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Beyond the Hype: The Reality of Direct-to-Shape Printing

Printing company owners are seeking new markets as the pandemic affects their businesses, and many owners are evaluating an opportunity that leverages their inkjet printing expertise—digital direct-to-shape (D2S) printing. Contributor Pete Basiliere details the market opportunities for print providers in the D2S space.

Velox Brings Mass-Production to Digital Direct-to-Shape Printing

Velox specializes in industrial-scale direct-to-shape digital printing—or, as the company calls it, “decorating”—predominantly on tubes, aerosols, and other cylindrical items. We take a look at the capabilities of Velox’s technology.

Around the Web: Printing Proposal. Talented Typist. Feral Fabric. Interactive Ink. Flight Fantasy. Dying Dining. Transforming Technology. Silly Spectacles.

A beau proposes to his typography-loving girlfriend at the Museum of Printing. A “typewriter artist.” “Living fabric” that purifies the air around it. Interactive, “clickable” paper that doesn’t require an external power source. A videogame that simulates flying in coach, for some reason. Record chain restaurant bankruptcies. The accelerating adoption rate of new technologies. “Anti-procrastination glasses.” Sensible and silly snacking. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly doomscrolling miscellany.

Retail Sales: A V-Shaped Recovery?

The Census Bureau recently released its monthly report on retail sales, and after a dramatic plummeting, July retail sales were $536.0 billion, up 1.2% from June (seasonally adjusted), and 2.7% above July 2019. But this may paint a rosier picture of retail than is warranted.

Customization in the Manufacturing Sector and a New Definition for Fast Fashion

What’s driving customization in the textile manufacturing sector, and why do we need to redefine fast fashion production? These questions are answered by textiles expert and WhatTheyThink contributor Debbie McKeegan, who offers a look at Fashion Enter, an ethical, sustainable business that manufactures sewn products and which has embraced digitization and continue to invest in the future.

Supporting Remote Employees During COVID: Working from Home or Hardly Working?

Many of us are still struggling to figure out how to best work from home as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Although some found the sudden transition from “work office” to “home office” earlier this year to be relatively simple, other struggled without the devices and support systems that they would normally rely on each day. This article cites data points from recent Keypoint Intelligence research to explore how people are coping with limited resources while working from home.

Canon Solutions America Launches Fifth-Generation Arizona Series UV Flatbed Printer

Yesterday, Canon Solutions America announced the new Arizona 2300 Series wide-format flatbed printer. The new series is built on a novel approach to media handling that eliminates zones, masking, and taping, helping speed job changeover and reduce operator intervention.

How COVID-19 Is Changing Consumer Patterns—and Why Marketing Strategy Should Change With Them

Marketers are anxiously awaiting the world to “return to normal,” but what does normal look like? Even when consumers start buying again, there may be radical changes in product categories, segmentation, and product positioning that will outlast the pandemic. Do your clients know what they are? Are they prepared to adjust to them?

Process Creators vs. Process Followers

As your business matures and grows, you will need to improve your processes. As software invades every corner of your business, your processes have to change to adapt to the new reality. You need to know who in your company is a process creator.

Inkjet Innovation Week Highlights: New Inkjet Hardware, Software, and Media Are Driving the Market Forward

In June, Inkjet Insight presented Inkjet Innovation Week, a series of webinars that organized the latest inkjet announcements in the context of current market trends and new application segments. The topics covered included trends in production inkjet in the document and packaging space, snapshots of new inkjet product releases, highlights of recent software updates driving inkjet productivity, and an overview of new inkjet papers and specialty media opportunities. This article provides some highlights of the webinar series.

All Projects Great and Small: Phil Fox Takes Signs By Tomorrow Fort Worth to New Heights of Signage

Offering a diverse array of applications, from banners and feather flags, to vehicle wraps, to ADA signage, to channel letters 30 stories above the ground, Signs By Tomorrow Fort Worth has grown dramatically since Phil Fox bought the franchise in early 2018. An emphasis on marketing and versatility have been the keys to growth—even in the midst of a global pandemic.

