Ithaca’s Digital Shift
WAYNE FRENCH didn't need a crystal ball to see what was coming. With two Shinohara presses, his in-plant at Ithaca College was proficient at churning out long runs of materials for the 119-year-old private school. The trouble was, these pieces were largely being warehoused, where many became outdated before they could be used.
French, director of the Center for Print Production at the Ithaca, N.Y.-based college, knew that short-run, on-demand digital printing was the answer. It could reduce this obsolescence and waste, and offer personalization to boot. But he needed to make some major changes first, both to his seven-employee shop and to his customers' ordering habits.
"We needed to help our customers be smarter about buying printing," says French. "And we needed to do it in a way that would keep costs down, quality up and turnaround as quick as possible."
So about six years ago, the department made its first foray into digital color printing. It added an HP Indigo 3050. This was a great start, and got the in-plant into the short-run color business, but within a year, problems began to emerge.
"I really liked the Indigo, but we spent a lot of time doing maintenance on the press," he says. What's more, the lack of inline finishing capabilities was slowing down the production of booklets, one of the shop's main products.
So the Center for Print Production installed a second digital color press, this time a Xerox iGen3 with a Polockmatic bookletmaker on the back end. Armed with these two digital devices, the in-plant was finally able to move completely away from offset printing.
Just a year later, the shop replaced the 3050 with a second iGen3. And more recently, the first iGen3 was upgraded to a new Xerox iGen4 EXP press. Today, the department can handle anything its customers throw at it—from 150,000 postcards to more typical runs of up to 7,000 finished brochures.