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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.

Displaying 301-400 of 4535 articles

Smoothie Shop Leverages FASTSIGNS for Relocation Project

Published March 10, 2022

Joel Miller, Owner of FASTSIGNS of Manchester, CT & FASTSIGNS Newington, CT, talks about his two businesses, their history, and the benefit of being a franchisee of FASTSIGNS. Joel also shares details of an interesting project for a smoothie shop that leveraged financing for his customer through FASTSIGNS enabling them to spend more on the project and achieve better results.

A Creative Journey in Fashion (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

Lucy Swann has been designing beautiful surface patterns for the fashion industry for many years and has an extensive knowledge of the sector, particularly children’s wear. She is living the dream and doing what she loves. Having recently diversified to launch her own scarf collection, here she shares her inspiring creative journey and what the future holds.

I Call Nonsense: Let's dissect some internet tropes (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

I’m calling out some nonsense, and what better place to start than the internet? It is home of social media, which is unequalled for nonsense.

How To Use Augmented Reality To Generate Revenue (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

Augmented reality has hit a milestone. It is no longer a niche technology used primarily for entertainment and brand-building. Thanks to simple games on fast food packaging or the ability to take selfies with virtual celebrities and share them on social media, it has evolved into a true revenue-generating tool. For printers looking for opportunities to build new revenue streams, AR has arrived.

2022 FASTSIGNS/Wide Format & Signage Project of the Year (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

The winner of this year’s FASTSIGNS/Wide Format & Signage Project of the Year is FASTSIGNS York (Pa.), whose major rebranding of the Shippensburg University football team’s training facility caught the judges’ eyes.

The Book-Of-One Produced On Site (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

Entering a location, maybe a book shop, and having the book you want printed and bound within a few minutes -- this is the promise of Gutenberg One.

How To Educate The Next Generation In Apparel (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

The U.S. January jobs report was surprisingly strong, adding 467,000 positions. In addition to the "Great Resignation" phenomenon, it was expected that jobs numbers would be more in the 150,000 range. In addition, average wages rose 5.7%. This has led some pundits describing the trend as "The Great Upgrade" – many employees leaving existing jobs not to stay home, but rather, to find jobs with higher pay and a better work/life balance. But the job growth is not equal across all industry segments. And many in the textiles and apparel industry still struggle to find enough workers. There is a lack of skilled workers in North America due to the outsourcing to Asia and other parts of the world that began in the 1970s.

Did We Learn Anything?

Published March 9, 2022

It's all about quality, not quantity, when it comes to human resources.

Up with Higher Education (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

Finding signage opportunities in academic applications.

Self-Service Resistance in the Print Industry (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

If you’ve been paying attention at all, self-service is a critical trend in almost every industry. We are doing things for ourselves that our parents would never have dreamed of. Complex financial transactions, complex real estate dealings, and complex ordering of expensive and custom manufactured items - all online, all in a self-service fashion. It's starting to look like we might only interact with software to procure just about anything.

Printing Outlook 2022: Back to the Future or Groundhog Day? (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

Digging into the results of our "Business Outlook Survey" for the our annual "Printing Outlook 2022" report, they showed an industry that has largely recovered from 2020, but faces some new challenges and some older challenges now writ large. We’re not exactly back to normal, but we’re closer than we thought possible in a long time.

The Bridge Between Under-Served Students And The Printing Industry Workforce (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

Founded by Yankees Hall-of-Fame pitcher Mariano Rivera, the Mariano Rivera Foundation provides youth in under-served communities with one-to-one mentorship, vocational training, college preparedness and STEM learning. Its flagship training program, "Print, Design, and Packaging Development," is run out of a church property in Gainesville, Fla.

How To Engage And Educate Tomorrow's Print And Packaging Workforce (Audio)

Published March 9, 2022

For the most part, print and packaging service providers today are busy again. In fact, some of those I have spoken with say they are too busy. Is that a thing? However, they all to seem to have the same two problems; available paper and available personnel. These problems were already gaining some visibility under the surface pre-pandemic, but became severe and more obvious post-pandemic.

What It Means to Be a FASTSIGNS Franchisee

Published March 8, 2022

Kevin Hebert, FASTSIGNS Franchise Owner from St. Charles Parish, La., speaks with WhatTheyThink VP Kelley Holmes at the FASTSIGNS Annual Convention about what it means to be a part of the FASTSIGNS network.

January Graphic Arts Employment—Print Production Drops from December, Non-Production Up Slightly

Published March 4, 2022

In January 2022, all printing employment was down -2.6% from December, with production employment down -4.1%. Non-production printing employment offset that a bit by being up a modest +0.9%.

Around the Web: Language Learning. Smell Search. Creepy Casing. Teutonic Typeface. Nefarious Knockoffs. Graphene Guest. Bionic Basher. Tater Tale. Witchy Ouijas.

Published March 4, 2022

An animated history of the English language. What would Wordle have looked like in the 1980s? Why do new books smell different than old books? The myths and realities of books bound in human skin. The typeface used on German license plates was designed to thwart forgery. Fast-fashion knitwear faces a knockoff problem. Graphene guest stars on an episode of NCIS. VR boots that simulate walking. A drummer with an AI-enabled bionic arm. Heavens-Above tracks the satellites currently orbiting over your location. The origin of the potato chip. When in Salem, Mass., visit the museum dedicated to Ouija Boards. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

The Journey to Becoming a FASTSIGNS Franchisee

Published March 2, 2022

Clint Ehlers, franchise owner from Willow Grove, Pa., discusses how he became a FASTSIGNS franchise and the research he conducted for the decision to start this business. Clint also discusses being elected to the International Franchise Association board.

