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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

"And then we got to a point where we needed to expand our operation," he continues. "Our previous vendor was pitching us to add a second machine to spread out the volume of work. But that meant an increase in click price [price per impression] with no real increase in quality or capabilities. So we started to look at other options."

"When we looked at the Kodak," Stuart says, "our initial reaction was, ‘Oh, it’s just like what we have.’ But we found in testing that they really were able to run at their rated speed. It was faster and better quality." So in 2007, the company purchased a Kodak NexPress 2500, a dry-ink printer that’s rated to be able to produce 5000 letter-size single-sided sheets per hour at 600 dpi, with a maximum paper size of 14 x 20.5 inches.

But aside from speed, Stuart points to other advantages of the NexPress: "The other system was very specific with its prepress needs. We spent lots of time dealing with font, transparency, rich blacks-issues like that. But the Kodak, maybe because of its Heidelberg roots [Kodak acquired NexPress from Heidelberg in 2004], is similar in gamut and color accuracy to offset. We can match the offset and digital gamut, so the color can be consistent between the machines. We’ve done a handful of different jobs that mix the two technologies. We can get the first 20 of something out quick, then follow up with another 20,000 from our offset press."

Stuart also appreciates the greater control over maintenance costs and downtime. "The operator can replace 90 percent of the normal wear-and-tear items-blankets, cylinders, things like that. We don’t have to wait for a service technician to come out. Also, we can buy as many parts as we want and store them on site-with our previous system, the company owned the parts. Buying the parts in advance drives down our cost. Plus we get a rebate if a part’s performance doesn’t match the standard-if the part’s supposed to last 10,000 impressions and we only get 8000 out of it, we get rebated some of the cost."