Annualized profits for Q4 2019 took a nosedive from $720 million to -$170 million in the latest chapter in our “tale of two cities” narrative, this time with the profitability gap between large and small printers narrowing.
Few would dispute that we’ve entered a period of profound change. COVID-19 is causing radical shifts in workflow across the globe as millions practice social distancing and/or comply with self-quarantine recommendations. The pandemic’s dramatic appearance has accelerated numerous trends while slowing others. Although there is no doubt that COVID-19 is a transformative force, it is not bringing us into Industry 5.0.
Global demand for T-shirts continues to grow with direct-to-garment printing being the top technology choice for decorating them with an annual double-digit growth rate projected. Learn why pigment inks are key to maintaining—and even accelerating—this growth rate.
As output and substrate technologies continue to improve, wayfinding signage opportunities remain rife for commercial and wide-format printers in 2020 and beyond. However, to land these types of jobs, you first need to know with whom to engage.
Fun collection of direct mail fails that represent the kind of classic mistakes we see on a regular basis. While these examples are funny, there is a serious message behind them. Know your direct mail fails... and don’t let your clients repeat them!
Adult learning is hard especially when you’re transitioning from a toolset that your people have been comfortably using for years. Do not give the resistance any power and do not try to force the new system to work like the old one—you will pay dearly for that in the form of lost productivity.
Anyone in a creative role knows the importance of choosing the right color. From packaging to apparel to consumer products to marketing materials, color can make or break a design. If color is so important, why is it so hard to get right in production? Colorkarma’s Shoshana Burgettexplains what creatives and their suppliers need to know about color.
One of the more popular means of digitally printing to fabrics is heat transfer dye sublimation where images are printed on a sublimation transfer paper and then processed through a heating unit (calender) to sublimate the image into fabric. Until now, this process has been limited to polyester or polyester blends. Neenah Coldenhove is addressing this shortfall with its new digital transfer paper for natural fibers.
According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 5,187 establishments in NAICS 323113 (Commercial Screen Printing). This represents an increase of +16% since the decade began.
Designer Ariel Swedroe designs and sews masks for Miami health care practitioners. Will fashion’s move toward sustainability survive the COVID-19 crisis? A lavish picture book about the chemical elements. Will the Postal Service survive the COVID-19 crisis? Classic album covers redesigned to promote social distancing. “Overly descriptive color palettes.” Is Merino wool an answer to the marine microplastics pollution problem? A “building block waffle maker.” A real-life rom-com for the viral age. Does a USB drive get heavier as you store more files on it? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.
The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed significant shortcomings in today’s supply chain structure. As companies look to reconfigure their supply base, do they also nee to think about radically restructuring manufacturing processes? This thoughtful piece from textiles industry expert Debbie McKeegan addresses that issue.
There’s no denying that times are tough. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, most print service providers were seeking ways to increase their business revenue while also working smarter and faster. This article explores how PSPs can uncover new opportunities as they work through this crisis, and perhaps even grow from it.
How are wide-format and signage providers coping with the COVID-19 crisis? Some are playing important roles in providing safety signage, while others still serve businesses that are classified as “essential.” In the first of a series of “check in” articles, we look at how the crisis has impacted the wide-format and signage market.
What will be the long-term impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the printing industry? There are three possibilities: It will shift even more communications to digital channels as marketers reduce their direct mail spend during the lockdown and keep it that way; direct mail volume will remain unchanged; or direct mail could see a resurgence as marketers and their customers develop a newfound appreciation for the channel they’ve been missing.
Canon has announced the next generation in its VarioPrint line of sheetfed inkjet presses. The varioPRINT iX series is built on a new platform, based on the experiences from the current i-series platform, and is designed for commercial print applications.