Watch Out Inkjet: Toner Appears to Be Poised to Make a Comeback

Now that production inkjet has finally reached the offset quality barrier, some believe that it is the death knell for toner. Although as Mark Twain said, “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated” and based on recent developments in toner technology I believe that is the case here as well.

Bringing Fashion Back to St. Louis

Did you know that St. Louis, Mo., was a fashion hub from the turn of the 20th century until the end of World War II? Now there are significant efforts to reestablish the city’s fashion prominence, led by the Saint Louis Fashion Fund. We spoke with co-founder Susan Sherman, and the CEO of high-tech knitting manufacturer Evolution St. Louis, Jon Lewis, to learn how their initiatives are progressing.

Automating Imposition: Agnostic, Smart, and Easy?

Considering most printing companies have an assortment of presses, finishing equipment, and product types, having disparate imposition workflows is a very inefficient way to manage it. Ultimate has raised the bar again with the just-released Impostrip 2020.

Around the Web: Sunflower Savior. Catalog Characters. Digital Decor. Sumptuous Sewing. Signage Surveillance. Abused Androids. Postal Paintings. Cosmic Comm. Rock Riddle. Foul Fraud.

The Hidden Disabilities Sunflower program comes to the US. IKEA Taiwan adds Animal Crossing characters to its catalog. Also: 70 years of IKEA catalogs are now online. Amazon launches AR-based furniture decorating. A “thread artist” sews realistic embroidered foods. Clear Channel’s new billboards can track your movements. How to combat the growing scourge of robot abuse. A photo essay looks at the US’s New Deal-era post office murals. John Shepherd devoted his life to trying to contact space aliens. Newly discovered research notes describe an attempt to decipher the Rosetta Stone. Two words: vomit fraud. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly virtual miscellany.

PR Agencies—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 8,219 establishments in NAICS 54182 (Public Relations Agencies). After a slight contraction due to the Great Recession, PR agencies started to grow again, peaking at 8,548 establishments in 2018. In addition, we estimate there were an additional 37,954 freelance or sole proprietor PR agency establishments in 2018. In macro news: Q2 GDP revised up.

“Circular Is the New Black”: Redefining the Fashion Industry

There has been a great deal of discussion here and elsewhere about how the pandemic has accelerated efforts to restructure the textiles and apparel supply chain, resulting in both companies exiting China for destinations such as Vietnam and India, as well as reshoring of textiles and apparel in the US and Europe facilitated by the growing availability of digital technologies that enable new ways to design, manufacture and distribute textiles and apparel. This article contains a review of a report from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation: “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future.” Well worth reading in full!

The Impending Creativity Boom in Print

Amid uncertainty about what the future might hold, many people have discovered that the COVID-19 pandemic has given them additional time for projects. This article explores the recent uptick in creative output and considers what this might mean for creative amateurs and the industry.

Peek Inside Salesforce.com’s “State of Marketing Survey” (Sixth Edition) and the Challenges It Paints for Marketers

Growing data repositories, fractured data management, and the need for automated solutions to extract actionable insights are among the top challenges seen in the data of Salesforce.com’s sixth annual “State of Marketing Survey.”

Augmented Reality: Revolutionizing the Value of Print

Augmented reality (AR) has played a somewhat limited role to date in the world of print and packaging, with its largest footprint in the digital world—but that may be about to change. Cary Sherburne looks at some recent AR-enabled catalogs developed by Paris and Montreal’s ARGO.

Online Ordering Adoption Begins with Customer Service

Your customer service team is the place to start online ordering adoption. You can practice your sales pitch on them and then teach them how to pitch your customers into a self-service workflow.

Creating A Sales Strategy—Part 1: Where Are You Now?

