What's New with the 2013 Distributor Solutions Expo?
You don't want to miss the 2013 Distributor Solutions Expo, to be held May 8-9 at Chicago's Navy Pier Convention Center. It's the must-attend event for distributors and manufacturers that want to partner to deliver powerful solutions for end-user customers.
We've finalized our new Expo floor plan to maximize opportunities for distributor attendees and manufacturers to connect and learn, and to showcase new product and service offerings. Check out the new floor design here.
Distributors: Registration is now open for you! This is your premier opportunity to find manufacturers that have offerings to meet your customers' ever-changing needs. Register now to attend.This event is FREE for representatives of PSDA member distributors to come and do business.
Manufacturers: This is obviously an extraordinary opportunity for you, as well. We will ensure that you have the ideal forum in which to do business and make the Distributor Solutions Expo "worth the trip" to the Windy City. Learn more at our exhibitor information page and contact Dave Merli at email@example.com or 202.367.1219 to reserve your booth location today. Space is filling up rapidly, so don't delay!
Get Ready for the 2013 Small Distributor Summit
PSDA has a vibrant community of small distributors (annual sales of less than $2.5 million). Those distributors have access to a tailored experience — the Small Distributor Summit — which will take place May 9-10 in Chicago in conjunction with, and immediately following, PSDA's Distributor Solutions Expo.
As in year's past, the program is being planned for small distributors by small distributors. To register for SDS, register for the Distributor Solutions Expo (Wednesday/Thursday or Thursday only) and then select the Small Distributor Summit add-on during registration. The SDS will begin on Thursday, May 9, and will include a small distributor-only afternoon session, Thursday evening dinner, and a full day, peer-to-peer networking program on Friday, May 10.
For more information on the 2013 Small Distributor Summit, click here.
Find Your Next Source Using PSDA's Online Sourcing Guide
The PSDA Online Sourcing Guide is an exclusive directory of sources for print, marketing and related services for use by PSDA member companies. It's easy to find what service you're looking for by category or through an advanced search tool. For example, simply choose “Direct Mail” and then “Mailing Lists” underneath it to discover other PSDA companies offering this specific service.
Find your next source today!
Flottman Company Wins Gold for Printing Excellence
The Flottman Company recently received 10 Print Excellence Awards — one gold and nine silver — in the annual competition hosted by the Printing Industries of Ohio, Northern Kentucky (PIANKO). The 2013 awards included more than 450 entries from 60 companies, competing in 34 different categories.
Flottman's gold-award-winning piece featured the company's newest product: Rxperts Printing Alliance - SecuRxperts' Invisible Ink, Security Solutions as a miniature (1.5" x 1.5") folded literature insert, printed with portions of invisible ink. This piece will compete for Best of Show and Best of Category at the PIANKO August 2013 Grand Ceremony, in Columbus, Ohio. The piece will also be honored as a representative of the entire Southwest Printing Region in the National Competition.
"What an honor to receive a Gold Print Excellence Award. As a company, we are privileged to represent our industry and our partners in receipt of the prestigious gold and nine silver awards," said Tom Flottman, CEO of the Flottman Company. All entries were critically judged by three out-of-state officials: Paul Schmitz, Schmitz Printing Inc.; Ken Eberhart, The Merrick Printing Company; and Glen Pentry. According to the association President, Jim Cunningham, "This year's judging panel collectively spans more than 100 years of printing experience, and they were all extremely impressed with our association's incredible variety of work and production excellence."
Discount Labels Sends Customer to Super Bowl
Custom label supplier and PSDA member Discount Labels congratulates Jon Heaphy of Liberty Press for winning the grand prize in Discount Labels' Football Experts Club, an online game played during the recent NFL season. The grand prize-winner Heaphy won two tickets to Super Bowl XLVII, plus hotel and airfare to be enjoyed in New Orleans, the site of the big game.
“The Super Bowl is such an exciting game, and we're so happy to be able to offer free tickets, hotel and airfare to one of our customers,” said Brand Manager Jennifer LaGrange. Jon Heaphy, general manager at Liberty Press, has been a mainstay at the company for the last 18 years. Liberty Press, which has been owned by Frank and Nancy Benedek for 19 years, has been a Discount Labels customer for most of that time.
