15 Ways to Beat Jet Lag

18 Jul
July 18, 2014

“And now for something completely different…” – John Cleese

All,

Welcome to summer, and for those of you who might be traveling overseas, or even across the country for summer vacations, I came across this neat infographic with some tips on handling the dreaded jet lag. While I’ve found my own little tricks to work well, these are some great general rules of thumb when being upside-down somewhere in the world circadian rhythm-wise.

Enjoy!
Rick

15 Ways To Beat Jetlag Infographic
via Thomas Cook

Workspace Matters ...

11 Jul
July 11, 2014

We’ve recently expanded our offices, built out a full demo room, and revamped many of our workspaces here at Roland.

Our local magazine, OC Metro picked it up and featured us in a article. Check it out here:

http://digital.ocmetro.com/gallery/view.asp?seq=252228&path=140428140918

Here’s a few more photos of the office.

Enjoy!
Rick

demo_room

Product demonstration room

lobby

Creative Center in the lobby

at-the-Movies_01_medRes

“Roland at the Movies” section of lobby Creative Center

IMG_9108

“Roland at Play” section of lobby Creative Center

at-Work_01_medRes

Metallic silver wall and floor graphics, plus sublimated chairs and rug

stand_up_desk

Office with adjustable stand-up desk

conference_table

Open area meeting table

shared_desk

Design team’s open workspace

 

ISA 2014 Wrap-up

21 May
May 21, 2014

ISA_Thanks

“Great Idea” was the theme for the 2014 ISA show held in Orlando, Florida Thursday April 24- Saturday April 26. The ISA International Sign Expo is the on-premise sign industry’s largest show. Held each spring, the event features the latest products showcasing the breadth of the sign and visual communications industry. The Expo also offers a wide array of education and networking events.  There was something for everyone.

It is apparent that our industry continues to invest in innovation with many new products showcased on the show floor. We came away feeling invigorated as our fellow suppliers have an equally bullish outlook for the demand for sign services, painting a promising outlook for the future. Our Roland DisplayStudio™ Digital Sign System attracted a lot of attention and the two retail store “build outs” – Java Jive Coffeehouse and Duke’s Surf Shop – beautifully demonstrated how digital display signs and menu boards complement digital print applications such as specialty products, apparel, stickers, wraps and point of sale signage.

“Believe in Magic” was the message Roland brought to the record 18,000 plus attendees in our 40’x70’ booth. A total of 23 printers and 11 Roland DisplayStudio™ Digital Sign Systems were installed in various locations around the show floor.

ISA_ImagiNATIONPicRoland Academy had a great presence too with a total of 26 sessions. The daily random drawing of a free 40” complete Roland DisplayStudio package drew big crowds to our presentations. We were also busy promoting and taking registrations for our first ever end user conference imagiNATION 2014, which will be co-located with the SGIA Expo in October.

ISA for hosted a delegation of graphic designers, educators, architects and specifiers from around the country, all of whom are very interested in opportunities for additional education that will help them stay on the cutting edge of their discipline. We enjoyed hosting them in our booth and educating them about new materials, techniques and technologies that can used to bring their creative projects to life.

Every year, the ISA SignExpo gives Roland an unparalleled opportunity to meet with our users, partners, and industry peers. We always leave feeling like we have learned more from them than they have probably learned from us, and we always appreciate the opportunity to do so. Thanks ISA and we look forward to next year’s show April 9-11th at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center. I’ll see you there!

Thanks for reading,

Rick

ISA_2015

Steady Gains in Confidence

20 May
May 20, 2014

It looks as though there are some positive signs in the wind in the April Wall Street Journal/Vistage survey of the state of the economy. Confidence is good, and trends are up.

Putting on my ISA Board position “hat” on for a minute, it’s interesting to see that it’s not just the sign market that is having trouble finding qualified applicants for jobs, which is something ISA is trying to help solve longer-term.

Let me know if you have any thoughts along these lines.

Thanks for reading,

Rick

 

Steady Gains in Confidence

Digital Signage: Ready for Take Off?

