We’ve long been calling it “a tale of two cities”—large printers and small/mid-size printers and the profitability gap between them. The pandemic interrupted this ongoing narrative temporarily, but back in Q3 2020, we started to return to normal, at least in terms of industry profits trends, which continued into Q4.
Graphene-enhanced shoes and concrete—it’s a bad time to be a mob informant. Ralph Lauren aims to make cotton less water-intensive. A chart of every color cardigan worn by Mister Rogers. Soap products whose packaging is itself soap. A wall-mounted E Ink display for newspapers. A video history of Mad Magazine. A Fermilab particle experiment may completely upend our understanding of the universe. Install old-time train station flipboard signage in your home. The electric vehicle charging situation is a nightmare. A Brooklyn steakhouse partners with Madame Tussaud’s to help enforce social distancing. Can you cook a chicken by slapping it? The latest national crisis: a ketchup shortage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.
To select the finishing method that best communicates the value of the content, you must first understand how the final product will be used and its audience. Print salespeople have the opportunity to expand the finishing conversation beyond product, technique, and price. Document finishing is a bit like the real estate market—"curb appeal,” first impressions, and attention to detail can communicate insurmountable value.
COVID-19 has accelerated the sustainability agenda, and implementing these various initiatives across highly complex supply chains will take a great deal of dexterity and commitment—but there can be no going back. Read what textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan has to say about the emergence of more sustainable fibers for textiles.
Laggards are people in your company who have stopped learning and actually insist on doing their job in the same way they have been doing it, and for one reason: it’s the way they’ve been doing it. Investing in your laggards to drive software utilization is a good investment.
Who’s Mailing What! recently released its report “18 Direct Mail Trends for 2021,” with predictions from leading industry experts about what they are seeing on the horizon for this year. First on WMW!’s list is “more sophisticated personalization.” But what, exactly, does “more sophisticated” mean?
Variable content can add value, streamline supply chains, and create engaging customer experiences, but it takes some work. There is more complexity to the creative process, more steps to proof and approval, and more challenges in delivery. Contributor Pat McGrew looks at the current state of variable-data technology with an eye on where it’s going.
2020 was a challenging year, but for the Signarama franchise, tough times allowed its franchisees to become stronger, smarter, and more prepared, allowing them to adapt. Signarama president A.J. Titus explains how.
The challenges of the last year may have slowed some progress in the expansion of dynamic digital signage (DDS), but it has, at the same time, opened up some new opportunities for DDS technologies—especially as they become less expensive and higher quality.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in France.
Sustainability is a hot topic in the textiles and apparel industry, as well it should be. Discussions have heated up even more as a result of the pandemic and the associated supply chain difficulties it has presented for the industry. Expect to see increased use of the terms recycling, upcycling, and even return of rentals as the industry works to adjust to a wide range of new realities. Lenzing Tencel is a good example of the type of environmental stewardship that is needed to make the industry more sustainable. Other examples are included in this article as well—and there are many more in the works or already in the market.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 32,906 employees in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). By 2018, employees had declined to 22,855. In macro news, Q4 2020 GDP was revised up.
How outsourcing newspaper printing is helping kill local journalism. Smart clothing is evolving. John Cleese twits the NFT fad. A new study suggests that turning off your camera on a Zoom call may be more environmentally friendly. The UK’s new £50 note will honor Alan Turing. A 3D mural “opens up” a Florence art museum. They Might Be Giants launch hardcover book/CD combo. Realistic handblown glass spiders. Light-up constellation embroidery. Pasta technology evolves. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s cinnamon shrimp tail-flavored miscellany.
Brought to you by The Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech), Mike Porter, President, Print/Mail Consultants, and author of this VDP 101 article, will be moderating a panel of industry suppliers and practitioners in a session titled, “Variable Print & Mail: The Software Required to Do the Job,” at the APTech Variable Data Print & Mail Summit to be held Wednesday, April 14 from 10am–3pm. Here, he offers tips on improving data for variable-data printing.
Digital technologies deliver sustainable production at any scale. As we move forward into the next decade, we move into a new era of digital textile production and the technologies that enable change. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan outlines a few of the latest developments in roll-to-roll digital textile printing.
Lead generation has taken many forms over the years. Capturing the interest of today’s self-directed buyers involves leveraging resources that go above and beyond feet on the street. The second in a two-part series, this article considers the top tools that PSPs can use to generate interest from prospective customers. The first explored what lead generation means in today’s world.