“Discount Labels employees watched the game along with the nation, and were happy to know that a longstanding customer was there in person,” LaGrange said.
The Flesh Company Adds New Sales Managers
PSDA member The Flesh Company recently added two new regional sales managers. Bernie Emmons (below, left) has joined the company and will be responsible for sales in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Texas. Emmons has extensive experience in the print industry and will be based in Plano, Texas. Todd Kempinger also joined the company as regional sales manager based in OshKosh, Wis., covering Iowa, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. His background includes business forms, document management, labels, promotional printing, jumbo rolls and direct mail.
"We are excited to be able to add such talent as Bernie and Todd to our sales team," said Mark Gerling, EVP of sales and marketing. "The Flesh Company continues to grow due to investments in technology and commitment to providing the highest levels of quality and service to our clients." In 2012, The Flesh Company earned four Grand Awards in the PSDA PEAK Awards contest and one Award of Excellence. This year marks the company's 100th year in continuous business as a family owned, trade-only manufacturer.
WebbMason Reports First $100 Million Year
PSDA member WebbMason, an integrated marketing solutions and services company headquartered in suburban Baltimore, reported $100 million in 2012 revenue — its highest annual revenue in the company's 23-year history. Revenue growth was driven by the expansion of integrated marketing solution engagements with new and existing customers, better-than-expected demand in the company's promotional items business, and return on investment in the sales organization, including the addition of sales executives in four offices and a new office in Buffalo, N.Y.
"We have seen revenue growth across WebbMason's traditional offerings, including promotional items and commercial printing as well as from our interactive and direct marketing business," said Warner Mason, president and chairman of the board. "We increased business with existing clients and added significant new clients during 2012, validating our value proposition and ability to deliver a wide range of superior marketing services and products."
Gill Studios Receives QCA Accreditation
The Quality Certification Alliance (QCA), the promotional product industry's only independent, not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping companies provide safe products, has granted QCA Accreditation to Lenexa, Kansas-based Gill Studios Inc.
To achieve QCA Accreditation, Gill Studios, a PSDA member, began by endorsing a self-certification and completing a rigorous self-assessment, followed by submitting its headquarters and supply base to multiple third-party audits. The QCA board then used a scorecard representing the performance of the company and its supply chain on the third-party audits as the foundation for granting accreditation.
"Prior to QCA Accreditation, we addressed compliance by designating individuals to become subject experts in areas required by QCA. But no matter how good we thought we were, having a third party validate our assumptions was a tremendous motivator for all of our associates," said Tom LeTourneau, executive vice president of operations. "Now, implementing QCA is a way of life; it guides us to conduct all business opportunities on a routine basis versus an exception basis. We have embedded the term 'QCA' into our daily thought processes, and it has become a point of reference and reflection when considering changes to improve products, processes and procedures. The QCA journey is not 'one and done;' it requires sustainability and continuous improvement-and this is a challenge our associates are willing to accept."
Direct Mail Gets Personal
Wall Street Journal (01/23/13) Schectman, Joel
The world of ubiquitous computing was supposed to signal the end of the marketing-oriented mail business, but direct-mail marketing is actually thriving. Changes in databases, computing power and available storage have enabled direct-mail marketers to take advantage of the explosion of online data and refine their pitches with increasing precision. Direct marketers might have had 10 pieces of information about a household a decade ago, but with Big Data, they now can comb through hundreds of sources of public and private data and assemble more specific demographics, such as young, upper middle class families with teenage kids who like gadgets.
"Instead of having four campaigns, there can be dozens, created dynamically for different customer groups," said Christian Ward, chief data officer at Infogroup. For Jennifer Elwood, executive director of consumer marketing for the American Red Cross, the "holy grail" of direct marketing is combining personas with home addresses, which could help provide clues about donor fatigue. Direct mail accounted for 56 percent of all postal deliveries in 2011, up from 45 percent 10 years ago, said the Direct Marketing Association. Still, there are some concerns about the economics of micro-targeting and privacy of consumer data.
