Super Bowl Drives Print

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

Close but no cigar. My Minnesota Vikings came within one game of playing the Super Bowl in their home stadium. It seemed as it was destiny as in the divisional playoff game the Minneapolis Miracle occurred when with 10 seconds left in the game and trailing by one, the Vikings completed a 61 yard pass for the win over the Saints as time expired. However, the euphoria of a last second win versus the memories a many last second losses only lasted one week as they were thoroughly trounced by the Eagles in the NFC Championship game. Oh what fun it could have been to play the Super Bowl at home.

The economic impact of the Super Bowl on local businesses is forecast by Rocket Analytics LLC to be $338 Million.  Of that $268 Million will be spent by visitors on retail shopping, hotels, food & beverage, rental cars, entertainment, and ground transportation.  But that still leaves $70 million for a wide variety of services needed to support the game including creating graphics for the venues, and printing programs, signs, flyers, etc. Read the rest of this entry »

Digital Printers Invest in Finishing

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

More than ever, printers are investing in technology to automate their shops. Order entry and prepress is being automated with web to print software, new digital presses continue to get more productive, and job information is flowing effortlessly through the system. Now that drive for automation is now being directed at finishing.

That helps explain why print service providers are investing in finishing to grow their businesses. Caslon’s survey of print service providers shows the areas where printers are investing to grow their business and for the digital printer segment (businesses who primarily used digital presses) finishing is the top choice with 65% of the respondents signaling a plan to invest. And two other segments, quick printers and commercial printers with more than 10 employees, are also investing heavily in finishing.

Digital Printer InvestmentsQuick Printer Investments Commercial Printer Investments

In the past the typical wisdom was to finish digital printing output offline on the robust finishing equipment made for offset output.  Printers would tell me that equipment designed for digital presses was not robust enough and that tying up a production line with inline finishing equipment just didn’t make sense.  However, the development of new more rugged digital finishing equipment combined with the new paradigm of having finishing equipment that can easily work inline, near line or offline is changing the ROI calculation.  Printers are now gaining the benefits of digital, short set up times and faster throughput, while not giving up production flexibility.

At Print 17, a wide range of finishing devices designed specifically for digital printing output was on display. The full range of devices from inline, near line, offline, or a combination was available. Two that caught my attention were from C.P. Bourg – their Bourg Sheet Feeder (BSF) and the Bourg Sheet Preparation Module (BPM).

The Bourg Sheet Feeder (BSF) can accept collated sheets from any number or brand of print engine stackers and automatically aligns the incoming stack and feeds them to the respective finishing module.

The three key benefits of the Bourg Sheet Feeder (BSF) are :

1. No manual transfer of collated paper sets saves time and money

2. Ultimate flexibility between inline, near line and offline with the Dual-Mode BSF which can produce perfect bound books or saddle stitched booklets in-line while another job is being simultaneously printed offline

3. High productivity with the BSF tandem configuration: automatically switches between 2 BSF units for non-stop production

The Bourg Sheet Preparation Module (BPM) is designed to help automate the creation of perfect bound booklets created from output on digital presses. The BPM converts large parent size sheets with multiple pages printed on them into small individual pages of different formats all in one pass enabling the creation of multiple book formats from media of a single size. So you get the labor savings from automation of the converting process and ability to run multiple book formats inline creating more revenue growth options for the business.

New finishing equipment on the market is not limited to booklet making. Today’s digital presses can connect in some form or fashion to over 250 devices. With the improvements in capability, reliability, automation and flexibility it’s no wonder that printers are investing in finishing.

Ricoh Expands its Wide Format portfolio with addition of EFI® Vutek™ Hybrid Printers

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Since 2004 when Ricoh acquired Hitachi Printing Systems, they have been on a mission to become a world leader in production printing. In a short period of time they have built an impressive portfolio of high speed rollfed inkjet presses and cutsheet toner presses, software (Web to Print, VDP, MIS, and workflow) plus a line of services that include color management and workflow analysis.

Ricoh continues to invest in this market. Just this year they doubled the number of sales reps in the field selling to the production and wide format markets. And of course new products are being continually added to the portfolio.

EFI 16h hybrid printerThe newest additions to the wide format portfolio are mid-level EFI® H1625 and high-speed EFI® Pro 16h wide-format LED printers. The portfolio now includes Ricoh latex roll to roll printers, Mimaki flat bed printers and the EFI®hybrid printers.

The partnership with EFI goes well beyond a simple reseller’s agreement.  It’s a worldwide alliance that Ricoh has with EFI that includes software, DFEs and now wide format printers. On the software side it is a fully integrated partnership that covers just about all the devices offered. With regard to wide format printing, this is a worldwide alliance as well. Ricoh is already selling and servicing EFI printers in Latin America and Europe.

Why partner with EFI? Well EFI is a market leader in the UV inkjet space and their hybrid technology which combines roll-to-roll and flatbed printing is compelling and fits a nice segment of the market.

What enables this partnership to work is the combined skills of both companies makes for a better experience for the customer.  One of the key elements of any wide format printer is the inkjet heads and EFI has adopted Ricoh Gen5 Printheads in this product.  Thus the customer gets the advantage of Ricoh inkjet technology along with EFI’s expertise in imaging science, software science and substrate delivery. (The Ricoh inkjet printheads are also used in Ricoh’s Latex printers and Mimaki flatbed printers.)

