November 22nd, 2013
Written by Howie Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL
I ran into Mary Schilling recently at an industry event and congratulated her on her new blog on the Printing Impressions website that focuses on inkjet printing. Mary has been focusing on the relationship between ink and paper for a decade now. I must say she came out of the gate running with her first blog when she asked the question, “Whose responsibility is it to ensure the paper is compatible with inkjet?”
At first no one responded, which made me wonder–did people think this was a trick question? It surely sounds like a trick question. Maybe it is, because the answer: it depends. It depends on whether you’re willing to live within the recommendations made by the manufacturer or try to save some money and deviate from those recommendations.
Although the circumstances are different, this strikes me as a question we’ve seen in the industry many times before. As some might say, “back in the day” we had the same types of questions in offset printing with the choice of printing plates or paper. If you went back even further, the same was true for film and cameras. The general rule of thumb has always been that you work with the manufacturer’s specified or recommended consumables if you want to hold them accountable.
But these questions and debates typically appear here in early stages of a new technology such as inkjet production printing. And there are different stages of adoption of new technology. These early stages include the pioneers or early adopters who often struggle with these questions until the technology and equipment goes more mainstream. Sometimes the adoption of a new technology becomes disruptive.
This is how Ray Kurzweil, an expert with revolutionary technologies, explained how certain technologies are disruptive and transform industries, business models and pose new opportunities—and hurdles.
The same is true with inkjet production printing. If the customer works with the approved ink and paper recommendations made by inkjet press manufacturer, then you can hold the manufacturer responsible. If the customer is looking for a better deal (read “cheaper”) and works with another ink or paper (read “non- approved”) it’s the other vendors or the customer’s responsibility.
For example, if I look at the Xerox Impika website, you will find recommendations about ink. When I download a presentation from the IMI show, I see that the different inkjet devices print on paper, plastic, and even packaging materials. As a result, I would assume that if you follow the manufacturer recommendations you should avoid the typical problems associated with new substrates.
As an added safeguard, Xerox has a process for inkjet customers to determine compatibility with various substrates prior to the customer’s purchase. If they want to pursue a paper stock not on the “tested media list”, Xerox can test their desired paper stock to determine if it is acceptable and supported. This takes the guesswork and risk out of the process so that the customer can be confident with the expected inkjet product and paper performance.
What do you think? Who is responsible for the quality from Inkjet Production Printing?
Howie Fenton is a consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity, and adding digital and value services through customer research. For more information click here
November 15th, 2013
By Bob Charboneau
Senior Production Manager, Dixon Schwabl
As a production manager at a full service advertising, marketing and public relations firm, it’s my job to meet with clients, account executives, art directors and designers to review our clients’ needs and to help source and qualify print vendors. I do this by reviewing each provider’s printing equipment, finishing equipment and processes, capabilities and customer service/technical support model.
Over the past few years, the marketplace has seen the entrance of some exceptional digital print technology with output nearly indistinguishable from that of offset . There are a lot of shops making great use of this technology, with many printers not only having great equipment, but also outstanding workflow, pre-press departments and solid customer service. Where I typically see a point of differentiation is in the finishing department.
Some printers have better scoring, folding, die-cutting and bindery than others. Years ago when digital printing first became mainstream, I would notice a lot of “cracking” where a digital printed sheet would crack on the score line when folded or when saddle stitching (aka stapling) two or more pieces of paper together, the staple would smash the spine of the piece and create a flat spot.
Today’s many print providers have raised the bar and have enhanced their finishing capabilities to better suit digital print….but some are still struggling. When partnering with a digital print provider, it’s important to consider all pieces of the printing process – so you can finish strong.
Another point of consideration is the substrate chosen. Making the right paper choice, in terms of weight, color and finish – can dramatically influence whether the final output conveys the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ you intended. . There are certain papers made for digital and as a good rule of thumb, it’s always best to ask your print provider if they have a “house stock” that is used with their equipment or ask the manufacturer if they certify specific papers or substrates that you can use on your project.
