first in a two-part series, exploring the complexity of today’s selling environment and drivers of purchasing decisions. Next week’s piece will outline the strategies for a new sales paradigm as we navigate these uncertain times.

If You Don’t Like This Reality, Try One of These

Our current “reality” may not be ideal, but as we come out of this pandemic and begin to redefine our “new normal,” we will find that print will play a big part in engaging that new reality. I am guessing it will also include AR, MR, and VR as well.

If There Was Ever a Signpost to the Future, This Was the Event of the Year—Fashinnovation Worldwide Talks

The COVID-19 pandemic offers an opportunity for the Fashion Industry to seize the moment and radically reset an aged, inappropriate business model. Textile expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan shares insight from the Fashinnovation worldwide talks, conducted virtually via Zoom on April 20 and 22, 2020.

Global Graphics Changes the Game—Now Going Direct to the Printhead!

Global Graphics has developed the first direct-to-printhead processing pipeline using desktop class CPUs creating a future-proof solution to keep up with the latest production inkjet presses. This is a very significant development and is truly a game changer.

Understanding the Primary Objective of Print Software

Understanding what the primary objective or challenge that a print software claims to solve is an important factor for shopping for print software solutions. You have challenges, print software vendors have solutions (in the form of products). The better defined the challenge, the better the chance of alignment and return on investment.

When It Comes to Packaging Sustainability, It Takes a (Business) Village

Consumer attitudes toward packaging are changing. Even as packaging becomes more upscale, more marketing-oriented, and more engaging, consumers exhibit growing wariness about its environmental impacts. What is the industry doing about it?

When Do We Reopen the Country?

CPrint International chairman and Printing News contributing columnist Tom Crouser weighs the tricky decision of when we should safely reopen the economy, highlighting a three-phase approach.

Disrupted: An Inside Look at the Current Direct Mail and Digital Landscape

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on the economy both on a national and global scale. As businesses prepare to reopen, they should be developing an “Open for Business” recovery marketing campaign. To assist marketers in making the best decisions for their business, DirectMail2.0 has aggregated and analyzed data from its direct mail marketing platform over the past 11 weeks to depict the current integrated marketing landscape.

2019 Annual Sign Franchise Review

Our annual review of the sign franchises finds that employee challenges and competition from commercial print businesses top the list of challenges, while expanding the range of applications tops the list of opportunities. In all, these four organizations generated $926 million in revenues in 2019.

PrintFactory Offers Alternative Workflow for Display Graphics and Textile Printers

PrintFactory offers a RIP-based workflow for wide format printers in a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model. The company has about 17,000 active installations, supports more than 2,000 physical devices, and has about 40 employees. Find out more.

Labels Are Hot: Embellishments Are Hotter

Pat McGrew looks at some recent examples of label embellishments and explores how you can expand your business with these technology advancements.

Association Insights: Print & Graphic Scholarship Foundation

The Print & Graphic Scholarship Foundation offers scholarship opportunities for students in graphic arts. Director of Development Jeff White shares some of PGSF’s recent initiatives.

Around the Web: New Normal? Rime Readings. Cloistered Cacophony. Tone Tags. Packaging Playhouse. Literary Length. Decor Donations. Remote Rock.

Textile 4.0 magazine looks at the industry’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Celebrities read verses from Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner. A giant E Ink display features the NYT’s front page. Noise generator simulates the sounds of an office. A project to assign names to all 24-bit colors. Samsung’s TV boxes are designed to be converted into cat houses. The best 500+-page novels of the recent past. Buy wallpaper and support a local restaurant. Running the Boston Marathon...along the Erie Canal. BÖC performs “Godzilla” online. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantining miscellany.

February Shipments: Tales from The Before Times

At $6.48 billion, February shipments were down from January’s $6.94 billion, but well above February 2019’s $6.22 billion—and indeed was the best February we’ve had since 2016. Ah, well...

Where Is the Power in Your Customer Relationships?

