A special fashion model inspires the design industry. A new font for brands encompasses all brands. A new printer technology can print very viscous liquids. An honest stock report. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Looking at the most recent industry profits data that came out earlier this week, we continue to tell the “tale of two cities.” Low profitability of large printers is dragging down average industry profitability. For the industry as a whole, cracking—or re-cracking—$4 billion in profits is proving to be an elusive goal.
IGAS 2018 may not get as much attention as some of the other international trade shows, but InfoTrends analysts still found several products that we believe will make an impact on the global print market.
Marketing efforts are generally directed at customers and prospects, but there is another target audience that needs your clients’ attention, too—their employees. This is an area of growing attention that your presses will thank you for.
Buying more software isn’t always the best option. Duplicate solutions that solve the same set of challenges (e.g. multiple web-to-print solutions) have extra costs and require extra understanding by your sales team. Buying software should be at the same strategic level as buying presses is in your print business.
HYBRID Software has been growing at a fairly good clip and this new $20 million software deployment by the SGK Brand Solutions subsidiary of Matthews International is going to give it an additional boost. More importantly, the new software, Shockwave, their development project name, is a great example of a next-generation workflow solution that was developed for the new market requirements.
The mission of Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is to enable a manufacturing-based revolution—what we could call Industry 5.0—with the transformation of traditional fibers, yarns, and textiles into highly sophisticated integrated and networked devices and systems. In a recent conversation with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, the organization’s Chief Marketing Officer, Eric Spackey, explains.
The world’s oldest customer complaint was etched in clay. A modern twist on the old “spend a penny.” Today’s teens are not as wired as we thought. Twice-yearly earnings reports? The case for daily earnings reports. Researchers use 3D-printed boxes to help search for new antibiotics. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
In 2010, there were 6,725 10–19-employee commercial printing establishments. Among this demographic category, there was the most precipitous drop from 2010 to 2011—the fallout from the Great Recession which started to take its toll after 2009. By 2012, the bleeding had been largely stanched, and the year-to-year declines were more modest. So says our recently launched Commercial Printing Establishments tracker.
Delphax Technologies Inc. entered bankruptcy in 2017. The company's backer, Air T, created a new company called Delphax Solutions Inc. (DSI) to design, manufacture, and sell printing equipment starting with the existing elan product line. The company shared news of the new organization and strategic direction.
Unveiled in 2017, Memjet’s DuraLink technology appears to be catching on with OEMs. Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends believes this is due to its improvements in head life and other features, which will enable Memjet products to address high-volume applications. As DuraLink evolves, it looks poised to succeed in industrial print applications such as high-speed label and packaging printing.
Working smarter is an evolution. Digital tools are providing us ways to work more efficiently, but it comes down to being able to work with other humans. Efficient communication is the key to working smarter and optimizing the digital tools at our disposal.
Labelexpo is coming to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 15 minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare airport, on September 25–27. This is the biggest Label and Print packaging event in the Americas. However, what will be seen there will also prove to be a harbinger for many of the new developments coming to other print production applications.
As brick-and-mortar retail works to streamline costs by updating facilities with LED lighting, are they overlooking an important effect—how LED lighting will affect the way customers see the color of their products? Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks into the pros and cons of LED lighting and how the retail industry is approaching this conversion.
Looking at the 12-month moving average of Canada’s printing shipments, it may look like Canada’s printing industry has been holding steady, but the inflation-adjusted figures show a slight decline from a recent peak at the end of 2013.
3M wraps its own headquarters. UNITED CAPS develops bio-sourced plastics for its caps. How much paper would it take to print the Internet? Are library ebooks killing sales? All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends records publicly announced placements of continuous-feed inkjet printers, along with the types of PSPs that acquire these devices and the major applications they print. This article provides an overview of these placements in the past nine years by major application and vendor.
No vacation from mail-related activity this summer: Presidential USPS task force completes its report…package volume remains a Postal Service bright spot…Package Coalition formed by diverse industry group…USPS seeks ways to make mail more attractive to Millennials.
When sales become more complicated, involving more people on both sides of the equation, you need a team player to facilitate collaboration. A winning sales team is a combination of subject matter expertise and relationship building.
