Have You Registered for the Small Distributor Summit?
PSDA has a vibrant community of small distributors (traditionally defined as annual sales of less than $2.5 million). Those distributors have access to a tailored experience — the Small Distributor Summit (SDS) — which will take place May 9-10 in Chicago in conjunction with, and immediately following, PSDA's Distributor Solutions Expo as an “event within an event.”
Thursday, May 9: Distributor Solutions Expo access, a small distributor-only afternoon session at Navy Pier and dinner
Friday, May 10: Full-day facilitated networking program at PSDA Headquarters in downtown Chicago
Past attendees agree this is the most valuable event they participate in and come back year after year for the peer-to-peer networking, education and motivation it provides.
Registration for SDS is handled through the registration process for the Distributor Solutions Expo. Simply go to the registration link, select either the two-day All Access Full Conference Pass (Wednesday/Thursday) or the Expo Only Pass (Thursday), then add SDS on as an "add on" during registration.
Visit the PSDA Blog Today
Have you visited the PSDA Blog lately? If not, you're missing out on posts such as “Don't Like Health Warnings on Cigarette Packages? Slap a Sticker on it!” and “Direct Mail is Still a Viable Marketing Tool.” The PSDA Blog is regularly updated with supplements to Print Solutions magazine articles, Q-and-As with industry experts and interesting print-related news stories.
Recently, the PSDA Blog featured six "Shining Stars," young professionals doing big things in the print industry. Check it out!
Check out the PSDA Blog, add it to your RSS feed and stay up-to-date on the latest interesting stories from the industry.
Learn How to Approach VDP Projects
With its On-Demand Training program, PSDA offers convenient web-based training designed to help drive growth for your business and advance your career. PSDA On-Demand Training courses are available in pre-packaged bundles geared toward specific skills and job roles or individually for a more tailored approach.
The newest offering, the Variable Data Printing Bundle, was developed by PSDA member thought leaders specifically for PSDA members. These courses serve as an extensive overview of how to approach variable data projects from start to finish. All courses are available for purchase as a bundle or as individual classes. View a demo of the program.
Read more about PSDA's On-Demand Training program.
Formax Introduces New Range of Products
PSDA member Formax recently expanded its line of digital print and finishing solutions with two creasers, the FD 210M and FD 215S. Creasing prevents cracking or tearing in toner-based digital printouts, providing a clean professional look, and making it easier for folding devices to fold with accuracy. The FD 210M Manual Paper Creaser is easy to use: simply adjust the paper stops, load the paper and press down on the creasing handle. The FD 215S Semi-Automatic Creaser offers the same easy setup, with push-button or hands-free foot pedal operation.
Formax also recently added the Cut-True line of cutters to its digital print and finishing solutions (one model pictured). Each of the three Guillotine cutters features a high-quality hardened steel blade, LED Laser Line for accuracy, user-friendly controls, an all-metal stand, blade changing safety tool and a variety of safety features.
Lastly, Formax introduced cmColor RIP and Color Match Software, a perfect complement to the ColorMax7 Digital Color Printer. cmColor Software utilizes the powerful Harlequin® RIP engine to combine color management tools and job presets for outstanding overall image quality, with predictable and repeatable color standardization. The new software allows users to submit, manage and preview jobs from any location on the network, using a Mac or PC. It also offers the ability to edit spot color and adapt to existing specifications.
Graphic Dimensions Launches Advanced Ship Notices
PSDA member Graphic Dimensions, a trade manufacturer of business documents and labels headquartered in Austell, Ga., recently announced that it will provide advance ship notices (ASN) on all orders produced at any of its three (Georgia, Kentucky and New Hampshire) manufacturing facilities. These automated email ship notices provide distributors with shipping and tracking information as soon as a job ships. The email ASN is also formatted so distributors can easily send this information to their clients.
“We will continue to look for ways to increase the value that we provide to our distributor customers,” said Bill Reid, vice president of marketing at Graphic Dimensions. “With our recent addition of online proof approvals and our launch of advance ship notices, we are happy to provide additional value-added services to our customers without increasing costs.”