Around the Web: Wet Wattage. Quit Questions. Pricey Picture. Revising Roboto. Liquid Lenses. Bottle Battle. People Portal. Robot Restaurants Redux. Hellish Hotel. Car Carnage. Cardiac Cod.

Published February 25, 2022

The emerging field of “liquid electronics”—and graphene is there! Redesigning corporate logos with a Medieval theme. The Great ReShuffling: meet the new buzzword, same as the old buzzword. An actual, physical object will be the most expensive photograph, bizarrely. Google introduces Roboto Serif. Self-adjusting water-based eyeglasses—in low- and high-tech versions. Coca-Cola’s tepid approach to its refillable bottle program. Beam a 3D hologram of yourself with PORTL. An update on robot restaurant servers. Also: the first robot hotel. A boat full of luxury cars bursts into flames. A robot fish powered by heart cells.  All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Outdoor Advertising Establishments—2010–2019

Published February 25, 2022

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 2,378 establishments in NAICS 541850 (Outdoor Advertising). This NAICS actually grew post-Great Recession, with a slight decline mid-decade before climbing back up to 2,765 establishments in 2018. 2019 saw a massive drop in establishments. In macro news: Q4 2021 GDP revised up to 7.0%.

WhatTheyThink Member and FASTSIGNS Co-Brand Owner Richard Helmey

Published February 25, 2022

Richard Helmey, a co-branded FASTSIGNS Owner from Houston, Tex., talks about being a member of WhatTheyThink and how he got started as a FASTSIGNS co-brand location. Richard also talks about some of the applications his business has worked on.

Around the Web: Giving Gear. Clever Containers. LEGO Letterpress. Mitigating Microplastics. Gamut Game. Controlled Consumables. Carvana Craziness. Haute Hardware. Potato Perfume.

Published February 18, 2022

What happens to all the T-shirts printed for the team that lost the Super Bowl? A more recyclable approach to beverage containers. Using LEGO for letterpress printing. Samsung is partnering with Patagonia to address the problem of microplastics produced by washing clothes. Test your skills at color matching. Certain types of solvent inks are now regulated as controlled substances by the UK. Graphene-based inks can help with low-power hot water heaters. Carvana’s auto-buying robot buys a seven-year-old car for more than the owner had paid for it. Hardware-as-luxury-jewelry is apparently a thing. A new perfume smells like french fries. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

December Shipments: No Christmas Miracle

Published February 18, 2022

As 2021 drew to a close, December printing shipments came in at $7.00 billion, down from $7.10 billion in November, keeping with the usual seasonality of a slow December. For 2021 overall, we came in at $82.87 billion for the year, just below 2020’s $83.73 billion.

Sign Design UX Dos & Don’ts (Audio)

Published February 17, 2022

Employ a functional graphic approach for positive way-finding user experiences, top designers advise.

Core Publishing Solutions: A Dramatic Shift In Application Mix Enables Ongoing Business Growth (Audio)

Published February 17, 2022

Core Publishing Solutions offers publishers the convenience of seamlessly switching titles between offset and digital runs, and has installed two sheetfed inkjet presses and three wide-format web-fed inkjet presses, having nearly four billion pages on its digital presses.

Sign Manufacturing Establishments—2010–2019

Published February 11, 2022

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 5,824 establishments in NAICS 33995 (Sign Manufacturing). This NAICS category tumbled in the wake of the Great Recession, ultimately climbing back up to 5,865 establishments in 2019. In macro news: Inflation continues to climb.

Around the Web: Meme Manufacturing. Wordle Weary. Decoding Dickens. Privatizing Palettes. Recycled Rubber. Terrific Toaster. Tomato Tale. Snowy Sobriquet. Feather Fracas.

Published February 11, 2022

A “paper engineer” creates printed, pop-up versions of classic memes. More Wordle variants. Better than the DaVinci: the Dickens Code. Privatizing specific hexadecimal colors for NFTs (or something dubious like that). Graphene-based rubber. An award-winning non-electric toaster. Why are tomatoes red? The suspense is over: Minnesota has eight new snowplow names. Spit-take warning: “Pillow fighting could be the next great combat sport.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Catherine Monson on FASTSIGNS’ Terrific 2021

Published February 11, 2022

Kelley Holmes talks with Catherine Monson, CEO of Propelled Brands, at the FASTSIGNS Convention, which opened this week in Grapevine, Tex. FASTSIGNS' parent company Propelled Brands has been putting together a family of business-to-business and service-oriented franchisors with the recent acquisitions of NerdsToGo My Salon Suite. The jewel in the crown is FASTSIGNS, which had a banner year in 2021, expanding to 761 locations in eight countries.

Post-Pandemic Profits on the Upturn

Published February 4, 2022

Shipments have been slowly climbing back from the pandemic recession of 2020, but profits have been on a sharp upturn. However there still remains a bit of a profitability gap between the two major asset class distinctions.

Around the Web: Groundhog Galore. Replacement Rodent. Extra Eyesight. Translation Trouble. Superfluous Sockets. Super Supercapacitors. Timeless Tomes. Pointless Product. Tesla Trouble. Coin Couture.

