The Next Big Thing

Frank Romano
 Nov 2, 2016

 

Look around the industry. What do you see? Offset presses. Digital printers. Wide format inkjet printers. Offset litho was discovered in 1900, but did not gain traction until the 1950s. Digital color printing was introduced in 1993. Wide format inkjet came in 1995. Walk into any plant; they may have all three.

It took a while for all three printing technologies to find their place in print production. All three were challenged by a status quo. Offset was once described as “only for quick and dirty printing.” Ironically, they said the same for digital color. The president of Xerox was quoted in the Wall Street Journal saying almost the same about inkjet printing (2004). Now Xerox is becoming a force in inkjet.

Yet, all three processes make money for printers. What will be the next big thing? The technology is already here. We just have to find markets for it.

Flatbed UV inkjet can print on any substrate—plastics, wood, glass, board, metal, ceramics, textiles, carpeting, and more. Commercial printers print on paper. Where is the market for printing on all those other substrates? Read more »

The Very Last drupa Article (Maybe)

Frank Romano
 Jul 11, 2016

 

The show is over. The exhibitors have left the buildings. The pundits have chimed in. drupa 2016 is now history.

The every-3-year cycle idea was quashed and we are back to the 4-year cycle. I remember when it was every 5 years. So, we will all meet in 2020. Well, maybe all of you. I may be 79.

Frank was one of six journalists honored for attending 10 or more drupas

Frank was one of six journalists honored for attending 10 or more drupas

Sales statistics were impressive—big orders, big bucks. Every exhibitor sold something. No one does a total, but my guess is that there was over half a billion dollars in business.

Read more »

The “New Print”: Separated by a Common Language

Frank Romano
 Apr 7, 2016

Note: This blog is a result of an ongoing discussion about market definition that began with a conversation that Frank Romano and Ron Gilboa had at SGIA last November. Jim Hamilton joined the discussion later and after a few exchanges Frank suggested that we present this in point/counterpoint form. Frank will go first.

Frank: Separated by a Common Language

When you are on a ship in the South Pacific Ocean, thousands of miles from any land, and the satellite connection is down, you start to overthink things. Some people multi task; I multi think. And I started to think about all the new technology we will see at drupa for printing beyond the traditional. But as I read the releases, articles, and punditry, I wonder if we are all on the same page.

Take the three terms that are now bandied about: industrial and functional printing, and decoration.

  • Industrial Printing: the product is produced using multiple technologies in an integrated manufacturing process. A prototype gear that becomes part of a mechanism is industrial. A container that has its identification printed at the factory where it is filled is industrial. Printed display screens are industrial. Most printed electronics is industrial.
  • Functional Printing: the product is sellable in and of itself. A brochure is functional. A sign is functional. A 3-D printed model of a person is functional (your own personal mini-me). A package is functional. A printed T-shirt that changes color in the sun is functional. Products that change color due to external influences such as light (UV/black light), temperature (heat), pH changes, or water contact are primarily functional. “Smart” textiles and wearables are functional. Home decor wallpaper, fabric, and floor coverings are functional. The argument may be made that everything has a function, so why have two categories. But we must distinguish between products where commercial printing may be integrated at the point of manufacture, and products that may be produced by outside services.
  • Decorative Printing: adding type, color, and imagery to existing products. This would include inkjet food decoration, printing on glass, wood, textiles, and other material. In the late 1800s they figured out how to print on metal, and beautiful tin boxes were produced for both home use and packaging. Embossing, coating, and die-cutting are decorative. This category may not be necessary, but Ron likes it.

Read more »

Printing Woman of Distinction

Frank Romano
 Sep 16, 2015

Jim Hamilton received an Indigo-printed calendar covering 12 women who changed the world. One of them was Ada Lovelace, who was the world’s first “programmer” for the Babbage computing engine. At the same time, I was at the EDSF fundraising event at Graph Expo where the Women of Distinction awards were bestowed by Julie and Andy Plata. There is also the Girls Who Print recognition. Jim’s question was “Who is the Ada Lovelace of the printing industry?”