Suncoast Marketing’s Ryan Byrnes Earns Elite Certification
PSDA member Suncoast Marketing is proud to announce that Ryan Byrnes (pictured) has earned the certification of Master of Advertising Specialty Information (MASI) from the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Byrnes joins an elite group of only 153 other members holding the prestigious MASI designation. This MASI achievement recognizes Byrnes as an expert in the industry and is a true testament to his advanced knowledge and contributions to the advertising specialty industry. Suncoast Marketing takes great pride in his accomplishments and believes that when any member of the Suncoast family strives to reach a goal, Suncoast and its clients benefit as a whole.
WebbMason Demos New Integrated Marketing Solutions for Franchises
PSDA member WebbMason, an integrated marketing solutions and services company headquartered in suburban Baltimore, recently displayed new services specially designed for franchise operators at the International Franchise Association's conference. The company also showcased new user interface capabilities for its MarketingBench™ distributed marketing management platform. WebbMason is bringing its integrated services portfolio to the franchise industry with offerings that include business-intelligent website design, Smart Direct Mail (database-driven direct mail and personalized microsite development), social media and mobile capabilities.
“WebbMason is developing commercial websites for our franchisees and continues to help us create and execute direct marketing campaigns that really work for our brands,” said Keith Ernst, director of stores for Franchise Concepts, Inc. FCI — franchisor of Deck The Walls, The Great Frame Up and Framing & Art Centre — was an early adopter of WebbMason's integrated services. “WebbMason is bringing together all of our multichannel efforts into a unified platform, and their analytics help ensure our franchisees are getting the most out of their marketing budget.”
WebbMason helps franchises support new store openings, open houses, trade show exhibits and other franchise events with promotional marketing strategies, email marketing campaigns, targeted direct mail marketing, collateral print management and more.
WebbMason's Cindy Lehman was featured in the February issue of Print Solutions magazine as well as the PSDA Blog.
OnTime Companies Upgrades Equipment, Increases Production Capacity
PSDA member OnTime Companies, a Boston-based provider of lettershop and plastic card personalization services, recently enhanced its production capacity with the installation of three new pieces of equipment to meet the growing demands of the company's expanding health care clients. With the addition of the Kirk Rudy 3700 card affixing system, the NBS Technology D-40 thermal imaging system and the Océ Viroprint 110 laser printer, OnTime will have greater production capabilities and flexibility.
Direct Mail: Still a Bargain for Marketers
Chief Marketer (02/27/13) Johnson, Grant
The USPS and direct mail as an advertising medium remain a bargain for marketers. Great direct mail is about understanding your segments and varying your offers and messaging to uniquely resonate with each of your targeted groups. Most of your testing should be done with your lists and data, and then your offers and messaging, factors that account for 70 percent to 80 percent of the success of a campaign. When testing creative, start with different copy, considering it is the words on paper that compel us to respond, then move to different design, new formats and your media mix in a multi-channel campaign. Timing is another big factor in direct mail that often gets overlooked, but marketers should review past results to better understand their seasonality and should consider how and how often they reach out to their target market. Social media is great for engagement, but it is not the way to consummate a marriage. Direct mail can help close the loop and boost ROI.
Disruptions: On the Fast Track to Routine 3-D Printing
New York Times (02/17/13) Bilton, Nick
Nascent 3-D printing technology is now expected to become a part of our daily lives much sooner than observers predicted. In 2010, researchers at the University of Southern California said it would take another decade to build a home using a 3-D printer, but the London architecture collective Softkill Design plans to use the technology to assemble a home in a single day this year. During his State of the Union address, President Obama said 3-D printers could help bring new life to manufacturing in America. The technology will not directly create manufacturing jobs, except perhaps for printers. "The bigger opportunity in the United States is that it opens and creates new business models that are based on this idea of customization," said Hod Lipson, an associate professor at Cornell University, director of its Creative Machines Lab and co-author of "Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing." Schools have started to embrace the technology, and the federal government is financing a state-of-the-art 3-D printing lab. In the past two years, the price of 3-D printers has fallen from $20,000 to $1,000 or less.
