PSDA's New On-Demand Training Launches
PSDA's On-Demand Training, a collection of timely, impactful web-based educational content, is now available. This new offering from PSDA covers a wide array of relevant topics including sales, customer support, industry basics and professional development. View all training courses and bundled packages.
A series highlight is an educational bundle dedicated to Variable Data Printing (VDP). This comprehensive, multiple-module course provides a thorough overview of VDP, including goal-setting, selecting your target audience, database, mailing and post-campaign analysis stages. Learn more about the VDP course bundle.
Explore the program and log in today. PSDA members received an email on Monday containing their login, password and discount code. Email PSDA headquarters if you need this information sent to you.
Deadline Extended: Submit for 2012 PEAK Awards
The deadline to submit entries for the PEAK Awards has been extended to Thursday, April 12 (materials must be postmarked by this day). The PEAK Awards honors the work of print professionals who have met their customers' printing needs by providing outstanding value-added products and services through creativity in design, production, fulfillment and other services while solving problems or improving business functions.
Learn more about this program and submit your best work for consideration today.
PSDA Launches Annual Trade Printer, Distributor Surveys
In emails sent to selected recipients on Wednesday, April 5, PSDA solicited participation in its 2012 “Top Trade Printers” and “Top Distributors” research, the results of which will be published in future issues of PSDA's magazine, Print Solutions. Don't miss out on the opportunity to have your company featured in the magazine. The deadline for submissions is Monday, April 30. If you represent a trade printer, click here to access the appropriate survey. Distributors should click here to access their survey.
To complete your survey, which should take only a few minutes, you'll need your organization's total sales figures for your 2011 and 2010 fiscal years, as well as total sales in a variety of product and service categories, so make sure to have those numbers handy. In addition, make sure to take the time to share your insights regarding your past year in business and the year ahead in section 3 of the survey. Besides providing much-needed context to the data you provide, your responses to these open-ended queries may help your company to be featured in additional coverage in Print Solutions.
Fort Orange Press Achieves G7 Master Printer Certification, Forms Alliance with The Pressroom
PSDA member and sheet-fed printing company Fort Orange Press recently achieved G7 Master Printer Certification for proofing and press equipment to G7 Standards developed by IDEAlliance. The certification was granted through implementing a calibration process that allows Fort Orange Press to reliably produce a close visual match from proof to print. The G7 Methodology for proof-to-print is based on the principles of digital imaging, spectrophotometry and computer-to-plate technologies.
In other news, the company recently announced a strategic alliance to consolidate offset printing operations with The Pressroom, a company that specializes in digital printing. The alliance expands the capabilities of both organizations while creating efficiencies in resources and generating cost savings for both companies. “This is a decisive move that accelerates our strategy by offering even greater value to our customers and partners,” said Robert F. Witko, president and CEO of Fort Orange Press.
Formax Introduces FD 6102 Desktop Inserter, 6604 Series Inserters and 6404 Series Inserters
PSDA member Formax recently introduced the newly designed FD 6102 Desktop Inserter. The FD 6102 features new internal engineering, new feeding systems, a color touchscreen interface with job wizard and a 10 percent lower MSRP. The FD 6102 also boasts 15 programmable jobs, an increased monthly volume of up to 5,000 pieces, and the ability to process half folds while using 6” x 9.5” envelopes. The new feeding systems are based on proven technology from the 6202 Series, including green foam fold rollers to reduce toner buildup and improve folding consistency.
Formax also recently introduced the new 6604 Series Inserters and the new 6404 Series Inserters. The 6604 Series (pictured) replaces the 6402 Series with a system that offers even greater flexibility and productivity. New features include a full-color touchscreen control panel which flips for use on both sides, a sealing fluid level indicator on the control panel, a large reverse-output power stacker, and the ability to process top, middle and bottom address documents. The 6404 Series Inserters also replaces the 6402 Series with a system that offers even greater flexibility and productivity. New features include a full-color touchscreen control panel which flips for use on both sides, a sealing fluid level indicator on the control panel, a large reverse-output power stacker, and the ability to process top, middle and bottom address documents.