Now that you know that you have both a marketing workflow and a sales workflow, it’s time to consider your sales strategy and what you need to support that strategy. Pat McGrew identifies what you need to evaluate your strategy and support it with collateral.

Xanté’s InfoMark Finds Religion...Or Vice Versa

Last year, Xanté had launched InfoMark, a way of linking supplementary and complementary digital and multimedia assets to print media by means of a four- or five- digit code. Since it was launched, InfoMark has evolved, and extenuating circumstances have led to its growing adoption in some markets that Xanté had not originally considered. We caught up with Xanté president Robert Ross.

Connecting The Dots—Kornit’s Acquisition of Custom Gateway Creates Powerful Print On Demand Solutions For Ecommerce Fulfillment

Kornit is expanding its digital capabilities through the acquisition of Custom Gateway, positioning itself to offer a complete end-to-end digital production process. Textiles expert Debbie McKeegan explains.

drupa 2021 Essentials of Print: The Most Exciting Design Tool Ever

Art director Hadar Peled Vaissmanlays out how the design community should embrace digital print as their new design tool, as it can help designers reach new heights of creativity, stretch the limits of their imaginations, and design campaigns that better connect with younger generations.

How Casting Votes By Mail Could Work (Well)

Safe, socially distanced general elections in 2020 are proving to be a boon for print and mail service providers that can handle specialized operations, including “ballot mail.” Contributor Mark Vruno takes a close look at vote by mail (VBM).

Printing Shipments On the Rebound: Will It Last?

After a dismal April and May, printing shipments rebounded in June to $6.63 billion. It’s a hopeful sign, but the COVID-19 crisis is far from over. It’s going to be a tense fall.

Around the Web: Data Design. Militant Masker. Dairy Ditties. Pixel Papa. Transparent Toilets. Tudor Trickery. Body-Shaming Bistro. Fantastic Flash.

Stock market data transformed into beautiful landscapes. A “mask gun” shoots face masks onto people’s faces. A deep dip into ice cream truck music. A woman’s driver’s license photo is an empty chair. Russell Kirsch, the inventor of the pixel, passed away at 91. Japan’s public lavatories with see-through walls. A 16th-century deep fake. A look back a the first “interactive TV show”—from 1953. A restaurant in China weighs customers before they order. The making of the great camp classic— 1980’s “Flash Gordon.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly unmasked miscellany.

Epson Launches Its First Industrial-Class Dye-Sublimation Printer

Epson’s new SureColor F10070 sports new features and capabilities, sure to help spur growth in digital textile fabric printing. Cary Sherburne takes a look at this new printer.

Distance Working/Learning During a Pandemic: Pros and Cons

Earlier this year, the world changed forever with the COVID-19 outbreak. Businesses and schools temporarily shut down, and many employees and students were suddenly forced into a remote setting with little—or no—advance warning. Although some employees and students have thrived in this distance situation, others have struggled and continue to struggle. Amid continued uncertainty and a new school year just around the corner, this article explores the pros and cons of remote working and distance learning.

The Impact of Remote Working

What potential business disruptions should we be thinking about post-COVID-19? There are several. Most of them, at first glance, seem inconsequential but, on closer examination, could have significant impact. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at changes in how we work and examines how they could impact the way we do business after the crisis has passed.

Marco Boer of IT Strategies on How the Pandemic Will Drive Inkjet Growth

Conversation with Marco Boer, vice president of IT Strategies, about the changes in production being driven by the pandemic, including the impact of the cost of paper on hardware selection.

The COVID-19 Era Is a Time to Contract and Rebuild Your Print Business

COVID-19 is a challenge and an opportunity to rebuild and make changes to your business that would otherwise be met with the standard “this is how we’ve always done it” line of resistance.

We Must Shift to a Bespoke Manufacturing Model

“Bespoke” means custom-made and designed to a particular requirement. Local-to-local, bespoke, organized, and automated manufacturing is not without its challenges, but post-pandemic, it may be a better option than relying on a single global provider. ColorKarma’s Shoshana Burgett explains all about bespoke manufacturing and the role of design.