Wide-Format Is Wide Open for Small Commercial Printers
MyPrintResource (03/01/13) Hall, Bob
There are still relatively few printers entering the wide-format market despite digital workflow becoming routine, growing interest in providing marketing services and falling price points. Canon Solutions America’s Randy Paar said there is definitely increasing interest in adding wide-format capabilities to existing commercial printing operations. Meanwhile, Roland DGA’s Eric Zimmerman said: “Quick printers, to date, have been somewhat under-represented in the wide-format market. But they actually are very well positioned for it.”
Fujifilm North America’s Terry Mitchell said the usual starting point for commercial printers depends on the individual business. “As a general rule, most commercial printers start with a 64-inch roll press or a 4x8-foot UV flatbed press,” he said. “Many show interest in hybrid platforms that can print both flexible roll materials and rigid stocks. The choice depends on what segment of the wide-format business is being served and the type of materials that will be printed. Once we know the customers’ needs, we can offer the appropriate recommendation to meet those business needs.”
Paar, Zimmerman and Mitchell said finishing capabilities are very important to profitable wide-format printing. “Any printed material that is going to be outdoors or have contact with people needs lamination,” Zimmerman said. Paar said printers that boast both printing and finishing capabilities “can produce a higher quality and volume of work in a given amount of time and with less labor costs.” Additionally, Mitchell said finishing capabilities are essential to print providers’ ability to generate uniquely configured and sized signage, along with 3-D point-of-purchase displays.
Paar said in terms of the wide-format sales cycle, compared to that of traditional commercial printing, “the biggest difference is wide-format presents new applications and services [such as installation] that you may first need to educate your customers about so that the proper expectations are set between customer and print service provider.” Zimmerman said differentiation is critical to a business’ survival, and “the right digital wide-format device can help you capture new revenues, serve your customers better and build solid profit centers to take your business to the next level.”
PSDA Profile: Print Big Solutions PSDA member and large format digital printer Print Big Solutions was spotlighted in the December issue of Print Solutions magazine. Read the article.
Augmented Reality Photos Come Alive With a New HP Experience
QR Code Press (03/01/13)
Hewlett-Packard (HP) has announced the release of its HP Live Photo service, which provides consumers with a wholly new and enhanced image printing experience via use of printed photographs into which short video moments have been incorporated. Currently, this experience is available only to iPhone users through a free app. Users can generate, share and view images using augmented reality (AR) enhancements powered by HP subsidiary Aurasma. The app lets users combine still images and moving moments.
HP is convinced this service will transform how users view images. To produce the AR experience, a brief video can be uploaded from the iPhone device. A number of automatically generated still images are created based on the video, allowing the user to choose favorites. An entertaining template can then be added, and the image can be printed and shared.
“Augmented reality is the new medium for bringing the physical world to digital life, and HP Live Photo puts the power of this technology into the hands of everyday consumers,” said Aurasma's Annie Weinberger. The AR images can be shared online, such as through Facebook or email. Users also can print the AR images using any AirPrint-enabled printing device.
Latex Wide Format Graphics Printers Drive Growth
Wide-Format Imaging (02/13) Boer, Marco
Latex printers were initially pushed as being more environmentally friendly than aggressive solvent printers, but their growth has been fueled by properties such as their ability to print outdoor and indoor output on a single device. The consulting firm IT Strategies conducted a 2012 poll of a limited group of 20 best-in-class latex printer users, and roughly half of the respondents listed application flexibility as the prime motivator for acquiring a latex printer. The more applications that can be printed on one printer, the higher the printer usage and the faster the return on investment and time to profit. At this point, it is frequently the print-for-pay shop, and not its end customers, that takes the lead in positioning itself as being environmentally responsive.
Vehicle graphics are a common application for vinyl printed on latex. Many poll respondents mentioned latex’s superiority compared to solvent inks for vehicle wraps, as latex output can be repositioned easily. User satisfaction with latex printers has generally been high, with some respondents liking frequent replacement of inkjet print heads because they thought that “having the same print quality [as it was when it was new] five years into the ownership of the printer is a big deal.” This may correspond to better than anticipated print head life among respondents. The common expectation was one could jet three liters of ink per print head prior to replacement, but respondents pointed to print head life ranging from five to eight liters of ink per print head.
