by Noel Ward, Executive Editor of OnDemandJournal.com and Managing Editor of trade show coverage for WhatTheyThink.com September 29, 2003 -- As the opening day of Graph Expo 2003 wound down, Xerox drew a crowd of press and analysts to a show floor press conference and rolled out several new products and put the focus on innovation in color and monochrome printing and workflow. Xerox is continuing its core theme of The New Business of Printing, adding Flexible, Productive and Profitable to the tag line and demonstrating it throughout its booth here in McCormack Place. Throughout the 16,000 foot space, Xerox is demonstrating numerous customer applications with a focus on six key areas: * Customer Business Development Support * Print Shop Light Production * Print Shop Production * Workflow & Business Development * 1:1 Marketing * Digital Book Production These are being showcased with both black-and-white and color machines, plus there's a workflow theatre that gives deeper insights into the progress Xerox has made with its FreeFlow collection of workflow tools. Xerox made several announcements of some significance here this evening. For more detail on each, be sure to read the full versions of the press releases elsewhere in the show coverage. (CAN YOU MAKE A LINK TO THESE?????) Here are the highlights (and a few comments thrown in): DocuTech PowerPlus Series No, these are not new DocuTechs, but the PowerPlus series would appear to bring some real advantages to print providers who print books, manuals, or saddle-stitched and perfect-bound booklets. Xerox has widened the print area on the DocuTech 6100, 6115, 6135, 6155, and 6180 so that all can handle sheets up to 18.5” x 14.3” with an option to go to 19.2” x 14.3”. Tom Wetjen, Vice President and General Manager for Graphic Arts says the larger sizes enable four-up duplex printing of 6“ x 9” and 7” x 9” book pages. That means the multiple-up counts as only one click, which Xerox says can reduce total jobs costs by up to 25 percent. Another option allows for printing on lightweight paper--as low as 13 lb. to 16 lb. bond. A Xerox interposer is included with all models to facilitate insertion of pre-printed stocks, and the machines all support third-party roll-finishing devices. In addition, an increased selection of linescreen settings improve halftones. Xerox FreeFlow Digital Workflow Updates Mike Harvey, Vice President for Workflow Marketing announced significant progress with Xerox FreeFlow, the company's digital workflow collection announced in March at On Demand. Harvey said Xerox is committed to openness, standards and partners, and emphasized the company's strategic partnerships with Adobe, Creo and Electronics for Imaging, as well as new partnerships with Atlas, Elixir Technologies and Exstream Software. These three are the newest to bring support to Xerox's initiatives surrounding VI (variable information) printing using VIPP, Xerox's primary variable data printing tool. Atlas, Elixir and Exstream bring the total number of validated VI solutions to an even dozen and Harvey says 10 more are in the works. Harvey also announced three new variable data SDKs (Software Developer Kits) for VIPP with more on the way. These are all in response to customer input and based on needs driven by real-world applications. Harvey also said standards are an important part of FreeFlow and noted Xerox's commitment with its strategic partners to drive acceptance of JDF, PDF and XML, as well as integrating with established and popular workflows driven by its partners, such as Creo's NGP and EFI's Velocity Balance. Harvey also announced the newest versions of other components of FreeFlow, including DigiPath 4.0, and DocuSP 3.7. DocuColor Updates Fred DeBolt, Vice President, Color Business announced the new DocuColor 5252, 52-ppm machine that will shortly replace the 2045 and 2060 models. It has a 3100 sheet capacity and will be available with a Creo, EFI or DocuSP front-end. Various finishing options can be added. Speaking of the DocuSP RIP, the new version for the DocuColor 6060 is now Pantone-licensed, which should make many color applications a bit easier to manage. DeBolt noted that the customer self-maintenance on the 6060 has been very successful and been instrumental in keeping overall operating costs of the machines relatively low. Self-maintenance will continue to be enhanced. So too, will inline finishing, and that's not limited to the DocuColor 6060. The iGen3, which has been limited in the finishing area, is getting its first wave of finishing options from GBC FusionPunch, Plockmatic, and c.p. bourg, all supporting the iGen3's Document Finishing Architecture. Which reminds me of a story. I was at Midway airport last year after GraphExpo last year, talking to some guy who sold some type of finishing equipment. He assured me that no finishing company was ever going to be bothered to make any kind of finishing equipment for the iGen3, and there wouldn't be much for other digital color presses either. He claimed there was no market for finishing on those machines and anyway, they were all too slow. I told him to wait and see--like maybe this year. Darn. Should have bet a dinner on it. But I digress. DeBolt went on to tell about re-formulated magenta toner for the iGen, that he said will stretch the color gamut for the machine; and announced print engine support for heavier and rougher substrates, and tab stock support. There's also news at the front-end of the iGen. The DocuSP RIP for iGen is now a page-parallel device that DeBolt called the fastest on the market. It also features new color look-up tables. The Creo RIP has new color calibrations and mapping for improved consistency and accuracy; and the EFI RIP supports the EFI workflow and user interface. New RIPs for DocuColor3535 The DocuColor 3535 printer/copier is one of the new breed of machines that use chemical, or EA (Emulsion Aggregation) toner. The big news is the three new RIPs for it from Splash, EFI and Creo. I'm not going to get into any detail here, but the news that got my attention was that the Creo RIP is essentially the same as the one driving the 6060, sans the links to manage inline finishing equipment. This seems like a bit of a “Yeah, so?” but it means that for relatively short money--about $45,000 for printer and RIP--a quick printer, or small design studio has a way to do variable data printing using VIPP and VIPP-emitting products like Lytrod, DesignMerge, Elixir Vitesse, and more while not tying up a more expensive machine like an existing 2060 or 6060. Not too bad. At the very least is something the competition in this space and price range don't offer. As is often the case, Xerox comes to these shows loaded for bear and with something for many parts of the market. Check back later this week for some more detail on what The Document Company is up to.