We all know that content is king. Connect with your audiences using the right content and you’ve got engagement, attention, and sales. But that’s if you are sending the right content, and one survey shows that in the B2B market, there is a disconnect between what buyers need and what marketers are sending—and a big one.
Pharmaceutical packaging compliance, including safety and supply chain visibility, is an area that demands secure packaging and label identification. Many new compliance regulations are designed to verify the authenticity and origin of raw materials and ingredients, and to effectively, quickly, and accurately track and trace the products as they move across a global supply chain. David Zwang looks at these regulations, some of the new technologies in place to comply with them, and how print service providers can ensure they are in compliance.
You getting paid is as much a part of your customer’s experience as placing the order. Make every effort to streamline how much customer time you consume. A vendor that is easy to do business with creates loyal customers.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Italy.
There are lots of reasons to encourage your customers to beef up their in-store signage and displays. Great marketing. Safety and regulatory compliance during COVID-19. But did you know that really good signage can also make your customers less price-sensitive?
Business processes and production workflows cannot be stagnant and need to evolve as the markets and technologies evolve. Understanding the need and creating an infrastructure that supports that is key. The good news is that the options are improving.
ISA Sign Expo 2021–Virtual is coming up on April 7–9. This article, sponsored by the International Sign Association, previews four essential features to attend, and offers tips for navigating the virtual event.
Fast fashion became a thing around the turn of this century. It’s the process of churning out low-quality, you could even say disposable, clothing to take advantage of every passing fad and trend. But in this writer’s humble opinion, this has to stop! We are choking our oceans and landfills with junk clothes. Can we put more focus on quality and durability? Just sayin’.
Charmin’s (oy) toilet-paper themed NFTPs. The environmental impact of jeans. Will graphene save us from the pandemic? The DC Circuit Court cancels the typeface Garamond. Social and mobile media-themed classic artworks. A new web widget that gives you excuses to exit a Zoom meeting. Light-emitting OLED tattoos. Yo-Yo Ma performs at his vaccination site. Doctors get in trouble for “Guess the weight of this organ” Instagram posts. Precision cutting boards for obsessive chefs. The Planters NUTmobile is looking for drivers. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s unfortunately not canceled miscellany.
We all, at one level or another, understand that we live in difficult times. Never before have we expected, even demanded, so much from our leaders. Meeting those expectations is the most fundamental challenge for today’s leaders. Since leadership implies followership, if we don’t meet those expectations, the best we’re likely to get is disinterested and disengaged followers. We must strive to be better.
Lead generation has taken many forms over the years. Capturing the interest of today’s self-directed buyers involves leveraging resources that go above and beyond feet on the street. The first in a two-part series, this article explores what lead generation means in today’s world. Part two will consider the top four tools that PSPs use to generate interest from prospective customers
Working with top-end designers to create exclusive short runs means the fabrics printed at Forest Digital are not contributing to the “cheap-throw-away fashion” landfill that is so damaging to our world. In fact, we should be eliminating the term “fast fashion” from our vocabulary and our practices! Learn more about what this leading producer is doing to bring more sustainability to the industry.
Like many other industries, pharmaceuticals is going through a transition, and as we have seen before, industries in transition offer opportunities for those who are willing to learn and engage. David Zwang provides an overview of the latest trends in pharma packaging, and how to identify and take advantage of the opportunities.
You can’t start printing until you have approved artwork, but you don’t have complete control over this step in the process. You can optimize your press and finishing processes down to the second, yet you might wait three full days for artwork approval. The best you can do is make it as easy as possible for the customer to respond in a timely manner. Don’t confuse them, don’t make them work, and don’t underestimate convenience.
A recent ISA webinar looked at how the sign and display markets fared in Q4 2020, and offered up some forecasts for 2021, which IHS Markit analysts see as a “transitional year” from COVID to post-COVID while 2022 will see the rebirth of the economy, employment, and the industry.
Consistently, surveys show that giving back to the community increases a brand’s favorability among buyers. Never has this been more true than during the pandemic. That’s why stories like “Mactac Gives Back” resonate so deeply.
Over the years, Kodak has developed many groundbreaking products and, along the way, very strong bonds with their customers. Considering their long history supporting print service providers with consumables and digital process solutions, they have been able to enhance their clients’ business growth and create a great platform for Kodak’s business growth as well, it makes perfect sense.
