The On-Demand Option
High-speed presses for direct-marketing output.
As a consumer, you might hate to see it, but as anyone running a business knows, direct marketing can have a positive influence on sales.
And, direct and personalized printed mail continues to be a large part of the pie when it comes to direct marketing. According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), although most forms of traditional direct marketing remain stagnant or below peak levels, direct-mail expenditures grew nearly five percent in 2011 versus 2010 – reaching just over $50 billion overall.
If you’re interested in bringing direct mail and similar one-to-one marketing jobs in-house, there’s no better tool for this type of work than a high-speed digital press. These super-fast “on-demand” presses are capable of producing 4-color postcards, fliers, posters, brochures, and more, and many of these units can accommodate variable data, enabling the printed matter to be truly personalized. Many of these presses can produce highly individualized pieces – each page may contain personalized graphics, text, charts, and headlines.
When considering adding an on-demand press to your operation, check to see which types of high-speed variable jobs your current customers (as well as top prospects) are in need of. Examine the frequency and length of the runs, the type of media/substrates they need, and the variety of finishing services they’ll require post-output. All of these factors will help steer you to the type of high-speed press that can accommodate their printing needs.
We’ve assembled a list of manufacturers of high-speed on-demand presses currently on the market, and present a sampling of each company’s roster here. The machines we list offer at least 4-color output and many offer variable-data capabilities; typically, other machines or model configurations are also available (see each company’s website for more information).
Agfa’s Dotrix Modular is a 6-color (CMYKOV, with optional white/varnish) UV single-pass machine that offers a 25.6-in. print width and 300-dpi resolution (900-dpi apparent). Capable of hitting a top linear speed of 104 ft/min, the Dotrix accommodates a variety of substrates from 20 to 600 microns thick, including foils and cartons. It comes standard with a jumbo unwinder/rewinder. Its modular construction allows for traditional UV flexo printing stations (for coating and varnishing), slitting and die-cutting and sheeter installations to be optionally integrated.
The Dotrix’s Apogee Vibe workflow software adds variable-data capabilities, and is specifically tailored to packaging and P-O-P; the variable-data elements are produced at the last moments of the printing process to reduce RIP time. Double-sided printing is also possible.
The Canon imagePress C7010VPS series is the first digital production press jointly developed by Canon and Océ. Built upon the imagePress C7010VP platform, the C7010VPS features an integrated Océ PrismSync front-end controller for additional processing power and user flexibility (allowing it to be integrated into various workflows); it also adds expanded finishing options. Other features include: an intelligent job scheduler that supports up to eight hours of plan-ahead production; enhanced media-handling capabilities; advanced color-management performance with color pre-sets; and more. Top resolution is 1200 dpi; it can accommodate media up to 13 x 19 in.
Also available are the imagePress C7010VP, C6010VP, and C6010 digital presses. These machines feature: new sensor technology enabling better humidity controls and more accurate toner distribution; an enhanced airflow unit and toner density stabilization for improved color consistency and halftone smoothness throughout the print run; and Canon's oil-free V Toner with a 5.5-micron particle size designed to produce outstanding prints on a broad array of media including textured stocks. All three machines can accommodate media up to 13 x 19 in., and offer 1200-dpi resolution; top speed on the C7010vp is 70 8.5 x 11-in. pages/min (60 pages/min on the C6010vp and C6010). The C6010 does not offer variable-data capabilities.
Canon’s imagePress C1+ is a color device with clear toner designed for the “light production and proofing” markets. It offers print speeds up to 14 ppm for color jobs (up to 60 ppm for black-and-white and up to 40 ppm for clear printing jobs), and can handle a wide range of paper stock including coated and textured stocks. It offers true 1200 x 1200-dpi resolution, accommodates media up to 13 x 19 in., and integrates with all desktop color-management solutions. Its print controller options include variable-data capabilities.
See also: Océ North America.
Designed for high-volume production, the HP Indigo 7500 is a 6-color press (CMYKcm with white option) that can print up to 120 A4 pages/min in full color or 240 pages/min in monochrome or 2 colors. The press is enhanced with a Vision system for hands-free automation, including automated calibration and intelligent diagnostics. It can accept media up to 13 x 19-in., and supports a wide range of substrates, including coated, uncoated, specialty media, and even thick substrates (up to 18-pt paper boards, via the optional thick substrate kit). A Universal Finishing Interface is optional.
