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DI Presses in the In-plant

Scores of in-plants are installing direct imaging (DI) offset presses. Why do they feel DI technology is so well suited to their mix of work?

May 2009 By Bob Neubauer
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EVEN AFTER installing an HP Indigo 1050 digital color press four years ago, San Diego State University ReproGraphic Services still found it challenging to reach portions of the four-color market. Longer-run jobs were not cost effective on the 1050, so the in-plant was using its aging computer-to-plate (CTP) system and two-color presses to produce them. It was not the most efficient setup.

So in 2006, Leslie Rutledge, manager of the nine-employee in-plant, made the decision to install a Presstek 34DI direct imaging press. Life has not been the same since. The chemistry-free, waterless offset press images plates directly on the press, saving time, improving quality and decreasing costs. 

“For our shop, it was the best decision I ever made,” declares Rutledge. 

A growing number of in-plants agree with her. 

Though introduced to the market back in 1991, direct imaging (DI) technology has lingered on the fringes of the industry; traditionalists were skeptical of it and progressives bypassed it for toner-based devices. Lately, though, DI seems to be gaining traction; numerous in-plants have installed DI presses in recent years, viewing it as a cost-effective way to enter the four-color market. 

That was the case at California State Polytechnic University, in Pomona, where the in-plant added a Presstek 34E DI to stem the flow of four-color work to outside printers—work the in-plant couldn’t previously handle with its one- and two-color presses. 

“The 34E DI enables us to produce four-color work in-house,” explains Daiken Fiore, manager of Graphic Communications Services.

“We needed to get into four-color,” adds Dave Nelson, director of Printing Services at Illinois State University, in Normal, Ill., where a Heidelberg Quickmaster DI 46 has been in place for nearly a decade. “We were a two-color shop, and this was the most compact and, frankly, least risky way to get into four-color.”

One of the newest DI installations took place last month at Glasgow Caledonian University, in Scotland. The in-plant added a Presstek 52DI.

“Ninety-five percent of our work is four-color brochures, leaflets, flyers, booklets, posters etc., and we were printing using a two-color press,” explains Andrew Scott, head of Print Design Services. He touts many advantages of DI technology, including “effortless perfect registration,” excellent image quality, consistency of color and the ability to “de-skill” the whole prepress and printing process, which will make it easier to recruit less skilled staff. And then there are the “green” benefits.

Find Out More

Since Drupa 2000 (the DI high-water mark), several vendors have let their DI dreams fade. Today, these are the four main providers of direct imaging presses:







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