Unique Paper: Breaking Through the Clutter
MyPrintResource (01/28/13) Whitcher, Joann
Unique communications pieces that utilize specialty paper or novel designs are being used to stand out amid the clutter that vies for consumers' attention, and an example of this approach is the award-winning folded invitation to last autumn’s annual Unisource Chicago Paper Show, printed on Classic Linen Papers from Neenah Paper. "With the invitation, the idea was to illustrate something that couldn’t be done on the internet, playing up the quality of paper," said O'Connor Design co-owner Jim O'Connor. "The tactile nature of paper, the fact that this was printed on interesting stock — all played a part in the design concept.”
A nine-panel reveal, from a Fold Factory template, was employed, illustrating the interactivity one can have with a printed piece, which is beyond a screen's capabilities. "From the beginning, we had the idea that we would create something that shows the attributes of printing and paper, incorporating a format that allows someone to open this piece up and there is something brand new, and then you open it again, and so on," O'Connor said. O'Connor Design also includes die cuts, embossing and textures to engage end recipients.
Digital printing innovations have sparked more media advancements, opening up more possibilities. New substrates enable printers and designers to offer clients graphic options that were previously unworkable because of financial or logistic limitations. “There’s a keen interest in materials in the digital printing arena," said Mohawk's Chris Harrold. “Materials are meeting beautiful printing and meeting digital printing technologies.”
Michigan-based Spectrum Printers runs Nekoosa's MagnaCote pre-magnetized sheets on its offset press when longer runs call for it, or Digital MagnaCote on its Konica Minolta 7000 and 8000 machines for short-run, quick turnaround, personalized print jobs. The MagnaCote boasts a thinner, lighter magnet extruded to the back instead of laminated onto it, said Nekoosa Coated Products' Brian Cummings. “It has all the performance of a magnet, but the substrate can run through production digital printers and offset presses with ease," he said.
Another Nekoosa product enjoying enormous growth is Synaps Digital XM, a polyester-based synthetic paper designed for high heat, dry toner digital printing. The product features tremendous tear strength and can tolerate any environmental condition, Cummings said.
Synthetics and embedded magnetic sheets also are catching on at Mohawk, an example being an embedded magnet postcard celebrating March Madness created by Metropolitan Printing Service. Mohawk's motivation is “how can we bring to digital printers the capability of high value print applications they can offer their customer with a low investment upfront," Harrold said. "Now, they can expand their engagement with current customers or find new customers. They can offer their customers customized, one-of-a-kind packages on demand. It allows printers to cast a bigger shadow in [the] marketplace without having to invest in finishing equipment."
Inkjet Printing — When Does the Revolution Start?
Labels & Labeling (01/09/13) Hunt, Barry
Despite a lot of publicity, there is little evidence that single-pass inkjet printing is taking off. "The market has not grown as fast as we would like, yet we have seen digital printing as a whole become widely adopted for labels and packaging," said Xaar Marketing Director Mark Alexander. "The low rate of penetration probably reflects a wider lack of understanding about inkjet's attributes."
Inkjet's role in the labels sector has been augmented by much tighter integration of front-end file handling inside the full production workflow. Its contributions include quicker press setups, fast job turnaround times and less waste, while more sophisticated presses enable integration with management information systems that support sales and order processing modules.
Effective single-pass inkjet printing is primarily facilitated by piezoelectric drop-on-demand printheads, and the original equipment manufacturers have focused on realizing smoother gradations and broader tonal ranges to upgrade print quality levels using various proprietary methods. For instance, the Xaar 1001 printhead features a native resolution of 360 x 360 dpi, while eight grayscale levels yield a higher apparent resolution of 1,080 dpi. The device employs Hybrid Side-Shooter technology that fires dynamically variable drops from the nozzles to widen tonal ranges and allow the ink to flow directly past the back of the nozzles. The result is a consistent, temperature-controlled flow rate and recirculation of ink within the head.
Folder Express Makes Move to High-Speed Inkjet
In the upcoming February issue of Print Solutions magazine, Heidi Tolliver-Walker discusses how Omaha,Neb.-based Folder Express recently jumped into the high-speed inkjet market with its purchase of a 2,700-sph sheetfed inkjet press, the Fujifilm J Press 720. Look for the issue in your mailboxes soon!
