For University of Wisconsin, ‘The Proof Was in the Demos’
“Trust, but verify.” It’s a basic principle of international diplomacy. As the in-plant at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) found out, the concept behind it is also a smart way to select a new digital press.
Earlier this year, Linda Bettler, manager of UWM’s Print & Copy Services center, was facing such a choice. A five-year lease on a Xerox Color 800i press was coming to an end, giving her the opportunity to replace it with something that would deliver up-to-date performance on more favorable leasing terms.
A Xerox Color 1000i was one option, but staying with Xerox wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Bettler also evaluated devices from four other manufacturers, including some she knew she could lease for less than the Xerox 1000i.
“On paper,” she says, “they all looked wonderful.” But when they were presented with the kinds of paper that the in-plant routinely uses, differences sharply favoring the Xerox 1000i began to emerge.
“The proof was in the demos,” Bettler says. “We brought various files and our own stocks to each demo, and that’s where we found actual performance did not match up to what we expected.”
The in-plant produces a considerable amount of work on a Ryobi 3404 DI digital offset press with a 12⅜x18⅛˝ sheet size, and this is the format Bettler wanted to be sure she could print without problems. She tested the candidate devices with sheets of this size in 80-lb. gloss text and 100-lb. matte coated weights, assured by each manufacturer that its press could print the stocks at full rated speed.
Bettler says it was “surprising” to discover that except for the Xerox 1000i, none of the devices could make good on the claim. The slowdowns and stoppages the others experienced didn’t occur on the Xerox 1000i, which also proved superior in eliminating paper curl.
Winning the nod, the press went to work at UWM’s Print & Copy Services center on a five-year lease commencing in August. It came with an EFI Fiery front end and in-line attachments for square-edge stitching and three-hole drilling. Since installing it, Bettler has become even more admiring of what the 100-ppm, 2,400x2,400-dpi device can do.
Its registration, she says, “is so on.” It stays precise from run to run thanks to controls and sensors that automatically adjust the imaging to sheet conditions. This feature wasn’t available in any of the other devices evaluated.
The color reproduction is so good that the in-plant can use the Xerox 1000i as a proofer for the Ryobi 3404 DI. With its fifth station for metallic and other specialty dry inks, the Xerox 1000i prints UWM’s signature gold color indistinguishably from the Ryobi 3404 DI, a waterless offset press. Bettler notes that running a fifth color on the Xerox 1000i doesn’t incur an additional click charge, just the cost of the toner consumed.
The Xerox 1000i occupies a busy print and copy shop in an off-campus location where Bettler and her staff of 12 also run a new Xerox D125 copier/printer, which was acquired at the same time as the digital press.
A pair of small-format, two-color offset presses back up the 11-year old Ryobi 3404 DI, which Bettler says she’s far from ready to put out to pasture: it continues to be an economical solution for many jobs in quantities over 500 copies.
The Print & Copy Services center also oversees UWM’s fleet of about 400 MFP devices and acts as the campus clearing house for purchasing and leasing all graphic arts equipment. Although it doesn’t produce everything the university needs printed, state law requires that all of UWM’s printing and copying, including external orders, must be facilitated through Print & Copy Services.
This is in keeping with the in-plant’s role as a “brand monitor” for the quality and consistency of UWM’s printed communications, Bettler says.