What’s in Your Marketing Workflow?—Part 2: Creating a Plan

Last month, Pat McGrew offered tips and strategies for optimizing your sales workflow. This month, she turns to marketing workflows. When times get tough, marketing often disappears from the radar. For companies that have not been marketing their services, the challenge of remaining visible in a chaotic market is even harder. In Part 2 of this two-part series, Pat describes how to develop a strategic marketing plan.

A Printer’s Guide to Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Interactive Print

When you make print interactive—with QR codes, AI, Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)—you bridge analog and digital worlds, capture the attention of prospects and customers for a longer period of time, and foster smoother business operations. Joanne Gore provides an overview of interactive print technologies and the opportunities for printers.

Six UK References for Antiviral Textiles and Specialist Coatings that You Should Consider

In light of the global pandemic, increased attention is being paid to antimicrobial coatings for fabrics. Formerly reserved for medical and healthcare interiors, these fabrics are now in demand across multiple segments.

Mail Volumes Plunge in the Age of COVID

Since the COVID-19 lockdown across the country in early March, mail volumes have plunged—but the pandemic is only accentuating the USPS’s pre-existing problems. This feature, by Paul Miller, vice president and deputy director of the American Catalog Mailers Association (ACMA), also includes highlights from an ACMA survey of catalog mailers and suppliers.

Advertising Agencies—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 13,248 establishments in NAICS 54181 (Advertising Agencies). After a slight contraction due to the Great Recession, agencies started to grow again, peaking at 13,737 establishments in 2018. In addition, we estimate there were an additional 60,994 freelance or sole proprietor agency establishments in 2018. In macro news: initial unemployment claims dip below 1 million.

Around the Web: Fashion’s Future. Revised Revenues. Calling Cards. Flaming Photography. Slithering Smartphone. Video Vacation. Manhattan Migration. Mechanical Music. Rim Recording.

Online retail is the future of fashion. The NYT’s digital revenues surpass print for the first time in 170 years. WTIN is making its must-read Digital Textile eMag available for free. Has the ever-resilient business card finally met its match? A pictorial celebration of the postcard. The making of one of rock's most iconic album covers. A smartphone case with robotic legs allows a phone to crawl to its charging pad, creepily enough. The last remaining Blockbuster Video store is a retro Airbnb. Electrical outlet covers that double as motion-sensitive lights. Retailers are fleeing NYC. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly virtual miscellany.

Keeping Customers Educated in the Age of COVID-19

We all understand that it’s important to develop a sound marketing strategy during these uncertain times, and educating your customers is a vital component of this strategy. Businesses like Apple and Microsoft are well-known for offering great on-site training demonstrations so customers can get the most out of their devices. Unfortunately, in-person education isn’t an option during a pandemic. The good news is that there are still many ways to educate consumers and keep them engaged even if a live meeting is impossible.

Digital Textile Printing Inks Sets and Print Processes Explained

As digital textile printing continues to gain steam in light of a needed supply chain restructuring for the industry, it can be confusing, especially for new entrants to the field, which ink is best for each fabric type and application. Textiles expert and Texintel CEO Debbie McKeegan explains the differences between five different digital textile printing ink sets.

Identifying Important Data Decisions

Data decisions get made everyday in your print business. Here are three examples of important data decisions that we can all learn from.

Software Makes Personalization Easy...But We Still Have to Think

Just because certain types of personalization have become easier to implement doesn’t mean that the human element isn’t important. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever. Software makes it easier to spit out “personalized” documents, but the people behind those documents still have to think. 

Sustainability: The Great Reset—What Can We Do?

The planet earth and its natural resources have not grown in over 4 billion years, yet the population has increased from 800 million in 1700 to almost 8 billion in 2020, all competing for their share and putting great stress on the environment and the population. It is obvious that this rate of growth can’t be sustained without some proactive behavioral changes.