Large-Format Graphics: A Package Deal
Wide-Format Imaging (01/13) Lindsay, David
There is a clear and accelerating trend toward the use of digital package and label printing due to a combination of reliably efficient and productive narrow-web digital label printers and wide-format presses. "Package printing is a huge and fast growing market, significantly larger than the overall sign and display market,” said Harel Ifhar with Hewlett-Packard's Scitex large-format division. Prototyping is often the jumping-off point for graphics professionals seeking to penetrate the package printing market.
Design firm Lava Partners began doing prototypes of designs using the 54-inch Roland Versa UV printer/cutter. “Thanks to the Versa UV’s ability to print on a variety of actual packaging materials, when we show a comp to a client it is virtually identical to what the actual package will be," said Lava's Dean Passaglia. The Roland Versa UV's advantages for the packaging industry include its ability to incorporate metallic into prints, while the VersaCAMM SP-i series accommodates the die-cutting requirement in packaging through use of an inline contour cutting system.
The Roland Soljet Pro III Xc-540MT features an extended range needed for numerous packaging jobs thanks to Metallic Silver ECO-SOL MAX ink, which is compatible with vinyl, PET film, canvas, paper, transparent film and banner substrates. The ink is capable of being printed as a spot color or mixed with the XC-540MT’s CMYK inks to generate a spectrum of colored metallic effects including gold, silver, bronze and other pearlescent hues.
Digital equipment manufacturer EFI learned to exploit the label and packaging opportunity with its Jetrion, and the firm also has started addressing the broader packaging market using larger-format solutions. Among EFI's large-format flatbed and convertible print solutions that can assist with short-run packaging and packaging prototyping operations are the VUTEk HS100 Pro, the VUTEk GS3250LX, GS3250 printers and Rastek flatbed printers. The company's wide-format systems also can integrate with EFI web-to-print solutions and with EFI Radius.
Large-format professionals who transform packaging into a core business component should look forward to many new technological innovations as digitally printed packaging becomes faster and more versatile. For example, HP is busy commercializing new 30-inch-wide Indigo electrophotographic digital presses for flexible packaging and folding carton production. Digital's primary appeal resides in functional, targeted brand customization that can fuel sales in ways that are economically infeasible with the analog printing world. Through digital, brands can split product lines into multiple SKUs of targeted brands or versions of product to produce better-selling products that cater to specific audiences.
ISO Comes to In-Line Color
Labels & Labeling (01/01/13) Seymour, John
A need exists for globally recognized, objective color standards, with global brand owners expecting color consistency from one print run to the next, no matter where it is produced, said QuadTech's John Seymour. Thus, there is a clear argument for common standards to describe how we measure color using a spectrophotometer. "In-line spectrophotometers are proving to be reliable solutions for measuring light on web-fed packaging print," he said. "Using high-powered software, they can take readings continuously throughout the production run, from a large number of image targets, with minimal human input and without stopping the web, at high speed."
However, it is no easy task to achieve International Organization for Standardization (ISO) compliance with an in-line spectrophotometer. For one thing, there are two key ISO standards covering color measurement, one of which is no longer relevant. ISO 5, which defines how a densitometer measures ink on paper, was applicable back when the color of print was specified in terms of density. "Unfortunately, a density value does not uniquely define a color, so it is somewhat lacking when it comes to specification of color," Seymour said. "Because of this, the mother of the print standards, ISO 12647, defines the color of patches in terms of CIELAB values instead of density. That is to say, compliance to ISO 12647 does not require a spectrophotometer to comply with ISO 5."
The other key color measurement standard, ISO 13655, defines how a color (CIELAB) measurement device functions, and how to compute CIELAB values. The 1995 version of ISO 5-3 stipulated a densitometer must employ an incandescent bulb as its light source, but there are no in-line spectrophotometers that comply with the 1995 version of ISO 5-3. "This is not a compliance issue, since the newer revision (ISO 5-3:2009) does not require an incandescent bulb, but the basic problem remains that the light hitting the web for an inline measurement will be different from the light hitting that same sample when measured off-line," Seymour said.
