Enhancements, Refinements, Trans-Ed, and More from On Demand
To begin with,
By Noel Ward
Published: March 14, 2008
To begin with, I was wrong. Or rather I misstated the facts and stand corrected. It happens. My bad. In my last piece, I remarked on how Kodak seemed to manage just fine at On Demand with little more than scanners on display and that there seemed to be a trend toward reducing the amount of equipment companies are bringing to trade shows. Then I incorrectly stated that Goss and Heidelberg had gone to Graph Expo with no equipment, when I really meant to say that even makers of big iron had reduced the amount of equipment they are taking to shows. In fact, as my friend Chris Price, VP and General Manager at GASC, pointed out in the email I received about a nanosecond after he read the piece, Heidelberg had some 30,000 square feet of floor space at McCormick Place last September, with numerous sizeable machines in full operation. So sorry, Chris, I screwed up. And I also apologize to WTT readers for any confusion. I'll try to do better. Konica Minolta But anyway, among those firms that did bring equipment to On Demand was Konica Minolta, which rolled out several enhancements to its popular bizhub PRO C6500 color printer. These included a new IC-304 controller based on CREO Color Server technology. The new controller handles imposition, and printing on spines of covers that will be wrapped around book blocks using the new inline perfect binder, the PB-501. The IC-304 supports the new binder and improves color fidelity and consistency, which should help print providers better ensure their customers logos and special colors can be produced accurately within and between jobs. I had a chance to talk with Kevin Kern, vice president of marketing and product planning at Konica Minolta Business Solutions at the show who told me about a local customer, The Ready Group in Pembroke, Mass., that has been using the C6500 (seven of them, actually) to produce some very successful direct mail campaigns for New England's leading Lexus dealer. The latest direct mail has included personalized URLs which helped develop a dialogue with recipients and resulted in 50 cars being sold in a four day period and a ROI on the campaign of 1000 percent in a 10-day period. Konica Minolta also rolled out the bizhub PRO 2500P, a new cut-sheet monochrome printer that images both sides of a page simultaneously and runs at some 250 duplex impressions per minute. If those specs sound familiar, it's because the new KM device comes to the company from Océ, just as Océ's C650 color printer comes from Konica Minolta where it's the C6500. This alliance is a good one for both companies, in my opinion. The two firms share similar approaches to engineering and seem able to compliment each other's product lines in various ways. And it usually doesn't hurt to have someone else selling your product in addition to your own sales team. I have no idea what other product sharing may be in the works from these two players, but it wouldn't surprise me to see more in the months to come. After all, drupa is coming. Canon Canon also wasn't shy about bringing equipment, and I mentioned one of their wide format machines last time. The more important machine for WTT readers is the new imagePRESS C6000VP, which took a Best of Show in its category. This comes on the heels of the highly successful C7000 launched last June, providing shops with less demanding production requirements the quality, versatility and speed they need at a lower price point than the C7000. Based on the 70-ppm C7000 model, the new box runs at 60-ppm and has resolutions of up to 1200 x 1200 dpi, and like its bigger brother, doesn't slow down on heavier substrates. This ability is coming to be all but expected in the market today, a big shift from even a couple years ago when virtually every machine in this class --and some further up the speed pyramid-- would slow significantly when running heavier stocks. That presented a barrier to productivity that made print providers cringe, and it's great to see print speeds actually having a nodding acquaintance with the reality of the jobs actually being run. The standard controller for the C6000 is the A1100 but both machines are available with the new the imagePRESS Server A 3100 and A 2100 controllers for improved image and color quality. Xeikon Xeikon had a fine location, sandwiched between Kodak and Xerox, with part of its stand trimmed out with long narrow banners, printed on the Xeikon of course, that showed off one of the machine's unique selling propositions: unlimited print length. The actual application they had running was personalized book dust jackets. This can be done on many digital presses, but only to a point. The long print length capability of the Xeikon makes possible far more jacket sizes than can come off a sheet-fed press. This is an important differentiator as demand for full color short-run books expands along with consumer demand for ever more customized photobooks. I'm heading to Belgium next week to see what Xeikon has in store for drupa, and I'll fill you in as soon as I can. I'll be interviewing some executives while I'm there, so be sure to watch for those coming up in the WTT Video Center. Xerox Over in the Xerox stand I got a tour of some of the applications the company was running, from books to marketing collateral to direct mail to some pop-up greeting cards. These show off better in video than in mere words, so watch for my tour with Tracy Yelencsics, Vice President of Marketing Communications in the Production Systems Group. It should be running in the Video Center fairly soon, along with interviews I did with Val Blauvelt, VP of Marketing and Gina Testa, who talked about the challenges printers have in marketing their businesses and some of the tools Xerox's Profit Accelerator program offers to help them take on those challenges. Also at Xerox was the Kern 515 Easy Mailer. I first saw this device at On Demand a couple of years ago and thought it was great, so I was pleased to see it again, especially in the stand of company that could help give it some traction in the market. Here's the deal. You use your favorite digital print engine to print a document with a couple of pages, all nicely personalized. You also print another page, equally personalized which is turned and folded to become the fully addressed and mailstream-ready envelope for the other pages. The Easy Mailer does all the trimming, folding and sealing of the entire package and delivers the mailpiece ready to hit the mailbag. If you do mail and want to personalize it in more ways, this compact red box is clearly an answer to a question a lot of mailers have been asking. Pre-prints ready to be "Kerned": Mailpieces after being "Kerned": Let's see, what else? Kodak's Pat McGrew came by the WTT Studio to talk about trans-promo, but not the ad-on-the-bill flavor that gets all the hype. You'll see the full story with Pat on the Video Center later, but she explained how trans-ed is perhaps every bit as important as the statement marketing side of the game. Trans-ed is using the statement to help educate customers. For example, a cable TV company could provide people with information they'll need to prepare for the transition to digital TV next February. A public utility could provide a range of energy saving tips, while a financial services firm could educate without selling a specific product by highlighting issues based on what they know about a customer's stage of life. If continuous feed printers are your bread and butter, you should take a look at the video walk-through Océ's Guy Broadhurst gave on the company's new VarioStream 8000 printer which took a Best of Show award this year. I covered this machine in my pre-show story, so I won't repeat it here, but be sure to watch the video as Broadhurst gives us a look under the hood of this box. Océ's new JetStream family also took a Best in Show, even though the machine wasn't physically in Boston (go figure!), but there was a wall of print samples from that device that showed the color and print quality we'll see at drupa. And for me, I guess that's a wrap. Keep an eye on the Video Center for stuff I didn't cover here, and then stand by. We start drupa coverage in mid-May. We have a lot planned, before, during and after, so stay tuned. We'll all be back before long.