Shop Swaps Outsourcing for InsourcingMay 1, 2011 By Matt Stringer
Before last July, Allegheny College Printing Services outsourced the printing of envelopes, business cards and letterheads to local commercial print shops. Then the in-plant purchased a Xanté Ilumina 502 Digital Color Press and brought the jobs back in-house. That saved money for the Meadville, Pa.-based college. But something else happened too: the in-plant started insourcing jobs from the companies it used to outsource to, bringing in revenue for the college.
“The printers that used to print envelopes for me, I now print envelopes for them,” says Mark Pritchard, manager of Printing Services.
Back in 2006, when it still used offset presses, the in-plant printed its own envelopes for the college’s 2,100 students and 500 staff members. But, after it went all digital, the three-employee shop had to outsource the work because of cost.
In 2010, though, Pritchard had a conversation with a friend about the Ilumina, and it peaked his interest. So, he took a two-hour drive south to Carnegie Mellon University with some files in hand to see that university’s Ilumina and test it out himself.
“We ran envelopes. We ran letterhead. We ran business cards,” Pritchard remarks. “I was pretty impressed with it. It was a go from there.”
Justifying the cost of the press to the college wasn’t hard once he calculated the savings from doing the jobs in-house instead of outsourcing them. Before the Ilumina purchase, Pritchard says, it cost $75 to print 1,000 two-color envelopes on an outside printer’s offset press. Now, printing 1,000 envelopes in-house costs $18.
The in-plant uses the Ilumina only to print envelopes, letterhead and business cards. “It has its niche,” Pritchard says. “I wouldn’t use it to replace a color copier.”
The Ilumina has often exceeded its own specifications. The recommended stock for business cards is 13 pt., but the in-plant has run jobs with 16 pt. stock without any problems. As far as size, Pritchard says he’s run jobs on it as big as 10x13˝.
The Ilumina does feed off the top, so you can’t load it until the feeder is empty, but for Allegheny College’s three-person in-plant that hasn’t been a problem. (At the Graphics of the Americas show in February, Xanté introduced the TL 30 Top Load Feeder for the Ilumina to eliminate delays for high-volume shops. It holds up to 500 envelopes.)