One of the popular additions to print shops around the world is the ability to create products that add white ink, embossing, debossing, foil, iridescent and neon colors, metallics, varnishes, texture, and unique folds to create high value. We call it CYMK+ because much of this work is created on digital presses and the ability to add enhancements is the plus. The breadth of options for enhancement provide myriad possibilities, but that might make it hard to find a talk track for the sales team. In part two of this two-part feature, Pat McGrew explains how to build a sales kit to sell CMYK+ capabilities.
Our multi-part series on the “Cannabis Gold Rush” continues with Joanne Gore’s look at opportunities in cannabis publishing, as well as packaging, and she offers some advice on partnering with cannabis businesses.
Last year, the Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) teamed up with the Tarsus Group, the organizers of Labelexpo, to launch a new show called Brand Print Americas. The inaugural event will be co-located with Labelexpo Americas, September 15–17 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, Ill. We spoke with Andy Thomas-Emans, Strategic Director of Tarsus Labels, Packaging and Brand Print Group, about the new show and how it complements Labelexpo.
A growing number of companies are popping up in North America that offer custom apparel produced on demand. This is an important supply chain shift, both from an environmental and economic perspective as weaknesses in global supply chains have increasingly come to the forefront. Not everything, of course, can be produced on demand. But companies like California-based Equipe are demonstrating that local production is not only feasible, but a viable alterative for a growing variety of apparel and home décor items.
On March 30, Xeikon unveiled its extensive plans for what was to be its drupa 2020 exhibit in an exclusive briefing for the media. Following the briefing, we spoke with Filip Weymans, Xeikon’s Vice President of Marketing, to gain deeper insight into the strategy behind these developments, how being part of Flint Group has benefited the company, and more. In light of the postponement of drupa till April of 2021, Xeikon is putting plans in place to support the industry with continued innovation during the balance of 2020.
Xeikon isn’t waiting until drupa 2021 to introduce new products they have been working on. The SX30000, Cheetah 2.0, and an upgraded X-800 are designed to reduce operating costs and increase competitiveness compared with other EP press manufacturers and entry level inkjet solutions like the Canon VarioPrint i300, and Xerox’s Rialto and Baltoro.
At $6.94 billion, January shipments were down a little from December’s $6.98 billion, but that was just slightly lower than January 2016’s $6.95 billion—the best January we have had since then. But, elephant in the room...
So what are we talking about this week? Textile and apparel companies, among others, are helping provide masks and other protective gear for the COVID-19 crisis. Twitter tales of social distancing. “Zoombombing.” Running a 26-mile marathon on a seven-foot balcony. The evolution of Internet humor via coronavirus memes. New coronavirus-related words and phrases are entering the lexicon at a rapid rate. The grossest home offices ever. Webcams that keep eyes out for UFO, Bigfoot, and ghosts. Another livestream, another camera filter left on. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.
MindFire established the COVID-19 Print Group on LinkedIn to provide a forum for printers to help each other share volumes, information, and advice as more states issue Stay at Home policies and organizations are forced to close, leaving clients without service. In three days, membership has grown from zero to nearly 800 members.
To keep their offerings fresh and current, today’s PSPs must change the conversation and shift the focus away from price and toward value-added services. This document discusses how PSPs can highlight the benefits that customers and prospects can enjoy from value-added services.
One thing about a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic is that it can bring people together to come up with creative ways to help. We are starting to hear stories about how players in the textiles and apparel industry are doing just that, converting operations to the production of much-needed masks and other PPE, and we wanted to share these inspiring stories with you.
The quality of the address on a mailing list can have a significant impact. A single error in an address—a wrong/missing apartment number or an incorrect zip code—can lead to marketing messages, bills, statements, critical privacy, or compliance materials being delayed, misdelivered, or returned. Improving address quality allows your organization to control these costs, improve efficiency, deliver great customer experience, retain loyal customers, and ultimately increase revenues. Postal expert Christine Erna explains how.
As the world reels from the impact of the coronavirus and the increasing scarcity of critical medical equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators, the 3D maker community is stepping in to do its part. Do you have a 3D printer? Join the movement.
