Columbia College’s ‘Adventure into Digital Printing’
Producing marketing materials for multiple college campuses is no easy task, but with 36 campuses nationwide, Columbia College needed a way to print a large volume of booklets without increasing its in-plant’s staff.
So after convincing management at the Columbia, Missouri, school that adding a digital offset press would substantially save over the cost of outsourcing materials, Columbia’s Mail, Imaging & Print Services department was able to secure a pre-owned Presstek 34DI-E offset press in October.
“This is our first adventure into digital printing,” says Mark Tindell, senior equipment operator. Plates are now imaged directly on the press, eliminating the need for a platesetter.
The nine-employee in-plant, overseen by Director Dan Jimenez, was previously using an A.B. Dick press and a Ricoh Pro C901 Graphic Arts+ to produce marketing materials, but the 34DI-E, an entry-level configuration, has increased volume and image quality.
The in-plant recently used the 34DI-E to print a 6x8.3˝ booklet with 24 pages, which was to be sent to all Columbia College campuses, necessitating a print run of 28,000. Booklets were trimmed, collated and stapled on what Tindell refers to as an “old-fashioned horizontal booklet maker.”
One of the best features of the press, Tindell declares, is that it is waterless, so the problems associated with ink-water balance are eliminated, there’s less dot gain and better color saturation is achieved.
“It requires temperature control because of the ink, but we’re able to print up to 300 lpi,” Tindell reports. “So the image quality is a lot better than what we were getting from the A.B. Dick” or the Ricoh Pro C901.
Not only have the image quality and volume gone up, but the in-plant’s perceived value to the college has increased as well. Mail, Imaging & Print Services has been able to bring more work in-house, rather than outsourcing larger or more complicated jobs.
Productivity has also improved. Tindell says that with the same number of staff members as before, the in-plant was able to increase the volume of work. The two primary press operators, Tindell and Les Toalson, were able to adapt to the new press pretty easily.
“Having someone that knows traditional offset printing has been helpful with the transition,” Tindell remarks.
Tindell says that with the addition of the DI-E press, the team is looking to create 5.5x8.5˝ postcards in the near future. The postcards will be addressed offline, he adds, though it will still be done in-house.
“It would be nice if we could do it all together,” Tindell laughs. “But we can’t.”
Related story: Columbia College In-plant Relocates, Upgrades
Bob has served as editor of In-plant Impressions since October of 1994. Prior to that he served for three years as managing editor of Printing Impressions, a commercial printing publication. Mr. Neubauer is very active in the U.S. in-plant industry. He attends all the major in-plant conferences and has visited nearly 170 in-plant operations around the world. He has given presentations to numerous in-plant groups in the U.S., Canada and Australia, including the Association of College and University Printers and the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. He also coordinates the annual In-Print contest, cosponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.