Western States Envelope & Label Launches New Website
Western States Envelope & Label, a PSDA member, recently launched its new and improved website, designed with its customers' and prospects' needs in mind. “We wanted to create an online experience for our customers that was engaging and valuable to their business,” said Mark Lemberger, president and CEO of Western States. As a wholesale provider of premiere envelopes and labels, Western States now provides many tools at the touch of a button. “We have so many unique offerings that bring real results to our customers and their clients. This enhanced site builds on our social media success by directing the exchange of ideas and information to a one-stop online resource,” said Renee Berger, marketing manager for Western States Envelope & Label.
BCT Announces Series of Educational Webinars
PSDA member BCT, the largest wholesale printer in North America, is offering a series of educational webinars to assist its network of print brokers, advertising agencies and designers in its mission to deliver best-in-class service. The educational seminars are designed around the premise of providing valuable tools to those individuals who buy or sell print and will work to secure BCT's role as a leader in the category.
“Making the Sale” will be held April 25. This particular class works to address prospecting in the current business environment and identifies methods that not only inject creativity into lead generation efforts, but also will instill new commitment and dedication regarding the activity in course participants. A step-by-step process to prospecting will be discussed, which includes facing many of the challenges in the industry today. Register for this class.
Additional monthly webinars will be scheduled throughout the year. Individuals interested in learning more information about these events or who would like to participate in one or all of the classes can register by visiting the website. Additional information on speaker David Fellman can be found here.
Admore Celebrates 65 Years in Printing Industry
Admore Inc., a PSDA member and division of Ennis Inc., recently celebrated 65 years in the wholesale printing industry. From standard design pocket folders and report covers to key and gift card holders, binders and packaging, Admore's product line boasts hundreds of options. As the years have passed, Admore has maintained excellence in quality, while also successfully expanding its product line. A company that began in 1947 by offering simple document folders now has the largest selection of premium presentation folders. Admore has received consistent recognition for producing award winning products each year and high marks from happy customers. Admore General Manager Bill Tignanelli reflected on Admore's celebration by sharing, “We've been very fortunate that our employees remain dedicated to taking care of our customers and continuously look for ways to bring value to the customer experience.”
Forget QR Codes: Your Touchscreen Can 'Read' This Ink
GigaOm.com (03/27/12) Tofel, Kevin C.
Printechnologic has devised Touchcode, an interactive electronic print product. Printed material using Touchcode technology is identical in appearance to standard print products, can be recycled and is applicable to products such as tickets, food items, business cards or almost anything that you can put ink on. A customizable electronic code embedded in the print process engages with a smartphone's capacitive screen.
Printechnologic described Touchcode as "an invisible electronic code printed on paper, cardboard, film or labels. Just put the product on the display of your smartphone/tablet/multitouch device to read the data — no matter if you'd like to confirm the authenticity of your brand product or make your card game come to life. With Touchcode, you add interactivity to just about any product."
Touchcode leverages the expanding number of touchscreen devices in the mobile market. Printed information provided by Touchcode is comprehensible to anyone who can read, while additional information or links to other data can be delivered with a touch-capable smartphone.
U.S. Postal Service Launches Innovative Technology for Small Businesses
Business Insider (04/01/12)
The U.S. Postal Service is offering a direct mail shipping service for small businesses, called Every Door Direct Mail. Small businesses will be able to send out direct mail campaigns such as postcards and brochures, with postage rates as low as 14.5 cents, and they will not need a mailing list with specific addresses and/or names, or a postal permit. The Postal Service's website will provide an online mapping tool for choosing a city, county, Zip code or even a neighborhood; small businesses select the area and direct mail will be delivered without the need to affix labels or print specific addresses.
The tool is fairly easy to use, and small businesses will be able to schedule a simple local mailing in minutes after registering and learning it for the first time. Users are walked through the process step by step, the amount of postage is displayed instantly online and once they pay, they simply print out the documentation and take it to the Post Office along with their bundles of direct mail pieces. Every Door Direct Mail is part of a larger Postal Service effort to use innovation and technology to serve small businesses. The Postal Service also has redesigned its Click N Ship site for small businesses; the dedicated business version will have a desktop app and expanded payment options.