Partnering! Canva Brings the Creative to Office Depot Customers

Thanks to a new collaboration between the global design platform Canva and the robust workplace solutions team at Office Depot, small businesses can quickly and easily develop creative content for different kinds of print and non-print applications—everything from reports and posters to menus and yard signs, even social media marketing campaigns.

Buyers are On The Move and On Track—July 2020 M&A Activity

CJK Acquires Quad Book Plant, Mittera Executes on Strategy (Again), and more…

Printing Plants and Robots After the Coronavirus

This article addresses how to protect the labor force in printing plants from being infected by viruses and get a better and more profitable company structure by implementing Industry 4.0.

EU Graphene Flagship Initiative Explores Innovative Graphene Uses

We’ve been following some of the research on graphene for some time now. Developments and innovations are continuing, especially in the European Union. Here we review the EU Graphene Flagship Initiative and some of the developments related to the textiles and apparel industry, including how graphene can affect advances in wearables.

Around the Web: Missing Mondays. Silly Signage. Adapting Architecture. Foxy Fetishist. Cirrus Sneakers. Crazy Convertible. Pixellated Pack. Circular Sketching.

There will no longer be a Monday print edition of a newspaper anywhere in Wyoming. Amusing social distancing signage from Down Under.  How will the COVID pandemic affect architecture? Germany’s shoe-stealing fox. 3D-printed sneakers based on clouds. The Boatswagon boat-car hybrid is up for auction. 8Bit Playing Cards simulate 1980s-era computer graphics. A new, limited edition Etch a Sketch lets you draw circles. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly virtual miscellany.

May Printing Shipments—Now It’s Serious

Printing shipments for May 2020 came in at $6.42 billion, down from $6.51 in April and way down from $7.21 billion back in January. This may be as dire as shipments get, but we don’t expect to break $7 billion again for a long while.

The New Wearable Takes Center Stage Thanks to Digital Textile Printing Technologies

As the global pandemic crisis has evolved, the print community has sprung into action, converting capacity freed up by declining demand to production of personal protective equipment (PPE) for first-line workers and average citizens. This includes, of course, face masks, which has turned into big business. Read about one example of how a supplier has provided tools to make production of these life-saving masks easier.

Developing a Marketing Strategy: Positioning for Success During COVID-19 and Beyond

Due in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are now thinking very differently about their bottom lines, profit projections, and revenues than they were just a few months ago. Keypoint Intelligence’s research has confirmed that most print service providers (PSPs) have seen a drop-off in sales and/or an uptick in cancelled orders due to current market conditions. This article explores smart marketing techniques during COVID-19 and beyond.

Web-to-Print’s Primary Value is Customer Convenience

Online ordering is about customer convenience. How do you leverage technology and self service to make it easier for your customers to do business with you?

What Buyers Want From Brands...Right Now

As the U.S. economy begins to gradually reopen, marketers are wondering what consumers are thinking. Do they intend to return to shopping as normal? Are their feelings about their favorite brands changing? How do they want marketers to interact with them in these new and changing times? An April 2020 survey from Influence Central provides some insight.

What’s Your Marketing Workflow?—Part 1: Building a Framework

Last month, Pat McGrew offered tips and strategies for optimizing your sales workflow. This month, she turns to marketing workflows. When times get tough, marketing often disappears from the radar. For companies that have not been marketing their services, the challenge of remaining visible in a chaotic market is even harder. In Part 1 of this two-part series, Pat describes how to set up a marketing workflow.

Is Now the Right Time to Gear Up for the Next Era in Digital Print?

Commercial printing has been in decline for the last decade,yet it is still a huge, multi-billion-dollar industry. While the total commercial print volume will continue to slide, digital printing’s share of the pie will continue to grow both in terms of volume and value. This article, sponsored by HP Indigo, looks at three HP Indigo 100K Digital Press customers and the steps they took to push their businesses forward, even as they are dealing with the effects of the global pandemic.

