Engineers have developed a glove that translates sign language into speech. A new reusable silicone mask works as well as an N95 mask. Dixie Cups were the Zoom of the 1918 pandemic. Video imagines if Zoom had existed in 1988. What did we use for Internet searching before Google? A web app lets you scream into the Icelandic wilderness. “Rage Yoga.” For pete’s sake, if you make a restaurant reservation, show up. A faked death certificate done in by a typo. Museum curators are getting to the bottoms of their collections. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sung in Classical Latin. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly doomscrolling miscellany.
In a little less than a month, Keypoint Intelligence will be analyzing product submissions for its Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Awards to honor new products and technologies that advance the state of the art in Production Printing. Entries will be judged in six categories based on their new applications of technology in terms of quality, productivity, connectivity, workflow, media range, productivity, and environmental impact.
What will the fashion industry look like post-COVID? It is broken in so many ways, and has been for some time, with the disruption of the pandemic laying bare the weaknesses and the fragility of the global supply chain. Check out this summary of the discussion at the Kornit Digital Live Talks event, titled “Business Unusual,” featuring Achim Berg, Global Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company.
How well-versed is your prepress staff in using common applications like Adobe InDesign or Photoshop or Enfocus Pitstop? If their knowledge is limited and what should be simple tasks take hours, you’re wasting time (and money). Well-trained prepress employees can give you a competitive edge and increase your profit margins. John Giles offers some easy tips for boosting your staff’s prepress software skills.
Multi-touch campaigns aren’t just for direct mail and email anymore. Internet search company DuckDuckGo is using the power of coordinated billboard messaging to communicate a more complex message than we typically see on billboards and taking OOH messaging into new territory.
Partnering can solve challenges that you don’t feel comfortable taking on initially. A partnership also helps you grow your expertise in an area so that when you do expand, you’ll make much better investment decisions.
“Sales Workflow.” These seem like two separate concepts, but sales is a process, processes have workflows, and workflows have building blocks. In part two of this two-part series, Pat McGrew explains how customers are one of those building blocks, and how you manage your relationship with them directly impacts your bottom line.
Even as revenues are down in the printing industry thanks to the COVID pandemic, the graphic arts industry is a large industry, not only in the US, but also in Europe. Unfortunately, European data is a bit more difficult to come by. WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer dives into numbers and definitions to kick off a round of European industry sizing data.
Most people understand there is a benefit to wearing a cloth mask to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus. But with so many mask types available, how do you choose the most effective type? Senior Editor Cary Sherburne digs into the latest research on this topic.
Salad bars could be replaced by vegetable vending machines. Will COVID finally kill off the penny? TV shows start using mannequins for sex scenes. A “Rubik’s Cube artist” created a giant portrait of Erno Rubik using 400 of his eponymous cubes. Researchers develop a prototype device for windows that can cancel out outside noise. A terrifying-looking ancient extinct dolphin. Firefighting goats. Librarians use Google Forms to create escape room games. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.
Making good people decisions about whom to hire, develop, and promote can be devilishly hard. Building good teams of good team players is a roll of the dice without the right data. Wayne Lynn takes a close look at how good teams come together and how behavioral assessments can help pick the right people for the right team.
Based on a conversation with experienced buyer Steve Brown and Kornit’s Omer Kulka, textiles expert Debbie McKeegan digs into the impact of data on creative fashion. As the industry’s most valuable currency, data, when used correctly, has the power to transform the industry and paves the way to greater transparency within the supply chain.
Many print service providers have returned to their physical work locations as the United States continues its phased reopening plan. This article highlights information from the CDC to explore how PSPs can limit the spread of COVID-19 while printing.
Canon has the leading market share in production inkjet and has the widest range of production inkjet presses available. With the introduction of the ProStream 1800, they are expanding their commercial production inkjet product line to continue to capture both toner and existing offset produced pages.
More and more, the productivity of your company is based on the ability to efficiently work in the software applications that run your business. Don’t hamstring your mission-critical software applications by starving them of the resources they require.
Today, Millennials outnumber Boomers in the US population, and Millennials and Gen Zs are said to account for more than one-third of the workforce. When we are talking about Millennials, we are talking about us. Is it time to start talking about Millennials differently?
