Inkjet Brings Color to School District
Diane Krafton remembers the old days when the in-plant at Andover Public Schools printed only one thing: black-and-white booklets for its reading program. They were printed on a Xerox 9500, she recalls, and tape bound offline. That was 30 years ago.
A lot has changed since then.
In April 2017, the one-employee shop joined a growing number of in-plants that have added an inkjet device, a move that enabled it to provide affordable color printing to teachers and administrators in the 6,075-student district. The Anover, Mass., in-plant installed a Riso ComColor X1 7150 inkjet printer, capable of printing 120 color ppm. Now the district’s student handbooks, workbooks, exams, envelopes, programs, business cards and more can be printed in full color, something that wasn’t possible in the past.
“The ComColor was the perfect solution to meet our needs for fitting production color into our small basement facility,” says Krafton, Copy Center coordinator. “Although the device makes a big impact, it’s still small enough for our 1,850-sq.-ft. space that houses a few other devices and also serves as a paper warehouse for the entire district.”
The in-plant’s path to inkjet was a long one. The workbooks it initially produced in the late 1980s drew attention because back then it was rare to find a school district producing its own textbooks with content customized by class.
“The word spread that we had a print shop in-house,” Krafton says. The in-plant started getting other academic work, such as tests and worksheets. It added a Xerox DocuTech with inline tape binding, and eventually got a hand-me-down Xerox color printer from the superintendent’s office. It was too small to handle production work, though, Krafton says.
“A lot of people were asking for color and I’d have to turn a lot of stuff away,” she says. “I couldn’t do it on that little Xerox.”
Getting a production color toner device was cost prohibitive, she said.
Then she heard about the Riso ComColor X1 7150 and her eyes were opened.
“It’s a lot cheaper to use inkjet rather than toner,” she proclaims.
The ComColor X1 7150 is a full-color sheetfed inkjet printer with print speeds up to 120 ppm at 600x600 dpi and a maximum duty cycle of 500,000 impressions per month. The inkjet printer provides high-speed production at a very low cost using newly developed ink technology that reduces ink transparency and improves black ink density. The ComColor reduces power consumption with an automatic power shutoff, is Energy Star certified and does not require a dedicated 220V power circuit to run. It can operate on a standard 110V outlet.
Inkjet Brings Outsourced Work In-house
Since adding the ComColor X1 7150, the in-plant has been able to bring a lot of previously outsourced work in-house. Color volume has doubled in the print shop because of the lower cost of producing color on the Riso ComColor.
“I can get more people to send me more color now because they can afford it,” she says. “It’s not that much of a hit to their budgets.”
Color printed materials offer many benefits in teaching students; they better capture attention and deliver an enhanced learning experience. Research has consistently shown that color increases memory retention better than verbal or textual cues alone. Survey participants reported that they could recall color images more easily than black-and-white images.
With the ComColor X1 7150, charts, graphs, photos and more can now be produced quickly, providing high-quality educational resources for students and teachers. In addition, the in-plant was able to add other printed applications to its offerings, such as posters, menus and direct mail.
One of the greatest challenges faced by in-plants serving K-12 school districts is the high volume of teacher requests for customized course materials at the start of the school year. The ComColor enabled the APS print shop to handle these customization requests.
Not having enough staff is also a challenge for in-house print shops. As the only full-time production employee in the print shop, Krafton is no stranger to this feeling, but she’s able to do more than ever before because of the ComColor.
With its continuous high-capacity feeder, the ComColor maximizes production by printing continuously and without attention. The device is capable of producing 1,000 full color single-sided pages in approximately 6.5 minutes.
More Time for Marketing
The time saved in project management alone has benefited the print shop. Krafton spends less time managing outsourced projects, has fewer service calls and has increased output and efficiency. This enables her to spend more time marketing the in-plant’s services and growing print volume.
Krafton also has more time to educate others on the in-plant’s new capabilities, particularly the 20% of the district’s teachers that aren’t yet using her services. Krafton has created e-mail communications and printed color posters to market her shop’s new services and convince those teachers not using the in-plant that they will have more time for teaching if they start sending jobs to the print shop instead of standing in front of a copier to print them.
In addition to the many benefits the Riso ComColor has generated for APS’s internal needs, it has also been instrumental in driving opportunity with customers outside of the school district. The print shop produces quality printing for several local non-profit organizations. Although 70% of the work produced is for APS, Krafton also provides printed products to the Andover town hall (i.e., the town manager’s office, treasurer, water department, department of community services, the senior center and others) as well as to local non-profits such as the PTO and Firefighters Relief Organization.
Although the APS print shop has long-standing relationships with these organizations, Krafton credits the Riso ComColor for the uptick in applications and job orders coming from these customers; previously APS would accept these jobs but needed to outsource most of the color print production.
“Our business has increased for color orders of tickets, flyers, newsletters, posters and more, all thanks to word of mouth,” she says.
The in-plant also has a Canon imagePROGRAF iPF780 wide-format printer to produce posters, and it recently added an MBM BC 12 card cutter to cut business cards and postcards.
By investing in the Riso ComColor X1 7150, the Andover Public School District has created a better learning environment that benefits teachers, faculty, students and even some local nonprofit businesses. With inkjet, the district has been able to further enhance the value of its learning materials as well as provide quality print products to the district and the community.