A shop’s cutting department is often thought of—when it’s thought of at all—as an “invisible workhorse”: highly productive—until it’s not. In this feature, Trish Witkowski takes a 360-degree look at cutting equipment, from retrofitting newer features onto older cutters, to the latest automated, and even robot-assisted, cutting systems.
Personalized video is a popularizing tool with potential for modern customer communications strategies. The technology provides inherently engaging one-to-one audio-visual experiences, but that doesn’t mean that it’s effective independently and by default.
The definition of a successful printer is changing with the times. The updated definition is forcing printers to solve more than a manufacturing challenge. For printers who refuse to move out of their comfort zone; price will be the primary subject of conversation in every sale.
New systems are emerging that can print directly onto three-dimensional objects, especially cups, glasses, and bottles, to serve what is emerging as a lucrative promotional drinkware market. In this feature, Richard Romano looks at direct-to-object offerings from Xerox, Inkcups, and Engineered Printing Solutions.
As the analog-to-digital transformation in textile printing starts taking off, hybrid solutions are emerging that fill the gap between screen and digital printing. In this article, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne discusses this gap issue, includes insight from a California-based screen printer, and highlights an interesting hybrid solution in the form of M&R’s Digital Squeegee. Read more.
At a “Taking Print Further” customer and media event this week in Rochester, N.Y., Kodak offered some forward-looking trend presentations, new product announcements for both cutting-edge and legacy systems, and customer panels. Read about Kodak’s commitment to the print industry.
Trish kicks off a new interview series to introduce perspectives of knowledgeable people in the print-finishing category. The series begins with the legendary Werner Rebsamen, who steps out of retirement to share his opinion on the greatest advancements in bookbinding, and where he feels the trade still has a long way to go.
The industry remains focused on reducing costs through automation. The next decade will be about making print manufacturing smarter as we transition to the next industrial revolution. This article discusses why it is important for all print service providers to prepare, plan, and take steps to implement their own version of Smart Print Manufacturing.
What happens when a lifelong print industry account executive starts an entrepreneurial venture? An instructive look behind one entrepreneur’s marketing that includes Facebook, word of mouth, and print.
What is the difference between reactive and proactive customer service? The former waits until the customer has a problem and then makes contact. The latter strives to keep those problems from happening in the first place. Rather than wait for customers to complain, why don’t print software vendors proactively publish helpful best practices to their existing customers on a regular basis?
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. He will look at the requirements, technologies, methods, and the educational processes necessary to bring it all together. In this article in the series, he takes an initial look at facilitating technologies that are driving the growth of these solutions.
Since the launch of our dedicated textiles section in January, we have been talking to the major suppliers to the industry about their offerings in this exploding space. Recently, we spoke with Mike Horsten, Business Manager for Large Format Professional EMEA at HP. He shares his thoughts on the digital textile market and HP’s future plans in that segment.
A Furious Goose can be frightening and entertaining at the same time. It was this idea that led to the unique naming of this British provider of high-quality silk scarves and pocket squares. The company works with Think Posi+ive Prints UK (Think Positive) in producing stunning accessories. Read more.
The combination of more and better consumer data, the drive for personalization, and the affordability of inkjet have finally made creating higher-value communications a market reality. This article explores how IDS.com (a Doxim company) has implemented inkjet production printing technology to make messaging and color more flexible and efficient.
Industry experts review effects of proposed Postal Regulatory Commission Rate Hike Plan. The USPS finalizes mail preparation changes, delays Move Update assessment fees, ends support for non-secure FTP for IV-MTR, and bids farewell to RIBBS.
This software won’t work for our print business—a conclusion that can be the result of weeks', months', even years’ worth of time and money. Nobody wins in this outcome. Yet, it is an all to common result of failed software implementations.
ISA Sign Expo 2018 heads to Orlando next month, with four days of educational sessions and a packed exhibition floor. Richard Romano spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, about new show features and some returning favorites.
There’s a lot happening in the world of digital textile printing, an exciting and vibrant market. It seems like every day we come across new products, services and applications that digital technology enables—either to streamline existing traditional methods or to enable entirely new capabilities. Israeli company Twine Solutions is bringing digital printing technology to the most basic commodity in the industry, the thread. Read more to learn how this technology can benefit your business.
