Tis the Season for Print

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The holiday season is a great time for print. I know that for our family it’s the peak demand for purchasing printed products. We give photobooks and calendars full of family photos as gifts.  And we send out Christmas cards featuring photo of our family. We really like to receive Christmas cards with photos and a (often cheesy) family letter.  We’re doing our small part to participate in the photo merchandise and related industries which is now, according to Shutterfly, $30 Billion in the U.S. alone and a great market for digital printing.

shutterfly market slide

As industry leader Shutterfly states, their business is all about capturing the memories from life’s most important events. The way memories are now being captured and printed, due to the ability of digital printing combined with online composition and ordering, has led to the creation of the photo book and photo merchandise industry.

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What makes RICOH Color Management Different?

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company


RCMSEvery manufacturer has a color management strategy, right? And they’re all pretty much the same, right? WRONG! I’ve had the opportunity to review several offerings from different vendors in the production space and each has taken different approaches with different benefits and limitations. Some leverage internal press knowledge and embedded spectrophotometers to speed up processing, which is great for shops which only use that manufacturer’s presses. Others provide suites of tools on popular digital front ends which support many, but not all presses. Recently I reviewed Ricoh’s color management strategy and they’ve taken an even broader approach.

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What if clients could order entire marketing campaigns as easily as business cards?

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company


XMPieImagine anyone, say a store manager or dentist or a franchise owner, being able to tailor and order an entire marketing campaign through a web portal as easily as they order their business cards. Let me be clear, I mean an entire, multi-touch, multi-channel marketing campaign – not just some post cards. Well, it turns out that XMPie has a way to do that with a solution called Campaigns on Demand.

Here’s the concept:

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Studies Highlight Value of Direct Mail as Production Shifts to Color Inkjet

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US Mail VolumesIn North America the trend for Direct Mail print volume (primarily Standard Mail) has been flat for the last several years. Data from the USPS for the first half of 2016 shows the trend continuing.  Direct mail volumes have been holding steady while first class mail and periodicals continue to decline.

It is becoming well accepted that, although advertising spending is trending towards mobile and online, direct mail remains a key part of the media mix. There are numerous studies and examples that bear this trend out. A few of them are presented here.

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New Presses for Direct to Shape Markets

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Over the last few months (drupa, Graph Expo, SGIA) there have been a number of new presses that are designed to print on shapes or objects that are not flat and are not paper or films rather are cylindrical, concave, convex and irregular objects. These presses are called Direct to Shape (DTS) or Direct to Object (DTO).  Examples include:

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The Color Management Secret I Learned at thINK

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company


thINK logoI attended the thINK conference, sponsored in part by Canon, back on the 11th and 12th of October and learned something really interesting about color management and inkjet. Now, it would be difficult to NOT learn something with dozens of educational sessions and hundreds of customers, vendors, top Canon executives, and other interested parties, but I found this one nugget of knowledge to be surprising in a good way.

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What the heck is variable, personalized, specialty printing?

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company


Eric ThibodeauI had a fascinating conversation yesterday with Eric Thibodeau, Worldwide Variable Print Business Manager for Xerox. We had a wide-ranging discussion about what variable data printing means today, how it relates to personalization, and the kinds of innovative opportunities it can create when used with specialty imaging.

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New MarcomCentral Product Briefing: Beyond Print

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company


MarcomCentralOver the years I’ve reviewed numerous web portal products for print and marketing services providers. This month I had the chance to give MarcomCentral® a spin. It’s a pretty cool product for companies who want to go beyond just having a print submission interface. Sure, you can upload PDFs for printing or order static print jobs but, honestly, if that’s all you need to do this is probably overkill because MarcomCentral does so much more.

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Is Digital Print Enhancement the Next Big Thing?

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Since being introduced in the market, innovations in color digital printing have aimed at transferring pages from offset. As digital set its sights on the offset market, the first areas of focus were image quality, speed, and costs. Once digital printing image quality was acceptable and productivity reasonable, the focus continued to expand to other offset capabilities: additional colors, workflow, and finishing. With each area of advancement digital printing was acquiring more and more of the capabilities found in offset production. One of the areas that is now receiving considerable attention from manufacturers is the area of enhanced output, which includes spot varnish, foil, raised printing, and other special effects like glitter or cast and cure.   In the digital printing arena, the first capabilities were introduced by NexPress several years ago, with raised printing and the ability to do spot coating. Since then they and others manufacturers  have added 5th colors (white, metallics, neon, IR) and more clear coat options, all in an effort to provide differentiation and higher margins for the early adopters. Over the last few years adoption of specialty enhancements was low. While customers loved the enhanced output, for the most part they were unwilling to pay for it. Read the rest of this entry »

A Close Look at EFI’s Fiery Color Profiler Suite

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company


Fiery Color Profiler Suite ReportColor management is the hot topic in printing workflow solutions this year, so I’ve been looking at several of the solutions out there. Just before Graph Expo I had the opportunity to take a close look at EFI’s Fiery Color Profiler Suite and have created a 4-video product briefing which you can view here.

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