As we all know by now, there are very few surfaces, substances, and objects that can't be printed, and thus there is no end to the print products that a shop can offer. From posters and banners, to signage, to garments and other textile products, to garage doors, to...name it. But when approaching the vast new market for specialty graphics printing, two questions usually come to mind: Where do I start, and How do I sell it? Here is some advice.
When it comes to the environmental benefits of flexible packaging, the laundry list is long. On the surface, flexible packaging offers a vast number of benefits over other forms of packaging. The challenge to these comparisons, however, is that flexible packaging isn’t doing a one-to-one replacement. How does this impact the accuracy of the discussion?
This is the third in a series of articles by Senior Editor Cary Sherburne on technical textiles—how they fit in the industry, why they are important, and interesting new developments. In this installment in the series, Sherburne visits with Fabdesigns, an innovator in knitted technical textiles. The company helped Nike bring the FlyKnit shoe to market and much more.
The latest NFIB Small Business Optimism Index. Towels made of recycled bottles. Stopping “stalking ads.” Making phones just a little less smart. The world’s oldest cheese. Modern American prints from 1920-1948. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
In 2010, there were 2,124 establishments having 50 or more employees. By 2016, they had dropped to 1,851 (down -13%). So says our new Commercial Printing Establishments tracker, based on data from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns, which presents—in spreadsheet form—U.S. commercial printing establishments from 2010 to 2016, broken down by six different print business classifications and nine employee-size breakdowns.
Every year, Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends publishes its digital printing forecast to identify placements of digital devices, installed base, print volumes, and revenues achieved. This article provides an overview of some recent top-level forecast data and also explores how new developments in a long-established market can create new opportunities while also driving print volumes.
If the bindery is the final frontier of total workflow automation, and the technology has been in existence for over a decade, why are so many companies still passing on the opportunity to gain efficiency and save money? Trish will explore the challenges and benefits of taking the leap into bindery automation.
A disruptive market creates the conditions for acquisitions. This has been happening with printers for years and print software vendors are experiencing the same conditions. As a customer of these products, you must understand the conditions of the acquisition in order to prepare for how it will impact you as a customer of the software.
New research from Smithers Pira highlights the future growth potential and technical challenges for printing food packaging, and how these will be realized against a backdrop of tighter focus on safety and environmental performance.
In August, Sir Speedy, franchise operation in the Franchise Services family, celebrates its 50th year in business. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Don and Richard Lowe to get an update on the business, and to take a little trip down memory lane.
Color management standards and process controls have helped raise the bar on defining and meeting client expectations in color reproduction. However, as we see more cross-platform and cross-media packaging and marketing campaigns, how can we accurately predict, prepare, and communicate expected results?
This is the second of a series of articles by Senior Editor Cary Sherburne on technical textiles—how they fit in the industry, why they are important, and interesting new developments. In this installment in the series, Sherburne shares the Glen Raven story, a 138-year-old company that has almost completely reinvented itself.
The inflation-adjusted value of printing shipments for June 2018 were down from $6.9 billion in May to $6.5 billion in June. On the plus side, it’s not appreciably below the $6.6 billion reported in June 2017.
A book consisting entirely of pieces of wood. How to foil a car thief: drive a stick. The gig economy is surging...but only in Amish country. Survey says: workers are cool with robot coworkers. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
The OpenText team held the 2018 Enterprise World meeting in Toronto, Canada, from July 10 to 12. During the opening keynote address, Mark Barrenechea explained to more than 4,000 delegates that competing and conflicting macro-trends are converging to pose unprecedented challenges for today’s businesses. Today’s enterprises must navigate a range of priorities to succeed, and OpenText has released several offerings that can assist in their journey.
When you invest in software for your print business, it’s like a marriage because you want to have a healthy long-term relationship with the vendor. Changing software is painful and expensive (like divorces).
This is the first of a series of articles by Senior Editor Cary Sherburne on technical textiles—how they fit in the industry, why they are important, and interesting new developments. In this first installment in the series, Sherburne defines technical textiles and provides examples of how they are purpose-built for specific applications.
