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.
The Acuity Ultra is a major step up in output, in both quality and productivity. Larger businesses and major luxury brands will be impressed by the machine’s extra width up to 5 meters, the option to print multiple rolls simultaneously, and its ability to print outstanding quality with no compromise on speed.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the past two months have been crazy for us all. Vendors in the office technology space as well as firms with office equipment have adjusted their businesses to handle the rapid changes that our industry has experienced on a global scale. In addition, Keypoint Intelligence has seen many office technology players embracing innovations and philanthropy to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. This article discusses just some of those efforts.
Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew continues her “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.
Hear from a university student about why she chose a career path in interiors, what drove her university choice, and what some of her biggest challenges have been as she develops new designs and collections.
At the end of April, Global Graphics Software announced its Direct product range, a new class of software that drives data directly to the printhead electronics without any intermediate disk access. There are three products in the range: ScreenPro Direct™, Harlequin Direct™ and Streamline Direct™. The significance of Harlequin Direct for a PDF workflow is that there is no longer a need to RIP ahead.
A look at the conclusions from “Market Trends 2020,” a new report from Chief Outsiders, a network of top CMOs. The bottom line: We have become accustomed to marketing being driven by buzzwords like “customer engagement” and “focus on the customer,” but those things now must be tied to real, measurable company growth.
HP's PrintOS is a cloud-based platform with browser-based and mobile apps that connect to and extend the functionality of HP production printers. There are multiple tools that provide robust analytics, mobile monitoring, access to PrintOS anytime and anywhere, and security.
HP has spent the last four years developing ways to overcome the existing production barriers of their EP products and processes. They recently announced LEPx, a unique new imaging technology as an integral component of the V12, their future platform label press.
The thought of hopping on a sailboat and heading out to sea is an appealing one at the moment and thanks to a company called PhotoSails, sailing enthusiasts who buy their own boats can defray the cost of their investment.
Parts of the country are slowly stating to reopen, but rebounding from COVID-19 is not going to be an overnight achievement. WhatTheyThink contributor Joanne Gore walks though some short- and long-term marketing strategies for print businesses to help reach out to customers as they emerge from the crisis—which is still ongoing.
Every type of plant can build a better workflow, one that is efficient and scalable, that helps to save production costs, and adds to operational efficiency. The place to start is with a tour around your plant. Pat McGrew provides a “virtual guided tour” of a plant's workflow, and some key questions to ask at each stop along the way.
It’s been almost two years since we wrote about the work that Advanced Functional Fabrics of America (AFFOA) is doing to develop functional fiber computing solutions that will likely be the basis for moving us into Industry 5.0. Seems like we don’t even have Industry 4.0 under our belts, but technology does move fast these days! We spoke with the AFFOA team, including CEO Alexander (Sasha) Stolyarov, Chief Marketing Officer Eric Spackey, Senior Director of Business Development Natasha Spackey, and Chief Technology Officer Jason Cox, to get an update on what has transpired in the past two years.
Whether you’re looking to improve your press operations or your production capabilities, as converters, we need to constantly adapt to changing markets. And 2020 has been one of the biggest curveballs for every business. But one thing remains the same: we need to evolve to maintain relevance. So this year, make the most of what you have and consider what you can do to spend smart and build profits through efficiency. Here are the top 4 ways you can increase your business profitability in 2020.
The strength of HP’s print leadership is demonstrated in the HP PageWide Industrial Web Press portfolio; a proven press platform with over 10 years in worldwide production environments built on two billion dollars invested in inkjet technology research and development.
All 201 episodes of The Office have been recreated in Slack. “The Five Stages of Zoom.” The most detailed online photo of Rembrandt’s Night Watch. New videogame lets you power wash a house. Scrabble fans do not like the new Scrabble Go app. Generate random UK government COVID signage. Generate your own Penguin Classic book cover. A self-censoring typeface for sweary writers. The Plymouth “Paint Chip Barracuda.” The thriving doomsday bunker market. Happy birthday, Ottmar Mergenthaler. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly sheltering in place miscellany.
In 2010, there were 2,080 establishments offering prepress and/or postpress services; by 2017, that number had dropped to 1,375. It’s not difficult to understand why the number of these establishments has been dropping: prepress is being absorbed into the printing process itself (especially in digital printing), and more print businesses are acquiring their own finishing capabilities.
Digital printing technologies have enabled a wide range of entrepreneurs to get into the industry, something that was more difficult before. An example is Cotton Bee Fabrics in Poland, which has leveraged Mimaki printing technology to transform a side hustle into a viable business.
Most businesses believe they are calculating the returns on their investments pretty well. They have ideas about the products they offer and how to charge based on their own calculations that can help them stay competitive and profitable. In many cases, however, they aren’t thinking of everything when determining these values. This article looks at some of the smaller aspects of the equation that can have a big impact on ROI for transactional, marketing, and commercial PSPs.
Wayne Lynn takes a deep dive into getting a clear understanding of your company’s finances and cashflow, a vital consideration even more vital in these volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous (VUCA) times.
If customer experience is king, then maybe we need to stop making fun of QR Codes and take them more seriously, especially with the growing reliance on cellphones for both in-home and out-of-home interaction and with so many situations in which AR and NFC just aren’t practical. Two lost opportunities for customer engagement tell the tale.
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.