Your software investments deserve big picture, strategic planning. It’s time to step back and assess your core business processes and how software helps, hinders, optimizes, or ideally automates the steps required everyday to deliver on your customer promises.
Printing and printed packaging remains an important industry sector in 2019, with a value of more than $826 billion in sales supporting paper and substrate suppliers, ink makers, plate and cylinder suppliers, and high-tech printing equipment manufacturers. This article, adapted from a new Smithers report, looks at the future of global print to 2024.
Which print sales people are compensated for a sale, and at what rate, is often part of a contractual relationship between the company and the sales representative, but not always. Sometimes the relationships are based on “how things have always been done” or verbal agreements. And not every deal brought in is a winner. As a result, some kind of periodic review is necessary for the business to effectively allocate its production resources. In Part 1 of a new series, Pat McGrew discusses sales review processes.
At the recent EFI Connect 2020 conference, Lynn Smith from The Sourcing Group spoke on the customer panel, sharing The Sourcing Group’s unique story. We followed up with her afterward to get more details on this print-related Business Process Optimization (BPO) company.
The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates number of establishments and other data to 2017. In that year, there were 5,186 establishments in NAICS 323113 (Commercial Screen Printing). The majority of these establishments (74%) had fewer than 10 employees.
A new typeface raises awareness of, and helps fund a cure for, Parkinson’s Disease. Pineapple wool aims to replace sheep. A shark-proof wetsuit. Dye-sub transfer for non-polyester fibers. Japan experiments with robot bartenders. Private equity tries to acquire .org domain registry. Scorigami tracks rare football scores. Former newspaper headquarters have become luxury apartments. A Florida brewery puts pictures of adoptable rescue dogs on beer cans—and one woman finds her lost dog. Motorcycle hearses for uneasy riders. Salvador Dalí and Walt Disney once collaborated on an animated short film. “Uber for lavatories.” Faking a traffic jam on Google Maps. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
This article considers how the shift from mobile-based to headset-based augmented reality (AR) will impact augmented print offerings. It also explores when print service providers can expect to see the first mainstream AR headset and which company will likely introduce it.
As the world’s second largest polluter, the textiles and apparel industry has placed a huge focus on improving supply chain management to reduce its environmental footprint. WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan talks about how digital textile printing can be a key to this effort, unlocking the supply chain while offering speed and sustainability.
According to data from Evergage/Research International, marketers are starting to “get” one of the most fundamental values of personalized experiences. Yes, personalization drives immediate sales, but more importantly, it creates better customer experiences and higher customer loyalty, which drive better ROI over time. The shift from a short-term to a long-term perspective is great news for everyone producing personalized campaigns, whether they are doing online personalization or not.
We have spent decades focusing and optimizing the production floor (where there is no carpet). It is time to focus our energies on the carpeted areas of the business which impact customer’s perceptions of our business.
Omni-channel campaigns have become old hat; marketers today are looking beyond omni-channel to fully immersive customer experiences, often using augmented reality. Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgett looks at some cutting-edge examples.
High color corrugated packaging is growing and will continue to grow. The run sizes are getting smaller to adapt to the new market requirements, and the opportunities for print service providers to jump on this moving train abound. In Part 3 of this series, I focus on the available preprint solutions with some limited product mentions. Selecting which method is better is really based on a lot of factors, including your market opportunities, capital investment, production costs, and internal skills. Although making that determination also involves board and run size as well. Both analog and digital presses are and will continue to be in the mix and grow. It’s a pretty exciting time with some great opportunities.
You can’t attend any textiles and apparel events or speak with industry professionals without the subject of workforce challenges arising. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Marilyn McNeil-Morin about the Fashion Exchange program at Toronto’s George Brown College that has programs in place to help address these issues.
In December 2019, overall printing employment dropped -0.2% from November, and on a year-over-year basis, it is down -2.4%. Production employment was down -0.5% from November to December (and -4.4% Y/Y) while non-production employment was down -0.1% from November to December—but actually up +1.7% Y/Y.