As the articles in our series on the cannabis packaging market have shown, this is a high-growth area—but various pitfalls abound. David Zwang talks to several companies producing packaging for the cannabis market and highlights the opportunities they've found and the challenges they faced.
As the options for applied graphics proliferate, it can be a challenge for print service providers to keep up, and yet it has never been more important to understand how a material will perform both on press and on its intended surface. As a result, consumables manufactures are playing a greater consultative role.
Everyone thinks they don’t need to worry about cybersecurity—until they do. And when there is a data breach, it can be costly and embarrassing—and maybe even business-damaging. Cybersecurity expert Kevin Keane explains why printing businesses need to take data management and security seriously.
The continued evolution of digital technologies, including printing, for textile-based products has opened the door to more reshoring of manufacturing as well as on-demand production, ease of customization and more. Florida-based Catalyst Fabric Solutions is taking advantage of all of these trends for business growth.
This is an unprecedented and chaotic time, the nature of business is changing rapidly, and everyone in the organization, from the top down, feels the stress. Wayne Lynn offers some guidance for business leaders to help alleviate employee stress.
More alternatives to handshaking. A Chicago restaurant offers free...dinner rolls. “Social distancing enforcement object.” A field guide to local foliage should the TP shortage become acute. Brooklyn restaurateurs uncover a trove of historical materials from a 19th century restaurant. A woman mistakes cheese for soap. Macmillan cancels its plans to deny libraries access to ebooks. An Ice Age house made of mammoth bones. Faux stained glass window clings for airplanes. E Ink’s new tablet could be a hit. The Shaft Bottom Boys play world’s deepest concert. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly self-quarantined miscellany.
According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 25,256 establishments in NAICS 323 (Printing and Related Support Activities). This represents a decline of 13% since the decade began.
Designers are quickly becoming aware of the new opportunities offered by digital technologies for the fashion and home décor industries. In this article, we focus in on Jie Ren and his Fashion Collections, reflecting a new era of fashion manufacturing.
Employee retention is a top-of-mind issue for nearly every organization. Proper training can improve employee retention and increase company growth. This document explores how today’s print service providers (PSPs) are allocating their training dollars.
According to new research from Printing for Less (PFL) and Demand Metric, marketers are not always using the most effective channels, even when they know what they are. Instead, they use the channels they know and are most familiar with. A look at some intriguing data on channel use and channel effectiveness, including types of direct mail.
The second in a series of articles about the current cannabis landscape, and the potential opportunities in cannabis product packaging. Market research from Smithers—The Future of Cannabis Packaging to 2024—forecasts that as this market evolves, the value of the packaging for legal cannabis products will rise from $493 million to exceed $1.63 billion in 2024.
We find ourselves in difficult times, the conditions of which are delivering a window of opportunity to do strategic projects that will accelerate your business when the economic engine starts running at full speed again.
The first in a series of articles about the current cannabis landscape. While this is a high-growth market opportunity for packaging converters, it is also still a Wild West environment, and there are many misunderstandings about what it is comprised of, what’s legal and what’s not, and what the actual benefits of cannabis-derived products are from a health and well-being perspective. In this introductory feature, Cary Sherburne provides an overview of the current state of the market, including definitions, and applications, as well as developments in packaging and even apparel.
One of the popular additions to print shops around the world is the ability to create products that add white ink, embossing, debossing, foil, iridescent and neon colors, metallics, varnishes, texture, and unique folds to create high value. We call it CYMK+ because much of this work is created on digital presses and the ability to add enhancements is the plus. The breadth of options for enhancement provide myriad possibilities, but that might make it hard to find a talk track for the sales team. In this two-part feature, Pat McGrew walks through the steps to sell CMYK+ capabilities.