“It is nice to not have to worry about waiting before laminating or prints sticking together face to face,” said one respondent. This helps in boosting the print shop’s productivity and requires less floor space. Fast dry-time is derived from a combination of ink chemistry attributes and pre- and post-heaters used by latex printers. Essentially, latex printers are revitalizing demand in the two-decade-old wide-format inkjet graphics printer business.
Signage, Display & Wide Format at the Distributor Solutions Expo Signage, Display & Wide Format is one of the four Solution Zones at PSDA's Distributor Solutions Expo. These Solution Zones — a new feature at the expo — will be located on the expo floor and will spotlight exhibitors with unique, high-impact offerings.
The Grandest Printers of All
WhatTheyThink (02/27/13) Romano, Richard
Superwide-format printers have proliferated, and the models on the market today offer much better image quality, resolution, speed and versatility than their forebears. Superwides are still used for printing billboards, signage and building wraps, and an appealing option for print providers that rely on tiling is being able to print the entire graphic in one go. Although superwides can be more convenient than using two or more smaller units, they should not be viewed as scaled up versions of smaller machines. Print providers will need to take into consideration the space for the hardware, storing and handling large, cumbersome materials, file processing, finishing, transportation and installation. Superwide options today include rollfeds that print on flexible materials like paper, canvas and vinyl; flatbeds that can print on rigid materials; hybrid models; solvent-ink units and UV models; and new printhead designs and newer inks. The largest machine is just shy of 200 inches wide, which is about 17 feet or more than 5 1/2 yards, but market demands will dictate the maximum size.
RFID and AIDC News: Two-Sided Printing Solution Can Solve Problem of Matching Carton Shipping Label with Packing Slip
Supply Chain Digest (02/27/13)
Label vendor NCR has been pushing the “DuplexPackSlip,” helping to bring attention to the solution from Premier Print and Services Group. The product allows users to print the packing slip on the underside of the shipping label that will be placed on a carton. The labels have been around since 2009 and are designed to work with thermal or laser printers that offer dual-sided printing capabilities, such as the Fox IV print and apply machine, Sato's duplex tabletop thermal printer and Toshiba's small direct thermal printer. The overall label construction is 5 inches by 8 inches, with a traditional 4x6-inch area “cut out” on the front of the label, and the same area becomes the printable zone on the back. Traditional shipping information and required barcodes are printed on the front area, and a packing slip is printed on the back. The solution lowers labor costs because only one label needs to be applied, reduces errors associated with matching carton labels with packing slips and enhances security in keeping the packing slip more hidden. “That said, this label will be more expensive than a traditional 4x6 label plus a laser printed packing list, so companies just need to run the numbers, factoring in total materials and labor costs,” said Cliff Holste, SCDigest materials handling editor.
How Digital Printing Creates Value
Packaging World (02/13) Ferrari, Mike
Packaging that is distinctive and cuts through the clutter of supermarket aisles can attract consumers and get them to place the product in their baskets, even though they did not go to the grocery store for the item in the first place. This process depends on a sensorial response to packaging, graphics that resonate with the interests and aspirations of shoppers and a supply chain that is not dominated by analog printing. Digital package printing has made personalized packages possible, enabling brands to gain a speed to market that allows them to capitalize on the new shopper desire for relevancy. Companies have deployed "click and print" in high-definition resolution to successfully offer personalized packaging for products such as Heineken beer, Kleenex tissue, L'Oreal Kids Shampoo, Coca Cola and Pepperidge Farm Goldfish. More than a printing process, digital printing can be assembled as a digital workflow, and the speed in changeover time means brands can order on Monday what they will pack on Wednesday. Moreover, digital printing lowers the barrier to pilot the launch of new products and packaging because small quantities can be ordered without penalty.
Packaging & Direct Mail at the Distributor Solutions Expo Packaging & Direct Mail is one of the four Solution Zones at PSDA's Distributor Solutions Expo. These Solution Zones — a new feature at the expo — will be located on the expo floor and will spotlight exhibitors with unique, high-impact offerings.