The countdown for Dr. Joe’s departure continues with four months to go. Please, let’s hope his brief video stardom does not go to his head. That head of his may not fit through the doorway when it’s time for his exit. The stock market is up…and then it’s down…blame it on visibility. Small business optimism is booming, and maybe the economy will get the hint. The industry’s capital investment is changing, with the appetite for used equipment increasing. But wait…there’s more to this month’s Dr. Joe submission.
When print service providers seek to expand their offerings, wide-format printing applications like sign, display, and specialty graphics are often considered an attractive opportunity. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends to explore the benefits that wide format can deliver to print service providers that are hoping to enter new markets and achieve higher margins.
Are we over-complicating marketing strategy? With so many techniques competing for dominance, it’s easy to forget that sometimes the simple things work, too. This post looks at Fogg’s “behavior model,” which can help your clients keep it simple...and successful.
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 article in the series, he takes an initial look at drivers and solutions.
Environmental or experiential graphics are a growing trend in signage, with sign shops using the latest display graphics technologies and substrates to transform office spaces. As a result, sign and display graphics providers are working more closely with interior designers and architecture firms. Case in point: Signs By Tomorrow’s interior graphics for the American Diabetes Association’s new headquarters.
Unmade, a UK-based company dedicated to providing solutions and tools to enable widespread adoption of on-demand personalization and customization of apparel and other soft goods, started by developing software to enable custom knitted items, but is now expanding into direct-to-textile printing and more. Read the full story.
TAGA is known for its informative sessions and animated discussions of print technology, and the 2018 TAGA Annual Technical Conference will be no exception. Scheduled for 18 to 21 March in Baltimore MD, this is a must-attend event for anyone in the printing industry who wants to stay current with emerging trends and learn about opportunities for new revenue streams and continued business growth. Learn more.
The first report of fourth quarter GDP was a disappointing +2.6%. Sources such as the Atlanta Federal Reserve’s GDPNow and the New York Fed’s Nowcast were for a stronger reading. Inventories are a major factor in the volatility of GDP data, and excluding that data, the economy neared those estimates, producing a much better +3.2% rate compared to Q3.
Both UV and aqueous inkjet are growing as alternates to electrophotography (EP) in label converting, and like EP they complement flexography as production-level print technology there. Where do UV inkjet and aqueous inkjet fit? Keypoint Intelligence recently interviewed DLS President Bob Hakman to help answer this question.
If the benefits of including print in the marketing mix are so clear, why is print regularly shut out of the multichannel marketing studies and discussions in the larger world of marketing? Is it simply because digital channels are easier to track? Or is it something else?
A Print MIS transition requires an individual inside your organization to convince all aspects of the business to embrace change. The right leader is a critical decision in making a Print MIS transition less painful.
We recently had the opportunity to visit Memjet’s San Diego headquarters and get an update on how the business is going since our visit last summer. The Print 17 trade show gave the company’s prospect list a huge boost. Read more.
We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Print Business Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to label and packaging printing. Thus far, commercial plants don't see tremendous opportunities in digital label or packaging—but that may be changing.
The NPOA Annual Print Owners Conference sails to the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale on February 22 to 24. The three-day event includes a dozen sessions that cover the waterfront of business, technology, and marketing issues important to small and md-size print business owners.
WhatTheyThink’s Forecast 2018 report, by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard Romano provides detailed analysis of the most recent Print Business Outlook Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2018.
Today marks the launch of a new Finishing Section on WhatTheyThink and section editor Trish Witkowski gives us an overview of the kinds of things she'll be covering in this special interest area. Welcome to the future of finishing!
The US Commerce Department has released data for November 2017, and this is the first look at the full year by making an estimate for December. Based on shipment and employment trends, it appears that 2017 came in at $76.3 in current dollars. That's a -6.4% decrease in current dollars compared to 2016, and a -8.4% decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis. The chart includes selected prior years starting at 1995. December data will be released at the beginning of February, and will be revised in March. In May, the Commerce Department will revise the last three years of data, plus minor revisions to the years prior to that.
What options are available for financially troubled print businesses? John Hyde, the leading expert in M&A involving financially troubled printing companies, talks with Graphic Arts Advisors about how there are more choices than ever, including Non-Bankruptcy Debt Restructuring.