Is there a way to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 through printed materials using an antimicrobial paper treatment? Under the current circumstances, no commercial lab has a suitable test environment or authority to test against COVID-19. However, there may be a suitable solution tested against a similar virus.
The advent of small robots that bypass established robot security requirements (fences, scanners etc.) spawned “fence-free robots,” also known as “cobots” for their ability to collaborate with human operators. Graphic Robotics' Henrik Christensen looks at the current state of fence-free robots and their potential place in printing operations.
The most expensive things you do in your printing plant every day involve talking to clients and physically touching their work. You talk to clients to better understand the work they want you to do, and you touch the work, in prepress or at other points in the process to ensure that the client’s intent is rendered on to the substrate. But every conversation and every touch has a financial impact. While you rely on workflow tools to aid the process, in most companies there are also spreadsheets, whiteboards, and sticky notes used to gather and communicate information about the jobs-in-progress. It’s only natural! However, the more you talk and touch, the less money you make on the job.
Diana Rammell wanted better fitting clothes but was disappointed in the selection of fabrics she could find. So she took matters into her own hands, founding Raspberry Creek Fabrics in 2010 to create more compelling fabric designs. When her dreams got a little out of control, her attorney husband, Justin, stepped in to help. Today, the company produces some 40,000 yards of custom fabrics every month and continues to grow.
More sustainable options for fabric dyeing. Turn your pets’ fur into knittable yarn. Today’s designers are taking new approaches to working with color. LinkedIn now offers audio support for correct name pronunciation. Berlin public transport bans deodorant to promote mask wearing. A Dutch restaurant uses robot waitstaff to enforce social distancing. “Boombox restoration.” NYC’s canceled Shakespeare in the Park heads to radio and podcasting. A municipal councillor in Spain neglects to turn off video while showering during a Zoom call. BMW to offer auto features on a subscription basis. Words of advice: don’t microwave library books. “The Far Side” is back...sort of. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.
Getting your customer’s pricing is a critical measure of customer satisfaction. Your customer might not be outwardly complaining, but many print customers are migrating to online solutions that provide immediate pricing. Not every job you produce deserves a manual estimate.
Textiles expert Debbie McKeegan asks why it takes a pandemic to change the fashion industry, which has long been recognized as the world’s second largest polluter. Perhaps change is on the way, with manufacturers forced to re-examine fragile supply chains. Still, a lot will depend on changing consumer demands!
Contrary to many assumptions and preconceived notions, the share of transactional communications that consumers accessed electronically declined steadily over the past three years. This article explores how the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating consumers’ demands for service providers to communicate with them via their desired channels.
Your print shop is still open and you don’t want to lay off or furlough employees unless you have to, but the work isn’t flowing in like it was. How can you justify keeping them on? One of the answers is to see this as an opportunity to invest in strategies that will pay off in an even stronger, more profitable workplace for everyone long term. Here are five ideas for starters.
The Government has begun releasing details of the recipients of Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aid. In general, the Treasury Department and SBA have issued $7.2 billion to graphic communications industry businesses, retaining 440,609 industry jobs. We break down loan amounts paid out to industry businesses by NAICS code, as well as the number of jobs retained.
More businesses and brands embrace digital print as an efficient and cost-effective way to reach their audiences. This article, sponsored by Neenah Paper, offers some tips, best practices, and new ideas for using digital printing for direct marketing, and looks at the latest in Neenah’s popular Explore series that uses creatively designed print samples to help designers and printers alike get the most out of digital printing technologies.
In development even before COVID-19 hit, InfoLnkX by SpeedPro is an NFC-based chip that can be programmed to deliver digital, contactless menus to patrons’ phones right from restaurant signage or table decals. But the uses for InfoLnkX go far beyond restaurant applications.
A company’s culture determines how employees feel about working there, the velocity at which decisions can be made, and the quality of those decisions. It’s the difference between a place people work at and a company they work for. Contributor David Kauffman reminisces about his days at Creo and the decision-making culture prevalent there.
Goldman Sachs designs its own typeface—with some important caveats. Art restoration is best done by a professional. Raymond Chandler: king of the opening paragraph. How does a book cover become iconic? French researchers develop a transparent glass facemask. “Opera by phone.” A string quartet performs for an audience of plants. AI-generated fake English words. The Segway is being discontinued; the word “segue” is now safe. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly masked miscellany.
