Patrick Henry is a journalist and an educator who has covered the graphic communications industry since 1984. The author of many hundreds of articles on business trends and technological developments in graphic communications, he has been published in most of the leading trade media in the field. He also has taught graphic communications as an adjunct lecturer for New York University and New York City College of Technology. The holder of numerous awards for industry service and education, Henry is currently the managing director of Liberty or Death Communications, a content consultancy.
Expert training, hands-on experience, professional certification, and supportive mentoring: all of these advantages await the young people taking part in a unique partnership for workforce development between the printing industry and a leading charitable institution.
Offset lithography was the predominant printing process of the 20th century, and it has given up only limited ground to alternative printing methods in the 21st. Patrick Henry reports on how manufacturers of offset press equipment still see it as an essential product to deliver and a vibrant business to be in.
Designers and others who were accustomed to hearing Adobe’s creative software natively speaking Pantone’s language of color are now listening to a dialog that comes with an unanticipated price tag. As a service to its members and to the industry in general, Printing Industries Alliance presents this overview of the situation and its consequences for end-users.
Two trade groups invite printers in Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York to seek fitting recognition for their best work—Neographics, the industry’s largest regional competition for excellence in print.
Operating in the printing district of lower Manhattan, close by the Twin Towers, they became inadvertent witnesses to the worst domestic attack in U.S. history. Twenty years later, the events of September 11, 2001 remain seared into their memories.
There’s very little in the way of graphic output that this omnifaceted imaging emporium can’t offer its customers—and now, with the addition of an HP Indigo 12000 digital press, probably nothing at all.
Color management works, and it has been available to designers and printers for more than 25 years. Why then do we still make mistakes in color reproduction? Shoshana Burgett of X-Rite Pantone notes that CM has to be understood as something more than calibrating a monitor. It is a set of steps, processes, and tools that must be in place across the entire production workflow, always with monitoring for continuous improvement. Designers who want color to be consistent in all the channels they are now responsible for can find the help they need in CM, Burgett says.
Marketing technology is exploding. Michael Chase of St. Joseph Communications says that there are now more than 3,500 providers of "MarTech" services. But, building efficient marketing platforms requires more than just cherry-picking technology solutions. Chase notes that all the MarTech in the world won't help if there is no content strategy in place to guide the effort. The first tasks are to define the kinds of content to be created and to identify the audiences to whom the content will be presented. Armed with this knowledge, says Chase, marketers can choose the right channels and work toward achievable outcomes.
What is "omnichannel production" for packaging? Jean-Charles Morisseau explains that it's using packaging production data as a touchstone for accuracy throughout the entire distribution chain, including e-commerce web sites. Incorrect information and poor-quality photos and graphics hurt e-commerce sales, but Morisseau says they don't have to. All of the right content is available in packaging prepress files. It's a matter of making sure that the content is used everywhere the product is represented—an objective that Morisseau's company has a five-step plan for achieving.
Don't try to tell X-Rite's Shoshana Burgett that there's anything the matter with print. She'll set the record straight by pointing out that print has never been stronger as a medium for creating brand experiences. From business cards to grand format output, says Burgett, print has an enormous array of new applications that forge bonds between brands and the people the brands want to reach. And, it's not just ink on paper: the definition now includes printing on glass, ceramics, textiles, and other exotic substrates.
It's getting hard to think about marketing without also thinking about content: the practical, motivational, or just plain enjoyable information products that marketers increasingly rely upon to engage audiences with brands. Content marketing pro Michael Chase talks about where print fits into the engagement strategy. He says that in order to build successful "ecosystems based on content," it's necessary to operate like the protagonists of Moneyball—always with an eye on data analytics and the opportunities it reveals to make the most of the spend.
Research indicates that 75% of U.S. adults and 87% of Millennials want to get more product information from packages and labels. But, the amount of printable "real estate" on them is limited and jealously protected by designers and marketers. This is a clarion call to make labels and packages interactive with the help of technologies that connect consumers with the information they want, says Michael Grady of Sgsco. He notes some of the possibilities and talks about why interactivity is worth the investment cost.