In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article, the third in a three-part series, highlights the biggest challenge print service providers face—transforming their creative ideas into business realities!
For many companies, digital communications promised fast, easy, relevant, and more affordable customer communications. But now marketers are realizing that print has a valuable role in the customer communications mix that cannot be underestimated. As a result, the role of print in an omnichannel world is being redefined yet again, with print as a key element.
A business is a set of processes that are done over and over, do you have those processes written down? Do you review them? How often do make mistakes due to a human error that just involves “I forgot”? Process improvement starts with defining the process, adhering to them, and then constantly learning and adapting the process to the smarter you.
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. These new methods are becoming available as a result of the evolution of current and emerging digital technologies. He will look at the requirements, technologies, methods and the educational processes necessary to bring it all together. In this first article in the series, he takes a look at the changing landscape to lay the groundwork for future discussion.
Idealliance, NAPM, and PostCom announced a coalition designed "to work towards the long-term vitality of mail and ensuring that the mail industry remains at the very center of communication and commerce in the United States and around the globe." Is this the right approach? Read more for my opinion.
Inflation distorts our interpretation of history and clouds business decisions. All dollars may look alike, but what a dollar bought in 1950 is a lot different than a dollar in 2017. Unfortunately, commercial printing prices have not kept up with inflation, but the costs of running a printing business usually have. This means that it's harder to keep earnings and payrolls up to this level. If past dollars had greater value, this chart can be used to adjust past financial statements to bring those data to current value. This is especially important in budgeting processes where looking for trends in prior years is one way of assessing performance and goals.
Have you ever shopped at Zazzle? The company personalizes just about anything and has both paper and textile offerings. In past Zazzle stories, we have focused primarily on the paper side. But the company was actually founded with textiles. Read more to find out what Zazzle textile offerings - and its view of the market - looks like today.
In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article (the second in a three-part series) highlights key application trends that are expected to have a significant impact on print providers' prospects for growth in 2018.
Technical resources are hard to find. Keeping up with technology requires constant learning. When looking for technical staff; probe for the candidates willingness and ability to learn new things - it is an absolute requirement.
Much has been written on the benefits of print and how we can help it compete for marketing dollars against digital marketing. But why try to compete at all? In 2018, why not capitalize on the capabilities of print that digital marketing cannot replicate?
We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Business Conditions Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to wide-format printing.
PIA’s Color Conference grew attendance by about 30% compared to 2017, with 25% of attendees representing the brand/design community. For anyone with a color-critical role, this is an excellent venue to increase color knowledge, network with peers, and have in-depth in-person conversations with conference sponsors about solutions that can assist with specific challenges.
Dr. Joe has a special message: he was wrong 15 years ago, and it worked out fine. The economy is showing improvement, and some reluctant data series are starting to be break their recession levels. Government shutdown? That won't stop them from collecting taxes! Many of the economic indicators show a strong Q4-2017 GDP report is in the offing - but the shutdown may prevent that data release. Dr. Joe warns of a data issues ahead - if small business booms, it may not be recognized right away. But there's one difference in big and small that's showing up right now in printing profits data.
In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article (the first in a three-part series) highlights key technology trends expected to have significant impact on print providers’ prospects for growth in 2018.
Every industry has different roles, in the software industry there is a role called the “Product Owner” also referred to as the “Product Manager”. First, I’ll explain this unique role in the software industry; then I’ll make a case that as print continues to evolve and become more digitally friendly and software dependent printers are going to have to have this role in their organizations.
In this industry, we like to talk about the value of paper to connect with audiences and engage them in a way that digital content does not. What we don’t spend as much time talking about is how consuming forest-based products like paper benefits real people, real families in our communities, and actually improves the environment, too.
This post provides five critical takeaways from Salesforce.com’s “Fourth Annual State of Marketing” report that paint a very different picture of the marketing landscape than a few years ago. MSPs need to be prepared for significant retooling.
Details for the 2018 edition of Xeikon Café Exhibition & Conference, the fourth such event held in Belgium, are becoming available,;and there are exciting changes planned. We spoke with Xeikon Corporate Communications Manager Danny Mertens to get more details. Read more.
Most of today’s printers realize that software plays a critical role in keeping operational costs down and remaining competitive. This article explores how software vendors can help PSPs with their workflow bottlenecks so they can better prepare for the future as we move into another new year.