Tomorrow's Technology Today
Labels & Labeling (02/21/13) Pittman, David
German machinery manufacturer Heidelberg is using state-of-the-art technologies and processes to be an active force in the future of print. One such technology is a film-based lighting element that employs electroluminescence or printed organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs). The technology could be applied to folding cartons either as a solid area or as numbers, text or logos, and Heidelberg is currently focusing on advanced concepts for decorative light covering a bigger area.
Other technologies expected to wield a large influence in the future are optoelectronic devices via digital laser imaging chips that permit control of individual lasers. Heidelberg said these systems allow partial drying or structuring of surfaces, and their digital multichannel modular nature gives rise to potential future digital imaging applications.
The manufacturer also emphasizes 3-D printing, surface decoration using non-contact inkjet as a key future technology. The technology enables conventional high-speed industrial printing's migration to printing on potentially any curved surface, making customization of everyday objects possible. It also could clear a path for new packaging shapes and products.
On a faster path toward realization are technologies such as a laser drying module that only heats the ink and not the substrate, thus cutting the time required between press and post-press operations. Progress is building for holographic printing using microembossing to generate an effect similar to lenticular printing. Tomorrow's functional printing technology also will involve smart shelves that facilitate direct communication between packaging and shelves.
Currently available innovative technologies include energy-efficient ultraviolet LED drying technology and market-ready Cristala and Touchcode products from the graphic arts decoration and functional printing sectors. Cristala uses existing drip off coating equipment from the sheet-fed offset market and specially prepared pre-press data to produce structured surfaces with a strongly accented gloss effect while also permitting co-application of gloss and matte finishes on one sheet. The structured coatings then generate distinct gloss effects according to the angle of inclination and the direction of viewing.
Touchcode, meanwhile, is an invisible electronic code printed on paper, cardboard, film or labels. Putting the code on the display of a touchscreen device with the appropriate installed software allows users to create an engagement between their electronics and printed matter that can trigger a promotion or activate additional content, such as videos or audio.
Research Explores Printing Without Chemicals
Michigan Daily (02/03/13) Dillingham, Ian
Academic researchers have developed physical color technology, which could potentially and dramatically change image printing by making it unnecessary to coat material with ink or chemicals. Precisely inscribed grooves are used to generate an observable color in the lab of University of Michigan Professor Jay Guo. “Rather than using these chemicals, you could basically emboss the structure — a very ‘green’ print technology,” he said. The structural color process would not only make printed products greener but also less susceptible to fading.
“[Current print companies are] using huge amounts of chemicals," Guo said. “A press company is not exactly the greenest place. In the future, this can all be done using structural color and it would be long lasting.” The process employs nanocavities that trap light at specific wavelengths reliant on the cavities’ depths. The cavities' structure lets them display color to an observer. "It’s purely a physical effect,” Guo said. The researchers can produce many different hues by varying the depth of the cavities. Guo calls this a selective property, as each depth corresponds to a distinct observable color.
The cavities are fabricated through a very precise nano-imprint method. “We cannot even see these [nanocavities] with an ordinary microscope because [the size] is beyond the diffraction limit,” Guo said. The technology also has possible uses in anti-counterfeiting efforts because of a property that complicates replication. "You can only see this kind of structure when the electrical field is perpendicular to the grating," Guo said.
Wine Label Printer Adds Foil Embossing to Semi-Rotary Press
Labels & Labeling (02/26/13)
French premium wine label printer Aset-Bidoit is now operating with a Rhino flatbed foil embossing unit on its semi-rotary presses. Aset-Bidoit has upgraded one of its Gallus TCS presses with a Rhino flatbed system from Pantec GS Systems. Currently, 3-D foil embossed labels are attracting considerable attention as a result of their quality. Technicians from Pantec GS Systems completed the retrofit. "Some semi-rotary presses basically double speed with Rhino when stamping uncoated materials," said Peter Frei, CEO of Pantec GS Systems. "Therefore, a Rhino onto a semi-rotary press not only makes a printer into a strong player in foil embossing, but he gets a major performance increase."