Picture more contracts this year. Imagine fewer “stalls” or “stops” during your sales process. Visualize the impact of improved close ratios on your commissions. To make these dreams a reality, Lisa Magnuson talks about the “Qualify Stage.”
One of the oldest pastimes gained in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic: reading books. This is good news for the printing industry as book printing contributes a considerable share to the total print production. Revenues in Europe stood at €7.1 billion in 2019. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at historical developments and at the trends shaping book printing now.
Cary Sherburne talks with Christoph Gamper, CEO of Durst, and Christian Harder, Vice President of Sales, about the current state of their business, which segments were performing better than others, and how the company was helping customers to innovate, even during this pandemic, including holding virtual demonstrations, introducing new products, and more.
A JPG file sells for $69 million, for some reason. Cotton and polyester have their environmental downsides—but neither is going away any time soon. A new company converts discarded sneakers into corsets. A new laptop prototype has seven screens. How to fool AI using “typographic attack.” A non-existent town on a map briefly becomes real. A high school band practices in individual tents. A self-disinfecting door handle. A Zoom assault trial reveals that the defendant is actually in the same house as the alleged victim. Grampa Munster once did a real weathercast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s non-fungible miscellany.
According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 28,935 employees in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing Establishments). By 2018, employees had declined to 21,976. In macro news, inflation was soft in February.
One of the key components of the digital textile printing ecosphere is inks—and increasingly, sustainable inks. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan reviews the latest developments in ink technology for digital textile printing.
Savvy print providers are discovering that targeted—or better yet, personalized—print campaigns can enable market differentiation and provide a greater return on investment. This article explores how getting back to the basics with traditional direct mail can help businesses stand apart from their competitors.
Signage has almost always been one of the most essential means of communicating important messages, which was why wide-format and sign shops early on in the pandemic were considered “essential services.” Health and safety messaging was the killer app for display graphics in 2020, and that is going to remain the case for the foreseeable future. Here’s what to look for.
How are orders managed before they hit the press? In this third part of a five-part series, Jennifer Matt defines the complete order process from initial inquiry to invoice payment. This means a great deal of the process happens in the carpeted area of your print business.
Studies have shown that as many as 90% of well-formulated strategies fail due to poor execution. These are epic failure rates that, but for a plan to bridge strategy to tactical execution, could instead be sustainable successes. Why then do leadership teams continue to endure poor execution? Admitting that there is a problem is a good first step, followed by a decision to do something about it.
Customer product reviews are a powerful tool in e-commerce, and positive reviews often make the difference between someone making a purchase or not. Those reviews are in the public domain, so why not use them in print marketing, too? This company did.
Pat McGrew responds to feedback she received from a recent article on selling software, shares some ill-fated buyer stories, and draws up “three rules for software buyers” and “three rules for software sellers.”
There is no question that the pandemic had a deleterious—and immediate—impact on the printing industry and the economy as a whole. While both now look to be on the road to recovery, although slower than we ever could have anticipated, it’s interesting to look at how and when that might actually occur based on research largely conducted in the final quarter of 2020.
The print industry has been going through a major evolution since the introduction of digital technologies. Trying to identify and quantify this shift has been almost impossible since many of the definitions of print and printing technologies haven’t been properly updated in decades. An important new initiative is tasked with drafting an “open” standard taxonomy for the global printing industry to address the issues.
We kicked off 2021 inauspiciously with January printing shipments coming in at $6.61 billion, down from 2020’s $7.17 billion. It's the worst January in at least the last five years, but already things are boding well for the rest of 2021.
An octopus’ selfie—but, unfairly, not the octopus—won a photography award. Using X-ray microtomography to read secret letters. Videoconferencing is changing American Sign Language. A plastic surgeon joins a Zoom call—while in the middle of an operation. Fisher Price’s My First Home Office for preschoolers is perhaps a sign of the apocalypse. Holographic keypads for touchless devices. A face mask specifically designed to prevent fogging. A $400K television that folds down into the floor. Classic works of art rendered in fur. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s miscellany.
Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan says the biggest driver of change in the textile industry is its past history. Now exposed as the second largest polluter of our planet, the conventional textile industry needs to clean up its legacy production processes and evolve. Greendrop of Italy is doing just that.
