Commentary & Analysis
FREE: Drupa Preview: Xerox Announces Breakthrough Addition to its DocuTech Product Family
By Cary Sherburne
Published: February 3, 2004
Düsseldorf, Germany. As part of its ongoing strategy to develop and promote what it calls "The New Business of Printing," Xerox last week announced a new family of breakthrough products as an extension of its highly successful DocuTech product line. In an announcement from the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan Center, New York City, simultaneously broadcast to multiple locations around the world, including the drupa Media Week press briefing being held in Düsseldorf, Germany, Xerox presented the DocuTech Copier/Printer, a brand-new DocuTech copier printer line designed from the ground up. Xerox also launched a new line of solid ink printers that delivers the fast color printing solution in the sub-$1,000 category. The offeringsincluding five new printing and imaging systems ranging from $979 to $99,000beef up what is already the industry's broadest document product and services portfolio. This Special Report will focus on the DocuTech Copier/Printer.
The company describes this combined announcement as the most momentous announcement in Xerox history, and presented it using the theme of From Blank Sheet to Breakthrough, claiming relative to the DocuTech Copier/Printer, This product family will do for black & white what the iGen3 is doing for color. The DocuTech Copier/Printer incorporates much of the innovation found in the iGen3, as well as 300 patents and 40% fewer parts.
The Xerox Media Week event in Düsseldorf was hosted by Armando Zagalo de Lima, President Xerox Europe, and Valentin Govaerts, Production and Graphic Arts, Xerox Europe.
While Xerox is highly focused on achieving a minimum of ten percent of an addressable offset transfer market it quantifies at $18 billion through growth in digital color, Xerox continues to demonstrate its commitment to its monochrome business as well, which the company views as important to its overall profitability. Xerox indicates that color pages deliver seven more revenue per page than black & white pages, but the number of black & white pages being produced by Xerox production devices worldwide is astronomical and provides a significant revenue stream for the company.
This product launch, and the investment the company has made in the development of the product, are clear indicators of the company's dedication to maintaining its market dominance in the production black & white space. This is one of what the company says will be more than 10 new product launches over the next 12 to 18 months. Xerox remains as one of the top U.S. companies as far as new patents, having secured 889 in 2002 and 628 in 2003, with a lifetime patent portfolio of some 45,000 patents. The company has, interestingly, made "innovation" a formal evaluation metric for all Xerox employees in terms of their annual performance reviews. This dedication to innovative research and development is evident in the new DocuTech platform. Not only does it have a sleek appearance and compact footprint, but it delivers a high level of functionality and exceptional print quality, with a 125 line screen default.
The Development Process
As part of the process of developing this new product line, Xerox solicited feedback from a global customer advisory group representing the markets Xerox plans to target with the product, including representatives from graphic arts service bureaus. These customer advisory councils provided input on everything from the details of the drawer designs, to the weight of various system components, to overall device accessibility.
Xerox indicates that the DocuTech Copier/Printer represents a $400 million investment and is the first production product to be brought to market by Xerox in the last 14 years that is based on a brand-new technology platform. This development effort will fuel a whole new family of products built on a common platform that the company believes will result in print speeds greater than anything currently in its product portfolio, although Xerox indicates it has no plans to use this engine in its continuous feed line of products. The DocuTech Copier/Printer also integrates iGen3 innovations in paper handling, imaging and customer support, including an IT-friendly remote diagnostics capability.
Mid-ProductionA New Category
Xerox describes the DocuTech Copier/Printerwith its integrated SUN (DocuSP) controller and high-speed scanneras the only truly integrated copier/printer in the production environment and has defined a new production product category for the product, a category it is calling mid-production, as contrasted with full Production (such as the original DocuTech family or the Heidelberg Digimaster) and Light Production (including products such as the Xerox 2101 Digital Copier, the Canon imageRUNNER 105 and the Ricoh Aficio 2105). These light production products have lighter duty cycles and productivity levels than the DocuTech or the Heidelberg Digimaster family of products, and heretofore, Xerox claims, there has been a void between the two categories that is now filled by the new mid-production devices represented by the DocuTech Copier/Printer. According to Xerox' Mark Waxenberg, vice president and general manager, Xerox Production Solutions Business Unit, This product warrants the boldness of a new category. It has a fully integrated reprographics capability, high speed scanning and printing capabilities managed through a single integrated DocuSP intgerface, and can easily run up to 500,000 impressions per month. It is uniquely suited for simple to complex applications, and is fully backed by the Xerox Total Satisfaction Guarantee.
Initially, the company will focus on sales into large offices, centralized reproduction departments and Quick Print. According to Jerry Murray, Vice President of Product Marketing, We believe we will be able to replace a number of lower volume Digimaster 9110s [also marketed as the Canon imageRUNNER 110] with the DocuTech Copier/Printer, but the next edition of this product will definitely have a bull's-eye on the 110.