Successful selling requires certain behavioral traits that, if they are present, dramatically increase the probabilities of success. When there is a strong balance between the “assertive” and “helpful” traits, a sales person is most likely to create a “win-win” relationship. Wayne Lynn explores how to develop a sales force that has these two traits well-balanced.

Webinars: The New B2B Streaming Service that’s Failing

Online conferencing and webinars are new to many printing companies and vendors. Although some businesses might view this as an opportunity to extend into new areas and try something new, it is often painfully obvious that printing companies are not experienced with delivering quality online conferences and webinars. This article offers 10 tips for delivering better online content.

Premier Digital Textiles Are Proud to Announce Their Environmentally Certified Textile Collection

Textile mills continue to work toward delivering more eco-friendly fabrics to the market. A case in point is Premier Digital Textiles, which has expanded its environmentally certified textiles collection, a collection with the provenance that the consumer now demands.

COVID-19’s Impact on Hiring and Placement: An Interview with Arnie Kahn of PrintLink

Printers are considered essential businesses. Are they still hiring? How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting placement for essential printing jobs? Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, provides some insight.

2019 Annual Print Franchise Review

Cary Sherburne provides our annual review of the print franchises. As these organizations work to adjust to the changing industry and business environment, they are all aggressively working with their franchises to add infrastructure for more efficiency, encourage the addition of new products, provide training and help franchisees looking for an exit strategy look for new potential owners. Combined, these five organizations generated $1.34 billion in revenues.

Email is Not an Online Print Ordering Solution

We are going to come out of COVID-19 into a different economy and a different print industry. Many of the changes taking place now will persist, even after we’re all vaccinated or have developed widespread herd immunity. Your customers will return with fewer people resources—a competitive advantage will be for vendors who can save customers time.

Rockin’ the Boat: Applied Graphics Bring Dazzle to the High Seas

Have you ever tried installing high-end graphics on the hull of a boat while floating on a raft? Meet LuxWrap, a British company that has carved out a decidedly unique niche: high-end yacht graphics. They recently gold-foil-wrapped a yacht for hair extension brand Bellami—a project that was beset with all kinds of challenges.

The Battle to Save the News Media in the Age of COVID-19

Access to honest news and investigative reporting is important in the best of times, but even more so in the worst of times, such as the battle against COVID-19 that is underway around the globe. While virtually all media organizations are under stress due largely to the evaporation of advertising revenue, none are seeing more stress than local news organizations, resulting in what is being called local news deserts. In this article, we look at some of the efforts underway to relieve some of this stress.

How to Stay in Business in Rocky Times—A Change of Plan

Before the world changed in March, you probably had a sales and marketing plan in place, which now seems obsolete and ineffective. In the first of two articles, Pat McGrew outlines some strategies for drawing up a new sales and marketing plan based on your current situation.  

BoSacks Speaks Out: LSC Communications Files for Chapter 11 and Raises $100M in Liquid Capital

Last week, it was announced that LSC Communications filed for Chapter 11. BoSacks looks back fondly at the history of the company—and his own history with LSC.

7th drupa Global Trends Report: Global Print Industry Faces Economic and Environmental Challenges

The 7th drupa Global Trends Report will be published in April 2020. The results, from a survey conducted before the outbreak of the coronavirus and the postponement of drupa to April 2021, show a global industry that remained positive but reflected more challenging global economic conditions.

If the Shoe Fits… Volumental Uses 3D Scanning to Deliver Perfect Fit

As consumers increasingly turn to online shopping, brands and retailers are looking for ways to enhance the customer experience and to reduce product returns when the product the consumer receives doesn’t fit or otherwise doesn’t meet expectations. Volumental has an answer for shoe retailers and brands.

Around the Web: Copper vs. COVID. Somber Signage. Law Limbo. Green Screen Queen. Puzzle Pressure. Failing Forecasts. Learning Lavatory.

