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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

Harlequin acquired the Oce machines in the spring of 2006. One major selling point of the Oces, for Robinson, is that they produce books identical to the ones that come off the Quebecor offset presses. Harlequin web-feeds the two Variostreams the same paper as Quebecor uses, and they cut, fold, and stack the paper in one operation. It uses the CPS to produce the book covers-it’s not a mockup, it’s the actual cover that will appear on the shelves. The binder takes the book block and wraps the cover around it, and the result is a shelf-ready product impossible to tell from the "real thing."

Harlequin also chose the Oce machines, says Robinson, because "on the color side, we were looking for equipment that was simple to run and could accommodate our sizes and needs. We were putting them into an environment where the operators had no printing experience. The competitors’ operational demands were too significant for us to manage."

"The other thing that works well for us," says Robinson, "is that the same file we send to the offset printer can go to the CPS. It’s just a PDF file from InDesign-we create our own files for our books."

Meeting changing demands

Alliance ( is the merchandising and display division of Rock-Tenn, a large paper mill and folding-carton manufacturer. With locations in the US, Canada, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile, Rock-Tenn specializes in packaging products, merchandising displays, and bleached and recycled paperboard.

Alliance, which began business in 1991 and was purchased by Rock-Tenn in 1995, uses Agfa Dotrix digital presses to create its merchandising products. The company acquired a Dotrix Compact in 2004 and installed a second printer, a Dotrix Modular, just last fall. The point-of-purchase display market had begun to move toward reduced inventory and quick-turnaround printing, and the digital printers enabled Alliance to meet the changing demands, the company reports.

The Modular, an inkjet printer, can print nearly 10,000 square feet per hour, single sided, at 900 dpi and widths up to 24.8 inches. Alliance, though, generally only uses it for projects of up to 4000 square feet-more than that, and they turn to their offset or flexographic printers.