Commentary: Think of Buying Inkjet Printing Equipment Like a Marriage
As a middle-aged man, I have sadly watched the marriages of many of my friends, both men and women, come to an end. These aren’t quick, Hollywood-style flings. I’m talking about couples that have been together for decades. Chalk it up to mid-life crisis, change of life, or simply growing apart, many people in their 40s and 50s find themselves facing their first Christmas season alone.
Holidays are family time, so for many this impending sense of loneliness is to be mitigated at all costs. Many otherwise intelligent grown-ups find the solution to be remarrying quickly. Psychologists call this “rebounding.” I call it imprudent.
This gives rise to another strange phenomenon, that of people choosing new spouses that are eerily reminiscent of their old ones.
In some cases, such as widowhood, this might make sense. In other cases, like the breakup of an unhappy marriage, it seems just plain nuts.
No matter what the circumstances, I note one consistency in these rebound affairs. That is the superficiality of the resemblance between the old spouse and the new flame.
Are you determined to replicate your last relationship? Do so if you must, but here are some things that are not appropriate for comparison: hair color, eye color, height, weight or cheering for the same sports team. The sound of their voice or the smell of their perfume aren’t good comparisons either.
My point is that, in marriage, if you hope to replicate past successes, take time, do the research and, for goodness sake, don’t choose someone new based only on appearances combined with gut feelings.
The same is true for the new breed of inkjet presses.
Did he just compare buying inkjet printing equipment to marriage? Yep, we do stuff like that in “Johnson’s World.”
In the past, most high-speed inkjet presses have looked a lot like their mini-web offset counterparts. The new generation of inkjet presses represents a much greater breadth of appearance, particularly in the sheetfed arena. These newcomers look a lot like lithographic or toner devices.
I recently visited Canon Solutions America’s production inkjet headquarters (formerly Océ) in Boca Raton, Fla. The new, roll-fed inkjet equipment on display was better and faster, but that wasn’t what I was there to see.
When they unveiled their upcoming Voyager model, my jaw dropped. I was sure I was looking at a Heidelberg sheetfed offset press. The curve of the metal, the side ramps, even the gray color were all dead ringers for a Heidelberg. Any traditional offset printing company owner who was feeling leery about entering the digital market would fall in love with such a sheetfed inkjet press. After all, it looks just like the iron already on the floor! It will fit right in! What could possibly go wrong?
Plenty, if your criteria for dropping seven figures on a press includes paint color. I can’t pass judgment on the Océ Voyager (it is still under development, scheduled for release late in the upcoming year) but, for goodness sake, look under the hood, run tests, insist upon receiving samples, etc.
In other words, don’t be seduced by a pretty face.
Fuji has taken this idea a step farther with its J Press 720S. It is actually built on a Ryobi offset press chassis with inkjet heads in place of the ink train. The feeder, the grippers, the delivery ... all will be perfectly familiar to any press operator. The only thing missing is the spray powder. Once again, offset print people, don’t be beguiled by appearances alone.
Perhaps you are a pioneer, and feel perfectly comfortable in the digital arena. This probably means you’ve been using toner devices. Canon/Océ has just the machine for you. With a huge, square, enclosed printer box in the middle, lots of paper drawers on one end and high-capacity stackers on the other end, this box looks like a very large laser printer. Except it isn’t!
So far, my preliminary research indicates that the Océ VarioPrint i300 is a promising press, but not because it has plastic sides that make it look toner-ish.
In short, the new generation of inkjet presses is just that: new. Operating these devices profitably will be different than anything you’ve done before.
Considering a purchase? In capital equipment, as in love, follow your heart if you must, but don’t forget to bring your brain along. Appearances, after all, can be deceiving.
Steve Johnson, president and CEO of Copresco in Carol Stream, Ill., is an executive with 40 years of experience in the graphic arts. He founded Copresco, a pioneer in digital printing technology and on-demand printing, in 1987. Email email@example.com or visit www.copresco.com