Published February 4, 2022

All about Groundhog Day. Tetrachromats have an extra photoreceptor that lets them see 100 times as many colors as the rest of us. 7-Eleven is testing touchless “floating holographic displays” for self-checkout. A mistranslated sign inadvertently advertises free alcohol. A gigantic, 60-socket power bank could fully charge 5,000 smartphones with 3,000-mAh batteries. A gallery of “automated furniture.” Enhancing the energy storage capacity of graphene supercapacitors used in solar heating. A search engine that finds full-text public-domain books. Why would anyone program a self-driving car to ignore stop signs? A chainmail cocktail dress made from pennies. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly wintry miscellany.

Throwing Shades - What you need to know about textiles and color management (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

Color management continues to be a hot topic in commercial print, packaging and display graphics. But what about textiles?

Alon Bar-Shany Q&A – Transformations; the keys to success

Published February 4, 2022

Alon Bar-Shany has been on the front line of this transformation for over 25 years at HP, rising to general manager of HP Indigo, one of the leaders in the transformation to digital printing. Since leaving HP, he has continued his journey in industry transformations, most recently as the Chairman of Highcon, Executive Chairman of Redefine Meat Ltd. and Chairman and CEO of Twine Solutions.

I'm Sorry, Dave: The rise of AI in print and packaging (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

We have all read about or seen lots of Sci Fi stories in our lifetime. While they are fascinating and capture the imagination, they have always seemed somewhat detached from our day-to-day lives.

Automation Starts with Your Print MIS/ERP (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

Automation is about finding those recurring patterns and then taking them out of the hands of humans and into the realm of software, so that repetitive tasks can be done programmatically.

Packaging Boom and What it Means for PSP's

Published February 4, 2022

Ceramic Tiles & the Recirculation Revolution (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

Ceramics tile decoration has become a crucial application for industrial inkjet. A brief retrospective on the market can set the stage for the technology advances that enabled the success in ceramics, particularly with respect to the importance of nozzle-based recirculation in print heads.

Take Out the Laborious Part of Labor with Metrics (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

How to use observational platforms to keep your business running smoothly.

Arms of Love: New automation options for wide format (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

It took some time, but automation is gradually creeping into wide-format printing, especially on the flatbed side. Many wide-format printers pride themselves on producing bespoke projects and specialty “one of a kind” applications. And, after all, haven’t us industry pundits and analysts—and vendors—been pushing this kind of approach?

Talent and Culture as a Competitive Advantage (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

Talent and culture have not been given the deep attention that strategy and capital have historically had. The printing industry is no exception. However, competition grows stiffer with the passage of time. Rapidly changing technology has created a transparent world where any sort of advantage rapidly deteriorates.

Customers Demand Greener Options: A Guide to Eco-Friendly, Sustainable Fabric and Textile Printing—Print Customers Are Increasingly Requesting Greener Materials (Audio)

Published February 4, 2022

Print customers are increasingly requesting and specifying greener materials, helping their supply chains become more sustainable. Large-format printing is no exception; and the industry has responded by providing machines that use less electricity, processes that use less water, curing that utilizes less heating, while also focusing on developing newer, greener substrates and materials.

Scott Schinlever on EFI’s Inkjet Business

Published February 3, 2022

Scott Schinlever, COO of EFI’s Global Inkjet Business provides an update on the EFI inkjet business, encompassing such disparate markets as wide format, textiles, corrugated, and ceramic printing.

All Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published January 28, 2022

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 16,147 employees in 322299 (All Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). This NAICS category bounced up and down over the course of the 2010s, ending with 15,177 employees in 2019. In macro news: Yesterday was Q4 GDP Day!

Around the Web: Graphene Galore! Blood Book. Sayonara, SATs. Salacious Solving. Bad Bedding. Suspense Sting. Top Tales. Dairy Devices. Compromised Cars. Robot Restaurant. Retro Runners.

Published January 28, 2022

Graphene-Info updates all its graphene market reports. Saddam Hussein’s “Blood Qur’an.” The SATs to go all-digital in 2024. Sweary and lewd versions of Wordle. Due your research before naming bedroom furniture products. Where did the “three notes of suspense” originate? A new book looks at Haruki Murakami’s T-shirt collection. Here we go: “wearables for cows.” A teen hacker gained remote access to Teslas around the world. Inside the Beijing Olympic Village cafeteria. Sneakers designed like old VHS tapes. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

November Shipments: Reversion to the Mean

Published January 21, 2022

November 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.99 billion, down from $7.29 billion in October, and the first month that shipments dropped since early summer. Year to date, January-to-November shipments are $75.56 billion, only a bit off 2020’s January-to-November number of $76.36. If we have a really good December, 2021 could come in slightly above 2020.

Around the Web: Conquering Corrosion. Spent Signage. Talking Tech. Shambling Shelves. Periodic Poetry. Gone Games. Mechanical Masterpieces. Dish Delight.

Published January 21, 2022

Graphene-based anti-corrosion primer applied in the UK. Reverse-engineering Wordle. Las Vegas’s Neon Boneyard is a sign-based history of the city. What technology will invade our lives in 2022? Useful robots are simply self-driving shelves. A periodic table of haiku. What happened to Atari? Mechanical versions of classic paintings make art interactive. A useful feature of Starlink’s satellite dishes has an unforeseen consequence. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.

Sanitary Paper Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published January 14, 2022

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 19,221 employees in NAICS 322291 (Sanitary Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). This NAICS category bounced up and down over the course of the 2010s, ending with 19,593 employees in 2019. In macro news: CPI increased 0.5% in December.

