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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

Associates Graphic Services (AGS, in Wilmington, Delaware, was founded in 1992, beginning life as a traditional type house. The company gradually moved into color printing-first two-color and then, by 1998, four-color offset. In 2004, however, AGS found itself with a printing contract that wasn’t suitable for its offset capabilities: The client, a pharmaceutical firm, wanted products in run lengths of 750 to 1000.

"I filled that void for them," recalls Dave Zamorski, now AGS’s chief operating officer. At the time, Zamorski ran a print shop called DocuSource, which had begun in digital printing in 1997. "We had two color devices and two black-and-white devices, all from Xerox. We were doing standard short-run work-postcards, letters, custom work. We were taking a lot of that work from larger printing operations-they didn’t even know we were in their accounts."

In the time since, the digital side of AGS has gone on to acquire two Xerox iGen3 110 digital presses, one in late 2005 and one in the spring of 2006. Each iGen3 is rated to be able to crank out up to 6600 full-color letter-size impressions an hour at 600 dpi, with a maximum image size of 14 1/3 x 20 1/2 inches.

The digital operation has been a success story for AGS. "Growth has been good," says Zamorski. "We’ve almost doubled the digital side of the business."

One of the reasons for the success: AGS has fully embraced a Web-to-print sales model, in which it receives orders through online storefronts set up with the aid of Printable and Pageflex solutions. "We get a couple hundred jobs a day from just one account," says Zamorski, "and one storefront has 6000 users. Accounts give us raw files, and we turn them into templates. For instance, one client has 240 different templates they can pick from." When a client wants to order new pieces, whether business cards or brochures, they just order them through the storefront, customizing the content or changing an image here and there if desired.

"We had a storefront before," recalls Zamorski, "but it was nothing like at this level. Before, someone might just get an order pad or something like that. Now we can print anything with no hand intervention."