With ID cards filling the wallets of today’s consumers, the last thing any company wants is for the ink on its own ID cards to rub off or smear in customers‘ pockets. But that’s exactly what was happening to the ID cards that Deseret Mutual Benefit Administrators (DMBA) was providing to its members.
The cards were being printed on a 7-mil polyester material by a commercial printer, and DMBA executives were not happy with the quality of the cards. So the company turned to its in-plant.
“Our CEO decided that he wanted to bring those cards in-house for us to print,” remarks Mike O’Hara, manager of Central Services, “but he wanted us to ensure that we could produce a better-quality card before he committed to that.”
Central Services has an HP Indigo 7000 in its Salt Lake City facility, but since the outside vendor was using similar equipment, the in-plant knew it had to look in a new direction. O’Hara started looking at machines that produced hard plastic cards but found them prohibitively expensive. So he decided to look into using a synthetic stock printed on a toner-based digital press. The search led the in-plant to equipment from Canon, Konica Minolta and Ricoh. All were impressive, but the real test was how well the ID cards they printed would hold up in pockets and wallets. So O’Hara came up with a unique way to test them.
“I actually put the cards from each vendor in my shoes and walked around them with for a few days to see which would adhere the best,” he reveals.
While all of them passed the sweat test, he and his staff liked the Ricoh Pro C7100X best because it had the highest GSM rating: 400 GSM.
“The main reason that we decided to go with the Ricoh was the GSM rating,” he affirms.
So in November, the 19-employee in-plant installed the 80-ppm color printer, with a booklet maker, a fifth color station for clear toner and a 13x27.5” banner tray option. On Dec. 9 Central Services began printing ID cards on 100-lb. stock from Relyco. Two 13 mil peel-off polyester cards sit on an 8.5x11” paper carrier as they go through the Ricoh color press.
The in-plant printed an initial run of 90,000 ID cards in December. Cards were given a UV coating on the shop’s Duplo UV coater for additional protection.
After the large December run, production will slow to 600 cards per week for the next 11 months. There are 22 variations of ID cards, O’Hara says. He learned that, on occasion, the outside vendor had failed to print some of these variations, so his goal is to be more vigilant about this and make sure no cards are overlooked.
The new Ricoh Pro C7100X will print more than ID cards though. It will serve as a backup printer for large jobs sent to the company’s fleet of MFDs. Equitrac software will flag such jobs and reroute them to the Ricoh where they can be printed more cost effectively.
The machine’s long tray option will allow the in-plant to print jobs like tri-fold pocket folders in one pass. Its in-line booklet maker has allowed jobs like open enrollment packets and handbooks to be moved from the HP Indigo so they can be printed and bound at the same time. And the clear toner in the fifth station has already been used to great effect on company business cards. A honeycomb pattern is now printed on cards using clear toner to match DMBA’s beehive logo.
Since installing the Ricoh Pro C7100X, Central Services has decided to add the white toner option as well. This will let it print on colored or metallic stocks for eye-catching effects. The in-plant’s designer is excited about the possibilities of the white toner.
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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.