Kilgore Retains Offset Quality With Digital Press
In a small rural town just 130 miles east of Dallas, a community college’s in-plant is looking to bring more jobs in-house by focusing on improving its digital color print production. But Mike Ford, supervisor and manager of Kilgore College (KC) Print Services, is keen on keeping the offset quality the department originally produced before going all-digital about eight years ago.
“When we brought the production machines in, we were printing high-quality, not only color, but black-and-white. We wanted the type to be dark, and we wanted the illustrations to be as high quality, or better, than we could do with the offset process,” Ford says.
To ensure this, Print Services recently replaced its Konica Minolta bizhub C8000 with a Konica Minolta AccurioPress C3080P with IQ-501 Intelligent Quality Optimizer technology. While Ford has been an advocate of offset printing’s quality, digital printing has proven to be beneficial to KC Printing Services.
“We were very successful with digital printing,” Ford explains. “It actually changed our printing facility in a way that we were much more efficient, even though we do have to outsource some long-run, high-quantity color.”
Ford has been a fan of Konica Minolta presses and products for years, largely due to the superior quality of the company’s service, he says. He maintains that the quality of a digital press is irrelevant if the servicing of that press is poor. But in the case of the AccurioPress C3080P, the in-plant got the best of both worlds: high-quality printing and service.
When selecting a digital press, Ford ran the in-plant’s files and paper through various machines to compare the quality.
“And I found that Konica Minolta’s quality was better than any of the other manufacturers, and it matched our offset materials better than any of our other manufacturers,” Ford says.
But perhaps the most important feature of the Konica Minolta AccurioPress C3080P, according to Ford, is the IQ Optimizer. Designed for color consistency and registration accuracy, the optimizer continuously monitors and adjusts color, density, tone, and registration settings with closed-loop, automated process controls, taking an originally manual process and making it all-digital.
“It saves time,” Ford says. “Even if the color or register did move during the run, we wouldn’t have to stop it and readjust the color and register. With the optimizer, it takes care of that immediately.”
While the AccurioPress C3080P was only installed in July, KC Print Services already has jobs lined up for it. Some jobs will be split between that press and the shop’s Konica Minolta bizhub PRO 1200 black-and-white digital press. On the college’s graduation program, for example, “the cover is in color, and the text is in black and white,” Ford explains. “We print the cover on the color machine, we put it in the black-and-white machine, [and] insert it with the black-and-white text in the machine.”
Ford expects to keep the AccurioPress C3080P very busy printing posters, brochures, postcards, flyers, and more, and he anticipates a quick return on investment for the device.
“We have it on a five-year lease, and I imagine we can probably see the ROI in about two years,” he says.