Benson Integrated Marketing Solutions Creates W2P Store for COVID Signage and Safety Materials

Benson Integrated Marketing Solutions offers a wide variety of small- and wide-format printing, signage, apparel, and promotional materials to the multi-family home real estate market. Early adopters of web-to-print, Benson provides individual B2B sites for customers through which they can order customized materials, and has recently launched a B2C site for COVID-related products.

How Much Do Your Jeans Mean to You?

Do you know how much water it takes to make a single pair of jeans? The answer will likely shock you. In this article, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne explores how a commitment to zero-waste fashion—and some emerging technologies—can save precious water and protect our planet yet still let us enjoy those comfortable jeans and other fashion items.

The Impact of COVID-19 on the European Print Industry

WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer looks at May 2020 production index data released by the European statistical office. Unsurprisingly, the data showed a big dip due to coronavirus restrictions with a low reached in April and some recovery starting in May—although there are some country-by-country differences. Roughly speaking, the European print industry lost about 30% of its output volume in April.

Around the Web: Farewell, Folio:. Goofy Gift. Temporary Tees. Pod Printing. Transformed Telephones. Vanishing Views. Foul Food.

BoSacks memorializes the late great Folio: magazine. Customized bobbleheads make grea—well, let’s just say they make gifts. A concept for temporary, recyclable promotional items. English communities adopt and reuse iconic red phone boxes. A new book looks at the impending death of local journalism. “Hot Dog Rice Krispies Treats.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly doomscrolling miscellany.

Graphic Design Services—2010–2018

In 2010, there were 15,390 establishments in NAICS 54143 (Graphic Design Services). After something of a contraction due to the Great Recession, graphic design establishments started to grow again, peaking at 15,776 establishments in 2018. In addition, we estimate there were an additional 119,037 freelance graphic design establishments in 2018. In macro news: GDP falls off the cliff.

How Hybrid Digital Textile Print Technology Is Unlocking the Textiles Value Chain

As machine manufacturers increasingly add hybrid functions to textile solutions, production costs go down while throughput goes up; in fact, the EFI Reggiani BOLT can produce more than 5,400 linear meters per hour and can include two analog stations for embellishments such as metallics. These speeds and the accompanying functionality rival traditional analog solutions and have a hugely smaller environmental footprint. Learn more.

Going Remote in the Print Industry

As we’ve all discovered, there are challenges with going remote—in addition to the human component, there are also technological requirements (e.g., IoT and automation). In this article, Keypoint Intelligence outlines strategies for preparing for the current and future realities of our changing business world.

Data Doesn’t Help You If You Don’t Understand or Trust It

Most companies understand the value of data in driving their marketing campaigns. The problem is, most marketers don’t understand or trust the data they have. In fact, when data contradicts preconceived beliefs—the very time data is most important—companies often dismiss the data and go with their guts instead. So what good is it?

Systemize the Predictable in Your Print Business

Your business is made up of two kinds of processes: predictable ones and exceptions. A well-run business has codified or systematized the predictable business processes so that the humans working in the business apply all their skills to the exceptions.

SpeedPro East Bay Declared Winner of the Coveted 2019 Project of the Year Award

The winner of SpeedPro’s 2019 Project of the Year Award, Alameda, Calif.’s SpeedPro East Bay, turned an emergency hospital corridor into a pathway showcasing the rich history of Oakland’s Highland Hospital.

Heidelberg Realignment: A Perspective in Context

Over the last 170 years, Heidelberg has developed many new products, some have rewarded them with great success and others not. As an engineering company, it is in their nature to keep innovating, and as Albert Einstein said, “The only sure way to avoid making mistakes is to have no new ideas.”

Wide-Format, Signage, and Apparel Technology Update

This feature rounds up some of the highlights of our Technology Outlook article and webinar series specific to wide-format, signage, and textiles and apparel, offering up some product releases and trends from the first half of 2020.