Cross-Media Marketing Gives Print New Life
Quick Printing (02/13) Steele, Jeffrey
Print frequently serves as the basis of the rapidly expanding cross-media market. Key lessons that print service providers should take from the cross-media marketing domain include the value of learning from others' successes and difficulties, forging alliances with cross-media players who lack skill in print, generating consistent and seamless campaigns, tapping existing customers first for business, and pitching customers and prospects on using the approach by means of cross-media campaigns promoting your own firm.
“With cross-media, you're creating an experience, and it's far more difficult to get them into that experience if it's not seamless,” said Kate Cook of the consulting firm Caslon. “If you're encouraging participation in social media, make sure that if you are sending them to Facebook, your cover design on Facebook incorporates the same elements as your printed piece.” Cook also points to selectivity in the cross-media marketing channels used as a key element. “Be sure you're looking beyond direct marketing,” she said. “If you know your customer or prospect is launching a mass media campaign, look for opportunities to tie in print.”
Xerox Graphic Communications' Shelley Sweeney said direct marketing using cross-media delivers the growth graphic communications providers require and the results marketers desire. “Graphic communications providers must understand that this is a conversation about getting more data to make it more relevant, therefore increasing revenue,” she said. “Campaigns that utilize cross-media are trackable, and, with the right tools, results can be presented in real time. Understanding print and design is mandatory. But, more importantly, the top providers understand their customers' sales and marketing programs, and recognize areas of opportunity from their customers' points of view.”
In terms of identifying resources, Cook said the process should be started through internal review. There are numerous instances where software already being employed has features allowing printers to carry out fairly advanced cross-media campaigns. Cook also said, in terms of marketing cross-media, PSPs should not only understand the value of their offerings, but also sell that value to clients. “Another thing to consider when entering this new space is the idea of partnering with another entity already in the space, and offering that other party the print component,” she said.
InfoTrends' Lisa Cross said the optimum prospect for a cross-media campaign is anyone who reaches out to a consumer market. “It's all about identifying [customers'] needs and selling the value,” Cross said. “And that's where it's really important to be equipped with case studies to demonstrate the impact it has for others on their vertical markets.”
Turning Print into an Interactive Storefront
Publishers Weekly (NY) (02/22/13) Reid, Calvin
Publishers can transform paper products into interactive screens through augmented reality (AR) that integrates geolocation and mobile visual display, and Layar in Holland offers interactive print solutions to paper publications. Layar's technology can be employed to “extend a publication’s narrative online or link to videos, slides or downloads” and more, said Layar co-founder Maarten Lens-FitzGerald. “A publisher can use it for social media and share its print articles on Pinterest and other social media platforms." Upon downloading and installing the Layar app on his or her smartphone or tablet, the user can use the device as an AR viewer, where he or she points it at a specific page to activate all kinds of digital content attached using the Layar Creator online portal.
Layar's technology starts with Layar Creator, which is offered in free and for-pay pro versions. The technology is similar to Quick Response Codes but can be activated by designating any graphic image as the Layar trigger. With the Layar Creator portal, a registered client can upload a PDF or JPEG copy of the print page that is to function as the trigger, and then assign custom-made content to it. Customers also can choose from an array of prefab buttons that will direct consumers to a website, let them call a phone number or allow them to shop right off the printed page. Client companies that use Layar to sell directly to buyers capture all the consumer information as well.
An increasing number of print magazines and print catalogs use Layar technology to add video interviews to pages and to affix video, pricing and other product information to ads, catalog pages or even physical products, Lens-FitzGerald said. He said Layar also is approaching book publishers and related businesses, stressing that its technology can convert any encounter with a book into a “shoppable” moment. Book publishers can employ Layar to add interviews tied to a book’s cover, and attach reviews, tour date information, news about other books by the same author, social media links and more.
Layar's AR technology is primarily used as a marketing instrument. It turns any flat physical product into an online storefront by superimposing online buy buttons onto every product. Lens-FitzGerald said Layar works closely with print magazines and their advertisers “for ways to do something special, to use AR as a sponsored segment."