The growing market for paper straws. A slow elevator designed for fast meetings. A paperboy helps save a restaurant from fire. A balloon-based fashion collection. A new book collects old airline maps. Another new book collects photographs of famous economists. Which classic novels are the most-loved—and most-hated? Contact lens-based displays. Are new running shoes “technological doping”? Merit badges for—oy—“adulting.” Three words: “meat cleaver massage.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Although UV technology currently dominates the inkjet printing market, aqueous printing is gradually rising. This article provides a brief overview of the inkjet printing market and considers what the future may hold for UV and aqueous technologies.
EFI Connect 2020 marked the 21st year this user conference has been held, and the 13th year it has been hosted at the Wynn Hotel & Resort in Las Vegas. This edition marked a year of dramatic change for the company, with the departure of long-time CEO Guy Gecht, a short-lived CEO in Bill Muir, and an acquisition by Siris Group that took the company from public to private. EFI Connect 2020 was an opportunity for customers to gain first-hand insight into what these changes might mean for them.
Demand growth for retail-ready packaging is originating within emerging and transitional economies, with Asia-Pacific accounting for 4.5 million metric tons—nearly half the total global demand—according to Smithers’ latest report, The Future of Retail-Ready Packaging to 2024.
When we think about creating relevance in marketing communications, we think about personalizing based on traditional factors such as demographics and past purchases. But the principle of “liking” adds another useful dimension to the equation.
Describe your business challenges: be specific, be precise. Then let go of any attachment to the “how this business challenge gets solved by print software.” You want your business challenges solved. One of the fastest ways to solve them is to describe them accurately and then to be open to all the possible solutions.
In Part 2 of this series, I focus on the available digital post-print solutions with some limited product mentions. Leading up to drupa, I will cover some of the offerings in greater depth. All of the solutions discussed here are “single pass” printers, where the printheads are stationary and only the media moves. They include complete corrugating equipment with built in printing, to a tabletop printer with lots of other options in between. Equipment pricing ranges from in excess of $4MM to as low as $19K. In summary: Lots of Choices!
Since its founding in 2002, Phoenix, Ariz.’s Custom Graphix Signworks has cornered the market on that most commoditized of wide-format applications: banners. We spoke with Mladen Mike Mirkovic, founder and principal of Custom Graphix.
At last month’s AATCC/SGIA Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0, I had the pleasure of meeting Jonathan Tio and his brother Patrick of California-based Prima-Tex. His active and informed participation in the conference discussions were an inspiration, and he agreed to a subsequent interview for this article.
One of the most important activities at the start of the year is a quick review of the processes that go into ensuring the smooth flow of business. Often overlooked is how sales team members gather the information needed to bring a job into production, whether it is a new job or one that has been in production for years. Pat McGrew offers a template to use to standardize the information captured during the sales process.
The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates the number of establishments and other data. In 2017, there were 25,256 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). The majority of these establishments (71%) have fewer than 10 employees.
“Facility” is a new print magazine all about bathrooms. Giving voice to a 3,000-year-old mummy. Op-eds from the future. The opening salvos in the streaming wars. Stores are compensating for poor packaging design choices. Dante’s Inferno for language pedants. The battle over a cryonically frozen head. A home renovation show that remodels crime scenes. A concerto for orchestra and typewriter. The Nevada Avian Milliner is back. Also: Robopigeon! Hide the statues! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Any time textile professionals gather, color management is always a topic of discussion. It becomes even more complex when introducing digital fabric printing into the mix. WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan shares insights on achieving the perfect print.
As we enter another new decade, several points of disruption are expected to emerge. This article provides a brief overview of the developments that print service providers should be mindful of, as well as the financial and operational information that should be used for strategic business growth.
You purchase software to solve business problems. When evaluating software, keep your focus on the challenges you want to solve. This will keep you open-minded about all the possible ways your challenges might be solved, rather than attachment to one specific solution.