To address print evaluation issues surrounding the use of optical brightener agents, ISO Technical Committee 130 has revised all the related standards, including the densitometry standard, the viewing booth standard, the spectrophotometer standard and the printing standard. These amendments have more precisely defined the UV content of standard illumination so that all viewing booths and spectrophotometers possess the same level of fluorescent enhancement. The revised ISO 13655 and ISO 5-3 define four "measurements conditions," of which two — M0 and M1 — apply to package printing. "The M0 condition is the 'loophole' that allows basically all existing spectrophotometers to ... 'grandfather in,' or comply to a differing agreement from that which is already in place," Seymour said. He also said, "The M1 condition is met when the illumination of the spectro provides the amount of UV light which is defined as 'D50' illumination."
Seymour said since ISO standards no longer explicitly mandate an incandescent bulb, it is now possible to build an in-line device that can be regarded as M1 compliant. "More importantly, with the proper amount of UV, it will agree with an M1 spectrophotometer," he said. "But, on the other hand, the reference offline spectrophotometer might be an M0 instrument. In this case, complying with the rather loose specification for the UV component will not ensure agreement with other M0 instruments. Unfortunately, each M0 instrument will require its own special adjustment of UV content."
3-D Printing Heads Toward Mainstream
ZDNet (01/23/13) Sharma, Mahesh
Three-dimensional printing is moving closer to mainstream adoption thanks to falling printer costs over the past 10 years and the business case for using 3-D imaging to more efficiently create product prototypes. However, adoption is not likely to take off until the technology is simple enough for the non-technically proficient. Efforts to make 3-D printing simple enough for the masses include the Makibox, which, at $200, is promoted as the world's least expensive 3-D printer. The Makibox, which is manufactured in China, is the brainchild of American expatriate Jon Buford. His money-saving philosophy involves letting the buyer assemble the final product.
Buford said the process involves either downloading a 3-D file or creating one with PC design software tools or a smartphone app; converting the file into a format that can be used by the 3-D printer; and operating the printer via use of another program. "We are at that stage where 3-D printers can be used by people with some aptitude, but for the not-very-technically-savvy, it will take a little bit more — it's not just a plug-and-play app right now," he said. "We need to polish the software and hardware over another generation so it can plug in and work."
Smartphone apps designed to aid the 3-D printing process include Autodesk's 123D Catch app. The iPhone app can snap photos of an object from various angles and then compress the images into a 3-D model on Autodesk's remote cloud servers for exportation and editing to the web-based 123DSculpt app. Autodesk renders 11,000 3-D printing projects per week, said the company's Mary Hope McQuisition.
Digital Original: Touchcode, NFC Are New Technologies to Watch
Quick Printing (01/13) Giles, John
There are a number of new technologies for printers to watch for in 2013, including Touchcode and near field communication (NFC). Touchcode is a new invisible electronic code printed on paper, and users of smartphones, tablets and other multitouch devices can touch their screens to this printed material to launch web pages, enabling coupon codes, event ticketing or even mobile payments. The technology does not access the device's camera and could potentially eliminate the need for QR Codes or barcodes. Printing companies can license Touchcode from Printechnologics, and the cost should add less than a penny to the individual printed piece. Meanwhile, Moo.com has slipped a computer chip into printed business cards. The NFC chip is programmed to link to a landing page that features the user's contact information. The chips are rewritable, which means anyone with an NFC-enabled smartphone will be able to write and rewrite the URL on the chip to link to whatever digital property they choose. A full rollout of the NFC-enabled cards could take place this year.
Market for Digitally Printed Textiles Will Blossom in 2013
PrintWeek (01/24/13) Greene, Tim
InfoTrends' Tim Greene said wide-format signage and graphics has sufficiently compelling value to drive significant growth in digital textile printing through 2013. "The key wide-format color toner selling proposition is high speed and low-running costs," he said. "The drawback has been that the color toner-based system is expensive and does not print onto a wide range of media." KIP's 2012 introduction of the C7800 boosted the speed and dramatically cut the price compared to the original KIP Color 80 model.
Greene said the combination of KIP and Konica-Minolta sparked sales of the C7800 unit at substantially higher levels than the original color toner-based wide-format printer ever saw through the rest of 2012. Following the C7800 rollout, North American sales in the color toner segment almost doubled. "With nearly a year of getting to know the wide-format markets, we expect the C7800 sales to continue to grow robustly in 2013," Greene said.
