Contour Cutter, Digital Printers Bring New Business to Iowa State
As the spring 2017 semester inched toward final exams, things were just heating up for the Printing and Copy Services team at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa.
The excitement surrounded the additions of three Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS 1250 black-and-white production printers and a 64˝ Graphtec FC8600-160 kiss/contour cutter, the first automated cutter for the university in-plant.
“This allows us to do more products that our customers have been asking about,” Director Nathan Thole says. “We haven’t had anything like this that can handle the kiss/contour cutting.”
Thole recalls getting requests from customers asking if the shop could cut out stickers or labels in unique shapes. He then was approached by the university’s facilities department, which traditionally produced all of the building, door, window and vehicle graphics for the campus.
“They have been backlogged for a long time, so we got into talks with them to help them out with some of that work,” he explains. “Having this cutter allows us to do that work. We are doing more and more of that now. We started out doing all of the vehicle graphics through our transportation department.”
“The redundancy on the printing side is more critical than on the cutter side,” Assistant Director Zachary Covington adds, noting that this way, if one part of the process goes down, work doesn’t have to completely stop in the wide-format department. “At least if the cutter goes down, we still have the printers separate.”
The in-plant quickly got to work after the cutter installation, producing a 10-ft.-wide graphic of the shop’s nameplate. It hangs prominently in the in-plant’s conference room as a reminder of the shop’s capabilities.
“It is funny how people even hear about it,” Thole says of the new cutting capabilities. “We haven’t done one ounce of advertising on it yet because we have some big projects on our plate. I am sure there are more opportunities there with this new technology, since we couldn’t do special shapes before.”
Trio of New Digital Printers
Meanwhile, the trio of Konica Minolta printers sent three older Xerox DocuTech 6135s into retirement after a bidding and RFQ process. Thole notes that the Xerox machines were in service for more than a decade and used outdated DigiPath software.
Two of three campus copy centers got a new Konica Minolta machine. The other was installed at the main printing plant. Thole is impressed by the punching features that will allow the shop to offer in-line coil binding. All three machines can handle saddle stitching duties, which the shop was not able to do in-line previously.
Print quality has also been ungraded with the 1250s, Thole says. He recalls a job that was produced on the older DocuTechs that ended with a customer unhappy with spots and specs on the sheet and substandard graphics.
“I made sure we reran a couple copies of that job on a new machine and had a supervisor take it to the customer and show it to them,” he explains.
The shop can now run sheet sizes up to 12.5×18.5˝ and can handle bleeds more effectively, Thole points out.
“As we are able to provide more services to our customers and the university, we better entrench ourselves as a valuable resource,” he concludes.
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