Data insights and expert testimony tell a powerful tale: a nonprofit’s “thank you” letter matters more than many people might think. Get it right and donors feel great and are motivated to keep giving. Get it wrong and they disconnect. So get it right!
There are “two primary” corrugated print manufacturing processes for high graphics: a multi-process method of printing on a top sheet (liner) which is then laminated to the corrugated material, or, alternatively, a single process method of printing directly on the corrugated material, sometimes called “post-print.” In this article, we will look at the award-winning Bobst THQ (Très Haute Qualité) FlexoCloud technology focused on corrugated post-print production, and perhaps some alternative methods.
One of the most exciting growth areas in print today is direct-to-object (DtO) printing, but challenges of ink adhesion, transport, and feeding abound. I spoke with Peter Baldwin, Director of Marketing for East Dorset, Vt.’s Engineered Printing Solutions (EPS), about some of the issues—and opportunities—involved in direct-to-object printing.
At the AATCC/SGIA Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0 last December, one of the high points was a presentation by Kathy Phillips, Vice President of Design/Trend at Springs Creative, a show-and-tell that highlighted the company’s rich history in textiles, beginning with the founding of the Fort Mill Manufacturing Company in 1887 by Samuel Elliot White. We talked with Phillips to get more detail on this fascinating story to share with our readers.
More than 30 years since the invention of 3D printing, a host of materials in addition to plastics—metals, alloys, composites, and biomaterials—are all used by companies worldwide to make everything from prototypes to finished goods. In this article, Pete Basiliere looks at the various 3D printing technologies and materials.
The value of printing shipments for November 2019 was $7.03 billion—a pretty big drop from October’s $7.65 billion, but we kind of expected it, as November and December see business slow down for the holidays.
3D-printed candy. Rechargeable workout clothes. Smart sneakers can improve your running form. A knitted scarf based on a CVS receipt. Living concrete. A new, more accurate typewriter font, for some reason. How Slack has ruined work. Library ebook provider Overdrive acquired by private equity firm. Why was there no ebook revolution in the 2010s? “The” most powerful word in the English language. A journey inside the Mellotron, one of the weirdest musical instruments. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Although there is no denying that digital communications are becoming increasingly popular, consumers’ rising affinity for digital access does not necessarily mean that printed mail will fall to the wayside. Instead, InfoTrends’ research suggests that print will remain an important component of the overall communications mix. This article cites InfoTrends’ most recent transactional communications survey data to explore print’s changing role as market dynamics continue to shift.
Peter Drucker once wrote that the one contribution a CEO is uniquely expected to make is to give others vision and the ability to perform. Leadership in an organization is important but to succeed, it requires motivated, energized, and engaged followers.
Collection of print case studies showcasing how print can be used in ways that most of us have never considered. While many case studies showcase the high-end “most clients can’t afford this” kind of possibilities, these show the use of simple, traditional techniques in ways that make you stop and say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”
Whether it be for production inkjet, packaging, wide format, or industrial printing, inks are evolving at a rapid pace to enable the fast-growing range of print applications. This article will offer a look at some of the recent developments specific to wide-format inks—and even more specific to solvent/eco-solvent and UV inks.
One of the more active growth areas for print service providers and of digital printing equipment development is corrugated, and for good reason. Estimates of corrugated shipments in North America are in excess of 420 billion square feet and growing. Estimates for three or more color “high graphics” corrugated production is growing as well with actual output for 2019 anticipated to have 20%–30% share of the overall corrugated volume. Overall, this is an exciting market with a lot of growth potential.
Every new year brings new opportunities to grow your business. From printers to the vendors who support them, there is an opportunity in every segment and in every size print shop. Pat McGrew identifies three main “sales enhancers” to add to your 2020 business plan.
If you grew up, as I did, watching Captain Kangaroo, you’ll remember Mr. Green Jeans. These days, Green Jeans has an entirely different meaning, and San Francisco/Hong Kong based unspun set out to define the category.
From 2015 to 2016, there had been an increase of 1,586 establishments, but a decrease of -1,881 establishments, for a net loss of -295 establishments. That’s a smaller percentage change than previous years, which reflects somewhat of a deceleration in industry consolidation.