Paperspecs.com is a great resource for all things paper. I had the pleasure of meeting the site’s founder, Sabine Lenz, in 2009 at the How Conference in Austin, Texas. She is very knowledgeable on the subject matter, offers a variety of tips, highlights cool projects and offers free webinars on a variety of design and print subject matter. For a few dollars, you can become a pro member of her site and get expert level tips that can take your paper game to the next level.
Today’s knowledgeable print providers, armed with the latest in digital print technology, allow agencies and our clients to push the limits of our creativity and implement new ideas. It’s important to remember to never stop innovating, continue experimenting, and never lose sight of the importance to finish strong!
November 14th, 2013
Written by Derrick Doi
Vice President, Quick and Franchise Print Segment, Xerox Corporation
When Ron Bradley bought a PostNet franchise in Asheville, N.C. in 1999, he developed an unconventional business strategy. While most PostNet stores focused on shipping, Ron emphasized copying and printing. A few years later, PostNet International Corporation began encouraging that every franchise make the same shift to print.
Today, about 80 percent of Ron’s revenues come from printing related services, and they continue to thrive, propelling the franchise to its best year ever, if 2013 continues to deliver double-digit growth. Behind the growth: a burgeoning wide-format printing business initiated about 10 years ago and new technology acquisitions.
The time was right for investing in the new print technology, The franchise’s workhorse, a Xerox DocuColor 260 Copier/Printer was beginning to show its age and was challenged by an increasing volume and a lack of registration control on some applications.
Bradley began researching his options in January, looking only at Xerox because his Xerox 260 experience surpassed what he’d had with other manufacturers. He liked the new Xerox C75 Press, which offered automated registration features and higher volume capacity.
Financing the acquisition was another story. His long-time bank that held his previous loans was his first choice, but they had become stricter since the 2008 recession. Then he met with QBSI, a Xerox company that sells and services office and printing equipment and manages the PostNet account nationally. “As a loyal QBSI customer for 10 years, and with the assistance of Greg Kelly and Joan Serwold of QBSI, I was approved in three hours.”
So in June, QBSI delivered a new Xerox C75 copier printer, and a Duplo DC-645 Slitter/Cutter/Creaser, which automates cutting of multi-up sheets, saving him as much as 15 hours per month of manual labor. Bradley’s customers not only appreciate the consistently tight registration and even better image quality from the Xerox C75, but also like the increased ability to get most of their printing at one business center. Comments from clients include: “The output from this machine looks as good as what you get off an offset press,” Bradley said.
“I’m adamant about the high quality of the products for my clients,” he said. “That is what we are known for—high quality at a fair price. If people feel they are treated right, with great quality, and are comfortable with the price, they will continue to come back.”
What’s driving your growth? What’s making you successful?
November 11th, 2013
Written By: Nancy Chetron, Worldwide Marketing Manager
Production Customization/Workflow & Solutions, Xerox Corporation
Print Service Providers continually wrestle with the challenge of maintaining consistent color on their digital presses. The problem is not the color management technology, it’s the lack of automation and the reliance on multiple players in the print process to determine color outcomes. What if this process could be simplified by using a single color management solution for an entire fleet? What if you could remotely access and respond to the status of your presses, greatly increasing the efficiency of your workflows?
Well, these desires are now a reality thanks to a new cloud-based color management solution, which provides centralized automation of printer monitoring with a pre-defined workflow and customer-specific recovery procedures. The solution, called IntegratedPLUS Automated Color Management, uses web-based Software as a Service (SaaS) technology to eliminate the need for running local color management packages at multiple sites. The solution provides access to the iGen fleet’s embedded inline spectrophotometers (ILS) to quickly and easily monitor presses.
With a new interface that Xerox has introduced to its strategic color management partners, a color expert can submit and print targets and within seconds know the status of a press and whether it’s “in” or “out” of spec. This check is done using a partner tool such as CGS ORIS Certified // Web which connects with software in the cloud to perform the color check.