The HP Indigo 7000 accommodates paper sizes up to 13 x 19 in. and supports a wide range of substrates – including coated, uncoated, and specialty media. It can output 120 4-color, A4-size pages/min and is a standard 4-color (CMYK) system, with 5-, 6-, and 7-colors optional. It can hit a resolution of 812 and 1219 dpi at 8-bit. Three SmartStream workflow solutions are available, including Production Pro Print, Production Plus Print, and Ultra Print servers.
Also available are the Indigo 5500, 3550, and 3500 sheetfed presses, as well as the w7200 and w3250 digital web-fed presses. The w3250 offers high-speed printing (maximum image size of 11.9 x 17.7 in.) onto a variety of substrates. Intended user applications include personalized direct-mail letters and postcards requiring variable data printing, books and booklets, photo-related items such as calendars and photo albums, and versioned user manuals for products and services. It’s capable of delivering up to 8000 impressions/hr and print speeds up to 136 ppm in 4-color and 272 ppm in 2-color.
InfoPrint Solutions’ continuous-forms InfoPrint 5000 images variable-data documents up to 20-in. wide and is available in three platforms: Volume, Multi-Purpose, and General Production. The 5000 General Production Platform (GPP) can be had in four configurable models, including the AD3/AD4 + XR3, offering full-color printing up to 420 ft/min with on-demand MICR (magnetic ink character recognition). The 5000 GPP also offers: 2-up duplex throughout; 720-dpi resolution (1440 effective); a choice of water-based or dye inks (CMYK); built-in AFP color management; and more.
In 2011, the 5000 began integrating the InfoPrint Ink Suite, which includes Ink Savvy (to reduce ink usage), Ink Estimation, Preview Print, Enfocus PitStop Connect, and others. In addition, the company offers the InfoPrint 3000, 4000, and 4100 printing systems.
Three models of the company’s NexPress SX Platform are available: the SX3900 (120 pages/min; 131 pages/min with optional feeder), SX3300 (100 pages/min), and the SX2700 (83 pages/min). All of the SX models offer: newly reformulated Kodak NexPress HD Dry Inks and developers designed to produce vibrant colors and consistent spot-color matching; a light black fifth imaging solution for photo applications; a matte-finish option; closed loop calibration; Print Genius image-processing technology; and more. Maximum imageable area is 13 x 20 in., although an optional feeder allows for 13 x 25.7 in. The NexPress can accommodate paper (uncoated, coated) as well as special substrates including foils, synthetics, specialty stocks, and others. Other fifth imaging unit solutions on the SX platform include dimensional printing, red fluorescing ink, and MICR ink.
The company’s rollfed Versamark systems includes the Versamark VX5000, available in 11 configurations and offering full-color variable printing. Providing a top resolution of 300 x 600 dpi, the VX5000 can accommodate media up to 18-in. wide and a high duty cycle. Finishing options include: roll-to-roll, perf, punch, perf/punch, selective perf, fanfold, cut sheet, sheet/stack, and slit/merge/stack.
MGI’s Meteor DP8700XL is a 4-color, multi-substrate digital press that builds on the company’s previous Meteor line of machines. The sheetfed DP8700XL can accommodate media up to 13 x 40 in. (up to 13 x 47 in. via manual bypass); it can handle paper (20-lb bond to 130-lb cover), plastic-based applications (4- to 16-mil), and envelopes (with or without windows, to C4 size). It can produce up to 4260 A4/letter pages/hr (2280 A3 pages/hr); top resolution is 3600 dpi. Other features include: an auto-adjusting offset feeder table to ensure a consistent registration; an EFI Fiery RIP; EnvelopeExpress Pro; a high-capacity pneumatic loader; built-in light table; spectrodensitometer; and more.
Also available is the Meteor DP60 Pro – it accommodates media up to 13 x 26 in. (13 x 40 in. with option), including plastics and synthetics, and can print at 2400 dpi, offering a speed up to 3900 A4 sheets/hr; it also features variable-data capabilities. The company also offers the Meteor DP60 Paper, designed exclusively for paper substrates and synthetics such as Teslin. Both DP60 models have full variable-data capabilities. The company’s Meteor DP40 Pro press accommodates media up to 12.25 x 18 in., offers resolutions up to 1800 dpi, and 4-color toner printing speeds up 2100 pages/hr. With a maximum sheet capacity of 5750, the press is compatible with a wide variety of paper and plastic substrates from 60 to 320 gsm; it offers automatic duplexing for media up to 260 gsm.