Last week we attended RadTech’s 2020 UV+EB Technology Conference in Orlando. Richard Romano reports on some of the new trends in energy-cured inks for packaging, 3D printing, and how UV technology is helping combat the coronavirus.
We all love our blue jeans. They are comfortable, often stylish, but what about their impact on the environment? What if you could have a pair of jeans with an almost indistinguishable look on the outside, but silky soft on the inside, with a 97% water footprint reduction? Sound impossible? With new fabric printing technologies, it’s totally achievable. Read what Dalton Cheng of Intech has to say on this subject and more.
Printed electronics have been hyped as a potential growth area for printers for years. Pete Basiliere offers a reality check on the current state of printed electronics, what some top applications are, and what printers need to know if they want to pursue them.
A round up of some virus-laden news items. Apple’s Quick Look adds AR to shopping. Virtual fashion makes “fit pics” sustainable. A Dutch shopping mall that doesn’t sell anything. “Geofencing warrants” trace geolocation data to crime scenes. Building a crab infrastructure on Christmas Island. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
In February 2020, overall printing employment was virtually unchanged from January (-0.1%) and on a year-over-year basis was down -2.0%. Interestingly, production employment was up, albeit infinitesimally.
On the heels of the HP PageWide announcement last week, HP Indigo has now announced some significant technology and product advancements which seem to reaffirm industry shifts, but more importantly highlight the company’s direction going forward.
Virtually every printed document requires some type of finishing. The expanding array of digital printing methods has changed the nature of finishing from large-scale devices focused on offset printing to automated methods that often occur alongside a production digital printer. To reach its true potential, the role of finishing must evolve as well. Recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends offers important insights on how print service providers (PSPs) can leverage finishing to win business and drive profitability.
Having employees that are engaged in and satisfied with their jobs can give a business a powerful competitive edge. In this article, Wayne Lynn looks at the positive impacts that engaged employees can have on a print business’ bottom line.
As we enter the third decade of the 21st century, the Customer Communications Management (CCM) market is undergoing radical changes on an evolutionary scale. In order to better understand the forces behind this evolution, late last year Aspire CCSsurveyed 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 four-part series, published in partnership with WhatTheyThink, will take a look at some of the key takeaways from this research by first examining the forces driving this evolution.
HP likes to combine technology innovation with the release of a new press. In this case, the new innovation is HP Brilliant InkTMand the press is the new HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD. Targeted at commercial and publishing markets, initially Brilliant InkTMadds compatibility with offset coated and uncoated media through the selective use of a new HP Optimizer. This brings HP PageWide to the level of media handling capabilities of the competing Canon ProStream and Ricoh VC70000.
As of this morning, the ISA Sign Expo 2020 is still a go. This year, the show heads to Orlando April 1–4, with four days of educational sessions and its continuously expanding exhibition floor. We spoke with Brandon Hensley, ISA’s Chief Operating Officer, and Iain Mackenzie, ISA’s VP of Meetings & Events, for a preview of this year’s show.
In 2019, packaging will reach a total global value of $917 billion with demand growing steadily at 2.8% yearly to reach $1.05 trillion in 2024.Rising incomes, growing populations, and rising urbanization are some of the key growth drivers for the global packaging market, according to The Future of Global Packaging to 2024, a new study from Smithers.
Expect to see accelerating developments in smart textiles through 2020 and beyond. A few of the more recent developments are explained in this article by Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, who is keeping tabs on this market segment and the exciting news coming out almost daily. Be sure to check out WhatTheyThink’s Around the Web every Friday for additional smart textile news.
Kevin Shimamoto is the CMO of Memjet, a company that is positioned to provide the tools for the next generation of printing applications. His background, and the Memjet mission, is a great story that brings energy and innovation to print.
A close look at what CBD does in the body. Have we killed the apostrophe? Terry Jones’ final project. Beehive theft is now a thing. Which decade had the biggest hair? A history of sneaker design. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
According to the latest edition of County Business Patterns, in 2017 there were 1,373 establishments in NAICS 32312 (Support Activities for Printing). The majority of these establishments (66%) had fewer than 10 employees.