Automation is the next step in a successful future. It enables print service providers to tackle a growing number of print orders with the greatest efficiency and accuracy. Beyond having financial and practical benefits, it can be yet another differentiator that helps organizations stand apart from their competitors. This article discusses the most common benefits of automation and offers insights into how to overcome the challenges associated with implementing it.
Is your finishing operation holding your business back? Or depressing your margins with labor-intensive processes or waste caused by bindery errors? Are finishers disconnected islands in your workflow automation? This article, the third in a series sponsored by EFI, explains how to integrate the printing operation with nearline finishers to complete automation from prepress to finishing.
Think about your front office in terms of what “objects'' you need to manage there. In part 2 of a five-part series, we discuss customers and prospects. This means tracking sales activities and inserting more valuable information (both quantitative and qualitative) into your Print MIS regarding your customers.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in the United Kingdom.
More and more printing companies are engaging with workflow automation solutions, which tend to bring better margins and often increase available capacity with current equipment. This is a path open to all companies—but walk carefully. In this feature, Pat McGrew explains how to evaluate your current software environment and what areas can offer the biggest returns.
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on thermal print equipment and consumable sales, but these will return to positive growth in 2021, according to the Smithers study The Future of Thermal Printing to 2025. This article summarizes some of the main trends identified in the study.
In a recent TexProcess/TechTextil webinar, panelists discussed what is happening with respect to the textiles and apparel supply chain, especially what has been accelerated by the pandemic. Has there been a sourcing shift? Is there a balance shift between Western and Asian sources? What key elements do brands and suppliers need to address to bring about needed systemic change? How many are even capable of driving systemic change? These were some of the questions and issues discussed in this very interesting session.
The musical British family who wittily chronicle lockdown life. Marking the bicentenary of John Keats’ death. Adidas seeks to ditch its acquired Reebok brand. “Hot typewriter action” scenes from top movies. The booming market for “nonfungible tokens”—digital art, ephemera, and media. An oil painter who specializes in lenticular art. The “spy pixels” in email messages that track you. A promotional film for 1964’s pre-Zoom Picturephone, a commercial dud. Why “Zoom fatigue” is a real thing. The aptly named DangerousThings lets you inject chips and sensors into your body, for some reason. A “rescue beaver” is compelled to dam up open spaces—indoors. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s Martian miscellany.
In 2010, there were 57,674 employees working in US screen printing establishments (NAICS 323113). By 2018, that number had increased +12.4% to 64,840. In macro news, seven “recovery indicators” for parts of the economy most acutely impacted by the pandemic.
Concerns about data security have escalated in the COVID era, making some people wary of digital engagements. As a result, traditional print-based communications remain effective and can sometimes enable businesses to stand apart from their competitors. This article explores how print service providers can use high-speed inkjet equipment to their advantage
Cary Sherburne speaks with three printing industry veterans who have chosen to make a new beginning: Marc Olin, former COO at EFI; Michael Makin, former CEO of PIA and EVP at PRINTING United Alliance; and Ken Garner, former SVP for Content Creation at the Association for Print Technologies. As they start the new year with new adventures, we wanted to give them special recognition for all of their contributions and years of service to the industry.
Imageco is on a mission to greater sustainability, driven by their own sustainability concerns and customer demand. In this article, textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan explains how the company is pursuing these goals with the latest HP Latex technology.
A new focus on mass customization and a growing demand for sustainability are causing digital printing to become more vital in one area of industrial printing: woodworking. We expect to see continued growth in the woodworking industry as a whole, including categories like furniture. This article will focus on two key areas where industrial printing has a significant impact: digital décor paper for laminates and direct printing in the woodworking industry. Ron Gilboa explores the opportunity and technology that is driving this innovation to be adopted.
This article, the first of a five-part series on the modernization of your print business front office, starts with some guiding principles and then discuss the various “objects” that are managed by the carpeted area of your plant.
NIXKA may be the new kid on the block, or are they? They actually have 30 years of expertise in developing ink and material jetting solutions, with an impressive track record. More importantly, they have the right philosophy.
Connecting brands to consumers is incredibly important, and in the print and sign industry, it’s all about making consumers feel a part of something larger than themselves. In this article, guest contributor Larry Oberly, President & CEO of SpeedPro, explains the advantages of SpeedPro’s InfoLnkX NFC application for creating interactive, touchless, smart signage.
