Oregon State Joins Higher-Ed Inkjet Club
Ask Jeff Todd why his in-plant at Oregon State University started looking into production inkjet, and his answer comes quickly.
“We’ve been toner-only for 30 years, and our spend for outside purchases of offset print has just grown and grown to the point where, financially, it just made sense to bring some of that back in,” says Todd, director of OSU Printing & Mailing Services. “We were spending upwards of $1 million a year on offset printing anyway, so we knew the business was there already.”
The Corvallis, Oregon, in-plant’s new Konica Minolta AccurioJet KM-1, installed in early August, will allow the shop to bring all that work in-house where the in-plant can better control turnaround time, quality, and cost.
“We anticipate saving about half a million [dollars] a year,” Todd proclaims.
OSU Printing & Mailing Services is just the latest in a string of university in-plants to install an inkjet press, after years of reluctance in the higher-ed segment to move into production inkjet. Several other university printing operations are currently in the research process.
At OSU, inkjet will let the 25-employee shop print personalized recruitment materials, post cards, course packs, self-mailers, posters and more. Letterhead and stationery, long outsourced to an offset vendor, can also come back in-house.
“The quality’s amazing,” exclaims Todd. In fact, one of the university’s outside vendors was already using the same press to print OSU materials, he reveals.
The ability to do variable data printing with the press is especially attractive to Admissions, the in-plant’s biggest client, Todd says. The inkjet press also opens opportunities to insource work from other public universities, he adds.
The new inkjet press replaces a pair of black-and-white Ricoh Pro 8120s, and the in-plant may also opt not to renew the lease on its Ricoh Pro C7210 when it ends. The shop will continue using its Ricoh Pro C7100 and C5200.
Researching inkjet presses took months, Todd says, and the shop checked out presses from Canon, Fuji, and Xerox as well. Todd attended the 2023 Inkjet Summit and says the experience was invaluable.
“At Inkjet Summit I got the opportunity to talk to a bunch of people that had them,” he says. Their advice proved very helpful to him.
Though he says installation went smoothly, the in-plant had to upgrade its electrical supply in advance and add a compressor. The new press was set up in a separate room from the main production floor, which it shares with the two Ricoh color machines. To run the machine, the in-plant trained a bindery and a wide-format printer operator.
The KM-1 isn’t the in-plant’s only new inkjet device. In August, it also installed a Ricoh Pro T6251 UV LED flatbed printer, supplemented by a new Colex Sharpcut automated cutter.
“Large-format is by far the fastest-growing segment of what we do here,” says Todd. “We do a lot of mounted work, which now has to be printed on vinyl and then hand mounted, hand cut. We were at the point where we either needed to invest in equipment or … invest in staffing.”
The purchase also supports the university’s sustainability goals, he adds.
“This will give us a chance to print directly onto boards that are recyclable,” he notes.
The shop also has plans to add a Duplo bookletmaker, a James Burn punch, and a DPI Hawk UV inkjet addresser and tabber. Earlier this year, the in-plant installed an Eclipse Mini+ digital diecutter and laminator from Eclipse Label Equipment to run in-line with an Epson ColorWorks CW-C6500A inkjet label printer to feed the shop’s booming sticker business.
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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 more than 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, co-sponsored by IPMA and In-plant Impressions.