Copper-infused fabric may protect against COVID-19. Retail signage around a closed NYC reflects the spirit of the city. A courtroom drama shoots a virtual episode over Zoom. The Hamilton cast reunites on Zoom. The Queen wears green-screen green on TV and comedy ensues. Unexpected surge in demand makes both jigsaw puzzle and board game makers fall to pieces. Why have weather forecasts suddenly become less accurate? A new “smart toilet” is trouble waiting to happen. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.

Printing Profits Plunged—Even Before the Crisis

Annualized profits for Q4 2019 took a nosedive from $720 million to -$170 million in the latest chapter in our “tale of two cities” narrative, this time with the profitability gap between large and small printers narrowing.

How COVID-19 is Accelerating Industry 4.0

Few would dispute that we’ve entered a period of profound change. COVID-19 is causing radical shifts in workflow across the globe as millions practice social distancing and/or comply with self-quarantine recommendations. The pandemic’s dramatic appearance has accelerated numerous trends while slowing others. Although there is no doubt that COVID-19 is a transformative force, it is not bringing us into Industry 5.0.

Why Pigment Inks Drive the Digital Direct-to-Garment Global Print Markets

Global demand for T-shirts continues to grow with direct-to-garment printing being the top technology choice for decorating them with an annual double-digit growth rate projected. Learn why pigment inks are key to maintaining—and even accelerating—this growth rate.

Finding the Way(s): Signage Still Has a Place—Even Amid GPS Technologies

As output and substrate technologies continue to improve, wayfinding signage opportunities remain rife for commercial and wide-format printers in 2020 and beyond. However, to land these types of jobs, you first need to know with whom to engage.

More “Worst Ever” Direct Mail Stories

Fun collection of direct mail fails that represent the kind of classic mistakes we see on a regular basis. While these examples are funny, there is a serious message behind them. Know your direct mail fails... and don’t let your clients repeat them!

Overcoming Resistance to Learning New Software Tools

Adult learning is hard especially when you’re transitioning from a toolset that your people have been comfortably using for years. Do not give the resistance any power and do not try to force the new system to work like the old one—you will pay dearly for that in the form of lost productivity.

Signs Get Smart: Dynamic Digital Signage Moves in Unusual Directions

The buzz around dynamic digital signage (DDS) may have died down, but DDS has continued to evolve and move in unique directions—even to the user’s own mobile phone.

Is Color Perception Holding Up Your Approval Cycles?

Anyone in a creative role knows the importance of choosing the right color. From packaging to apparel to consumer products to marketing materials, color can make or break a design. If color is so important, why is it so hard to get right in production? Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgettexplains what creatives and their suppliers need to know about color.

Print Applications in Times of COVID-19

WhatTheyThink European Section Editor Ralf Schlözer looks at how the COVID-19 crisis will impact various kinds of print products—both in the short term and the long term.

Neenah Coldenhove Brings Digital Transfer on an Industrial Basis to Natural Fiber Fabrics with Texcol® Digital Transfer Paper

One of the more popular means of digitally printing to fabrics is heat transfer dye sublimation where images are printed on a sublimation transfer paper and then processed through a heating unit (calender) to sublimate the image into fabric. Until now, this process has been limited to polyester or polyester blends. Neenah Coldenhove is addressing this shortfall with its new digital transfer paper for natural fibers.

The Lull Before the Tempest—March 2020 M&A Activity

Transactions continue apace up to mid-March, then abruptly stop. What’s next, and more…

Screen Printing Establishments—2010–2017

According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 5,187 establishments in NAICS 323113 (Commercial Screen Printing). This represents an increase of +16% since the decade began.

Around the Web: Design for Doctoring. Fashion Forward. Coffee Table Chemistry. Postal Peril. Album Advice. Kooky Colors. Breakfast Bricks. Drone Dating. Portable Potter.

Designer Ariel Swedroe designs and sews masks for Miami health care practitioners. Will fashion’s move toward sustainability survive the COVID-19 crisis? A lavish picture book about the chemical elements. Will the Postal Service survive the COVID-19 crisis? Classic album covers redesigned to promote social distancing. “Overly descriptive color palettes.” Is Merino wool an answer to the marine microplastics pollution problem? A “building block waffle maker.” A real-life rom-com for the viral age. Does a USB drive get heavier as you store more files on it? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.