Tod Szewczyk directs Leovative, the Leo Burnett agency's channel for keeping its clients informed about how brands are using emerging technologies to reach consumers. He points out that some of these solutions make good use of print as a bridge to the mobile experience and as a vehicle for calls to action. Szewczyk, a speaker at the IDEAlliance INKredible event, also mentions several technologies that he thinks Leovative's audience should keep an eye on in 2017.
Interactive print, as Ethan Goller describes it, is print that combines with other media to engage recipients in a variety of ways leading to a variety of outcomes. Goller, the president of Structural Graphics, notes that one way to make print interactive is to incorporate special effects such as sound, light, and video into the printed piece. The objective, he says, should be to create "a feedback loop of intelligence" that makes sales and marketing channels more efficient.
When we caught up with Warren Werbitt (Pazzazz) at IDEAlliance's INKredible event and asked him what he thought of the program, "wow," "superb," and "pretty amazing" were among his answers. He says that what he discovered about the synergies between print and other media will help Pazzazz send a more powerful marketing message to its customers. Werbitt's advice to print company owners who think they don't have time for intelligence-gathering opportunities like INKredible "If you sit at your desk and never go out, you can't learn, you can't grow, and you can't motivate."
To many, Australia may seem to be on the far side of the world, but the business issues confronting packaging and label producers there are much the same as they are anywhere else. A recent conference by a newly formed trade association addressed some of them.
KBA's intensive focus on the packaging market can be seen in the large portfolio of products it has developed for packaging applications of many different kinds. Eric Frank, director of marketing, talks about the new VariJet 106, a hybrid inkjet/conventional/finishing platform that will be built to order for specific market segments. He also reviews KBA's capabilities in flexography, diecutting, metal decorating, and VLF (very large format) offset.
No vendor understands mail processing workflows better than Pitney Bowes. Here, PB's Grant Miller explains how the company has put what it knows into the AcceleJet printing and finishing system, a "white paper factory" solution for commercial printers and other print/mail environments. With AcceleJet, rollfed white paper goes in, and fully printed and finished mailing pieces come out. As this is happening, a cloud-based software solution called Clarity Suites gathers production data that can be used to make the workflow even more efficient.
The industry’s solutions for cultivating workforce talent aren’t perfect. But, given the graying of the industry and the thinning of its ranks in production occupations, it’s urgent to use them to their full extent.
"We believe in the printed word". So declares Claus Bolza-Schünemann, president of KBA, as he reviews the state of the industry as a whole and his company's position within it. He says that the success of drupa 2016—an event he traveled the world to promote as chairman of its executive committee—proves that there is no longer any excuse for "whining and crying about how bad the industry is." He also discusses how KBA regained its strength and forward momentum after several tough years of post-recession restructuring.
If you’re intrigued by the idea of a conference where the presentations are capped at 25 minutes and the proceedings are enlivened by 15-minute “inspiration bursts” in which speakers can deliver “hard-hitting rants,” pencil in December 6 at the Princeton Club in New York City. That will be the premiere of INKredible, a new event hosted by Idealliance for printing, publishing, and advertising professionals. Here, conference organizer Steven Schnoll explains what will make the program special.
Last week, Graph Expo 2016 made a successful change of scene from its traditional home in Chicago to a new venue in Orlando. It was apparent on day one that the show had traveled well and that its value to exhibitors and visitors was intact. Graph Expo returns to Chicago next year and is scheduled to be back in Orlando in 2019.
For the last 20 years, Dallas attorney Chris Antone has acted as a labor and employment counsel to printing companies. He says that in order to run their businesses without fear of intrusion by government agencies, printers must stay up to date on developments in HR-related laws and regulations. There can be "severe legal implications" for those who run afoul of these rules, says Antone, adding that the best policy is to have "trained, first-line supervisory staff who know how to manage people."
The trade association IDEAlliance operates Leading Indicators™, a survey-based summary of metrics, trends, and issues critical to print, mail, fulfillment, and marketing services providers. Printer Warren Werbitt is a regular contributor to and a firm believer in the Leading Indicators database, which he calls essential to making educated decisions about business strategy. He also talks about why he's "thrilled" to see Epicomm and IDEAlliance become one organization.
The Paper Converting Machine Company (PCMC) recently introduced its newest central impression (CI) flexographic packaging press, the Fusion C, in an open-house event at its factory in Green Bay, WI. PCMC’s Rodney J. Pennings talks about what makes the Fusion C unique and discusses the company’s commitment to lean manufacturing.