Environmental considerations are becoming more and more important factors in buying decisions of consumers and businesses, and this is supported by environmental legislation. This article by European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at the latest developments in environmental legislation for print in Europe.
A push toward a more sustainable textiles and apparel industry is underway, largely driven by consumer demand, and, to some extent, by brands who are working to restructure their supply chains post-pandemic. Key considerations include not only the adoption of more digital technologies, about which we have written extensively, but also the further development of fabrics created from bio-based materials, and a significant change in consumer behavior with respect to their wardrobes. Learn more about the pros and cons of bio-based materials, some of the emerging developments, and behavior changes that can reduce your personal textiles-based environmental impact.
If you want to make more money—and minimize the risk of making less—you should do more prospecting. Contributor Dave Fellman looks at the prospecting process and how to arrive at the ultimate goal of prospecting: a first meeting with a potential new customer.
A new monolith appears—briefly—in Congo. A guy replaces his bicycle wheels with giant sawmill blades. The latest in “mask tech”: the egg mask. First, they came for the silkworms—and now…the sheep? Sheep Inc. says one key to carbon sequestration is…wait for it…sheep. Some other potential solutions for dealing with carbon and carbon dioxide. Textile and apparel imports are on the decline. A website lets you simulate the ambiance of your favorite bar. RIP Rupert Neve: the inventor of the mixing console. A housecat joins “Godzilla vs. Kong” and the related carnage. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s carbon-heavy miscellany.
The writers and publishers who chronicle the world of business have been a buzzword factory for the last four decades. There’s no need to list them here, but probably the most frequently mentioned topic in the last few years has been how to change an organization into something that has a better chance of surviving and thriving. In this article, Wayne Lynn discusses the importance of becoming self-aware. Knowing what your strengths, weaknesses, and blind spots are provides the best starting point for successful change. Read on…
Over the centuries, fine art and textile design have always been close companions. Today's textile designers can take advantage of a number of outstanding archives of vintage designs that can act as inspiration, or be licensed for use. Textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan highlights a few.
The increase in digitally driven on-demand printing, combined with the flexibility of online ordering, has greatly increased the number of print orders—often at lower print volumes—that a print service provider must manage and produce. This article explores how PSPs that increase their levels of automation now may be able to reap disproportionate rewards in the future.
If you have taken the first steps to automating your workflow, you will have seen significant benefits from software you had likely already invested in. In this article, sponsored by EFI and the second in a series, explores how to take your workflow automation to the next level by examining your prepress operation to uncover bottlenecks that require extra labor and slow the production process.
WhatTheyThink’s Fall 2020 Business Outlook Survey asked print business executives and owners about their 2020 business conditions, business challenges, biggest perceived opportunities, and investment plans, as well as opinions of virtual events and their 2020 hiring plans. The results of this survey are included in WhatTheyThink’s Printing Outlook 2021 special report. Here are some of the top-level findings from that report.
If you run a print manufacturing business, chances are you should invest in a print-specific MIS/ERP solution. However, proceed carefully if you insist on adopting a generic MIS/ERP software solution. Don’t get caught up in paying for customizations that are expected features for a print business.
In this bimonthly series, WhatTheyThink is presenting the state of the printing industry in different European countries based on the latest monthly production numbers. This week, we take a look at the printing industry in Germany.
The successful curation of the data springing from your business operating systems has the potential to unearth rich clues for improved growth and performance. However, it can be a daunting task to know where to start and where to stop. Preston Herrin offers a balanced approach to metrics and analytics and understanding how to apply them in your business to advance a data-driven culture and galvanize a new agility.
From life-saving medical devices and rapid COVID-19 tests, to dashboards and musical instruments, printed electronics are a high-value opportunity. To exploit the opportunity requires high-touch engineering and customer support. Contributor Pete Basiliere details the challenges.
A Texas attorney tries to prove he is not a cat. A brand-new shade of blue is now available for painting. A new business makes sustainable laundry detergent. A handy visual aid to help you determine which appliance is best for which use. A water treatment plant gets hacked—with almost disastrous results. 3D-printed steaks. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s kitten filter miscellany.
In 2010, there were 380,107 employees working in US establishments in NAICS 323111 (Commercial Printing–Except Screen and Books). By 2018, that number had declined -13.5% to 328,845. In macro news, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 0.3% in January, or 1.4% over the last 12 months.
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.