NYC’s proposed ban on fur (for fashion) causes a kerfuffle. A wearable plant vest that is...er, self-watering. A bipedal delivery robot is now for sale. Japan recycles cardboard to use as beds for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics competitors. A roundup of “highlights” from this week’s Consumer Electronics Show. “Charmin looks to disrupt the toilet experience with new technologies.” An inflatable pub for grown-up parties. At last: a color E Ink display. A deep dive into the history of the board game Scrabble—and the small Vermont town that used to manufacture all the letter tiles. A brilliant billboard advertising the new “Dracula” series. Two words: “disco clam.” Pro tip: don’t see the new “Cats” while tripping on LSD. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Up until now, technologies like cloud computing, data analytics, and artificial intelligence have largely been used independently. Moving forward, these solutions will begin to converge, building more sophisticated data-driven workflows. This article explores how 2020 will likely shape up to be a year of data.
In the printed textiles market, pigment inks are a hot topic due to their ability to print brilliant colors on a wide variety of fabrics, often without pre-treatment. WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan explains why.
To find out what consumers really think about channel preferences, the CMO Council surveyed 2,000 consumers in English-speaking countries across the world. The takeaway? Understanding, tracking, and responding to consumers’ channel preferences has never been more important.
The Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP) is complementing its Printer certification with a Supplier certification, and in 2020 will be ramping up its outreach and education efforts with regional “lunch and learn” forums. We caught up with SGP’s Marci Kinter to talk about what’s new with SGP as we enter a new decade.
Technology is invading every corner of the print industry, and many print business owners are novices when it comes to technology. How do you make good business decisions when you are not the subject matter expert? Whom do you listen to? How do you know they are qualified? Run your business like a meritocracy.
At drupa 2016, Landa Labs introduced Nano Metallography, a new metallization technology to replace foils for embellishments. This process is designed to produce zero waste at less than half the cost of foil. In February of 2017, Actega Metal Print, a division of Altana AG, acquired the technology and rebranded it EcoLeaf. The solution is now going into beta and will be fully commercialized in time for drupa 2020.
The packaging world is evolving across shape, form, and function. Agencies and designers have novel canvases to work with. Here are a few packaging trends being seen in various markets, and why each is unique.
One of the fastest-growing applications in wide-format and industrial printing is textures. While a lot has been written about how these kinds of materials are printed, not much has been said about how these textures are created. This article looks at multi configuration scanners from METIS, used to capture high-quality, photorealistic reproductions of existing surfaces.
For the fourth straight year, AATCC and SGIA joined forces to bring the Digital Textile Printing Conference to the industry, a forum that addressed pressing issues and provided nearly 140 attendees with the ability to learn, network, and provide feedback that will help the associations continue to meet the needs of an evolving industry.
What are technology’s biggest challenges for the next decade? What are the top emerging technologies? Are natural fibers better for the environment than artificial fibers? Paper-based alternative to Bubble Wrap. The eternal struggle: eagle vs. octopus. For sale: Alaskan newspaper. Cost: $0. A teenager installs a 1,500-pound mainframe computer in his parents’ basement. A portable roll-up keyboard for smartphones and tablets. The rebirth of cursive writing? Bees as service animals. Rejoice: Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” is now online! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
The Maker movement continues to grow around the globe. In this post, WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan outlines how digital technologies are spurring even further growth and opportunity in the UK market. These trends are relevant to North America as well, enabling creative individuals, designers, and artisans to build their own unique businesses and together generate a vibrant craft Industry in ever increasing numbers.
Print service providers with the highest growth rates employ great salespeople, so investing in your salespeople makes sense—especially with the rapid rate of change in our industry. New technologies and evolving buyer behaviors leave us with no choice; we either continue to learn or we become obsolete. Print service providers often believe that sales training is the key to closing more deals. Although this is a sound belief, it’s only part of the story. This article explores ways to ensure that your sales training investment pays off.