Supply Chain Disruption in a Pandemic and the Benefits of a Digital Workflow

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant shortcomings in today’s supply chain structure. As companies look to reconfigure their supply base, do they also nee to think about radically restructuring manufacturing processes? This thoughtful piece from textiles industry expert Debbie McKeegan addresses that issue.

How PSPs Can Get Their Groove Back

There’s no denying that times are tough. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most print service providers were seeking ways to increase their business revenue while also working smarter and faster. This article explores how PSPs can uncover new opportunities as they work through this crisis, and perhaps even grow from it.

Wide Format and Signage: Essential Services in the Time of Crisis

How are wide-format and signage providers coping with the COVID-19 crisis? Some are playing important roles in providing safety signage, while others still serve businesses that are classified as “essential.” In the first of a series of “check in” articles, we look at how the crisis has impacted the wide-format and signage market.

What’s COVID-19’s Long-Term Impact on Mail?

What will be the long-term impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the printing industry? There are three possibilities: It will shift even more communications to digital channels as marketers reduce their direct mail spend during the lockdown and keep it that way; direct mail volume will remain unchanged; or direct mail could see a resurgence as marketers and their customers develop a newfound appreciation for the channel they’ve been missing.

Canon VarioPRINT iX Targets Commercial Print

Canon has announced the next generation in its VarioPrint line of sheetfed inkjet presses. The varioPRINT iX series is built on a new platform, based on the experiences from the current i-series platform, and is designed for commercial print applications.

April Fools & Utilizing Top Talent During COVID-19

First an April fools laugh, then some more insight on how to deploy your best resources during the COVID-19 pause in capitalism.

Selling CYMK+: A Starter Guide (Part 2)

One of the popular additions to print shops around the world is the ability to create products that add white ink, embossing, debossing, foil, iridescent and neon colors, metallics, varnishes, texture, and unique folds to create high value. We call it CYMK+ because much of this work is created on digital presses and the ability to add enhancements is the plus. The breadth of options for enhancement provide myriad possibilities, but that might make it hard to find a talk track for the sales team. In part two of this two-part feature, Pat McGrew explains how to build a sales kit to sell CMYK+ capabilities.

The Print Industry Gets High on ROI: Partnering with Cannabis Providers Through Publications and Packaging

Our multi-part series on the “Cannabis Gold Rush” continues with Joanne Gore’s look at opportunities in cannabis publishing, as well as packaging, and she offers some advice on partnering with cannabis businesses.

Executive Q&A: Brand Print Americas

Last year, the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) teamed up with the Tarsus Group, the organizers of Labelexpo, to launch a new show called Brand Print Americas. The inaugural event will be co-located with Labelexpo Americas, September 15–17 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, Ill. We spoke with Andy Thomas-Emans, Strategic Director of Tarsus Labels, Packaging and Brand Print Group, about the new show and how it complements Labelexpo.

Equipe Offers Custom Apparel for Brands, Sports Teams

A growing number of companies are popping up in North America that offer custom apparel produced on demand. This is an important supply chain shift, both from an environmental and economic perspective as weaknesses in global supply chains have increasingly come to the forefront. Not everything, of course, can be produced on demand. But companies like California-based Equipe are demonstrating that local production is not only feasible, but a viable alterative for a growing variety of apparel and home décor items.

Xeikon 2020: New Products in Every Supported Market Segment

On March 30, Xeikon unveiled its extensive plans for what was to be its drupa 2020 exhibit in an exclusive briefing for the media. Following the briefing, we spoke with Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s Vice President of Marketing, to gain deeper insight into the strategy behind these developments, how being part of Flint Group has benefited the company, and more. In light of the postponement of drupa till April of 2021, Xeikon is putting plans in place to support the industry with continued innovation during the balance of 2020.

drupa Preview Briefing—Xeikon Raises the Bar

Xeikon isn’t waiting until drupa 2021 to introduce new products they have been working on. The SX30000, Cheetah 2.0, and an upgraded X-800 are designed to reduce operating costs and increase competitiveness compared with other EP press manufacturers and entry level inkjet solutions like the Canon VarioPrint i300, and Xerox’s Rialto and Baltoro.

