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Digital Envelope Press Helps In-plant Move Away From Offset

November 1, 2009 By Bob Neubauer
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Like many in-plants, the Printing and Mailing Services department at the University of St. Thomas, in St. Paul, Minn., is in the midst of a digital transition. In fact, just a few short weeks ago the 24-employee shop made the decision to get rid of its one remaining offset press—an ABDick 9850 duplicator with a T-head that was being used exclusively for envelopes.

 “We’re no longer interested in managing the hazardous waste streams associated with offset printing,” says Director John  Barron. “And we no longer want to have to buy the chemicals, solvents, blankets, paste inks, plates and all of the other supplies that go along with offset.” 

In early 2009 Barron began exploring digital solutions for envelope printing to supplement the 9850. After reading about the Xanté Ilumina Digital Envelope Press+ in In-Plant Graphics, he sent electronic files to Xanté for sample printing. He was impressed with the registration, color quality and overall look of the samples he received back. So he took the plunge, sight unseen. The press was installed in June, and Barron is now transitioning as much envelope work as possible to it.

“We’ve completed developing a set of the appropriate settings to feed all of our traditional envelopes with the new machine,” he explains, “and we’re making good progress on the best ways to handle unusual paper stocks and envelope sizes with it.”

The in-plant also recently decommissioned and sold another offset press, a Heidelberg QM-46-2, which had been used to print letterhead. The shop is now printing letterhead with a pair of HP CM8050 color multi-function printers with Edgeline technology. It installed one in its Minneapolis service center and one in the St. Paul service center. Customers place their letterhead orders via the in-plant’s SCOOP online ordering system and the letterhead is printed at the most convenient location.

Saying good-bye to offset wasn’t easy, Barron acknowledges, but once the decision had been made, it felt like a weight had been lifted from his back. The new Xanté Ilumina can’t do everything an offset press could do, he says, but it was still a great move for his in-plant.

“It’s not faster or less expensive intrinsically than offset envelope production. But it’s great for short runs and fast turnaround—the stuff we couldn’t otherwise handle cost-effectively. It is our belief, that when all is said and done the Ilumina will be our standard, lower-cost way to make envelopes.”

Another advantage Barron didn’t expect comes from a capability the department has never had before: the ability to print full color envelopes. As it turns out, according to Barron, there are few vendors in the Twin Cities area that can handle four-color envelopes, and the department has already started printing jobs for several commercial printers in the area.

“It’s not the main reason we got the Xanté Digital Envelope press, but it sure is a great bonus,” he says. “Once we start marketing our four-color envelope capability I expect we’ll soon be running the machine full time.”

Barron acknowledges that the shop will have to farm some envelope work out, such as business reply envelopes, which require printing close to the edge. The in-plant might have held onto its 9850 to print these envelopes, except that it needed to free up space for a major piece of equipment—a Xerox iGen3 90. It arrived on November 3, replacing a Xerox 6060 and a pair of Konica Minolta 1050s.



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