The Paper Converting Machine Company is North America’s only remaining manufacturer of CI flexo presses. It’s also distinguished by the humanistic style of its leadership—a management philosophy that cherishes employees as family members.
Printing to numbers in a calibrated production environment using grey balance as the reference—this is the essence of the G7 process control methodology, and by now, most printers have heard about it. Fewer have embracedit, but IDEAlliance's Steve Bonoff foresees greater adoption as brands press their print service providers to adopt a uniform approach to process control. Then, he says, the ROI of G7 can come quickly.
Content marketing—every organization with customers wants to do it, but creating, targeting, and distributing high-quality content is hard, time-consuming work. Enter MAX From InterlinkONE, a software tool for automating content marketing campaigns. InterlinkONE's Karen DeWolfe says that with MAX, users can easily integrate and share content of all types in true cross-media fashion.
John Falconetti, a printer in Jacksonville, FL, says he keeps his company pointed at it by taking part in Leading Indicators™, a benchmarking program launched last year by Epicomm (now part of IDEAlliance). As a member of the Leading Indicators reporting group, Drummond Press gets monthly updates on how its business performance compares with that of other printing companies in the database. Falconetti also has good things to say about the association's apprenticeship and peer networking programs.
As president of the trade association Printing Industries Alliance, Tim Freeman sees his job as helping printers help each other by bringing them together in productive programs such as the guided tour he organized for his members at drupa 2016. He says that when printers take part in trade shows and other association-sponsored activities, they coalesce as an industry and find new ways to solve common problems. Printing Industries Alliance has an admirable record of making this happen in the membership territory it serves.
As a former chairman of Epicomm, Mike Kellogg served as an advisor to the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC), producer of the Graph Expo and Print events. He observes that because of the rise of digitization, data, and the convergence of technologies, print industry trade shows now are less about showcasing heavy equipment and more about exchanging innovative ideas. He's optimistic about Graph Expo 2016, moving for the first time from Chicago to a new venue in Orlando.
As a member of IDEAlliance's board of directors, marketing services expert Wes Powell witnessed the group's merger with Epicomm from the inside. He praises the board members and professional staff of both associations for working "in lock step" to make the new arrangement—which took full effect on July 1—a success. He says that the process was "pretty seamless" and that the result will be a broader range of services for all IDEAlliance members.
Five years ago, John Foley published Business Transformation: a New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry. The work was and is a handbook for strategic planning, sales and marketing development, team building, operations management, and more. In the just-published second edition, Foley adds case studies from print service providers that have succeeded by putting the book's advice into practice.
A master printer, a consultant, and now, the leader of Heidelberg’s Prinect workflow software business, Anthony Thirlby has a framework for process automation that he says can transform every printing plant.
In New York City, industry members who care passionately about education have given nearly $700,000 in scholarship grants to students of graphic communications—all without overhead expenses or strings attached.
On July 1, Tim Johnson will officially step into his role as chairman of the board of IDEAlliance, a trade association that has incorporated Epicomm and welcomed the members of the three former trade groups of which Epicomm was composed. With the work of blending staffs, cultures, and management procedures satisfactorily under way, says Johnson, members can look forward to obtaining all of the advisory services they need from a single source.
What could make a busy printer travel all the way from Buffalo, New York, to Düsseldorf, Germany? drupa 2016, of course, and Steve Zenger, president of the Zenger Group, says that the big show—his first drupa—gave him all the trend and technical information he was looking for. Zenger came to the fair as a member of a productively organized "drupa experience" tour organized by Printing Industries Alliance, a trade association representing his state and part of Pennsylvania.
Packages used to have just two principal functions: to protect their contents and convey them safely to the point of sale. Now they also have to be “brand narrators” that hold consumers in sustained post-sale engagements with the brands. Digimarc Corp.’s Larry Logan explains how technology can ensure that packaging remains “the most salient touch point between the consumer and the product.”
It would be hard to turn in a stronger performance at a trade show than the one HP Inc. achieved at drupa 2016. The company held hundreds of customer meetings, sold most of the equipment (more than 50 digital presses) at its stand, and announced record deals with the likes of Cimpress and Shutterfly. But, says Enrique Lores, president of HP Inc.'s Imaging and Printing Business, the splash at drupa is only typical of the success the company has been enjoying as HP Indigo presses and other products continue to gain market share.