People in your organization have to keep learning new things so that you can continue to optimize your business using new tools (mostly software). Leadership’s job is to deliver the “have to” part of the learning equation.
Everyone loses when poorly designed pieces make it into the mail, so making direct mail better should be a priority for every print organization that even remotely touches the direct marketing segment. In this article, Elizabeth Gooding offers some best design practices for effective direct mail.
Lod, Israel’s Massivit 3D was founded in 2013, and in the past six years has made a substantial impact with its 3D printing technology. Erez Zimerman joined Massivit 3D four years ago as VP of Global Sales, and was appointed CEO in May 2019. We caught up with Zimerman at the recent PRINTING United show in Dallas.
At the recent SPESA Executive Conference, I had the pleasure of meeting Sarah Krasley of Shimmy, a company that provides training for garment workers using gamification (to make it more engaging) and artificial intelligence for localization, among other things. With automation increasingly expected to eliminate jobs in the textiles and other industries, upskilling of these workers is a critical investment in our future—and theirs.
A graphene jacket. A costly typo in Utah. Merriam Webster’s Word of the Year. The DNA of things”—creating materials with built-in memory. Intricate paper sculptures of microorganisms. Free shipping isn’t always free. User-tracking billboards—and with whom they share data. Who is putting hats on Las Vegas pigeons? KFC’s chicken-scented yule log. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
The value of printing shipments for October 2019 was $7.65 billion—a pretty big jump from September’s $7.14 billion. October has become the biggest month of the year, and this is the best October the industry has had since 2016.
2019 ushered in new levels of interest in improving and automating workflows, but the level of actual implementation was not as high as we would have hoped to see by now. This article explores some of the barriers to workflow automation and offers insight on overcoming them.
We can have the best business model—i.e., value proposition, profit formula, conversion process, technology, etc.—but if we don’t have qualified people suited to the jobs they hold, it all falls apart. Is this the sort of risk you are willing to take? Shouldn’t you give as much thought to hiring decisions as you do to equipment and software decisions?
Where are retailers along the curve of personalized marketing? What is the ROI? What works and what doesn’t? These were some of the questions Liveclicker wanted to answer with its report “Driving Value with Advanced Personalization.” The takeaway? Basic personalization isn’t enough anymore.
What do you provide for your sales team to get the upper hand in the marketplace? Do you have differentiation? Are you investing in something that will not only win new customers but keep existing ones?
Uteco and Kodak have just announced that they sold the first UTECO Sapphire EVO W product production inkjet press designed for flexible packaging. The “W” refers to “Wide” since this press has a 1250 mm (49 in.) width. The EVO W is the first press to be powered by the Kodak ULTRASTREAM technology. The press supports a higher resolution of 600 x 1800 dpi at up to 150 mpm (492 fpm). Overall productivity can be 4X over existing digital solutions.
A cosmetic chemist who has worked with some of the largest beauty brands, Stas Chirkov saw an opportunity to develop his own line of skincare products based on industrial hemp. In this article, he explains how he got started and details how specialized packaging impacts his ability to market his products.
For decades, digital printing for the fashion, décor, industrial, and graphics industry was relegated to sampling and short-run printing. With the advantages of innovative inkjet technology, the industry is now addressing the demand for environmentally responsible output, innovative designs, and the need to improve supply chain operation. This article examines the latest textile industry trends and the dynamics of digital innovations on this massive industry supply chain, and looks at innovations in design and digital print, as well as cutting and sewing of textile-based products.
Carlsberg Group replaces plastic ring carriers and shrinkwrapping with innovative adhesive dots. The environmental toll of haute couture. A textile-based horror movie. The death of local news. An interactive look at the graphic design and development of New York City’s subway map. An AI system attempts to write about printing shipments. “A fitness tracker for your mouth.” A new look at Marco Polo’s last year in Venice. A Welsh password generator. Cats teaching economics. A $1 hotel room—exhibitionists preferred. A smoke-breathing Godzilla Christmas tree. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly, Baby Yoda-free miscellany.