The recent acquisition of print automation software provider Aleyant by Canada’s Volaris Group raised some eyebrows in the industry. Who is the Volaris Group? What strategy are they pursuing relative to the printing industry? And what does this acquisition mean for Aleyant? These were questions Senior Editor Cary Sherburne investigated.
Improving customer experience (CX) is becoming an increasingly important part of any company’s marketing plan. That goes as much for the printing industry as it does for everyone else. So are you a Panera? Or [the other guy]?
After 12 years of leadership, Jules VanSant is stepping down as PPI Executive Director. Unusual typography. Automakers look to digitally printed auto parts. Don Draper—and even Darrin Stephens—are ad men of the past. The semaphore origin of the peace symbol. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Our new Commercial Printing Establishments tracker, based on data from the Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns, presents—in spreadsheet form—U.S. commercial printing establishments from 2010 to 2016, broken down by six different print business classifications and nine employee-size breakdowns.
E-commerce activities continue to ramp up in the printing industry. Thanks to the proliferation of digital printing technologies, the number of products within consumers’ reach is simply remarkable. This article explores how print service providers can take advantage of online print growth.
You work with a team. It’s time to upgrade the tools you use to foster more efficient teamwork and better management of the artifacts that are created in projects. Email with attached files doesn’t cut it anymore. We are creating an isolated mess of artifacts that cannot be effectively found or used in the next project.
As the number of USPS Informed Delivery accounts continues to grow, will it change the way marketers design their mail? Will it change consumers’ behavior and how they interact with the mail? I know that it has already changed mine.
Do we need another color system? Coloro thinks so. The company launched its color system last year, based on the 100-year-old Munsell system, and claims it to be the easiest to use and most logical system on the market. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Coloro Managing Director Thorsten Traugott to learn more.
The Blue Ridge/UA 4-H Fab Lab, based in Pinetop-Lakeside, Ariz., offers student-directed, project-centric STEM training for K-12 students. Thanks to a partnership with 4-H, the facility is available to students across the state. Part of student projects involves designing and printing informational flyers, posters, and other materials on wide-format printers provided by Roland DGA, a sponsor of the Fab Lab. We spoke with Kevin Woolridge, Co-Director of the Fab Lab.
Forbes columnist suggests replacing public libraries with Amazon stores, for some reason. The economic costs of comma misuse. Built-in sun protection for garments. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Last month, the Trump Administration levied a 10% tariff on imported aluminum and a 25% tariff on imported steel. At present, the tariffs are having the biggest impact on manufacturers of aluminum lithographic plates—although that may be just the beginning. Plate manufacturers are deciding how best to respond, while industry associations are helping to fight back.
Every company has a sales process. Although these processes are sometimes well-established and well-documented, this is not always the case. If you’re struggling with your sales process, this article provides a quick-start guide on performing a sales audit.
July brings a mixed bag of postal/mailing news, from The White House supporting the idea of privatizing the USPS to the Postal Service gaining approval for internal performance audits, CAPS yielding to EPS, STOP on its way to becoming law, and both ID and IV adding features.
Adobe announced Adobe PDF Print Engine 5, their core technology used by many Digital Front Ends driving print production equipment. This release makes PDF 2.0 print-related features available for OEM implementation.
It’s been some time since we have taken a look at the state of our industry associations. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne conducted 17 interviews in late Spring 2018 with key industry players to get an update on status and strategies. We don’t cover every organization in the industry—there are simply too many—but it gives a good overview on the organizations and resources available to help printing businesses be more successful.
Do you have a cat or a dog? Or would you like to, if only you or someone in your household weren’t sensitive to allergens shed by cats and dogs? Devan Chemicals has an answer that may help. The company recently launched a technology to make textiles free from allergens shed by cats and dogs. Purissimo™ is a probiotic-based solution and is completely natural. We spoke to the company to learn more.
Try on clothes virtually. As bad as flying is, it used to be worse. World’s first biobased, circular car has been successfully designed and built. Men’s boxer shorts turned into a knife. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Although digitally printed corrugated packages serve to enclose products, develop displays, and create shipping containers, they can also be used as billboards for savvy brands to advertise and increase consumer engagement. This article explores how brands can take advantage of printed packaging to differentiate their marketing messages.