January Shipments: Well, We Started Great

At $6.94 billion, January shipments were down a little from December’s $6.98 billion, but that was just slightly lower than January 2016’s $6.95 billion—the best January we have had since then. But, elephant in the room...

Around the Web: Medical Masking. Tele Trolling. Mini Marathon. COVID Comedy. Virus Vocabulary. Awful Offices. Weird Webcams. Filter Fail.

So what are we talking about this week? Textile and apparel companies, among others, are helping provide masks and other protective gear for the COVID-19 crisis. Twitter tales of social distancing. “Zoombombing.” Running a 26-mile marathon on a seven-foot balcony. The evolution of Internet humor via coronavirus memes. New coronavirus-related words and phrases are entering the lexicon at a rapid rate. The grossest home offices ever. Webcams that keep eyes out for UFO, Bigfoot, and ghosts. Another livestream, another camera filter left on. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.

Community Building in the COVID Economy

MindFire established the COVID-19 Print Group on LinkedIn to provide a forum for printers to help each other share volumes, information, and advice as more states issue Stay at Home policies and organizations are forced to close, leaving clients without service. In three days, membership has grown from zero to nearly 800 members.

Focusing on Value-Added Services for Market Differentiation

To keep their offerings fresh and current, today’s PSPs must change the conversation and shift the focus away from price and toward value-added services. This document discusses how PSPs can highlight the benefits that customers and prospects can enjoy from value-added services.

Printfullness: A Digital State of Mind and Machine Spawning the Next Industrial Revolution

We have a new word for you: “printfullness”! A digital state of mind and machine that is spawning the next industrial revolution. It’s a growth of design, process, production and demand. Learn more!

Making Masks and Other PPE to Help with the COVID-19 Pandemic

One thing about a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is that it can bring people together to come up with creative ways to help. We are starting to hear stories about how players in the textiles and apparel industry are doing just that, converting operations to the production of much-needed masks and other PPE, and we wanted to share these inspiring stories with you.

The Postal Strategy: What Will You Do in 2020 to Impact Your Mailing Business?

The quality of the address on a mailing list can have a significant impact. A single error in an address—a wrong/missing apartment number or an incorrect zip code—can lead to marketing messages, bills, statements, critical privacy, or compliance materials being delayed, misdelivered, or returned. Improving address quality allows your organization to control these costs, improve efficiency, deliver great customer experience, retain loyal customers, and ultimately increase revenues. Postal expert Christine Erna explains how.

Got a 3D Printer? Save a Life

As the world reels from the impact of the coronavirus and the increasing scarcity of critical medical equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators, the 3D maker community is stepping in to do its part. Do you have a 3D printer? Join the movement.

Strategic Optimization During COVID-19

Documenting your core workflows can be a good strategic use of key resources who might not be fully occupied working from home.

The Canna-Business: Diving into the Business of Cannabis and its Packaging

As the articles in our series on the cannabis packaging market have shown, this is a high-growth area—but various pitfalls abound. David Zwang talks to several companies producing packaging for the cannabis market and highlights the opportunities they've found and the challenges they faced.

Covering All Bases: Applied Graphics Keep Evolving

As the options for applied graphics proliferate, it can be a challenge for print service providers to keep up, and yet it has never been more important to understand how a material will perform both on press and on its intended surface. As a result, consumables manufactures are playing a greater consultative role.

Risk Management Roulette—How to Keep Your Business Cyber Safe

Everyone thinks they don’t need to worry about cybersecurity—until they do. And when there is a data breach, it can be costly and embarrassing—and maybe even business-damaging. Cybersecurity expert Kevin Keane explains why printing businesses need to take data management and security seriously.