Last week, Miyakoshi Printing Machinery launched the MJP30AXF web-fed digital inkjet press, focused on the short-run, flexible packaging market. The company is positioning the MJP30AXF for success in the fast-growing flexible food and beverage segment by using water-based, pigment inks that the company says are safe for food packaging. Inkjet Insight’s Elizabeth Gooding takes a look at the MJP30AXF.
Earlier this month was World Environment Day, founded by the United Nations in 1974. It’s a good time to step back and re-examine how the textile industry, the world’s second largest polluter, can make changes to become more sustainable. Textiles expert Debbie McKeegan notes that sustainability can’t be a luxury item; it has to be an essential element.
Customers’ needs are evolving, and many might request office and marketing collateral as well as posters and signage in the same order from their preferred print service provider. Each application will have a unique set of requirements, workflow tasks, and output technologies. This article explores how mass optimization can improve automation and boost workflow efficiency.
Each year, Printing News invites small commercial print business owners to participate in our Top 100 Shops Survey. This article presents the results of that survey, this year’s Top 100 small commercial printers, and profiles of the Top 6.
Every business has projects. Every business treats them differently. The range is enormous; from no project methodology to bureaucratic craziness. Print businesses of all sizes would benefit from a simple project methodology because it can quickly eliminate the most common reasons why things just don’t get done.
Packaging has been going through a digital renaissance of late, and as the printing and converting hardware has been evolving, the workflow software to maximize the utilization of that hardware has been evolving as well. Based on these latest updates and solutions, it is apparent that Hybrid is looking at the requirements of Industry 4.0 and the interconnected business and manufacturing landscape.
On May 1, 2020, the Specialty Graphic Imaging Association (SGIA) and the Printing Industries of America (PIA) merged to become PRINTING United Alliance (PUA). Ford Bowers, President and CEO of the combined organization, reveals many of the details of the merger and what it means for members.
How much of the post-pandemic “new normal” will involve on-demand manufacturing for textile-based products? Already we are hearing from on-demand manufacturers that their businesses are seeing increased demand, both due to the pandemic-related supply chain disruption and a general move in the industry to more efficiency, less waste, and more sustainability. In this story, we provide examples of how an on-demand manufacturer is helping both startups and brands achieve these goals.
Last week, 22Miles—a developer of digital signage and wayfinding systems—launched TempDefend, a highly customizable “protection as a service” solution that integrates dynamic digital signage with thermal cameras to scan visitors to a business or other establishment, generating an alert if the visitor’s temperature exceeds 99.5°.
Pepsi’s Philippines marketing plan goes horribly awry. Social distancing fences bring neighbors closer together. Swiss researchers are developing transparent facemasks. Coronavirus consequence: a coin shortage. A Japanese printing company develops edible pads of paper. One man’s battle with an obstinate refrigerator. Why is Cooper Black such a ubiquitous typeface? Twitter is launching audio tweeting, which can only have positive effects. Basecamp launches a new email platform, for some reason. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Phase 3 reopening miscellany.
Some people just love print, and you can count me among them. It should therefore come as no surprise that my bucket list—the things I hope to do before I die—involves visits to a handful of printing museums and other institutions that are sprinkled across the United States and Canada. This article provides a brief overview of my experiences with these locations so far.
What can we expect in the textiles and apparel industry post-COVID-19 and what might the new normal look like? Will there be more room for micro-brands? Will consumers shift focus to more sustainable solutions? Textile expert Debbie McKeegan addresses these and other questions.
Evaluating print software is a process that desperately needs to evolve. Step back and look at the business objectives of the evaluation as a starting point to reinventing your approach to purchasing software.
The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare the fragility of the global supply chain for textiles and apparel. This is driving brands and retailers to give more thoughtful consideration to how they can streamline that supply chain, bringing production closer to the point of use and eliminating at least some of the inventory risk inherent in the current process. In this article, we explore the role of the digital front end (DFE or RIP) for digital textile printers in making this a viable alternative to the current offshore bulk manufacturing of printed textiles and apparel.
Shoes designed for social distancing. A Japanese zoo raises money selling lion-mauled jeans. An online yarn store helps its customers and suppliers get through the crisis. An album based on bat songs. What impact will COVID have on car design? A gin distillery also manufacturing hand sanitizer gets its bottles mixed up. Reenactors bring a Velázquez painting to life. An upcoming cmic book will be printed using fluorescent blacklight inks. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.
