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The Digital Press Equation

(March 2008) posted on Thu Mar 06, 2008

How seven companies have successfully integrated digital presses.

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By Jake Widman

Early on, Excell cut and packaged gravure-printed wallpaper and borders for customers. After a technology-seeking trip to Drupa, the company began outsourcing the printing of wallcovering designs to local companies with digital high-speed printers. Then, eight years ago, it took the bull by the horns and bought its first high-speed press-a 12-inch Xeikon 32D, from Punch Graphix-which was used for printing borders (the company continued to die-cut and package borders and wallpaper). At that time, most wallpaper borders were produced on a gravure printer with a minimum run of 1800 units; the Xeikon’s capabilities dropped a minimum order to 100 units. Even though the price per unit was higher, Excell’s customers saved because they didn’t have as much commitment to inventory-impacting cash flow and storage space, reports Wayne Stacey, Excel Decor’s principal. Soon thereafter Excell bought an 18-inch Xeikon 50D, which added capacity and width and allowed them to branch out into appliques, murals, and other wallcoverings.

In the past last five years, however, the popularity of wallpaper has declined and major wallpaper customers have downsized dramatically. Excell needed to diversify. Recognizing this, the company made the decision to invest in a Xeikon 5000 digital-color press with an X-800 digital front end in 2006. Excell had already been producing various digital-color applications on its existing Xeikons, but acquired the 5000 not only for higher speeds and better quality but also for its variable-data capability, says Stacey. "That feature permitted us to diversify, get into other markets, and move away from our dependency on the wallpaper market."

While still imaging some wallcoverings and producing various packaging, label, and advertising applications, the 130-page-per-minute Xeikon 5000 is now focused on producing variable-data direct mailers for Excell’s customers. Plus, it provides added VDP capacity that Excell can wholesale to other commercial printers.

The 5000, says Jim Hingley, Excell Decor president, could produce something that other high-speed presses couldn’t: a longer and wider product (20-inch width x unlimited length). This allows the company to offer clients sizes outside the normal direct-mailing range.

With a total of four Xeikon presses, two rotary die-cutters, an i-cut digital die-cutter, and a variety of custom binding and packaging equipment, Excell Decor is outfitted for the future-for the production of both VDP direct mailers, and its first love, wallcovering. And, now, its presses can handle both.

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