The Xerox® IntegratedPLUS Automated Color Management can:
- Improve productivity and reliability over current manual processes
- Simplify multi-engine/multi-site color management
- Cut costs by making color management far more predictable and efficient
- Reduce manual errors and eliminate wasted time and materials
- Increase the efficiency of your workflow
Think of the efficiencies gained by having the ability to run your entire color process remotely in a single, consistent workflow—even from multiple locations. Since this solution leverages your current technology, no new IT investment is needed – which means you can reduce costs and streamline your color management, allowing you to focus on getting more jobs through your shop.
The solution includes Xerox Professional Services support. This team of experts provides color and workflow support, helping you configure and set up the right level of print specification tolerances for your shop based on your color and productivity requirements. Whether you print color-critical graphic communications jobs such as auto brochures, or internal newsletters, Xerox Professional Services will help you to set up a recovery process to fit your needs.
How could an automated, integrated, and cloud-based color management process impact your business?
The solution is one of the technology solutions available as part of the portfolio. For more information go to http://www.xerox.com/IntegratedPLUSColor
October 16th, 2013
Written By: Nancy Chetron, Worldwide Marketing Manager
Production Customization/Workflow & Solutions, Xerox Corporation
There’s been a lot of buzz lately about color consistency, color management and color maintenance. And rightfully so! Producing the right color is just as important as producing the same color…over many prints and across multiple printers.
Shops who print for the photo marketplace have some unique needs. They recognize the critical nature of color consistency and accuracy, but they also want to achieve the most realistic, representational color. When it comes to photo images, their customers want a pleasing appearance as well as excellent shadow detail, depth, contrast and smooth gradients.
So how can you achieve all this while maintaining consistency?
A simple, fast, color management solution, Xerox MatchAssure, has been introduced worldwide and provides highly accurate ICC compliant Destination Profiles using a single spectrophotometer for all printers and just one scanning of each set of printed targets. MatchAssure also includes additional GUI options, allowing for the look of the output to be adjusted based on the desired preference for skin tones, skies, lightness and contrast.
If you are familiar with the term “Memory colors”, you know the name originates from our desire for elements, such as the sky and skin tones, to look the way we remember them…even if they aren’t a precise match to reality. For many applications, we care more about having an aesthetically pleasing image than having an absolutely precise color match. Now, skin tones and skies can be adjusted with a slider bar without changing the rest of the image. If the skies look too warm for your taste, just shift the sky slider bar toward “more blue” and voilà – perfect skies without negatively affecting the rest of the output!
MatchAssure was designed by Xerox to help customers achieve consistent color across multiple Xerox printers and sites, whether printing RGB or CMYK source files. It works with Xerox as well as selected other print technology and can be used with multiple DFEs such as FreeFlow Print Server, EFI and Creo. MatchAssure delivers outstanding matching against any of the print specifications or industry standards such as GRACoL or Fogra.
For those using a CMYK workflow, a new feature is available to enable customers to inspect their CMYK accuracy against a GRACoL or Fogra press standard.
How could your business be impacted by a color management solution providing fast and simple profile creation to help you achieve and manage greater color consistency across your fleet of digital presses?
MatchAssure is just one of the many Xerox technology tools available as part of the Confident Color portfolio. For more information on MatchAssure, please click here.
Delivering Value to your Clients: Expand your Offerings with Performance, Image Quality and AutomationSubmitted by Bill Michael
April 23rd, 2013
Written by Chris Irick
Worldwide Marketing Manager, Xerox Corporation
Whether you are a seasoned digital print provider or new to the world of digital print after making the leap from offset lithography – one thing remains constant: your customers of today and tomorrow have choices. To remain competitive and capture their business, you must stay on the cusp of the latest technology and provide customers and prospects with a compelling reason to choose your offerings. What sets your business apart? Is it print quality, outstanding service, a wide gamut of substrate offerings, the fastest turnaround times in town, web-to-print capabilities, or variable data services? What about expanding your business’ offerings by becoming a one-stop service provider to your clients?