07 May
May 7, 2014

Roland DisplayStudio

Last month, we launched our digital signage solution, Roland DisplayStudio. You can learn more by accessing our website and video at www.rolanddga.com/displaystudio

Just before the launch, I spent some time with Richard Romano, senior analyst from Whattheythink.com and this is his final article published on myprintresource.com.

Enjoy!

Thanks for reading,
Rick

Digital Signage: Ready for Take Off?

by Richard Romano On Mar 24, 2014

The Albany airport in upstate New York, like many airports, offers a great perfect example of the past, present, and perhaps future of signage. Basic, printed wayfinding signage directs passengers to their gates, tells them where to enter and exit lines, and explains the security procedure; at one airline’s terminals, old-school channel letters inserted into a display board announce the day’s flights; and throughout the airport, dynamic digital displays update all the arrivals and departures—and, of course, feature advertising.

The airport is not unlike other airports, or in fact many other public spaces, retail establishments, and restaurants. The proliferation of digital signage has, in some cases, replaced conventional printed signage, but more often than not, digital and printed signage exist side-by-side with each other, a situation that most sign industry experts believe will continue indefinitely.

“There are some applications where digital signage is very valuable and brings added benefits for the customer, and there are some applications that don’t make sense at all,” said Catherine Monson, CEO of FastSigns, a visual communications franchise with more than 530 locations worldwide. FastSigns offers extensive educational and training support for its franchisees in all areas of signmaking, and has been integrating digital signage solutions since 2009.

“I think there’ll be a peaceful coexistence [between print and digital signage] forever,” seconded Glenn Feder, Director, Business Development, for the International Sign Association (ISA). Last year, the ISA’s Sign Expo debuted “Dynamic Digital Signage Day,” with a full complement of sessions and tutorials on how traditional signmakers could develop and offer digital signage. Every session sold out. So for this year’s Sign Expo, ISA is expanding Dynamic Digital Signage Day, and the “Dynamic Digital Signage Park” on the show floor is 25 percent larger.

Undoubtedly, one of the biggest drivers of the fast development and proliferation of digital signage has been the dramatic drop in price and weight of the displays themselves. Where once screens weighed a ton and cost a fortune, today, lightweight and inexpensive screens have become the norm, even at the commercial display level. (A consumer-level display—like an LCD TV you’d buy in Best Buy—would not be able to support the constant uptime a digital sign requires.)

However, the display is only one part of a digital signage solution. Another is the software and hardware running the content that physically gets displayed. To pipe content to a display, you need media player software running on a server or some other device either wired or connected wirelessly to the display. Content needs to be formatted for a given player, and the player needs to be compatible with the display. Some displays have built-in players, some don’t. And the questions don’t end there. How do you update digital sign content? Remotely over the Internet? Locally from a USB drive? And how often? What about tech support: whose responsibility is it to monitor and maintain uptime? Who is responsible for fixing signs that go down? And how? Do signmakers need to offer service contracts? How many even want to get involved in that?

There are many questions and much confusion when it comes to digital signage. As a result, digital signage has by default become the purview of A/V professionals, at least for high-volume deployments like airports, fast food restaurants, digital billboards, and other large-scale applications. Smaller companies like commercial printers and even traditional signmakers have been leery of trying to navigate the sea of vendors and options, and figuring out how to develop content for digital, let alone how to make money doing any of these things.

“My general impression is that signmakers were confused about how to put together a digital signage solution, intimidated by the technology, and even thought they had to learn all new motion graphics software and Adobe Premiere,” said Rick Scrimger, president of Roland DGA Corp. But, he added, “a lot of these are very simple menu boards and static signs like they design today, but they rotate through a bunch of different things to catch the customer’s attention or tell a story in a different way.” In other words, digital signage doesn’t have to be that much different from static signage.

“Digital Sign In a Box”

To help cut through a lot of the confusion, last year at the ISA Sign Expo, Roland—known for its wide-format printing systems and no stranger to traditional sign shops—had pre-announced a digital signage solution that aimed to help print signmakers explore digital signage options. The company used that initial announcement to glean customer feedback and tweak the offering, and at this year’s Sign Expo officially announced the Roland DisplayStudio digital signage solution. Essentially, DisplayStudio is a “digital sign in a box,” and includes the nuts-and-bolts of what companies need to get started in digital signage: production software, a media player, and a choice of high-resolution commercial-grade LCD displays ranging from 32 to 55 inches (including mounting hardware). The cost of DisplayStudio ranges from $1,600 to $2,900, depending primarily on the size of the screen. There is also a less expensive “BYOD” (“bring your own display”) option, consisting of just the software and media player, that brings the cost down to about $1,000. The goal is to make digital sign development as easy as using iTunes.