Preliminary results from our 2019 Business Outlook Survey show that one-fourth (24%) of survey respondents reported that, compared to 2018, revenues for 2019 were up more than 10%. That’s the highest this has been since we started our annual survey in 2015. Elsewhere, though, things are a bit more muted.
Spandex, Lycra, elastane: Whatever would we do without these stretchy, comfortable fabrics. And digital textile printing adds even more flexibility to what can be done with them. Textiles guru Debbie McKeegan explains.
Many print service providers are considering if and how AR solutions might improve their product offerings. This article explores some of the perceived barriers to AR adoption. Although some of these barriers are very real, some PSPs may be surprised to learn that the impact of others has been exaggerated.
The technological innovations that propel 3D printing also drive advances in 2D printing technology. Whether software, firmware, or fluids, what manufacturers learn about jetting materials for 3D printing can be applied to 2D printing—and many familiar names in the 2D printing space are active in 3D. In this article, Pete Basiliere of Monadnock Insights reports from Formnext, the largest 3D printing technology conference and exhibition, and identifies where 2D and 3D printing technologies overlap.
The Digital Textile Printing Conference 4.0, jointly presented by AATCC and SGIA, is a great way to wrap up a year full of dynamic change for the industry. It’s a full agenda designed to address the needs of everyone, from those that need a primer on digital textile printing, to those looking to expand their digital footprint, to developers who want to bring to market solutions closely attuned to existing and emerging market needs.
“Digital enhancement” or enhanced printing is one of the hottest trends in the industry and has been the talk of many recent trade shows—but enhanced print doesn’t sell itself. Pat McGrew offers some tips and strategies for selling enhanced printing to maximize ROI.
The market for CBD-based products is exploding, and will grow even more once a few of the regulatory issues have been ironed out. California-based CannaBath is an example of an entrepreneurial company that has brought CBD-based bath and body products to market and has benefited from a creative approach to packaging these products in partnership with San Diego-based Hippo Packaging.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne interviewed Craig Chumney, Vice President of Baton Rouge-based Franklin Direct Marketing, to gain insight into how the acquisition of a Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1 UV inkjet press has enhanced his business.
BOBST has been providing solutions to the printing and packaging industries for four generations, and more recently has added digital textile printing to the mix. Cary Sherburne talks with CEO Jean-Pascal Bobst.
Digital print output is forecast to grow by 65% over the next 10 years to reach $230 billion by 2029. This dynamic growth rate will be driven by incursions into package printing, as well as books and other graphic printing areas, according to Smithers report The Future of Digital Print: Long-Term Strategic Forecasts to 2029.
How are the players in the print production process like a group of musicians playing on stage? Idealliance CEO Tim Baechle offers advice for filtering out all the noise we are bombarded with and focusing on “playing in time” with others in the supply chain.
As the textiles and apparel industry continues to take heat for its highly negative impact on the environment, some companies are taking creative approaches to not only creating sustainable garments, but pushing the industry to take more aggressive steps toward carbon-neutral operation. Sheep, Inc., is one of those companies.
In October, overall printing employment dropped -0.3% from September. On a year-over-year basis, though, it was down -2.4%. Production employment was down -0.7% from September to October, but year-over-year was down -4.8%. On the other hand, non-production employment was up +0.7% from September to October, and year-over-year was up +2.9%.
What happens when a print publication goes all-digital? Has Apple News Plus cannibalized publications’ own digital efforts? Gannett and GateHouse to merge and create the biggest newspaper publisher in the US. What is in store for AR in 2020? Well, not Apple Glasses. Manhole cover-based art. Painting on Vans loafers. Hacking into pet dishes? A unique way to drug your Thanksgiving guests. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
The RMX Network is an alliance of more than 100 independent North American wide-format print service providers. It’s not a franchise, but rather an affiliation of like-minded companies that band together to support each other and help solve problems. We spoke with President Rick Bosworth to learn more about their unique business model.
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.