Around the Web: Toaster Tech. Car Color. Tongue Texting. Dynamic Dumbbells. Pointless Purloining. Malicious Meters. Face Fitbit. Snow Solution. Troubling Tie-In.

Published January 14, 2022

A graphene-based toaster. A BMW covered with E Ink panels can change color at the push of a button. A “smart retainer” for tongue-based text messaging. Alexa-based smart dumbbells can adjust weights via voice command. “The Spine Collector” scams book editors for manuscript copies of forthcoming books, for seemingly no reason whatsoever. QR code-based parking meter scams. An electronic mask can detect leaks. A liquid based bubble clock. How did people clear roads before the snowplow? Walmart’s special “Pain Box” DVD edition of “Dune.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s Wordle-winning miscellany.

Preliminary 2021 Business Conditions: Help Ruin This Chart!

Published January 7, 2022

We are sifting through the preliminary data from our 2021 Print Outlook Survey, and so far we have found that 17% of print businesses reported that revenues in 2021 increased more than 25% over 2020, and a further one-third (32%) saw revenues up 10–25%. But our survey is still open, so here is your chance to wreck this chart.

Around the Web: Public Property. Compelling Covers. Required Reading. Pre-PARC. Lego Lettering. Graphene Galore. Clever Clicker. Tongue TV. Fast Fitness. Visual Visage. Piscine Pilots.

Published January 7, 2022

Winnie the Pooh is ours now! The best book covers of 2021. What was the best book of the past 125 years? A history of the graphical user interface. All the latest textile-based graphene developments. Samsung’s new TV remote can harvest energy from your router’s radio waves. Sony’s new Bravia Cam allows you to control your TV via gestures. A lickable TV screen to sample televised tastes. McDonald’s in China is installing exercise bikes. A display, app, and platform for displaying digital facial expressions on masks. Fish can now drive cars. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s New Year’s miscellany.

October Shipments: Still On the Rise

Published December 17, 2021

October 2021 printing shipments came in at $7.23 billion, up from September’s $6.99 billion. This is the third month in a row in which shipments increased. Year to date, January-to-October shipments are $68.21 billion, a bit off 2020’s January-to-October number of $69.03. Unless November and December are higher than expected, 2021 will come in slightly below 2020.

Around the Web: Locked Letters. Coffee Creativity. Clever Clip. Terrific Toaster. Neat Knife. Graphic Glasses. Lego Largesse? Ornithological Oddballs. Strategic Syrup. Gingerbread Ginmill.

Published December 17, 2021

Mary, Queen of Scots: champion paper folder. “Coffee spill art.” Redesigning the binder clip. The smartest toaster was invented in 1949. An Internet-enabled cutting system for printers. A monocle/eyewear system for display graphics. Is it really better to invest in Lego’s than gold? The future of the swag bag? Birds aren’t real! Taping Canada’s strategic maple syrup reserves. The future of work from home? Miller High Life’s gingerbread dive bar. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published December 10, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 35,368 employees in NAICS 32229  (Other Converted Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). This NAICS category bounced up and down over the course of the 2010s, ending with 34,770 employees in 2019. In macro news: Beige Alert!

Around the Web: Polly’s Paper. Printable Pianos. Toilet Tour. Milk Monitors. Rapid Rejection. Arm Artifice. Perilous Press. Bogus Bomber. Pachyderm Parade. Nutty Nutcracker. Crazy Condiment.

Published December 10, 2021

Meet Polly Verity: paper sculptor. Printing playable, paper-based pianos. An exhibition of artistic toilet paper holders. New technology can detect and warn of bacterial contamination from inside a milk container. Introducing the Journal of Universal Rejection. Graphene-based batteries headed for the EV market. Attempting to use an artificial arm to fake vaccination. William Bullock, the ill-fated inventor of the web rotary press. The FBI suspected the inventor of the Tickle Me Elmo doll of being the Unabomber. How to prove the safety of the Brooklyn Bridge? A terrifying nutcracker powered by an explosive piston. “Terry’s Chocolate Orange Mayonnaise,” for some reason. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

October Graphic Arts Employment—Print Production Up, Non-Production Also Up

Published December 3, 2021

In October 2021, all printing employment was up +1.0% from September, with production employment up +0.9%, and non-production printing employment up +1.2%.

Around the Web: Handy Hemp. Digital Donuts. Tarmac Trouble. Cool Calendars. Punctuation Peril. Sheet Chaise. Printed Peeper. Droid Dante. Robot Reproduction. Barbecue Busking.

Published December 3, 2021

Hempitecture manufactures hemp-based insulation and other construction materials. NFTs jump the latest of many sharks. Graphene helps fill in potholes. A brief history of the Advent calendar. Is the apostrophe on the way out? A chair made of interleaved sheets of paper and held together by friction. The first-ever recipient of a 3D-printed prosthetic eyeball. Robot artist Ai-Da tries her hand at poetry. A rolling piano barbecue that grills food while the keys are struck. The “social distancing zapper.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Stationery Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published November 19, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 24,349 employees in NAICS 32223 (Stationery Product Manufacturing establishments). This NAICS category declined slowly over the rest of the decade, ending with 15,678 employees in 2019. Also: following up a BoSacks tweet about newspaper circulation.

Around the Web: Lovin' 'Letters. Follicle Fabrication. Canine Calling. MySpace Memories. Freaky Furby. Bar Bots. Better Batteries. Unspun Unveiled. Plague Planet. Plushie de Pain.