In an early 2013 PrintWeek feature, the Staffordshire-based British printer, KJB, shared their experience of this first-hand when they decided that the £1,000 worth of work per month they were outsourcing to local digital printers warranted a conversation of acquiring a digital press of their own. This was completely unchartered waters for KJB, who in their twenty-year history had owned nothing but offset lithographic presses. Commercial Director, Stephen Egerton, described the need to venture into digital offerings as one that would allow the company to “better serve the clients we had and also to expand that list of clients.” KJB began a rigorous search for the right digital press for their business, and found many advantageous offerings with the Xerox DocuColor 8080 Digital Press, including the ability to produce 80 A4 pages per minute at a resolution of 2,400dpi, and auto duplex capabilities at rated speeds on all weights and sizes up to 300gsm.
Quality-driven automation is also a key component of the DocuColor 8080, as its Automated Color Quality Suite helps to streamline automation within your print shop. This is done by delivering excellent color quality that is consistent and repeatable; reducing operator intervention and increasing uptime through auto calibration, advanced profiling and spot color calibration. While KJB initially began by just producing the £1,000 worth of jobs they had previously been outsourcing, the company slowly began moving some of the shorter-run offset jobs onto the DocuColor 8080, opening the company to new growth opportunities. They slowly began to see a steady increase in the usage of their digital press – from three hours a day, to five hours a day – making way to the now daily 10 hours of print runs that have become commonplace – with roughly 300,000 impressions per month. Egerton states that quality has been the key differentiator, as it has “meant existing customers have increased their work with us and have kept coming back. It has also meant we have won work from the customers of print shops with older digital gear, looking for the highest quality possible.”
With the addition of their new Xerox DocuColor 8080, KJB was able to grow their business by expanding their offerings to clients. How do you differentiate your print business? Is it through superior print quality, streamlined automation, or the ability to deliver a wide range of specialty substrates to clients such as polyester, vellum, magnet, NeverTear and vinyl?
Interested more posts related to delivering value to your customers? You may also like:
- How do I Market Better and Offer Marketing Services?
- Productivity and Versatility: Meet the New Xerox J75 and C75 Color Presses
- You Don’t Have to Become a Marketing Services Provider to Offer Marketing Services
- Tough Questions about the PSP-MSP Evolution
- Business Development: Everything you Need to Grow your Digital Printing Business
Visit Xerox.com to see how the Xerox DocuColor 8080 can help you grow your business, reduce costs through automation and expand your offerings – delivering a commanding ROI to your business
November 1st, 2012
Written by Bill Michael
I’m sure by now you’ve heard it all. Whether trying to convince management to invest in digital printing or trying to maintain the attention of your customers – facing the ‘myths’ of digital printing may still be a lingering reality you face today.
Well, we’re here to dispel some of those myths and provide you with information to better engage with your customers and management. If ‘that doesn’t look like offset’, ‘that run length will cost a fortune’, and ‘the paper options are so limited’ are phrases that sound like a broken record – then keep reading!
Today, more than ever, printers are looking for ways to grow their business and better serve their customer base with fast, efficient, and high quality solutions. Digital printing has helped many do just that.
A recent study found that 4 out of 5 printers state that digital has helped them navigate to new profits. Advancements in the technology behind digital printing, workflow solutions, and the web have certainly helped drive this growth. Short runs, VI, high image quality, and the ability to run on countless stocks are just a few of the major selling points for digital. Productivity is what turns those selling points into realized revenue for the printer. The iGen4 EXP Press, for example, was recently found to have an 85% availability, meaning that 85% of its day the machine is producing sellable prints and generating revenue…to the tune of 5,610 sellable prints an hour.
The fast turn-around times, high image quality, ability to cost effectively produce short-runs, and value-added services such as variable data all contribute to creating interest with customers and generating revenue for printers. In fact, that same study found that 60% of recipients said digital services have improved their customer acquisition and retention.
Visit www.xerox.com/digitaltruths2 to learn more about how Xerox and digital printing are helping to dispel the myths that digital is too costly, can’t produce high enough quality, and can’t be profitable. You could also be entered for a chance to win a free truckload of Xerox Digital Color Xpressions paper.
Do you face any of the digital ‘myths’ with your customers today? What is the ‘myth’ that you spend the most time debunking?
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