 

Ada Lovelace (from the HP Indigo One of a Kind calendar of women who changed the world)

It just so happens that I had done a short article for the Museum of Printing newsletter on someone who is worthy of consideration. Who is she? Read on.

Mary Katherine Goddard is famous for printing the first Read more »

The Relevant’s Graveyard

Frank Romano
 Jul 8, 2015

Dig deep into any printing company, beyond the presses and paper storage, beyond the shredder and bundler, and somewhere in a dark corner you will probably find a junkyard of old computers, copiers, printers, and other machines. It is like a mothballed fleet that will never fly again.

Since the dawn of the electronic era, technology change has been rapid and relentless. Accelerated depreciation is now a fact of life. Yet, for hundreds of years, the technology of printing rarely changed. The other day I had a pack of cub scouts printing on an 1888 letterpress hand press. No electronics and no battery.

That brings me to preserving the past of the printing industry.

The Smithsonian replaced its printing exhibit with Julia Child’s kitchen, which left only three museums of printing in America: Carson, CA, Houston, TX, and The Museum of Printing in Haverhill, MA. The latter will soon move from North Andover, MA to its own building.

Haverill, MA: Future site of the Museum of Printing (Spring 2016)

For 37 years, The Friends of the Museum of Printing has Read more »

Frankly Speaking: Remembering Joe Gerber

Frank Romano
 Feb 11, 2015

Later this year, Yale University Press will publish a biography of a person who truly made a difference in the printing industry.

H. Joseph Gerber (1924–1996) founded of the Gerber Scientific Instrument Company. He was imprisoned in a labor camp at the age of 13, and in 1940 he and his mother fled war-torn Austria, immigrating to the United States. After completing high school in just two years, he entered Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) on a scholarship, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering in 1946.

In his junior year at RPI, Gerber invented the Gerber Variable Scale. With a $3,000 investment, the Gerber Scientific Instrument Company was born. On my first visit to his company in Connecticut, he literally dragged me to his office to show me the original scale. Read more »

Frankly Speaking: There Will Always Be a Printing Industry

Frank Romano
 Dec 1, 2014

The skeptics have all but written us off
The pundits call us a sunset industry
Misguided marketers think electronic substitution replaces print
But print will prevail

Yes, some print has become electronic
But you cannot replace all print
An e-greeting is not the same as a Read more »

Frankly Speaking: To Ink

Frank Romano
 Sep 2, 2014
End of summer silliness by Frank Romano

I think that I shall never see
Inkjet ink that is not pricey

Ink that comes in color and black
Ink that always sets me back

Ink that drips but never a flood
Costing more than human blood

Inkjet pricing that is not humane
On a par with vintage champagne

Ink that comes in magenta, yellow, and cyan
Ink that is more expensive than a trip to Cannes

We’re paying for that unique ink storage
But purchase requires a second mortgage

Kodak tried to sell ink really cheaply
Kodak may regret the episode deeply

Ink that takes an age to unwrap
Ink that generates a lot of scrap

But now I recycle those colors and blacks
And I get a peanut-sized discount at OfficeMax

But what does the future hold?
Inkjet ink becomes the new gold

Poems are made by fools like me
But ink is made by folks like HP

 

Join Frank Romano and InfoTrends’ Jim Hamilton at Graph Expo 14 for a special keynote seminar on “The Future of the American Printer” in Chicago on Sunday, September 28.

Frankly Speaking: Frank Thoughts at the Digital Book Conference

Frank Romano
 Jun 2, 2014

Presented by the International Book Publishing Forum (IBPF) at Book Expo in New York City.

Digital Rights Management (DRM) for E-books is like a chastity belt for print books.

A library is a big building with a lot of books; but there are new libraries with no books.

What do you call a library without any print books? A hard drive.

E-brary? Read more »

Frankly Speaking: IPEX 2014

Frank Romano
 Mar 27, 2014

My first IPEX was in 1971. I was the marcom manager and in charge of the Compugraphic exhibit. The show was at Olympia and Earl’s Court. I will always remember (until senility sets in) entering the Victorian glass-domed Olympia and seeing the vast array of new printing technology. Phototypesetting was just coming into widespread use. I was in awe. Read more »

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