There have been many advances in ink sets for digital textile printing over the last several years. Are you up to date with the latest information? This article will give you insight into five ink types available, how they work, and which fabric types they are suited for.
Thanks to an abundance of online information, many buyers conduct a good amount of research on their own before they even engage with a sales rep. This places additional pressure on sales organizations and their reps. This article provides tips on creating a sales process that will engage more customers and close more business.
Today I received a marketing letter that was an interesting twist on the use of faux handwriting to make a communication feel more personal. But instead of the handwriting being on the front, it peeked through a window on the back.
A designer can create a fantastic-looking printed piece, but great design doesn’t mean much if it can’t physically be printed. ColorKarma’s Shoshana Burgett discusses how the technological limitations imposed on designers—whether it be web or print—can actually be empowering.
On the 20th anniversary of Enfocus PitStop Server, one of the earliest of the automated workflow tools, there is a broader movement to bring automation tools to the next level in order to support the new business and production requirements of today and tomorrow.
WhatTheyThink’s annual printing industry outlook report, including the results of our Fall 2019 Business Outlook survey, is now available in our Report Store. This article offers some of the top-level results from that survey.
There is a secret sales strategy known as the “Win Theme”: a sales approach that aligns a prospect’s priorities and goals with your company’s strengths. Lisa Magnuson explains how you can use Win Themes to turn your prospects into customers.
With the growing share of digital print for textiles, software and workflow can often be more critical than the printing engine itself. In this article, we provide information about software RIPs and their role in the digital fabric printing process.
A possible alternative to the handshake. Both the Smithsonian and the Biodiversity Heritage Library have released thousands of images into the public domain. Libraries are ditching overdue fines. Take the Swedish Design Museum home with you. Believe it or not, printed catalogs and the mail order business may be in the process of restoration—if not Restoration. Inside the NY DOT inplant and Stop sign manufacturing. Rough weather for a meteorologist who left an AR filter on his broadcast. Stop-motion animation using pancakes. The best thing since sliced...mayonnaise? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January 2020, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $529.8 billion, an increase of +0.3% (±0.4%) from the previous month, and +4.4% (±0.7%) above January 2019. Retail drives a lot of printing and packaging volume, so it’s important to keep an eye on that sector.
Providers of transactional communications must continually reinvent themselves to keep up with consumers’ changing preferences and work to effectively deliver their messages. Above all, today’s consumers are demanding a say in the way that their providers communicate with them. This document provides data points from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends’ most recent transactional communications survey to underscore the importance of choice in delivering a positive customer experience.
Fueled by mindset, society, and technology, a new generation of business buyers is forcing companies to re-think how they approach every aspect of their business. As a result, marketers across all industries are investing in solutions that help capture, distill, and present customer data—and automating how leads are generated, scored, nurtured, and converted from suspect to prospect to customer. Joanne Gore examines the current marketing automation landscape.
It's easy to get into a panic when you wake up to the reality that your approach to software in your print business requires a major overall. It probably took you years to get into this state; don’t freak out because it could take years to crawl out of it. The best thing to do is to calmly prioritize and then start making incremental progress.
Xanté has launched an alternative to the QR code called InfoMark that lets writers and other content creators “attach” multimedia elements to print via a unique four-digit code. We gave InfoMark a spin to see how it worked.
No one likes reviews, but they can be a necessary evil. In this article, Pat McGrew explains how acquiring comprehensive data about jobs sold—and keeping that job database updated—can make the review process quick and painless.
As the market for wearable technology continues to evolve, UK-based Dresscode has taken a unique approach with CashCuff, the world’s first smart payment shirt. See what founder and CEO Andy Boothman has to say about the origin of the company and its strategy for the future.