How Cloud Computing Is Transforming CCM

Will Morgan, Senior Research Analyst for Aspire CCS, provides some key takeaways from a new report that takes an in-depth look at the state of cloud computing in Customer Communications Management (CCM) and highlights opportunities for enterprises and services providers who are ready to modernize their communications strategies.

Leaving Labels—Heidelberg Selling Gallus

WhatTheyThink European section editor Ralf Schlözer takes a close look at today’s announcement that Heidelberg is selling its Gallus label press business, as well as what the future may hold for Heidelberg.

Graphic Arts Employment—June 2020

As the song goes, “getting better all the time (can’t get any worse)”: in June 2020, overall printing employment is up +1.1% from May, although down -15.5% from June 2019. So a lot of the April damage is continuing to reverse itself.

Around the Web: Garrulous Glove. Clever Cups. Zany Zoom. Substitute Searching. Satisfying Screaming. Deserting Diners. Fudged Form. Callipygous Curation. Classical Cobain.

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.

Keypoint Intelligence Gears Up for Its Outstanding Achievement in Innovation Awards

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.

The Fashion Industry Faces a Step-Change Post-COVID, Say McKinsey and Kornit Digital

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.

Training Pays Off: How to Maximize Prepress Training

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 Billboards? Interesting Idea from DuckDuckGo

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 to Expand Your Customer Solutions

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.

What’s in Your Sales Workflow?—Part 2: Workflows Have Building Blocks

“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.

Mimaki in 3D

Mimaki's recently introduced 3D printer models are giving commercial printers an entry into 3D printing—and are finding applications in some unique market niches.

Sizing the European Printing Industry

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.

How Effective is Your Cloth Mask?

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.

Directory and Mailing List Publishing Establishments—2010–2017

In 2010, there were 1,641 US directory and mailing list publishing establishments; by 2017, that number had plummeted to 756.

Around the Web: Vegetable Vending. Penny Peril. Cube Reaction. Noise Negation. Deadly Dolphin. Forms Fun.

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.

Good People, Good Teams, Good Strategy

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.

What Is the Impact of Data on Creative Fashion?

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.

Reducing Your Risk at the Printer

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 Solidifies Their Production Inkjet Leadership Position with ProStream 1800

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.

IT Infrastructure and Software Performance

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.

Is It Time to Stop Talking About “Millennials”?

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?

The Factory NYC Takes Experiential Graphics to the Next Dimension

Brooklyn-based fabrication shop The Factory NYC is taking experiential graphics and retail displays to the next level with its new Massivit 3D printer, helping make big brands even bigger.

What’s Your Sales Workflow?—Part 1: Managing Customer Relations

In this two-part series, Pat McGrew offers advice, tips, and strategies for optimizing your “sales workflow.” In part one, she takes a look at managing customer relationships via a CRM.

Paper Treatment to Protect Against Spread of Coronavirus

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.

Fence-Free Collaborative Robots 4.0: Cobots and Robots Change the Printing Industry

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.

drupa 2021 Essentials of Print: Assessments, Platforms, and Making Money with Workflow

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.

Factory Automation for Printing Fabric On Demand Translates to Big Business for Raspberry Creek Fabrics

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.

April Printing Shipments—Here We Go

As we expected, April 2020 printing shipments took a tumble—falling from $7.18 billion in March down to $6.56 billion. Hmm...what could have caused that?

Around the Web: Digital Dyeing. Hat Hare. Color Conflict. Banning Ban. Bistro Bots. Bringing Back Boomboxes. Conferencing Cleanliness. Crazy Car Concept. Hidden Honda. Larson’s Latest.

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.

Estimating: Your Customers Least Favorite Aspect of Print Buying

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.

Donuts Lead the Way in Return to Normalcy  —June 2020 M&A Activity

Southern Champion Tray Acquires, Brook & Whittle Establishes Western Presence, and more…