Published November 19, 2021

Newsletters continue to thrive. Making ink from human hair. The “DogPhone,” for some reason. “MySpace nostalgia,” also for some reason. Integrating a Furby into a modular synthesizer. Robot bartenders streamline drink-making. A graphene-based battery charger accelerates charging speed. 3-D weaving can produce one-off pants in 10 minutes. The Human Library aims to promote more empathetic human relations. This week’s animal plagues had a 2020 feel to them. A bread plushie.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s plague-ridden weekly miscellany.

September Shipments: We Got Good News and We Got Bad News

Published November 12, 2021

September 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.93 billion, up from August’s $6.87 billion. It’s not a massive increase, but we’ll take it. Year to date, January-to-September shipments are $60.48 billion, a bit off 2020’s January-to-September number of $60.97. Can we close the gap in Q4?

Around the Web: Better Breathing. Climate Catastrophe. Mrs. Mural. Tome Time. Phone Future. Zillow Zaniness. Tube Trouble. Bear Blending. Dead Doornails. Claus Crisis.

Published November 12, 2021

Robotic textiles that can help you breathe better. Fast fashion’s major manufacturing hubs may soon be under water. A robot painter sows the seeds of marital discord. A clock that displays the time using quotes from books. What will the smartphone of the future look like? The world’s first active heating fabric—thanks to graphene! An Indiana town is luring workers by offering free grandparents. Zillow shuts down doomed AI-based real estate valuation business. A “handheld toothpaste manipulation device” that will put toothpaste back in the tube, for some reason. Photoshopping Paddington Bear into every movie. The origin of the phrase “dead as a doornail.” The labor shortage is now getting real: there is a shortage of Santa Clauses. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Around the Web: Robot Record. Living Lava. Digital Doors. Kooky Kafka. Goofy Glasses. Vaccine Vocab. Meta Misinterpretation. Clever Cards. Arrested Android. Truck Tech. Sustainable Spirit.

Published November 5, 2021

A writer, musician, and AI collaborate on a new album. Seen on Halloween: a human lava lamp. Replacing clear glass cooler doors with dynamic displays, for some reason. A recently unearthed collection of drawings shows a playful side of Franz Kafka. Good grief: are full-face sunglasses becoming a thing? The OED chooses its Word of the Year. Memo to Facebook: “Meta” is similar to the Hebrew word for “death.” MasterCard adds distinctive notches to its credit, debit, and gift cards for the visually impaired. Graphene integrated into trail running shoes. Ai-Da, an “artist robot” detailed in Egypt on suspicion of espionage. Air Vodka: “the world’s most sustainable spirit.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published November 5, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 50,879 employees in NAICS 32222 (Paper Bag and Coated and Treated Paper Manufacturing establishments). This NAICS category peaked two years later at 54,175, declined slowly over the rest of the decade before shooting back up to 51,811 employees in 2019. In macro news, Q3 GDP growth is up 2.0%.

Around the Web: Blue Blues. Token Tracking. Prince Printing. Diminished Denim. Fridge Flaming. Golden Graphene. Mountain Messaging. Munster Music. Silly Strings. Festive Franks.

Published October 29, 2021

The latest supply chain victim: blue paint. Adobe Photoshop to add “Prepare as NFT” option. 3D printing system maker Stratasys partners with Prince’s Paisley Park. Making denim production more sustainable. Amazon is now a bigger shipper than FedEx. You can now get nasty emails from your refrigerator. Graphene + gold = smart windows. Interesting facts about “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” A lost hiker ignores calls from rescuers. A long lost musical album from The Munsters. Hot dog-flavored candy canes. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

September Graphic Arts Employment—Print Production Up, Non-Production Down

Published October 29, 2021

In September 2021, all printing employment was up +0.8% from August, production employment up +1.1%, and non-production printing employment up +0.3%.

Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published October 22, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2019, there were 18,741 employees in NAICS 322219 (Other Paperboard Container Manufacturing establishments), a drop from 21,954 employees a year earlier, and the lowest ebb for this NAICS category. In macro news, new business formation goes “bezonkers.”

Around the Web: Fruit First. Font Follies. Public Papers. Graphene Gums. Android Artist. Resignation Reality. Pulling Plastic. Citation Silliness. Toy Telephony. Venerable Venue. Spider Sleepwear.

Published October 22, 2021

Fun facts about the word “orange.” A 1909 patent for a font that can be read either from left to right or right to left. How typeface choice can impact learning and comprehension. Public radio may help save newspapers. Graphene’s uses in dental applications. Meet the Flingbot and its approach to abstract art. What’s behind The Great Resignation? An approach to removing ocean plastic that just might work. A traffic camera confuses a T-shirt with a license plate. Fisher Price’s classic Chatter Telephone can now make real calls, terrifyingly. A new book celebrates the Fillmore East. Get comfy in (or terrified by) giant tarantula pillows. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Bob Barbera on Canon’s PRISMAprepare Go

Published October 20, 2021

Kelley Holmes talks to Canon USA’s Bob Barbera about Canon’s PRISMA workflow solutions, the new cloud-based PRISMAprepare Go for remote job submission, and PRISMA Home, a standard platform for users to manage all their PRISMA solutions.

Muller Martini: Full Speed Ahead on Finishing Automation

Published October 19, 2021

Andy Fetherman, Vice President of Sales and Technology at Muller Martini, shares his thoughts about the importance of automation, not only in the bindery, but as an integrated workflow across the entire process. He notes some of the advances the company is making and what we should be looking forward to in the future. He also reports seeing a shift beginning from a preference for near-line finishing to the more efficient and less labor intensive in-line model.

