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DI Press Brings New Opportunities

Despite a budget crunch and a state-wide ban on new equipment, this in-plant justified a new four-color direct imaging press.

November 2008
LIKE MANY states, Georgia has been experiencing a budget crunch in recent years. To cope, the state mandated a 6 percent budget cut and banned all equipment purchases.

So how, then, in a penny-pinching environment like this, was Columbus State University Printing Services able to install a four-color Presstek 34DI digital offset press in July?

“We were able to justify the DI press...because it could pay for itself,” explains Manager Randall Bramlett. “More than a third of our print volume was going outside at commercial rates, and bringing it back in-house stood to quickly pay for the press and then save the university money going forward.”

As a result, University Printing Services now handles about 97 percent of the printing for this 8,000-student university in Columbus, Ga. Some 40 percent of the shop’s income is generated by the 34DI. This is a far cry from the way things were a dozen years ago

“When I started here, if you were talking about color printing, you were generally talking about one-color spot printing,” Bramlett says. And he should know. He was hired as a press operator 13 years ago. He eventually became pressroom supervisor, and last year was promoted to manager of Printing Services, overseeing a staff of six full-timers and a part-time student assistant who primarily handles delivery and bindery.

At that time the shop had four two-color ABDick presses, along with two color and two black-and-white copiers. The in-plant was using its two-color presses, along with an ABDick DPM platemaker, to produce some four-color work, but was unable to keep up with the demand.

“We had issues with quality and turnaround time, as well as general capacity,” Bramlett says. “The university was outsourcing about $150,000 annually in color printing we simply could not handle.”

The Columbus State University print shop operates on a break-even basis, with materials marked up slightly to cover overhead and miscellaneous charges, as well as a modest print charge; the in-plant is basically delivering services to its customers at cost.

“Previously, we were producing about $20,000 in Printing Services annually,” Bramlett says. “Even considering that our work is produced on a non-profit basis compared to the for-profit outfits we outsource to, I could see that we were not on the right path to be able to survive long term, and we needed to update our technology.”

Meeting A Challenge

Bramlett knew that getting approval for an investment in a four-color press would be a challenge under the current economic climate. As he looked at various options, he had several objectives in mind, including:
 

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