In 2010, there were 7,221 US periodical publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 5,279. Magazines have been struggling in the Internet age, with closures and consolidations, but also have been seeing a shift in what constitutes “periodical publishing.” Also: we’re officially in a recession (surprise).
System vendors and paper mills are working diligently to create effective strategies for inkjet printing jobs that require glossy finishes and high coverage levels. These solutions can be separated into inkjet-treated papers and advanced inks and drying systems. Last week’s article discussed the pros and cons of inkjet-treated papers. This piece, the second in our two-part series, addresses advanced inks and drying systems.
Many of you are worried if you’ve got enough cash and other forms of financial capital to get to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis. This is a short-term issue and, if you survive, maybe you’ll have more cash on hand next time we see a downturn. But what if the market and your business changes so much you have people who are no longer relevant? Wayne Lynn explores some thoughts that can help you plan for and be prepared for this issue.
There is growing demand for customized home décor as well as sustainable fabric solutions. Textile expert Debbie McKeegan explores five sustainable furnishing fabrics and why it is important to choose eco-friendly textiles.
The Customer Communications Management (CCM) market is undergoing radical changes on an evolutionary scale. Late last year, Aspire CCS surveyed businesses across the globe, interviewed stakeholders in every facet of the market, and published an extensive report entitled, “The State of CCM-to-CXM Transformation.” This second of a four part seriesfocuses on customer communications service providers’ place in the emerging ecosystem by examining the five steps to CXM maturity and explaining how providers can upgrade their technology and strategy to move up the scale, ensuring their long-term viability.
Part two of Heidi Tolliver-Walker’s interview with Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a job placement service for the printing industry, about opportunities in a post-COVID-19 environment. Kahn describes opportunities for the right candidates to make lateral moves into new areas, such as changing market verticals or applying skill sets to new printing sectors.
So many trends are being amplified or accelerated by COVID-19; the evolution of the sales process is one of them. Your customers are being asked again to do more with fewer people and less time. They need vendors/partners that can help alleviate the pressure.
Most sellers don’t want to think about their sales process, they just want to sell. But there are many benefits to having a clearly defined ands adhered to sales process. Lisa Magnuson outlines several steps to follow to increase sales.
As businesses start to reopen, they will have post-COVID print needs beyond safety and distancing signage. To follow up last week’s look at the current signage environment, Richard Romano identifies some of the unique print needs reopening restaurants are likely to have to complement their signage.
With more than 1.8 million design options in its library, and with the availability of easy-to-use mask kits, Spoonflower and its designer community have responded in force to the need for masks, making more than 150,000 non-medical-grade fabric masks. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Michael Jones, Spoonflower’s new CEO, and Kerry King, Senior Vice President of R&D, to learn more about this outstanding response and to get an update on what’s new at Spoonflower.
At any stage in the printing process, a worker may use a cutting tool, which implies a level of risk. As a result, cutting safety is essential, whether in large-scale printing outfits like book printing, or smaller operations like retail screen printing. This feature, sponsored by Slice, offers tips for ensuring the safe use of cutting equipment.
A tribute to P.G. Wodehouse. A simpler, more surreal approach to specifying physical addresses. Replacing the cellphone touchscreen with a dial. How AI can foster workplace collaboration. A water gun designed specifically for the clergy. Metal magazine Kerrang! turns their covers into coloring pages. NYU’s ill-fated “virtual reality” graduation. What will post-pandemic academia look like? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly slowly reopening miscellany.
The British Fashion Council and the CFDA both call for the industry to slow down, adopt sustainable practice and reject over consumption. It’s a big ask, and many in the industry want this change, the reality may be that “fast fashion” has created a consumer neurosis within retail and that will take some undoing. Read the full article
System vendors and paper mills are working diligently to create effective strategies for inkjet printing jobs that require glossy finishes and high coverage levels. These solutions can be separated into inkjet-treated papers and advanced inks and drying systems. This article, the first in a two-part series, will discuss the pros and cons of inkjet-treated papers. Next week’s piece will address advanced inks and drying systems.
Ryerson University’s Dr. Abhay Sharma provides a detailed look at color temperature, and why it is important for color management. He also uses his downtime to empirically determine that “daylight” is a very good match to the D50 standard.