“The key thing is software to build playlists, much like you’d build a playlist in iTunes,” says Scrimger. “Whether it’s a movie file, a JPEG, a PDF, or a PowerPoint, you can quickly drop content into a playlist and publish it to a display. One of the key things we’re doing with our solution is we’re helping people get into this business, and wrap Roland support around it.”

New Opportunities

That a printer manufacturer is getting involved in digital signage is telling, and is perhaps representative of the added value that traditional signmakers can bring to customers who want to get into the digital signage space: complementary and supplementary static signage, as well as the attention to aesthetic detail that graphic communications professionals can offer.

“If you look at the total opportunity, there’s tremendous growth for the sign companies even if they lose some of the traditional signage along the way,” said ISA’s Feder. “Some of it will end up being complementary to each other, some will be replaced, and there is a big upside on bigger revenue opportunities and a chance to better serve your customer by moving onto this new sector.”

“An A/V professional thinks, ‘We’ll put a screen up, it’ll be in the cloud, you’ll have all this content, it’ll be great,’” said Scrimger. “Signmakers think, ‘Let’s not just put a screen up, let’s think about a digital print around the whole thing on the wall that speaks to, or is in harmony with, what is on the display.’ Signmakers and commercial printers think a lot of the time about readable, legible fonts and color combinations of text on certain backgrounds that make it impactful. Signmakers will think a lot more creatively like that and deliver something that is more integrated or aesthetically pleasing. It’s not just a TV on a wall.”

Understanding what complements digital signage also goes hand in hand with understanding what applications make sense for digital signage—and which don’t.

“What’s very suitable for digital signage are areas where customers and prospects have dwell time and you want to update or even day-part the messages based on who is walking by typically in that part of the day,” said FastSigns’ Monson. The types of people you find in a shopping mall, for example, will vary over the course of a day; early  or mid-morning shoppers have a very different demographic profile than an after-school crowd. Being able to easily tailor signage to appeal to those different demographics can have a great deal of value.

Signage That Makes Sense—and Cents

Although large retail locations, fast food joints, and airports like Albany—or bigger—are the emblematic venues for digital signage, for the average commercial, quick, or sign printer, the real opportunities lie further downstream.

“We could see much greater growth [in digital signage] as these deployments move from the large scale to the small and medium—local and regional—area, because that market is most likely untapped at this point,” said ISA’s Feder. “That’s where we see the sign companies coming in and playing a major role.”

Small and mid-sized local businesses—printers’ primary customers anyway—are a vast, untapped market for digital sign solutions.

“Commercial printers who have a wide-format department could easily get into this,” said Scrimger. “A lot of the bigger pro A/V digital signage guys are going after airports and a thousand screens in a quick-serve restaurant chain.” The opportunity, as Scrimger sees it, for Roland and for small to mid-size commercial printers, is “to target those small and medium businesses that need one display at their reception desk to tell their corporate story. There are a lot of small businesses that are largely being ignored.”

There is of course the perpetual issue of how to make money with digital signage. Return on investment (ROI) is always a nebulous concept and is notoriously variable from company to company—or even from month to month at the same company. “In any marketing situation, calculating ROI is never easy,” said Monson. FastSigns helps its franchisees not just with the technology, but also with extensive sales and marketing support. “You would put in your total cost of operating the digital sign system vs. your total cost of implementing static signage and how often you update it. And you would have to have a good way of measuring your sales lift.”

Moving into digital signage is not going to be a fast process; it’s going to take some due diligence, and a great deal of education. “A lot of folks move in this direction because it’s sexy to do,” said Feder, “but the more time you put in up front understanding what your objectives are, and how you will measure them, means you will deploy a system that will have long-term benefits to your organization.”