InfoTrends is convinced that 3M sets the standard for the pressure-sensitive adhesive vinyl market, Greene said. 3M's launch of Envision, its PVC-free vehicle-wrap materials line, at SGIA last October was significant. "With some large brands and major retailers limiting or even eliminating the use of point-of-sale materials that have PVC in them, InfoTrends believes other manufacturers will have to follow suit or risk being left out of the portfolio of products that signage and graphics producers could use to produce certain campaigns," Greene said. "Some retailers have enormous fleets, so changing over that many trucks and trailers represents an enormous opportunity for the graphics film business."
InfoTrends identifies three major concurrent factors underlying investment in digital textile printing equipment, the first being retailers' and big brands' use of digital workflows to accommodate more design options and ameliorate the risk of unused products and unsold inventory. Another factor is the rollout of extremely high-speed, high-quality printing systems facilitating rapid production that fulfills time-to-market requirements. "Furthermore, open ink configuration enables the use of less expensive inks from reliable third-party sources instead of only OEM branded inks," Greene said. "This will help producers reach the production costs of screen textile printing."
InfoTrends InfoTrends offers PSDA members special rates on three of their most popular products including Industry Research Reports, the Ultimate Guide Online and their eLearning Courses. Learn more.
Labels & Labeling (01/18/13) Houghton, Carol
There was a surge in marketing campaigns integrating modern interactive codes in 2012, as brands sought to grab the attention of consumers by extending their experience online. Stuart Kellock, managing director at Label Apeel, has taken note of the trend toward smart labels, and he believes Quick Response (QR) Codes and augmented reality (AR) could have the staying power to build the future of smart packaging. "There is a real opportunity for the print industry to embrace this and wrestle back power from the Internet," Kellock said. "Labels don't just look pretty; they have real value for printers to bridge that gap."
US converter Lightning Labels believes QR Codes offer businesses a new way to connect with consumers and provide innovative marketing opportunities for engaging a target audience, but the challenge is in the execution so as not to damage a brand. AR could have a bigger impact, but creative agencies will need to take the time to understand the added dimension it brings and then commission applications that really drive consumer benefit, said Simon Jobling, commercial director of AR provider m2end. There are questions about the use of near field communication for label applications, as the technology's future looks more certain for mobile payments.
Twitter + Print: Combining the New and the Old to Grow Your Business
Business 2 Community (01/08/13) Himes, Patrick
Social media and online marketing offer numerous benefits for building a brand on the Internet, but print advertising should not be forgotten. Your business or clients could combine Twitter with print for a more effective marketing strategy. Twitter matters because it has 500 million active users and enables businesses to reach consumers directly and instantly, while print matters because of its tangibility, credibility, branding, target marketing and engagement level. Businesses should use Twitter to promote their print advertising, and use print ads to guide viewers to their Twitter feed. A few companies have truly embraced Twitter in their print ads, and creative efforts could generate buzz on their own. Businesses can learn from a creative example such as the CW Television Network, which created a print insert in Entertainment Weekly with an LCD screen displaying "the six latest tweets from @CW_Network beneath the words, 'Follow us now,'" according to a report from Mashable, drawing considerable press and recognition from the ad and people's reaction to it. A QR Code offers an easy way to connect print ads to a Twitter feed. Businesses should remember to be engaging on Twitter, and that they do not need to hire a new team to manage the Twitter feed.
US Ahead of Western Europe in QR Code Usage
A Pitney Bowes study of QR Code usage in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and France shows that American consumers were most likely to have tried the technology, followed by Germans. Some 39 percent of American 18- to 24-year-olds and 36 percent of American 25- to 34-year-olds reported having scanned a QR Code printed in a magazine. Across the countries, on average, 27 percent of young people 18 to 34 years old were most likely to have tried scanning a magazine. As for other printed materials, QR Codes on mail, posters and packaging each were scanned by 21 percent of respondents. Also, QR Codes on digital screens were less likely to be used, as only 13 percent of respondents said they scanned barcodes delivered through websites and only 9 percent and 7 percent said they did so via email and TV, respectively. A July 2012 comScore study shows the European audience is still significant in reporting 5.1 million QR Code users in Germany, 3.4 million in Spain and 3.3 million in the United Kingdom. In Germany, 18.6 percent of smartphone owners were QR Code users.