We are in a color-obsessed industry. Brand colors, in particular, are critical. When it comes to specific shades of color, however, studies show that consumers’ color memories are really poor. Considering this, along with the inability to maintain brand color standards in a digital world, where does the value in maintaining brand standards really lie?
A culture of finding ways to optimize software in your business is something you can control. The successful printers will be the ones who are getting the most of their print software tools—mostly by being open to evolving their own workflows to fit the how the software works best.
Ecommerce has created a new demand for custom corrugated boxes. To satisfy that demand, the purchase of Plymouth Packaging by WestRock has created a new momentum for producing custom sized boxes on demand at a time when the demand for variable-sized boxes in exploding.
Digital textile printing is taking off, and solutions that increase flexibility while maintaining high quality standards will help speed this analog-to-digital transformation. We recently spoke with Ann Sawchak, co-founder of Expand Systems, about the company’s DuraVibe fabrics and the role they play in enabling more digital printing volume.
Printing shipments for May 2018 came in at $6.77 billion, up +3.1% from April. However, on an inflation-adjusted basis, May 2018 came in below the $6.92 billion reported in May 2017, and is well below the recent high of $7.46 billion back in May 2016.
A new technology can remove pet allergens from textiles (and that’s nothing to sneeze at). The retail transformation heats up. Scientists find the oldest (1.1 billion years) colors. ColorZenith uses Massivit technology to 3D print a classic car for Milan’s La Scala opera house. The Morgan Library & Museum in NYC is exhibiting a unique autograph collection. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
As the level of sophistication and effectiveness of digital marketing grows, and as the younger generation of marketers who natively understand and use these channels continues to overtake the traditional generation, is the future of print to understand digital marketing and fit into its world rather than the other way around?
The source of our innovation is moving from the production floor to the customer’s mobile device. We are going from the differentiation based on speed, quality, and finishing to differentiation based on solving customer’s data challenges way upstream of the printing press.
Epson announced two new entry-level models in its SureColor T Series, designed for technical and AES (architecture, engineering, and construction) printing. These devices are targeted more to end users—architecture and design firms, SOHOs, etc.—than print service providers, which indicates the direction technical printing as market segment is going.
Traditional printers across Europe face stiff competition from cheaper online print service providers—and not just for commodity print products anymore. US printers hoping to enter the European market also face this daunting competition.
A new process reduces the environmental impact of water-repellent textiles. Harvard Business Review looks at new possibilities for 3D printing. New health benefits of coffee. The best streaming service may just be your public library. RIP Harlan Ellison. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Web-to-print is well established in the world of commercial printing, and web-to-fabric is now gaining steam in textiles, as the demand for shorter runs and faster turn times for customized and personalized textiles and apparel grows. We recently spoke with DPInnovations about its web2fabric workflow solution which has been installed in more than 20 customer locations.
What do you think the role of the printing industry and printers, specifically, ought to be in demand generation for print? Do printers even have a responsibility to work together to generate demand for their own product?
When Steve Moran-Cassese decided to launch a print business in the midst of the Great Recession, he knew it could only grow—and he was right. A mix of the right equipment and picking up on hot new application trends early on has helped SpeedPro Marin thrive. And, somewhat ironically, the Bay Area’s booming economy has created its own challenges.
A "historical culinary event" featured a 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian recipe carved on a cuneiform tablet. Modern air conditioning was originally invented for a Brooklyn commercial print shop. Amazon beats out Google for product searches. The World Cup gives a lift to streaming services. All that and more in WhatTheyThink's weekly miscellany.
Smart Print Manufacturing (SPM) can help companies achieve operational excellence. This article explores how SPM enables workflow automation so businesses can create quality products and services by adding value throughout the supply chain.
Greater awareness of special print effects and press coatings is driving printers to rethink their press configurations to meet the demands of discerning customers who need high-impact, quick-turn, two-sided printing with press coatings at a competitive price.
Sales is about catering your company’s solutions to the specific challenges that are relevant to their current situation. There is no better way to lose a prospect’s attention then to talk about subjects that aren’t relevant to them.
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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.