Now a branding consultant, Mike Ferrari spent more than 30 years at Procter & Gamble as a specialist in producing branded packaging. He says that over that period of time, packages have taken on a central role as promotional vehicles in omnichannel shopping for consumer goods. At drupa 2016, he saw how workflow and other advances in production are making packages even better able to meet the marketing objectives that brand owners have for them.
The business of printing labels and packaging is changing with almost unnerving speed. Made reassuringly clear at drupa was the fact that new technologies for label and packaging production can give printers the capabilities they must have.
How did a manufacturer of newspaper presses become a supplier of equipment for nearly all major printing applications, including digital output? That is the story of KBA, and the company's president, Claus Bolza-Schünemann, tells it with justifiable pride. Among the latest highlights is KBA's ongoing development, with Xerox, of the VariJET 106, an innovative hybrid sheetfed press targeting the folding carton market.
Claus Bolza-Schünemann currently is the president not only of KBA but also of drupa, the international printing and paper trade fair. Here, he traces its evolution from a heavy-iron expo into a full-spectrum graphic communications showcase that puts specialties like 3D printing and functional printing alongside the latest developments in conventional and digital print production. The goal, Bolza-Schünemann says, is to make drupa "a very attractive fair for all of our customers" that also promotes the world-bestriding stature and influence of printing in all of its forms.
Exclusive Interview with EFI SVP/GM Scott Schinlever on the Launch of the Nozomi C18000 inkjet press. The single pass inkjet press brings high-speed corrugated board production to the $130 billion corrugated packaging industry.
The main criterion for presentations at trade association meetings is relevance. Printer Tom Mercier gives high marks for relevance to the sessions he attended at the recent Epicomm Experience gathering, where mergers and acquisitions, sales development, and personnel recruitment were among the many pertinent subjects under discussion. Mercier also thinks that the success of the conference bodes well for Epicomm's merger with IDEAlliance, which he calls "a win-win for print, mailing, and everything else we do."
David Mastervich spent much of his 33-year career with the U.S. Postal Service promoting the use of direct mail. Today he works for Hewlett Packard Enterprise, but his focus on direct mail hasn't changed. Mastervich says that as printers and mailers have embraced data management and digital production, direct mail has become a much more targeted and responsive medium than it used to be. He saw plenty of evidence of this progress at the recent Epicomm Experience event, where the emphasis was on technologies for mailing.
Nobody ever said that the sheetfed offset equipment market is easy to do business in. But RMGT, a partnership between two of Japan’s best known press manufacturers, thinks it has what it takes to make the most of the opportunities that the market still holds.
So advises John Cassidy of Duplicates INK, who explored creative strategies in a highly rated presentation called "Cross the Line and Disrupt Your Market" at the recent Epicomm Experience conference. Cassidy believes that innovation is still possible even in mature industries like printing. Printers can achieve it, he says, by asking their top customers two questions: "What do you want more of out of me? What can I do to be a 10?"
Steven Portrude learned a long time ago that there is no substitute for the wisdom of his peers in the printing industry. At the recent Epicomm Experience conference, he talked about what he has learned from other owners he has come to know through taking part in trade association activities. Even competitors open up to one another at these gatherings, Portrude says. "This is where you get an education on how to run a business."
Malia Lageman, who traveled all the way from Honolulu to Savannah to take part in Epicomm Experience, found that the program made the long trip more than worthwhile. Here, she talks about the networking opportunities it gave her, especially with exhibiting vendors; the high energy of the speakers she listened to; and the ideas she gained during conference-related plant tours.
On July 1, the trade associations Epicomm and IDEAlliance will go forward as one under the IDEAlliance name. Ken Garner and David Steinhardt, respectively executive vice president and president/CEO of the combined organization, talk about how bringing the groups together will enhance the value of membership for the more than 3,000 companies now under the IDEAlliance banner. They say that the first positive outcome is the launch of a certification program for mailing professionals.