The Last Lap: Find an Ideal Payment Tool for Your Move Towards W2P
PrintWeek (03/16/12) Severs, Jon
A move toward web-to-print (W2P) can be torturous for a printer thinking that setting up the online payment solution would be the simplest task, as the opposite often turns out to be the case. "There are loads of providers, loads of things to think about and there probably aren't enough help guides and enough easy starting points out there for companies to get a handle on the processes," said Tangent Communications executive director Nick Green. The difficulties run the gamut from maintaining compliance with the online Payment Cards Industry Data Security Standard to trying to find and be accepted for an Internet merchant account.
The employment of a third-party payment specialist such as Sage Pay or WorldPay can relieve much of the printer's burden. These firms integrate into the W2P software supplied by VPress, ROI 360, RedTie and similar providers so that the printer can obtain online payment functionality. "Security is obviously a huge part of any online payment system," said RedTie managing director Jamie Thomson. "RedTie has taken the approach of letting the experts in online payment security take responsibility for confidential information in this regard. For customers, it means they can offer recognized payment methods to their customers in the knowledge that they are offering the most up to date security techniques available."
Through the services supplied by the third-party specialists, when the client pays, they hit the pay button and are directed to a payment page hosted on the payment solution supplier's secure server. The details are input and then transferred to the printer's merchant bank, after which the money is transferred. The sensitive data does not at any stage come into contact with the W2P software or the printer's server, so all the security and associated costs are dealt with by the payment solution provider.
Wide-Format Adds a New Dimension
MyPrintResource (03/01/2012) Hall, Bob
Wide-format was not registered as a center of profitability in the annual Quick Printing poll of the franchise industry segment until 2003 with 1.5 percent of sales, and one year later it made its initial appearance in the survey of the Top 100 shops with 3 percent of sales. The most recent polls found wide-format accounting for 4.7 percent of sales for the Top 100 and 5.1 percent in the franchise segment, and printers from across the United States indicate that the allure of wide-format is growing as an addition to the traditional job combination for quick and small commercial printers.
Larry Hunt newsletter publisher Dirck Holscher and Evans Consulting director Mitch Evans both agreed that quick/small commercial printers are branching out into wide-format, with Evans noting that "printers first got into wide-format printers for proofing and then realized that they also could produce posters. These machines were slow and usually limited to producing work to be used indoors. Now shops are buying wide-format printers that can produce a wide variety of applications and print on substrates other than paper." Holscher and Evans also concurred that wide-format printing can take up a considerable amount of space, and Holscher said that "one thing many printers underestimate is media storage. Media is expensive, and media rolls can be bulky. Large sheets of substrates may need to be stocked as well. Media storage space and the inventory expense need to be considered when planning a wide-format operation."
Evans said all output technologies, with the exception of aqueous, permit outdoor use of the output, while true solvent or aqueous require special venting. He also noted that selling wide-format is a natural outgrowth of selling printing, with a major difference being low quantities but high unit price. "Almost all of the major print estimating systems have modules or methods for wide-format pricing," Evans said. "Pricing is based on a graphics charge for design, or setup if art is provided; output, based on area; and finishing, such as mounting or laminating." Holscher, meanwhile, explained that there is a good cross-selling opportunity for printers in wide-format, as many of their current clients might also be customers for wide-format items.
Evans described wide-format as "a natural way to diversify your product and services offering," and noted that "this equipment can produce a large variety of products besides posters," including labels, decals, window graphics, vehicle graphics and signs. Holscher said printers taking wide-format into serious consideration include those who have obtained sign companies or who have established dedicated sign operations with outbound sales capability. "I think we'll see more and more printers get involved in wallpapers, floor graphics, packaging and other specialty areas," he predicted.
Saving Paper With 'Unprinting' Technology
ThomasNet (03/27/12) Schelmetic, Tracey
Engineers at the University of Cambridge's Low Carbon Materials Processing Group have invented an "unprinting" process that lifts ink off printed paper, rendering it back to almost the same condition it was in before printing without discoloring or damaging the paper. The process also does not use specially formulated toner or paper. This method could potentially permit the on-the-spot reuse of paper rather than recycling, burning or burying the material in a landfill.