Océ North America
The Océ ColorStream 3500 is a high-speed color, continuous-feed inkjet press that accommodates paper up to 21.25-in. wide and a top speed of 246 ft/min. Featuring the company’s DigiDot inkjet technology and inks, as well as Océ SRA MP (Massively Parallel) controller architecture, the ColorStream 3500 can hit a top resolution of 600 dpi and offers a choice of pigment or dye inks for full-color, spot-color, and MICR applications.
Also available are the ColorStream 10000 Flex and the JetStream Compact, Dual, and Wide presses. See also: Canon.
The Scodix 1200 digital press from Israeli-based Scodix is designed to add value to print by creating tactile effects via its Scodix Sense clear polymer inkjet technology, the press creates matte or gloss effects (up to 99 gloss units) applied in thicknesses up to 70 microns and in variable densities from 1 to 100%.
It can handle paper formats and substrates up to 19.7 x 27.8 in., in thicknesses up to 0.5mm, and paper weights from 135 to 500 gsm (50 to 185 lbs). It offers resolutions up to 360 x 1016 dpi.
The Scodix1200 also supports variable-data and barcode applications in PDF or optimized PDF formats.
Common applications include small posters, direct mail, marketing collateral, business cards, greetings cards, book covers, and other commercial, promotional, and consumer print.
Screen USA’s Truepress Jet520 is a 4-color (CMYK), variable-data, continuous-feed, single-pass printer that produces images up to 20.4-in. wide and a maximum print speed of 420 ft/minute; it can hit a resolution of 720 x 720 dpi. The Jet520 can accommodate inkjet paper, standard paper, and uncoated paper, and its applications include direct mail, product manuals, publications, invoices, and much more. It can switch between printing full-web, single-sided to half-web duplex. This press comes with a rewinder/unwinder, and users can connect the Truepress to a variety of inline post-processing equipment.
The TruePress Jet520ZZ single-pass, continuous-feed system is specifically designed for high-speed variable-data work. Its top speed of 720 ft/min is matched up with a high resolution of 360 x 720 dpi. The Jet520ZZ prints on rolls of inkjet paper, standard paper, uncoated paper, and coated stock up to 22.4-in. wide. It’s equipped with an Equios workflow RIP; a JD-520 external drying unit is optional.
Also available is the TruePress Jet520EX-Color, an entry-level machine with compact footprint.
The Xeikon 8000, which utilizes dry-toner electrophotography technology, boasts 1200-dpi image quality, a top speed of 63 ft/min, and the ability to accommodate media up to 20.2-in. wide (image width of 19.8 in.). Capable of handling paper, paper board, synthetic media, and more, the Xeikon 8000 also features double-sided printing capabilities and a Xeikon X-800 digital front end. Options include an unwinder, jumbo unwinder, and a stacker.
The Xeikon 6000 offers media compatibility with substrates from 40 to 350 gsm, four print speeds up to 160 pages/min. The printer is able to print on media up to 20-in. wide, offers 1200-dpi resolution, and two inline densitometers.
The Xeikon 5000plus can hit speeds up to 160 ppm and handle print speeds up to 20-in. wide; top resolution is 1200 dpi.
The iGen4 from Xerox can handle sheet sizes up to 14.33 x 22.5 in., and a broad range of substrates. It offers a top speed of 110 pages/min and a top resolution of 600 x 4800 dpi (one-bit). Features include: an in-line spectrophotometer and advanced color profiling; auto density control (to detect and eliminate density variations); high definition linearization (eliminates the need for grayscale calibration); and up to six input feeder modules with two trays each for a capacity of 30,000 sheets. User can choose among a Xerox FreeFlow Print Server, Creo CX Print Server, or Xerox EX Color Server powered by EFI Fiery. Options include roll input, inserter, inline finishing, and various variable-information solutions.
The iGen4 EXP press, introduced in 2010, builds on the iGen4, and offers sheet sizes up to 14.33 x 26 in.; an automated Web-to-Finish solution (including software and finishing options to streamline workflow); a Multigraf stacker; and integration with Adobe PDF Print Engine (for quick and reliable printing of Adobe PDF files). Also available is optional Matte Dry Ink, for high-end photo applications.
The DocuColor 8080 can hit 80 pages/min and resolutions of 2400 dpi (1-bit). Features include: auto-duplexing, low-gloss toner, Automated Color Quality Suite, and customized Productivity Packs (including VI on the Fly for personalization). Three digital front ends are available along with various finishing options.