A New Step For Copy Paper
Digital copiers have changed the way in-plants operate. Find out how paper companies have improved their products as a result.
Over the past several years, as in-plants have swapped their analog and offset dancing partners of old for the fancy new moves of digital copiers, paper producers and equipment manufacturers have been involved in an elaborate pas de deux of their own.
After all, when digital copiers first hit the dance floor, they found few partners waiting and could do little more than watch the older, more experienced machines hog the limelight.
"Originally, the first digital presses required special paper, but the market wasn't big enough and people had a very difficult time finding what they needed," says Peter Harding, vice president of business papers at Weyerhaeuser.
Dissatisfied with their role as wallflowers, the original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs, returned to dance school to start again.
"The manufacturers worked to conform their equipment to the paper that was available versus having the [paper] manufacturers try to figure out how to come up with a whole line of paper that would work specifically for these presses," says Harding. "Now you're better able to get what you need to run on these presses."
"The printers are changing more for the paper than the paper is changing for the printers," says Kyle Prince, Stora Enso's North American product manager for digital papers. "The machines themselves are becoming more forgiving. The OEMs are having to adapt to customers wanting to be able to use the paper that they've always used. The customers want a printer that can run off-the-shelf paper so they don't have to buy a specialty paper."
This isn't to say that the paper manufacturers haven't had to learn a few new moves of their own.
"The speed, the pressure, the heat—all of the technology that's involved with this [new] equipment has changed what type of products you can run through them," says Aaron Godnai, marketing manager for Meadware, Mead Paper's line of digital printing products.