There is a surge in demand for printed books, driven by two trends: self-publishing and on-demand printing, both enabled by digital printing technology. Of the 700 million books produced in the U.S. last year, about half were printed on demand using digital technology. Frank Romano profiles Lowell, Mass.’s King Printing Company, which takes on-demand book printing to the next level.
The latest edition of County Business Patterns is out, which updates number of establishments and other data to 2017. In that year, there were 500 establishments in NAICS 323117 (Book Printing). The majority of these establishments (63%) had fewer than 10 employees.
An LED light system to add high visibility to safety apparel. Forevernote will preserve your family memories—professional biographer included. The Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry. “Bracelet of silence” keeps Alexa from eavesdropping. Weird punctuation in film titles. Turn Microsoft Excel into a drum machine. A Victorian shop manager quits in protest over bar codes. KFC and Crocs team up for...huh? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
Late last year, Frank Romano completed History of Desktop Publishing, the third book in a trilogy that includes History of the Linotype Companyand History of the Phototypesetting Era. This book, described by Jonathan Seybold as a “Tour de Force,” is enriched with Frank’s deep knowledge of the history of the printing industry. This article offers an overview of some of the book’s highlights.
The push and pull between creatives and production professionals occurs in just about every industry, including textiles. Creatives want bold designs that enhance their portfolios and bring beauty to the world. Production folks just want something that they can produce! Helping bridge that gap is the topic of today’s article by WhatTheyThink contributor and textiles expert Debbie McKeegan.
According to new research, marketing technology does more than make marketing automation easier. It results in higher response rates and higher ROI. A look at a study from Printing for Less (PFL) and Demand Metric.
Christine Erna explains how direct mail printers can use “enhanced print” technologies to increase engagement, generate new leads, track real-time results, and stay top of mind with customers and prospects.
As we continue to cover the burgeoning cannabis market and the business opportunities it offers, we spent time talking with Chris Cooper, CEO of California-based Lucent Botanicals, who has taken a different approach to CBD that is taken orally—mints enhanced with a variety of herbs and essences to tune their effects to different consumer requirements. He also shared his packaging strategy for these unique products.
Wide-format printing often involves a phenomenon called “apparent resolution,” which can be quite different than a print’s actual resolution. An image designed to be viewed up close, like a photograph in a magazine or direct mail piece, will have a different apparent resolution—and thus resolution requirement—than one designed to be viewed from a long ways away. Taking apparent resolution into account was the raison d’êtreof a new specification for sign and display graphics just released by the Ghent Workgroup.
In an industrial inkjet environment, a lot of pieces go into creating a specialized solution, but it’s the raster image processor (RIP) that does the heavy lifting. Elizabeth Gooding takes a detailed look at all the criteria to keep in mind when selecting RIP software for an industrial printing workflow.
Technology and a changing print product mix drive changes in the distributor–client relationship. We spoke with Matt Bruno and Nathan Goldberg of the PSDA to get a bead on how the non-asset-based print sales market has evolved.
To pang-wangle is to live or go along cheerfully in spite of minor misfortunes. That’s exactly what Jennifer John is doing with her Pang Wangle fashion business, creating sustainable fashion ideal for hot, buggy climates such as is experienced in her home state of Louisiana. We spoke to Jennifer to learn more about her background, her growing business, and the challenges she faced finding just the exact right fabric for her unique creations.
The value of printing shipments for December 2019 was down from November—as we expected it would be—but not down as much as been the case in recent years. At $6.95 billion, December shipments were down from November’s $7.03 billion, but far above the depths of 2017 and 2018.
Royalty-free illustrations from old books. A Japanese artist hand-draws every meal he eats. A new book teaches hand-lettering. An Ohio man receives 55,000 copies of the same letter from his daughter’s Student Loan Company. A reimagining (and improvement) of Garfield. Printed greeting cards are still in fashion. Making 3D printing resin from old fryer oil. Why are people getting worse at The Price Is Right? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.
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.