Signs, Signs, Everywhere a Sign…

Whether—and how much—digital signage cannibalizes print sign work remains to be seen, but either way, it’s worth investigating.

“Let’s say it’s going to take some portion of print,” said Scrimger. “Do you want to eat your own lunch or do you want it eaten for you? Do you want to be a part of that cannibalization, or do you want someone to take it from you? You have to decide how to participate.” The printing industry is no stranger to cannibalization from digital media, after all. Scrimger suggested a good place to start is to use it for their own businesses before offering it as a service. “Every commercial printer, every signmaker, should have a digital sign in their shop, so that when someone walks onto get print services they look up at the display while they’re waiting—‘I didn’t know that you did wide-format, or could wrap a vehicle,” he said. “If they realize the benefits, it’s easier to convey those benefits to someone else.”

“He who installs the digital signage and /or he who provides the content for digital signage is also probably going to be supplying static signage around it,” said Monson. “It’s an offensive and defensive play.”

“We fundamentally believe that signmakers that are providing channel letters, indoor graphics, window graphics, and vehicle wraps can also provide a digital sign,” said Scrimger. “There is no reason why that same customer couldn’t come to them for everything they need in the signage world.”

Harsh Weather Diminishes Economic Outlook?

18 Mar
March 18, 2014

Today I found this infographic and can say that extreme weather affected our business these first two months of the year. Did it affect yours?

Thanks for reading,
Rick

WSJ-Infographic-0214-500

Making the Grade: Our DWX Mills Now Qualify for 3M ESPE’s New Nano Porcelain/Ceramic Material

21 Jan
January 21, 2014

We recently announced that our DWX-50 and DWX-4 dental mills have been qualified by 3M ESPE for the company’s Lava Ultimate Restorative nano porcelain/ceramic material.

This is fantastic news for you as a dental lab owner or technician, as it means you can now pair our award-winning DWX technology with this extraordinary new material to create highly precise, durable crowns, inlays and onlays without sintering.

lava-ultimateIt is also high praise for our DWX mills. To earn the certification, we worked closely with our partners at 3M ESPE for months as they put both devices through rigorous testing. Throughout this process, all hardware and software components were benchmarked to ensure that they meet 3M’s high quality standards at every turn.

3M describes Lava Ultimate Restorative as a resin nano porcelain/ceramic material that offers patients excellent esthetics, outstanding strength and long-term durability. It can be milled, polished and placed in the patient’s mouth in a fraction of the time required for other restoratives.

Affordable and easy to use, our DWX mills are based on open architecture technology which allows you to customize your production environment with the software, hardware, finishing equipment and materials of your choice – and then build on this workflow as new, advanced technologies become available.

According to Kristan Chesnut, global business director with 3M Digital Oral Care, “By qualifying Lava Ultimate CAD/CAM Restorative with Roland’s DWX-50 and DWX-4 milling machines, we bring high quality materials with more efficient and productive workflows to dental labs.”


For more details, read our press release here
View DWX mills in person at upcoming industry events, including Lab Day Chicago, Feb. 21 – 22 at the Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers.


VersaUV Technology Earns an A+ from Top Packaging Schools

17 Dec
December 17, 2013

versauv-packaging

In a retail environment flooded with competing advertising messages, how does one package cut through the clutter?

This is the dilemma explored by students at renowned university package design schools, including Clemson’s Sonoco Institute of Package Design & Graphics and RIT’s School of Print Media where the basics of design, printing and finishing processes are taught to aspiring package designers. Breakthrough packaging concepts start with a great prototype.  And a great prototype is one that looks, feels and performs in the marketplace just like the real thing.

lec
On these and other campuses, Roland’s VersaUV digital printers are getting high marks, offering students the ability to print, die cut and emboss prototypes, working with all types of packaging substrates as well as specialty inks.  Not only are students achieving the realistic results they need, but they are also exploring unique design concepts and materials that are stopping traffic in the aisles in various test market settings.

We invite you to read about these top-notch packaging schools in our white paper excerpt featured recently in the Flexo Global Newsletter.  You’ll see why VersaUV is both fundamental to the design process and a valuable resource for universities and businesses alike.