In the laser printing process, a laser gives each pixel on a piece of paper a positive charge. Then negatively charged toner particles are introduced, and they adhere to the positively charged areas. The toner is then fused to the paper via the application of a heat source. The Cambridge process uses extremely short laser pulses to delete words and images by heating the printing to a point where the ink literally vaporizes off the paper, a process known as ablation. The research team employs green laser light that is easily absorbed by dark toner, but passes harmlessly through the cellulose fibers composing the paper. The green pulses also remove nearly all traces of the print.
"When you fire the laser, it hits the thin toner layer and heats it up until the point that you vaporize it," said lead team author David Leal-Ayala. "Toner is mostly composed of carbon and a plastic polymer. It's the polymer in the toner that is vaporized." The researchers utilized a gas extraction system to capture the nanoparticles and gases discharged by the unprinting process.
The process is interoperable with commonly used papers and toner inks and is greener than recycling. However, the technology is currently very expensive, with researchers estimating that a commercial "unprinter" could cost more than $30,000. The next step for the Cambridge team involves developing a prototype unprinter that would function in an office, as well as obtaining patents for the technology.
PSDA Blog Discussion Do you think "unprinting" is going to take the industry by storm? Or is it an unrealistic venture? Give us your two cents on the PSDA blog.
Paper vs. Polypropylene vs. Polyethylene: A Carton Lifecycle Comparison
Sustainable Plant (03/26/12) Sheehan, Bryan
Mills Industries, a New Hampshire-based manufacturer of corrugated plastic shipping and storage containers for various industries, has embarked on an effort to lower its overall environmental impact. The company has turned to SymbioSus Sustainability Consulting in an effort to determine the life-cycle environmental impact of its primary product type, a corrugated polypropylene (PP) carton, as well as that of similar products in the alternative materials of corrugated paper (CP) and injection-molded high-density polyethylene (HDPE).
SymbioSus conducted a comprehensive comparative product Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) study of a typical Mills PP carton, CP carton and HDPE tote and found that the main driver of the environmental impact of the Mills PP carton is the plastic granulate production process, which contributes from 42 percent to more than 90 percent of the lifecycle impact for the various environmental impact categories studied. Conversely, the company's manufacturing process accounts for less than 1 percent of the overall lifecycle impact of the product for each of the assessed impact categories.
The Global Warming Potential (GWP) impact of the PP carton during its useful life is 84 percent lower than that of a similar CP carton and 83 percent lower than that of a similar HDPE tote for an equivalent amount of usage. The PP carton had between 31 percent and 94 percent lower impact than the CP carton or HDPE tote on all five other key environmental impact categories assessed, including the potential for water acidification, water over-nutrification, freshwater toxicity, soil toxicity and smog formation. The lower impact of the Mills PP carton is credited to its greater durability, compared to CP options, and its lighter weight, compared to molded HDPE options.
Quick Response Code Usage Is Increasing and Small Businesses Want In
Cleveland Plain Dealer (OH) (03/12/12) Pledger, Marcia
Small businesses in northeast Ohio are increasingly interested in taking up quick response (QR) Codes as promotional tools, given their growing utilization. Lakewood entrepreneur Manny Rai is hoping to draw more customers to his North Coast Wine & Beer business through QR Codes on his store, which passersby can scan with their smartphones to access content as far away as 40 feet. QR Codes have been used for at least two years now by big businesses such as Macy's, Walgreens and E Trade, and realtors, manufacturers, restaurants and professional service firms are adding QR Codes to their products, tradeshow materials, signage and even business cards to transmit contact information directly to a person's mobile phone.
ComScore finds that QR Codes are especially popular with young to middle-aged people as well as upper-income men, with more than 50 percent of all QR Code scanners between 18 and 34 years old. "A majority of people who are scanning are doing it out of curiosity. It's a new thing to try with their new smartphones," said Chadwick Martin Bailey consultant Jeff Mckenna. "But the idea of a quick response code — something that you put on a product or sign — is here to stay. It's one more channel through which companies can communicate with customers."
