Commentary & Analysis
Expectations are High for Xerox CiPress Coming on Stream at R. E. Gilmore Corporation
At R.E. Gilmore Corporation, the Xerox CiPress will hit the ground running in an environment where high-volume digital printing is both a specialty and an everyday routine.
By Patrick Henry
Published: July 19, 2013
The Xerox CiPress 500 Production Inkjet System now being installed at the DocuLink division of R.E. Gilmore Corporation in Ottawa, ON, is the first to be sold in Canada. Brian Wright, vice president of operations, expects the CiPress to be fully operational by mid-July and plans to run test files for customer acceptance before the month is out.
Xerox also has CiPress installations in five European countries and the U.S. Gilmore’s CiPress is a continuous-feed, dual-engine 500 model with turn bars in each engine for duplex printing. Handling 9- to 20.5-inch webs at up to 500 fpm, the CiPress uses a heat-activated, waterless inking technology designed to work without pretreating on offset papers and other standard uncoated grades.
At Gilmore, the CiPress will hit the ground running in an environment where high-volume digital printing is both a specialty and an everyday routine. The production divisions of the Gilmore group of companies run a large fleet of Xerox technology including DocuPrints, Xerox 1300 and 980 continuous-feed printers, and iGen 150s. All are controlled by Xerox FreeFlow workflow software, which also will be used to drive the CiPress.
Quantities can range from a few thousand for print-on-demand jobs to one million or more in runs of variably printed statements. According to Wright, the FreeFlow software is highly efficient at managing the queues and routing jobs to the presses best suited to producing them.
As a service bureau to business verticals such as insurance, financial services, energy, telecom, and government, Gilmore Doculink is called upon to produce a broad array of documents and transactional materials. When printing these items in color, says Wright, the goal is to achieve the right balance of output speed, color quality, and production cost.
The CiPress 500, acquired as a replacement for the Xerox 980, also will absorb some of the color work currently being run on the iGen 150s. Wright says that in some jobs, instead of overprinting color on preprinted black-and-white shells, the cIosed-loop color control of the CiPress will make it possible to image everything in one pass through one press. This capability has the potential to open up new applications and new markets for Gilmore Doculink.
Wright expects the CiPress to be competitive on a cost-per-piece basis with other digital printing systems, but he has additional reasons for being eager to add the new equipment to his production mix.
One of them is the fact that in his estimation, the CiPress delivers more color “punch” than other production inkjet systems. Another is the compatibility of the CiPress’s dry ink with recycled paper. CiPress ink is certified for deinking, and Wright notes that this advantage combined with printability on recycled stocks yields an end-product that is fully recyclable.
Although he intends to make extensive use of the CiPress's four-color printing capability, Wright also anticipates running black only, 1/0 or 1/1, to enable DocuLink to shift work of this type from cut sheet printing to high-volume, continuous-feed production. He believes that the versatility of the press, as well as its print quality, will be key to persuading more customers to embrace transpromotional documents.
This category includes invoices, statements, and other variably-printed transactional pieces that also contain personalized, 1-to-1 marketing content. Wright says that Gilmore customers who have been shown what the CiPress can do with transpromotional documents are excited about developing transpromo applications of their own.
Once Gilmore’s CiPress 500 is in full operation, digital jobs with the highest color quality requirements will be shifted the new platform. At Gilmore, which also operates conventional litho presses with as many as 10 printing units, standards for the appearance of color are strict—and so, says Wright, is the requirement for consistent, repeatable color.
Consistency is a must in high-volume runs of transactional documents where logos and other color elements must always be uniform. Wright expects the CiPress to do well in this type of work. “The delta of the color of the machine is very repeatable” he says.
Wright, who previewed the CiPress at Xerox’s Gil Hatch Customer Center for Innovation and at DRUPA 2012, likes what he describes as the simplicity of its waterless inkjet technology. He says that whereas electrophotography is a “balancing tightrope act” of lasers, static electricity, and other complex forces, what the CiPress does “is just melting a crayon and firing an inkjet head.”
He is referring to the fact that in the CiPress, solid inks in granular form are heated to liquid consistency and jetted onto the substrate, where they harden instantly to set the image. Wright says that members of his staff, noticing the bright look of the waterless colors in test runs on the CiPress at Gilmore, incorrectly assumed that the source of the gloss effect they were seeing was the paper rather than the ink.
CiPress technology, introduced at Graph Expo 2011, is a newcomer among production inkjet solutions, and its waterless ink technology is unique among these platforms as well. But as far as Wright is concerned, the novelty spells nothing but advantages for Gilmore. Instead of brooding about the risk of being an early adopter, he prefers to focus on the opportunities he believes the new press will create: for example, the path it opens to moving some of Gilmore’s black-and-white-only customers to color production.
And, if there are bumps in the road to implementation, Wright knows he has a partner he can count on as he smoothes them out. “We do push Xerox really hard on meeting our needs,” he says.