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Change Is in the Air

(May 2012) posted on Tue Apr 17, 2012

In the print industry, the community predicts a healthy growth this year.


By Gail Flower

Everything we know changes constantly if it is to survive, even business. The economy at large has been iffy since2008 and now shows signs of stability and upward growth. You can look at lots of indicators. The Housing Index is slated to climb, and in 2013 will begin recovery, according to The Week magazine. The stock market has shown healthy numbers recently.

Alan Greenspan follows the men’s underwear index, among others. When times are improving, men buy underwear. Hanesbrands, which produces and sells Hanes, Champion, and others, upped its full-year sales and earnings guidance, following better-than-expected sales during its fiscal second quarter, according to stocks.investopedia.com. This is just another wacky indicator.
But what about our industry? What kinds of change can we expect? According to the SGIA’s member survey, printers are thinking about how to increase sales, how to price what they are marketing competitively, and how to access the marketplace. Printers in graphics and garment areas are savvy business men and marketers, and right now they are focused on present and future growth. So far, at this pace, the predicted growth seems healthy. “The Benchmarking Report also confirms that the community predicts sales growth of more than 13%,” said Mike Robertson, president of SGIA in his latest SGIA Journal.

In this April/May issue of Screen Printing, we look at ways in which the wide-format-inkjet industry has changed and continues to introduce new technology and new ways of producing prints. The first flatbed UV machine was installed in a print shop in 2001, and the technology grew in more common usage from that point. In this 2012 issue, Paul Mills and Jennifer Heathcote talk about the latest technology twist, which uses UV LEDs to pin inks or stabilize them before curing in inkjet printers.

After several years of challenging economic times for the printing industry, for those that have survived and included inkjet capabilities, Harel Ifhar’s article, New Technology Applications to Grow Your Business in 2012, will open up a few lucrative, creative ideas. In the retail point-of-purchase (P-O-P), point-of-sale (P-O-S), and advertising segments,
we can expect to see shorter runs, faster time to market,personalization, and variable-data printing, he claims. He also presents many new markets to consider for inkjet printing: wall paper, pillows, curtains, furniture, doors, ceiling tiles and flooring, to name a few.

Lest we forget about the finishing side of things, Bill Hartman’s feature, Getting to the Cutting Edge, discusses how to make the most out of digital finishing. He talks about the digital finishing table and how it allows for control when cutting overlays and many substrate materials. He talks about the limitations, such as routing holes in circuit boards, and many capabilities that software and vision systems can make when included on the latest automated finishing table. Our cover photo, which shows print material handling, comes from Hartman’s discussion.

Change for change sake doesn’t always create positive rewards, but if you increase your company’s capabilities, you might appeal to a broader audience. In this issue, Julian Joffe, Pad Print Machinery of Vermont, in his article looks at how pad printing can make easy work of products designed with irregular surfaces. According to Joffe, pad printing makes an excellent complement to screen printing and digital imaging. This might make for an exciting new field of expertise to consider.

Andy MacDougall’s column on workplace safety talks about the human element. We always want to make equipment run faster, and in some instances we want to disable safety features in an attempt to improve productivity. Andy’s article points out how stupid that idea is. And he finds in the statistics for the most recent years that the few deaths in the printing industry are most often caused by personnel issues (arguments, fights, disagreements). Some things never change. But that might also be another tool—conflict management—that printers might want to concentrate on for future growth and prosperity.
 


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