COVID-19 economic symptoms include the weakening of the “we’ve always done it this way defense”—which will have some positive impacts on outdated printer workflows and some negative impacts when customers evaluate print spend under new market conditions.
What is the secret to keeping customers from switching to a competitor with lower prices, faster curbside pickup, or a coupon that drops at just the right time? Motista, a provider of predictive intelligence, thinks it has the answer. Customer affinity. A look at the conclusions and data from its two-year study.
There are currently many postprint corrugated solutions out there, yet most have not gained significant traction in the market. Xeikon, their credibility, and the market understanding of Flint, puts them in a great position to enter and even grow the market.
Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgett asks a male Sephora employee to give her a guided tour of perfume displays whose packaging he especially likes. His choices were eye-opening, and gave Burgett a new perspective on how men may perceive their choices as they pick out gifts for their wives, girlfriends, or partners.
Sign shops were essential businesses when the crisis first hit and they will continue to be essential businesses as the country starts to reopen. Post-COVID signage will be important in both the short term and the long term, and there is no reason why it can’t be creatively designed, professionally printed, and seamlessly integrated into a business’s pre-existing signage and branding. Let’s have a look at what some local businesses have been doing signage-wise.
Since it appears that masks will be part of our wardrobe for the foreseeable future, we continue to look for unique yet functional mask solutions and the companies that are converting their manufacturing operations to help address this critical need. We wrote about Tailored Industry last year, and recently heard they were knitting masks, so we checked in to get more detail.
Two of the most anticipated industry events—Messe Dusseldorf’s drupa 2020 and ISA’s Sign Expo 2020—were postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. We spoke with the organizers of these events about their rationale for the new dates, the expected impact on the events themselves, and the impact of the pandemic on the printing industry.
Behind the iconic NYT Memorial Day front page. Restaurants come up with unique (or silly) ways to enforce social distancing. The Zoom Last Supper. A prototype video chat device—from 1918. A Bangkok shopping mall replaces elevator buttons with foot pedals. Shoot sanitizer from your wrist. Two teens turn their quarantine house into a skatepark. J.K. Rowling serializes free children’s book online. Munch’s “The Scream” is fading. A “web typewriter” doesn’t allow deleting. In Ireland, a letter-writing renaissance. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany.
In 2010, there were 7,794 US newspaper publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had dropped to 7,222. The newspaper industry’s woes have been well-documented, but the trouble started well before the Internet era. Also: Q1 GDP revised down.
Sustainability and the promotion of eco-friendly practices have been a priority within the printing industry for years. This article explores the environment’s ever-increasing influence on the printing market and discusses how COVID-19 will likely heighten buyers’ demands for more sustainable business practices.
Debbie McKeegan has a conversation with Thimo Schwenzfeier, the Show Director of Neonyt and Director of Marketing Communications for Messe Frankfurt, about sustainability in the fashion industry, and how demand for sustainable fashion will only accelerate post-COVID.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that QR codes may be on their way back. In a recent post, I gave two examples of where QR codes should have been and weren’t, and now I’m going to give two examples of where QR codes weren’t, but now they are and why.
There will be a new, new normal after the height of COVID-19 passes. It will be even more reliant on software technologies to connect your employees, your customers, and your suppliers. The time to evolve to this new reality (often referred to as digital transformation) is now—crisis evolution cuts through a lot of the resistance.
WhatTheyThink European Section Editor Ralf Schlözer talks to Heidelberg CEO Rainer Hundsdörfer about the company’s decision to discontinue the Primefire inkjet folding carton press, as well as the company’s overall strategy.
Each year the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation (www.pgsf.org) conducts poster and T-shirt design contests, accepting submissions from students around the country that are pursuing a career in graphic communications or a related field at a U.S. technical school or college. In 2020, Abigail Carter, a high school junior at Mattoon High School in Mattoon, Ill., won in both categories.
Quick brown foxes and lazy dogs aren’t necessarily best for font proofing. Disney+ lets you change the typeface used for captioning. Devo is selling “Energy Dome” face shields. Bad design concepts for social distancing in restaurants. How will COVID-19 change fashion? Shakespeare’s Globe Theater is in financial trouble. The traditional Stonehenge solstice sunrise gathering will now be livestreamed. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly social distancing miscellany. Robbers wearing watermelons rob a convenience store.
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.