From the Editor: Inkjet Success
Over the past few weeks, I’ve become very familiar with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s in-plant. Not only did I interview director Marcie Carr for October's cover story, I also toured the Bureau of Publications when it played host to a symposium of government in-plants in September, and shared the stage with the operation’s leaders at two separate forums.
The main reason for all this attention is the in-plant’s installation of a production inkjet press, which replaced three cut-sheet toner printers and allowed the operation to produce the same quantity of printing with fewer shifts. The Bureau of Publications is one of only a couple of government in-plants with an inkjet press (though I know of three other state printing operations that are very close).
Inkjet technology seems much more popular with insurance in-plants. Aflac, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield, Farmers Insurance, Physicians Mutual and a number of others all have inkjet presses now.
Among in-plants at educational institutions, inkjet has not really caught on yet. True, several school district in-plants have cut-sheet inkjet presses of various sizes, but I have yet to learn of any university in-plants with production inkjet. (They seem to be putting their energy into wide-format inkjet instead.)
Certainly the high volume requirements of inkjet can present a roadblock for those trying to justify this equipment. Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Publications has printed more than 15 million impressions on its inkjet press since firing it up last November. That’s what Graphic Service Center Manager David McCloskey told me during a panel discussion I moderated at the Canon Solutions America thINK 2018 Conference last month. Inkjet, he said, enabled the Bureau of Publication to take in new work, such as 1099 forms for a state agency, a job of nearly half a million pieces. The operation also recently printed a 100,000-piece four-color booklet with inkjet, he said.
Dave joined three other in-plant managers for this panel discussion down in Boca Raton, Fla. They came from an insurance company, a healthcare system and a school district. Each said inkjet let them reduce their equipment footprint and bring additional work in-house.
“The overall volume we’re able to support with the [Océ VarioPrint] i300 is tremendous,” said Lisa Stelter of Sanford Health. Her in-plant moved 60% of its toner printing to the inkjet press.
Inkjet brought countless workflow efficiencies, the thINK panelists agreed.
“We really have one operator on a shift that is loading paper on one end and taping boxes on the other end,” said Chuck Werninger, of Houston Independent School District. “That completely changed our production workflow.”
Werninger said his shop’s VarioPrint i300 produces more work than the combined volume of the four monochrome and one color cut-sheet toner devices it replaced. Even work that normally would have gone to the Presstek 52DI digital offset press was moved to the i300 without any problems when the DI press broke down.
“I really was blown away how runs of 5,000 or 10,000 ran really, really well, and the cost difference was not as dramatic as I had thought,” he said. “We were delivering jobs in the time it would have taken us to makeready on the DI.”
The inkjet success stories continue to roll in as in-plants take a closer look at this technology. New IPG research reveals 23% are “seriously investigating” adding a production color inkjet press. Have you looked into the technology yet? The 2019 Inkjet Summit would be a great opportunity to learn more.
Related story: In-plants Discuss Inkjet at thINK 2018 Conference
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Graphics since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited more than 130 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Graphics.