In addition, since the hybrid printers are driven by Fiery™, integration with Fiery cutsheet presses is seamless making it easy for plant personnel to run these new hybrid printers and streamline workflow.

And finally, Ricoh will leverage its massive service organization to service these printers giving customers faster response times and more peace of mind.

What’s in Your Mailbox?

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The USPS just reported their results for 2017, (their fiscal year ends in September).

For the year ended September 30, 2017, Marketing Mail revenue decreased $1.0 billion, or 5.7%, on a volume decline of 3.2%, compared to the prior year. The percentage of decline in revenue was greater than the percentage of decline in volume for 2017 due to the April 10, 2016, expiration of the exigent surcharge, which generated approximately $396 million in incremental Marketing Mail revenue in the first six months of 2016. Revenue and volume were also adversely affected by a reduction in mail advertising campaigns by certain large mailers.

This is in contrast to the year ended September 30, 2016, Marketing Mail wherein volume increased 1.1%, compared to the prior year.

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New Ricoh Inkjet Press Product Briefing

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, Caslon & Company

Blog PhotoRicoh has a new continuous feed inkjet press out and there’s a PODi Product Briefing on it. Their new RICOH Pro VC40000 fits in nicely between their IP50000 and Pro VC60000 presses.

The RICOH Pro VC40000 is a CMYK plus one optional color, continuous feed, digital inkjet press designed to meet the needs of direct mailers, service bureaus, and data centers who produce tens of millions of pages per month. The innovation in the Pro VC40000 over the IP50000 is in its color uniformity across the page and its ability to print at its highest quality at all speeds. Let me explain why this is important.

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Magazines continue steep decline

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One of the industry’s largest players, Quad Graphics reported third quarter results that showed steady profits, however revenue declined by $50 million or 4.8% versus the same period in 2016. Keep in mind that a printer with $50 million in revenue is a top 100 printer in the US.

Quad didn’t announce where the decrease in revenue is coming from, but I’m betting magazine printing is a big part of the decline. Roughly 16% of Quad’s revenues are from magazine printing. They list Time Inc. as one of their big publishing customers and previous announcements have indicated Quad prints as much as 85% of Time magazine, plus many other titles. Read the rest of this entry »

Manageable and Effective Marketing – Pacesetter Did It and You Can Too

Posted on by Kim Gross | No Comments »

Remember that saying, “the cobbler’s children go unshod”? I would be lying if I said that our company, Pacesetter Enterprises, never suffered from something similar. We often get so busy working on our clients’ needs that we lose focus on our own marketing efforts. Many times, we would go weeks, even months, without sending out a single marketing piece.

With increased competition and reduced budgets, losing sight of your marketing can be detrimental to your overall sales. We are competing, in many cases, on a larger scale. Our systems need to be streamlined, our branding needs to be on point, and our daily tasks need to directly contribute to the overall goal of the company.

How do we do that on a shoestring budget? How do we do that if our resources are limited? How do we even figure out how we’re different from our competitors? Read the rest of this entry »

Xeikon on a roll.

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After holding the Xeikon Café in Europe for several years, Xeikon brought the event to North America this week in Chicago. While primarily a user conference, Xeikon took the opportunity to add in a press conference and provide new insight on their strategy and positioning.

One of the key positioning elements for Xeikon today is that it is now a division of Flint Group, a large, highly respected manufacturer of inks for the printing industry. The backing of a large, reputable, and successful player removes all the issues surrounding the financial stability of the company, something that has hung over the company for years.

Why is this so important? Caslon research on buying criteria has uncovered the following criteria as the most important and trust in the vendor is one of them:

  1. The buyer can print the desired applications with the necessary image quality. If the press can’t meet the application requirements the buying process ends abruptly
  2. Productivity – the press needs to be able to keep up with demand and at economical cost
  3. Reliability – uptime and the associated service are critical for success
  4. Trust in the Vendor – The vendor has to demonstrate commitment, financial stability, and a roadmap that customers can rely on.

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Digital Printing Dominates at Print 17

Posted on by Dave Erlandson | No Comments »

Once again digital printing dominated the show. Booths from Xerox, HP, Canon, Konica Minolta/MGI, Ricoh, Screen and Fujifilm were prominent. And offset stalwart Komori was showing off the Impressia I29, their version of the Accurio KM-1, a B2 digital inkjet press. Graphic Systems North America (GSNA) brought the only offset press (RMGT Series 9 LED UV Press) to the show.

OverviewPrint17 CanonRicohKM

In addition to walking the floor, I had the chance to attend numerous press conferences to hear about what’s happening.  Here are the highlights: Read the rest of this entry »

Hands-On Instruction Will Jumpstart Your Sales Prospecting

Posted on by Christine DeLooze | No Comments »

The advantages of a good sales prospecting program are clear – increased sales, lower expenses, improved productivity and improved relationships with customers. But how do you actually conduct an effective prospect search? What are the tools that are available to the average printer and what are the best practices for using them?

John-Leininger-titleI spent some time talking with Dr. John Leininger, professor in the Department of Graphic Communications at Clemson University, and he has some answers that he will be sharing in his upcoming PODi Institute course.

According to John, the strongest printers are using a vertical market strategy. While most print and marketing services executives know this, very few have actually applied it to their businesses in a meaningful way. One reason for this is that they’ve been told what they need to do but not taught how to do it. Read the rest of this entry »