New White Paper Explores How VersaUV Technology Takes Package Prototyping to the Next Level

06 Dec
December 6, 2013

prototypes_fujisan Every package designer, flexographic printer, or converter faces a similar dilemma – how to produce a package prototype, quickly and economically, that looks and feels like the final product.  The problem is magnified ten-fold when the client wishes to see several iterations.

Fortunately, thanks to the recent introduction of UV inkjets with low-heat LED lights, there is now a solution for printing prototypes on actual press stock — prototypes that are so realistic that a customer often can’t tell them from the finished product.  Even better, with inkjet printing, prototypes can be produced in an hour or two on everything from corrugated cardboard and chipboard to shrink wrap, metallic and synthetic papers and foils, BOPP, PE and PET film.

A whitepaper written for the flexo market, “How UV LED Inkjet Technology Is Increasing Profits for Flexographic Printers,” presents expert analysis and user case studies to highlight how these printers make package prototyping and proofing easier, faster and more cost effective than ever before.

According to Adam Geerts, president of PBM Graphics, “Among all the millions of dollars of equipment we’ve purchased over the years, nothing has generated as much excitement with the sales team as the Roland VersaUV LEC-330. There’s a lot we can do to show the customer what a finished product will look like without having to manufacture one.”

21 SGIA Golden Image Awards 2013!

30 Oct
October 30, 2013
SGIA Golden Image Awards 2013

SGIA Golden Image Awards 2013

As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m amazed at what our customers do with Roland equipment – this time for SGIA’s Golden Image Awards. Roland customers won 21 awards in various categories & with multiple entries. My congratulations to each of our customers below - You guys rock!

Here’s a link to a few, and a list below:

Varsha Transprint, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India (all produced using a Roland printer)

  • Gold – Finished Garments (Light), Digital Entries – “KATHAKALI”
  • Gold – Textile Products (Other), Digital Entries – “ANGEL CHHATRI”
  • Gold – Unique Applications, Digital Entries – “ROCK N RAAGA GUITAR”
  • Silver – Ad Specialties/Promotional Products, Digital Entries – “ELEPHANT COMPANY”
  • Silver – Calendars, Digital Entries – “OKTOBER FEAST”
  • Silver – Greeting Cards, Digital Entries – “THINKING OF YOU”
  • Silver – Metal Signs/Products, Digital Entries – “COLOR CODES”
  • Bronze – Ad Specialties/Promotional Products, Digital Entries – “SKY SCREEN INDIA TEA COASTERS”
  • Bronze – Fine Art, Digital Entries – “HOLI FACE”
  • Bronze – Finished Garments (Dark), Digital Entries – “OKTOBER FEAST”
  • Bronze – Glass/Mirrors, Flat, Digital Entries – “HOLIDAY MAN TILE”
  • Honorable Mention – Banners, Digital Entries – “STUDIO23”
  • Honorable Mention – Ceramics, Digital Entries – “BUTTERFLY”
  • Honorable Mention – Ceramics, Digital Entries – “TURTLE”
  • Honorable Mention – Glass, Curved, Digital Entries – “KATHAKALI”
  • Honorable Mention – Glass, Curved, Digital Entries – “KOLIWADA”

Metropolitan West, Santa Monica, Calif.

  • Gold – Interior Design, Digital Entries – “Open X”
    • Produced with a VersaUV® LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer and a VersaCAMM® VS-640 metallic inkjet printer/cutter
  • Bronze – Building Graphics, Digital Entries – “Real D”
    • Printed using a VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer

Maxwell Dickson, Los Angeles, Calif.

  • Gold – Glass/Mirrors, Flat, Digital Entries – “Koi Coffee Table”
    • Printed on a VersaUV LEJ-640 hybrid flatbed printer

SagaBoy Productions, Santa Monica, Calif.

  • Gold – Building Graphics, Digital Entries – “The Newsroom Image”
    • Produced with a VersaCAMM VS-640 metallic inkjet printer/cutter

Alpine Graphic Productions, Schomberg, Ontario, Canada

  • Bronze – Vehicle Wraps, Digital Entries – “Superman Wrap with Roof Treatment”
    • Printed on a SOLJET® Pro 4 XR-640 metallic inkjet printer/cutter

 

Simply amazing. Thanks for reading,

Rick