David C. Rice on FSI’s Conversion Program

Published October 18, 2021

Franchise Services’ David C. Rice talks to Kelley Holmes at the Sir Speedy, PIP and Signal Graphics International Vendor Show about Franchise Services’ conversion program for independent printers to become part of a franchise.

August Shipments: Summer Ends on a High Note

Published October 15, 2021

August 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.87 billion, up from July’s $6.47 billion. Year to date, January-to-August shipments are $53.42 billion, not far off 2020’s January-to-August number of $53.68.

Around the Web: Polar Publication. Robotic Writing. Waymo Weirdness. Restaurant Robots. Perilous Punctuation. PURE Processes. Nightmare Nanas. Marvelous Mollusks. Canine Carrier.

Published October 15, 2021

A deluxe print edition of the story that inspired The Thing. A 14-foot long robotic pen. Waymo’s self-driving cars are flocking to a dead-end street in San Francisco—and no one knows why… A Paris restaurant replaces its chef with a robot. The Casa Grande (Ariz.) Neon Sign Park. The lack of an apostrophe in a Facebook rant gets an Australian man sued. Apps that delete words from stories leaving just the punctuation. Graphene-enhanced bed sheets. PrimaLoft improves its manufacturing technology for insulation used in garments. China’s “Grannies from Hell.” Hand-crocheted plush octopuses. “The Schnauzer Chariot of Kazakhstan.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly blasting Shatner into space miscellany.

Automating Digital Production with the Canon C10010VP’s Image Sensing Unit

Published October 12, 2021

In this video sponsored by Canon, learn how the image sensing unit on the Canon imagePRESS C10010VP can automate repetitive tasks, monitoring and adjusting front-to-back registration and color accuracy. The sensing unit measures 32 color patches and 8 registration marks to help maintain consistent results and minimize operator intervention.

Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published October 8, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 30,048 employees in NAICS 322212 (Folding Paperboard Box Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category stayed fairly steady throughout the decade, then spiked in 2019 to 47,980 employees. In macro news, sales of light vehicle sales plummeted in September 2021, even as profits reached record highs.

Around the Web: Facebook Fail. Book Blobs. Rogue Reader. Book Boxes. Wonder Waste. Mask Museums. Chromosome Capers. Composer Cash. Beethoven’s Back! Strava Sketches. Dish Disaster.

Published October 8, 2021

The latest trend in book cover design. A DIY “open source ereader.” A new subscription service for under-appreciated books. “The digital death of the collector.” Turning waste into graphene. Celebrating masks. Biohacking DNA to take over gene sequencing computers. How much would Bach make on Spotify? AI helps Beethoven finish his Tenth Symphony. A gallery of “Strava art.” An ill-advised vending machine for china. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly fat bear miscellany.

FSI’s Richard Lowe on Helping Franchisees Weather the Pandemic

Published October 7, 2021

Kelley Holmes talks with Richard Lowe of Franchise Services Inc. (FSI) at the Franchise Services show in Las Vegas about how FSI helped support its franchisees during the pandemic.

August Graphic Arts Employment—Staying on the Plateau

Published October 1, 2021

In August 2021, all printing employment was up +0.4% from July, production employment up +0.4%, and non-production printing employment also up +0.4%.

Around the Web: Domestic Droid. Drone Deterrents. Crazy Calculator. Graphene Grab. Wet Wires. Tag Tech. Furry Financier. Robotic Recaps. Conference Closets. Jean Genie. Spreadsheet Stage.

Published October 1, 2021

Amazon’s new “household robot.” Raven vs. Drone. A calculator that converts normal units to wacky units, such as llama’s spits or bees. The “wonder material” poses national security issues. A 3D map of all the underwater Internet cables. A robot built to spray graffiti. “The world’s first crypto asset trading hamster.” Using AI to summarize books. Are “Zoom booths” in offices likely to be a thing? (We hope not.) How to reduce the environmental impact of your jeans. “I’m not sure Google Sheets is the best way to experience theater.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Diversity of Offerings Helped Sir Speedy Tampa through the Pandemic

Published September 30, 2021

Kelley Holmes talks to Steve Albritton of Sir Speedy Tampa at the Franchise Services Convention. Sir Speedy Tampa had come in at #36 on the 2020 WhatTheyThink | Printing News Top 100 Small Commercial Printers survey, and Steve talk about how the company managed to thrive during the pandemic year.

High Lifespan Consumables for the HP Indigo V12 Digital Press

Published September 29, 2021

In this video sponsored by HP Indigo, Motti Silberberg's, Series 6 Cold Function Manager, shows how consumable components like the blanket, PIP, and acid drum were designed to accommodate the very high speed of the V12 press.

Corrugated and Solid Fiber Box Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published September 24, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 84,136 employees in NAICS 32221 (Corrugated and Solid Fiber Box Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2012, then continued to rise over the course of the decade, peaking in 2018 at 88,399 before dropping again in 2019. In macro news, three estimates of Q3 GDP.

Around the Web: Paint Power. Getting GO. Follicle Flora. Luminous Leaves. Simplifying Sneakers. Computer Covers. Peculiar Posters. Card Carriers. Worm Wiki. Avocado Art. Butt Biometrics.