Speeds and Feeds
The DocuTech Copier/Printer is initially available in two models: the DocuTech Copier/Printer 100 and 120. The primary differences between the two products obviously lie in their output speed, duty cycle and price point. A summary of the product specifications is presented in the table below.
Scanning and Storage. The DocuTech Copier/Printer features dual scan heads which enable hardcopy scanning at 120 8.5x11 pages per minute for both one- and two-sided sheets at 600x600 dpi optical scan resolution with no mechanical inversion of the sheet. According to the company, this scanner is 260% faster than any other 2-sided scanner on the market. During the demonstration, the scanner processed 60 pages in 30 secondsan activity that would have taken the original generation of DocuTech a full three minutes. This, combined with the built-in CD-RW/DVD-ROM drive and the device's scan-to-file capability adds significant value to the offering, especially in paper-intensive environments where images may not even be printed. For example, in litigation support, discovery materials are largely provided on paper contained in hundreds, or even thousands, of boxes of materials, depending on the magnitude of the case. Increasingly, litigation firms prefer to receive only one paper copy of materialsor no paper copy at allwith a digital copy on CD so that files can be uploaded into the firm's document management system for further processing. The DocuTech Copier/Printer is likely to receive a warm reception in the legal and imaging markets due to this capability combined with its exceptional image quality and wide paper-handling range, both input and output. Xerox has indicated it has no immediate plans to market this scanner as a standalone device.
Management Tools. Open interfaces and support for major remote management tools are also a significant value-add, particularly in distributed environments. This allows internal IT resources as well as Xerox support personnel to monitor the devices remotely.
The Printer. Unlike earlier generation products, the printer does not slow down when printing 11x17/A3 images. In fact, the 8.5x11/A4 equivalent speed is actually faster when printing on 11x17/A3 substrate as indicated in the specification table. Use of coated stock is not recommended, although Xerox indicated it expects to be able to support coated stocks in the future.
Media Input Options. The DocuTech Copier/Printer has four feed trays per input module and can be configured with one or two input modules. Each input module has a capacity of 5,800 20-lb bond sheets. In each module, two trays handle up to 9x12.6 media and the other two handle up to 12.2x18.5. Supported paper weights range from 16 lb bond to 80 lb cover (56 - 216 gsm), and the system can handle a wide range of substrates, including transparencies, plastic tabs, NeverTear paper, envelopes and carbonless.
Finishing Options: The DocuTech Copier/Printer comes standard with an offset stacker and two-position stitcher. Optional finishing includes folding (C-type, Z-type, booklet/bi-fold) and an in-line booklet maker and will add an incremental $3,000 to the cost of the system.
Other Specifications: The DocuTech Copier/Printer features patented SmartPress paper handling technology which includes TELER registration (Translating Electronic Registration). This is an ultrasonic multi-feed detection system that detects any multi-fed paper to promote job integrity and to protect against media defects. The print engine is able to simultaneously adjust substrates for lateral process and skew on the photoreceptor, with a level of tolerance that is more advanced than existing systemscurrent products have a 1.5 mm tolerance and the DocuTech Copier/Printer has a 0.75 mm tolerance. There is also significant improvement in show-through registration. The engine also offers an option to print edge to edge, although the default mode has a small erasure zone and there is some potential for degradation in the range of 5 mm from the edge. Paper transports are designed with a wide turn radius which is easier on originals, jams less, etc. The product offers full job recovery down to the page level.
The toner bottle used by the DocuTech Copier/Printer supports up to 120,000 impressions for improved productivity. It also sports a non-contact imaging system that operates with a toner cloud rather than direct mechanical imposition of toner on the photoreceptor belt.
The keyboard and mouse provided with the DocuTech Copier/Printer are USB connected, and the device has an additional USB port as well.
According to Xerox' Gil Hatch, The DocuTech Copier/Printer uses CD-R as a substrate in the spirit of the New Business of Printing, which must also address electronic media.
The DocuTech Copier/Printer has been in beta at a number of customer sites since June of 2003, running an average of 300,000 impressions per month, and in a variety of environments, from print-for-pay to in-plant. It is available for immediate order-taking and will be available through a geographically phased launch that will cover most of the world by Spring 2004. The company has architected a number of product expansions into the design and is working on bringing those to market. Its modular design allows for development productivity, shorter time to market and a reduced cost to market as the product family is extended. Its modularity will also enable the company to easily upgrade the digital front end, and leaves open the potential for adding future capabilities such as MICR and highlight color.
A Significant Achievement for Xerox
The DocuTech Copier/Printer is a significant achievement for Xerox and adds to its already robust product portfolio. The design provides an innovative platform for future product development and symbolizes the turnaround effort that has consumed the company for the last couple of years.