Mobile marketing firm Nellymoser estimates that more than 90 percent of the top 100 magazines in the United States have featured at least one mobile barcode since May 2011. Thunder Tech's Dave Berman said small businesses are generally slower to embrace new technologies and trends because they have to determine if they want to invest time, money and resources in them, and "it's taking them longer to learn about new technologies. They need to find out if it's worthwhile, how it fits with their business and how it should be implemented."
Marketing experts said small business owners could be using QR Codes more effectively than they currently are, and this has led to disappointing content, directing consumers to websites that are not viewable on cell phones or failing to offer a direct payoff such as a coupon, video or tutorial. VitreoQR president Michael Balas noted that "you can do all of the planning you want to make sure your QR Code works. But if that QR Code delivers a mobile device to a regular web page, you've missed the point entirely."
Web Marketing: From PSP to MSP — The Key Is Service
My Print Resource (03/01/12) Starr, Tawnya
Service is the key to transitioning from printing as it has been known in the past to becoming a marketing service provider. Added value services and better customer service can give a traditional printer the opportunity to engage clients early in the ideation process, assist with strategic decisions about marketing and become a valuable partner. The role of the marketing service provider is to guide the client in developing consistent messages in print, on a website, landing pages and all other forms of marketing that have been created for a campaign.
Print service providers should market themselves first, using all forms of integrated marketing, including websites, email marketing, social media and one-to-one marketing, to show clients how they can help them create a message, develop a strategy and deploy an integrated plan. Traditional printers should have a roundtable discussion about their own brand and marketing, and have employees address questions such as, "What is our brand?" "What message do we want to send?" and "How do we communicate that message?" Print service providers will become more confident and competent as a marketing consultant as they achieve success with their own marketing. Traditional printers can get started by posting case studies on their website, building social media and email tools into their marketing plan, developing and implementing landing pages and creating direct mail with QR Codes.
Making Stuff: 3-D Printing on Campus
Campus Technology (02/21/12) Schaffhauser, Dian
MakerBot Industries 3-D printers have fascinated Debbie Schenberger, an assistant professor in mechanical engineering at the University of Portland, and George Meadows, an associate professor in curriculum and instruction, teaching pre-service science teachers, at the University of Mary Washington, for their potential as an educational tool. The company was launched in 2009 with the goal of offering an open source 3-D printer that would be affordable and easy enough for people with technical skills to assemble the unit.
The MakerBot box creates small objects of almost any design out of a "string" of plastic that gets fed into an extruder. The composition can be ABS, which is what Legos are made of; PLA, a corn-based biodegradable material; and water-soluble PVA. When a design is programmed into the machine from a computer or via an SD card, the printer heats up the filament fed into it and oozes out a single layer at a time onto a small dancing platform, following the 3-D design, layer upon layer, until the object is created. Schenberger has the Cupcake printer, one of the first two models sold as a build-it-yourself kit, and wants to use it to help expose students to modern manufacturing processes. Meadows, who has the Thing-O-Matic printer, the other initial build-it-yourself model, believes the idea of building things is good for children and helps with problem solving. The latest model from Brooklyn-based MakerBot is the Replicator, a printer priced at $1,749 that comes already built and currently has an eight-week lead time on orders.
How to Boost Your Direct Mail Response Rates
Denver Business Journal (04/02/12) Procopio, Sarah
Many marketing-savvy companies continue to choose direct mail over electronic marketing mediums such as social media, SMS messaging and outbound email campaigns because it works. Direct mail campaigns have a much longer lead time and involve expensive print, mail services and postage costs, but when done right, they can be a highly effective way to generate business from new and existing customers.
To get a direct mail offer right, you should start with a good database, make sure the list is well-targeted, and cleanse it properly before you mail it to maximize the delivery rate. You should have realistic expectations; a respectable response rate when mailing to an in-house database can range from 10 percent to 20 percent, and for prospect mailings, the response rate ranges from 0.5 percent to 1 percent. You should craft a strong offer that is concise and easy to understand, has a high perceived value and is structured as dollars-off or free-item. You also should test the campaign to determine which graphic design option is best by sending out offers in small batches.
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