Published September 24, 2021

Scientists have invented a white paint that cools the surface ton which it is applied. Unlocking a mystery of graphene oxide. How to make a living, growing plant-based wig. Scientists create rechargeable light-emitting plants using nanoparticles. Nike develops easy-to-put-on sneakers for people with disabilities. Relive old memories with a gallery of classic 1980s and 90s computer book covers. AI-generated movie posters. Etsy shops now offer a variety of vaccination card holders. A surprisingly extensive list of fictional worms. The impending age of the smart toilet and your—ugh—“analprint.” All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

EFI’s Ron Teller on PrintSmith Vision

Published September 21, 2021

Kelley Holmes talks with EFI’s Ron Teller at the Sir Speedy, PIP and Signal Graphics International Vendor Show about new integrations and modules for PrintSmith Vision Print Management Software.

July Shipments: Back on the Decline

Published September 17, 2021

July 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.45 billion, down from June’s $6.69 billion. Year to date, January-to-July shipments are $46.44 billion. At this point in 2020, year-to-date shipments were slightly higher at $46.83. The recovery is proving more challenging than the actual pandemic, it seems.

Around the Web: Collaborative Coalition. Faster Fashion. Cool Kicks. Community Cookbooks. Bean Bother. Ape Art. Screw Support. Outside Office. Rowdy Runners. Lego Larceny. Non-Existent Net.

Published September 17, 2021

You’ve heard of “fast fashion,” which is bad? Now there’s “faster fashion,” which is good. Graphene-enhanced sensors allow shoes to diagnose physical and cognitive disorders. E Ink-based displays may be able to play video. Loop helps create reusable packaging. Nebraska’s Morris Press has been printing community cookbooks for decades. A new social media challenge: “beaning.” Bored ape illustration NFTs sell for $24.4 million, for some reason. A new hammer-based screwdriver for getting out corroded screws. A Japanese homebuilder develops home-office sheds for WFHers. A 24-mile NYC road race based on “The Warriors.” A Dutch “toy heist.” The Internet doesn’t exist. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Lemay Sanchez of Plan Prophet Talks About CRM Automation

Published September 16, 2021

Kelley Holmes talks to Lemay Sanchez, Managing Director of Plan Prophet, a Salesforce-based CRM automation engine that integrates directly with Printers Plan and PrintSmith, with support for additional MIS systems soon to be added. The goal is to support as many MIS systems as possible and provide a truly integrated CRM automation experience.

Two Indicators: Retail Sales and Industrial Production

Published September 10, 2021

This week’s Friday data dump looks at two macroeconomic indicators that will give us some sense of how we are bouncing back from the pandemic—Retail sales and the Industrial Production Index. 

Around the Web: Patent Palaver. Lamp Love. Street Smarts. Elastic Enhancement. Smart Specs. Pestering Popups. Verbose Vegetation. Foolish Fowl. Tuneful Typing. Tiffany Tidbits. Good Gander.

Published September 10, 2021

US Patent Office rules that AI cannot patent its own inventions. Restoring the all-important water jug/lamp balance in your life. Graphene is an essential part of “smart digital roads.” Making a dress out of Target bags. Rubber Band 2.0. Good Lord, Facebook is developing smart glasses. A new project documents how awful the web experience has become. Can plants talk? “Ripper,” the duck that repeatedly said “You bloody fool,” apparently. A website that turns keystrokes into jazz piano notes. Virtually perfect Tiffany lamp reproductions…as cookies. Remembering the hospitality of a Canadian town on 9/11. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Around the Web: Foliage Finder. Coal Creativity. Sick Sites. Cosmic Color. Doom Dialing. Forestry Fastener. Vending Vocation. Retro Rock. McDonald’s Mystery.

Published September 3, 2021

Find out where and when the best fall foliage is likely to be. Turning coal ash into fibers. “Websites from Hell.” What is the average color of the universe—and does it have a Pantone number? A graphene-enhanced swimming pool. Creative hacking creates a “DoomPhone.” Turning blocks of wood into Velcro. What were the most important scientific developments of the past 50 years? Using a bowling ball for other sports. An Oregon entrepreneur develops vending machines that dispense arts and crafts. Remembering—against our will—the Pet Rock. What the heck was Grimace? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly milk crate stacking miscellany.

Paperboard Container Manufacturing Employment—2010–2019

Published September 3, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 142,868 employees in NAICS 32221 (Paperboard Container Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2011 and 2012, then continued to rise over the course of the decade, peaking in 2018 at 147,301 before dropping a bit in 2019. In macro news, office and mall vacancy rates are at historic highs, the pandemic having accelerated trends that had been well underway beforehand.

Around the Web: Hell Harp. Musical Material. Graphene Gold. Microplastic Master. Macbeth Mystery. Adult AR. Preying Plants. Fake Flora. Crate Craziness. Square Sustenance.

Published August 27, 2021

A working knitted keyboard. Graphene won another Olympic event. A 12-year-old Irish boy invents a magnet that attracts microplastics. Why is Macbeth such an unsettling play? Scholars found “the” reason. A research report on digital adult content looks, upsettingly, at AR and VR (though not QR, curiously…). A new (real) species of carnivorous plant has been discovered. AI creates 300 (not real) plant species. Why is the “milk crate challenge” a thing? Square foods, for some reason. Figurines of The Young Ones. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly milk crate stacking miscellany.

Around the Web: Padding Pi. Non-Fungible Nonsense. Bio Brewing. Measuring Microparticles. Fungal Footwear. Literary Lexicon. Swag Scheme. Mosquito Manipulating. Mollusk Meal.