What makes your print business unique? This is a question every print business should ponder over the new year. In 2018 how will you guide your company to create differentiation? Will it be based on the past or the reality of our shared future?
Personal voice assistants and the Internet of Things, wide-format graphics and specialty printing—what are some of the new (and old!) technologies to which we should pay attention and how will they affect us in 2018?
Want a vision of the future of the world of digital textiles? Skya Nelson of Fed By Threads has a unique perspective on the market, and is already implementing much of it with the company’s “dirt to shirt” approach to socially responsible, environmentally sustainable apparel.
The fifteenth year of Dr. Joe at WhatTheyThink comes to a close, and he’s got a lot of topics (and some charts, of course) to get off his mind. Tax reform, recruitment, hours online, profits, consolidation...you name it, it’s probably mentioned in this year’s final column. Oh, and we forgot Bitcoin...that’s here too.
More industry consolidation in response to decreased demand. Yet, encouraging business conditions, and challenges with managing productivity. Meanwhile, inkjet continues to conquer the world and new print product and business opportunities emerge in strange new places. Let’s take a look back at the year that was.
There has been a lot of hype over the last few years about 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, being the next big thing in the print-related world. We recently learned that EFI hired Gal Barak as its Inkjet Eastern Region Sales Manager. Barak most recently worked for 3D printing company Stratasys. Why did he make this move and what are his thoughts on 2D versus 3D? Read more.
When approached to participate in a survey, the initial response for many is to decline because participation takes time and the value proposition is not always clear. This article explores the benefits that survey data can deliver to the industry as a whole.
With the exploding growth in e-commerce, the ability to prove print’s value as a primary driver of online activity becomes increasingly important. This includes m-commerce, which is growing even faster than e-commerce in general. This makes investment in print-to-mobile technologies a must.
Are you reaping the benefits of free consumer trends reports to benefit your client base? If not, you are leaving opportunity to help your clients refine their targeting, improving their messaging and channel mix, and better understand the competitive landscape.
Direct-To-Shape (DTS) has become a commonly used term in recent times. We want to try to clarify a little around the definition of DTS and to describe the state of this particular art. We are prompted to do this by our recent visit to the InPrint Europe Industrial Print show in Milan, Italy, where there was a lot of discussion of the potential of DTS as a market.
This holiday season, savvy retailers are working to meet customers on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it’s in a physical store, online, or via social media. This article highlights how various retailers are driving sales and encouraging engagement with multi-channel integrated campaigns.
Brick and mortar retailer has been struggling with foot traffic. According to early estimates all signs are pointing to more ecommerce, less in-person commerce this holiday season. What does this mean for retail graphics?
When we think about the cloud, we think about benefits such as anytime, anywhere access, cost savings from the elimination of servers, and automatic updates. But there is one benefit that many people don’t think about—computer agnosticism.
What’s more important than tax reform? A tenth anniversary! It’s been ten years since the recession started. What does one get as a gift? We’re told it’s tin or aluminum. Does that mean someone’s giving all of us litho plates? Tax reform is a much better gift for the celebration. The reform is flawed, but better than nothing. There are some signs that the economy is improving for real, and Dr. Joe has his unique twist to offer.
Even in this digital age, tried-and-true direct mail communications continue to get noticed. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how direct mail can be used to cut through the clutter and capture the attention of today’s “always on” consumers.
Creating results in your company takes coordinated effort by a group of people – some would call that a “project”. Project management is the art of keeping all the contributors to the project on task “herding the cats.” This skill set and this role is underappreciated in our industry. When you need to get complex things done with a group of people – you need a project manager to drive the project to successful completion.
Whether it’s for administrative, production, or marketing initiatives, the cloud brings significant benefits to businesses of all sizes. One of those benefits, and one that is the easiest to implement, is collaboration. Let’s take a closer look at this low-hanging fruit from the cloud.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a powerful tool that can be used to benchmark, identify areas for improvement, and measure progress. It combines equipment availability, performance, and quality (waste) into a single metric.
As an industry, have we moved past the terms “prepress” and “workflow”? Are they too broad to provide any significant benefit to the industry discussion? There is an argument to be made that it’s time to break up the process and discuss it in terms of its discrete elements.
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.