Production digital printing is 25 years old, yet only 2.5% of all printed pages come from digital devices. Yishai Amir, CEO of Landa Digital Printing, says that if digital printing is to move into the mainstream, it will have to prove that it is fully competitive with offset lithography in quality, speed, printable format size, and cost to print. According to Amir, just one process—the one he is responsible for bringing to market—can demonstrate all of these capabilities.
Because trade associations mirror the industries they serve, it’s no surprise to see consolidation taking place among the groups that serve the printing industry. IDEAlliance, an association promoting technical standards, demonstrated this by incorporating Epicomm, a group representing commercial printers, quick printers, and mail service providers. According to Marriott Winchester, the chairman of IDEAlliance, the outcome is a highly complementary relationship that benefits everyone concerned.
Jonny Kaldor is the creator of Pugpig, a mobile publishing platform for delivering content in whatever format is optimal for the end-user’s device. He says that as devices and mobile channels continue to proliferate, the only way to keep up with them will be to embrace a create-once, render-many publishing workflow. This is called structured content, and Kaldor thinks that nontraditional publishers may find it easier to develop and share than publishers locked into design-centric, print-based workflows.
Marriott Winchester (SGS Americas) says that new Food and Drug Administration regulations for food labeling represent “the most significant generational event in the food and beverage industry that we’ve seen” since placing nutritional information on labels was first mandated 23 years ago. In this conversation, he explains why food producers and packagers should move full speed ahead toward compliance.
Have you ever stressed out at a self-checkout station because you couldn’t scan the #@?§#! UPC code on the package? Digimarc Corp. has come up with a way to make the entire surface of the package scannable, but in a way that’s invisible to the eye. Digimarc’s Larry Logan explains how the innovation makes packaging a part of the Internet of Things.
When equity investors decided it was time to give the 250-store Duane Reade pharmacy chain a brand makeover, they handed the task to Todd Maute and his partners at the CBX branding agency. CBX accomplished it in part by creating five private-label brands that required large volumes of printed packaging. Maute says the experience shows how printing technologies can put powerful branding tools in the hands of brand owners and creatives.
Administered by IDEAlliance, the G7 protocols for grayscale definition and device calibration have become widely accepted standards for color management. No organization has made a stronger commitment to G7 than Konica Minolta, which claims to employ more G7-certified experts than any other printing systems vendor. Konica Minolta’s Dino Pagliarello talks about what makes the company’s belief in G7 so firmly rooted.
HP PrintOS is a new cloud-based print production operating system that will be launched by HP at drupa 2016. It consists of web and mobile apps designed to help print service providers boost the productivity of their HP devices. Simon Lewis, in charge of its development, talks about the genesis of Print OS and the range of benefits it can deliver.
Haptics is the branch of neuroscience concerned with the sense of touch. Daniel Dejean of Sappi discusses why the tactile appeal of print—along with all of the other kinds of sensory stimulation it provides—can be such a powerful advantage for the medium in brand marketing campaigns.
HP is venturing into post-print production with Pack Ready, a set of solutions it is patenting and develop with partners. The first product is Pack Ready Lamination, which uses a thermal lamination process to convert flexible pouches immediately after printing on HP Indigo equipment. HP’s Dr. Asaf Salant says that Pack Ready Lamination will be of keen interest to converters who want to reduce time to market and to label printers who want to break into flexible packaging.
A decision to attend drupa 2016 represents a major investment of time and travel expense. The director of the global event talks about why label and packaging producers are among those who should most seriously consider making it.
Exclusive Interview: Benny Landa says that the nanographic inkjet printing process he unveiled at drupa 2012 was a “promise.” At drupa 2016, he intends to deliver on that promise with live demonstrations of nanographic equipment that he says can print offset quality at offset speed on any paper stock at an offset-competitive cost. In this exclusive interview, Landa discusses why he believes the commercialization of nanography will be the second time one of his technologies has revolutionized digital printing.
Starting a trade association isn’t the same thing as establishing a trade association. Giving it a base for an extended life of service to its members requires long-range planning and determined execution. This is the story of NPOA.
Does “privacy” have meaning any more? People are sometimes willing to trade personal information for rewards—even when they know they are going to regret it. There are implications for print in the conflict.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's go-to information source with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, WhatTheyThink Email Newsletters, and the WhatTheyThink magazine. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire the industry. We 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.