Published August 20, 2021

Swiss researchers calculate pi to a new record number of figures. Buy an NFT clipart of a rock for almost $300K, for some reason. Graphene-reinforced concrete. “Biosmocking” is a peek at the future of apparel. AATCC announces the first global standard for measuring fiber fragment release during home laundering. A new sock sneaker featuring mushroom soles and 3D knitted discarded dog hair. Words coined by classic authors. Big brands go direct-to-consumer to gather better data. Genetically altering mosquitoes to make them blind to human hosts. “The Big Sleep” at 75. The firefly squid isn’t just a visual feast. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly miscellany.

Converted Paper Product Manufacturing Employment—2010–2018

Published August 20, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 253,464 employees in NAICS 3222 (Converted Paper Product Manufacturing establishments). Employment in this category dropped abruptly in 2012, then remained somewhat stable over the course of the decade and reaching 245,579 in 2018. In macro news, the American Institute of Architects (AIA) monthly Architecture Billings Index (ABI) show increased demand for architectural design services, good news for the signage industry.

June Shipments: A Lateral Move

Published August 13, 2021

June 2021 printing shipments came in at $6.65 billion, unchanged from May. We usually see declines from May to June, but at least the lateral move has halted two months of declining shipments.

Around the Web: Pressure Patch. Grape Graphene. Step Signs. Code Column. Corrugated Construction. Pall Pebbles. Emphasis Enigma. Travel Trauma. Fowl Fabio.

Published August 13, 2021

A new wearable patch can monitor blood pressure. New graphene paper can extend shelf-life of fruits. Calorie-counting stair signage. A first-person essay written by a QR code. The new “packaging real estate boom.” Why is the English language as erratic and haphazard as it is? Turning cremains into decorative pebbles. How fast can you type the alphabet? The 1962 Tanganyika Laughter Epidemic. How much trouble is the travel industry in? Remember that time when a goose collided with Fabio’s face? All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Delta variant miscellany.

Around the Web: Dining Documents. Felt Foods. Potato Packaging. Graphene Gold. Poster Portal. Microscopic Matter. Ant Aficionado. Neat Knife. Space Server.

Published August 6, 2021

The history of the restaurant menu. A “textile artist” specializes in food. French fry packaging made from discarded potato peels. Does it surprise you that graphene played a role at the Olympics? Changes are coming to Google Drive—consider yourselves warned. Pop Charts sells very cool infographic posters. Cornell researchers capture the highest-resolution image of atoms ever seen. An eight-year-old “entrepreneurial ant dealer.” Ron Popeil passes away. SpaceX is looking for a spaceport bartender. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Olympic miscellany.

Internet Publishing Employment—2010–2018

Published August 6, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 90,892 employees in NAICS 51913 (Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals). Over the course of the decade, employment in this category grew steadily to reach 275,875 in 2018. In macro news, real GDP increased at an annual rate of 6.5% in Q2 2021.

Around the Web: Creepy Codes. Fast Fashion. Cookie Cache. Running Robot. Crazy Crutches. Tennis Trivia. Zipping Sipping. Pricey Potatoes. Human Hamster.

Published July 30, 2021

Fats Domino toured with Scitex equipment? QR codes could be poised to raise privacy concerns. Graphene goes skiing. Is more expensive clothing necessarily more ethically produced? Keep your Oreo cookies away from your kids by using disguised packaging. How fast can a robot run a 5K? Pogo stick crutches, to make your rehab even more challenging. Philosophical CAPTCHAs to make your logins more challenging. Why are tennis balls yellow? A reusable silicone straw that unzips for easy cleaning. The world’s most expensive French fries. Florida man attempts to run on water from Florida to New York in a giant hamster wheel. Cicada killer wasps! All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly Olympic miscellany.

June Graphic Arts Employment—Continuing to Get a Little Better

Published July 30, 2021

In June 2021, all printing employment was up +0.1% from May, production employment up +0.7%, and non-production printing employment down -1.2%.

Assorted Publishing Employment—2010–2018

Published July 23, 2021

According to County Business Patterns, in 2010, there were 10,166 employees in NAICS 511199 (All Other Publishers). Over the course of the decade, employment in this category steadily declined to bottom out at 4,999 in 2018. In macro news, last year’s “official” COVID recession lasted only two months, according to the NBER.

Around the Web: Reading Rollercoaster. Popular Pen. Author Avatar. Sentimental Software. Will’s Words. Car Cologne. Nerdy Neckwear. Beefheart Beer. The Martin Luther Insult Generator.

Published July 23, 2021

Book sales may keep increasing…or not. A quill-like pen is a Kickstarter hit. A scholarly paper was co-authored by a dead friend in a dream. Do you remember The Print Shop pre-Mac design application? How many words did Shakespeare invent? Batteries need help…graphene to the rescue! A gasoline-scented cologne. A woman uses signage to accuse her cat of robbery. The Bow TIE: the geeky accessory you know you want. Two words: meth trout. All that and more in WhatTheyThink’s weekly space-bound miscellany.

Q&A with DG3's Rob Mayerson

Published July 22, 2021

Diversified Global Graphics Group (DG3) was founded as Cunningham Graphics International Inc. (CGI) to provide time-sensitive investment research printing and worldwide distribution in response to customer needs not being met efficiently by other firms. Over time, the company has diversified its client base and its product and service mix to become a leading provider of end-to-end communications solutions to financial, life sciences, and other industries. DG3 has trusted HP technology to provide their customers with the best printing quality in the industry with the latest enhancement to their fleet being the HP PageWide Web Press T250 HD with Brilliant Ink.