School District Adds Inkjet to Bring Color to Curriculum Materials
CARES Act funding has enabled a California school district in-plant to acquire a production inkjet press, as well as an array of wide-format and bindery equipment, to help students be more engaged with their studies.
In April, the Jurupa Unified School District (JUSD) Print Shop installed a new continuous-feed WEBJet 100D inkjet press from Konica Minolta. The district turned to inkjet for one simple reason: “To print more engaging resources for our students,” explains Jeff Lewis, director of purchasing for the 19,000-student district, located about 50 miles east of Los Angeles.
To control costs, the six-employee in-plant had traditionally printed JUSD’s curriculum materials in black and white. With inkjet technology, however, the cost of color printing is only marginally more than monochrome, opening up the opportunity to add full color to worksheets, reading booklets, science packets, and other learning materials.
“It can hopefully capture a student’s attention a little more,” says Lewis, leading to improved comprehension and retention of information, and aiding the educational process.
The WEBJet 100D, which came with inline perforating and three-hole punching, was just one addition to the in-plant. CARES Act funding also enabled it to add:
- Two Mutoh wide-format printers: a PerformanceJet 2508UF flatbed, and an XpertJet 1682SR eco-solvent device
- A C.P. Bourg Binder 3102 perfect binder with a Challenge CMT-330TC three-knife trimmer attachment
- A Morgana/Plockmatic BM5050S booklet maker
- A 65˝ Royal Sovereign RSH-1651 laminator
In addition, the in-plant also used district budget funds to replace all six toner printers with two new Konica Minolta devices: a color AccurioPress C14000, and a black-and-white bizhub PRESS 2250.
Getting the green light to add all this equipment was a smooth process, Lewis says, owing to the strong support the in-plant enjoys from the district and the school board.
“We’ve been able to demonstrate the value of the print shop, but we also showed some of the limitations with our older equipment, so it was a relatively ‘easy’ sell on the need for the new equipment because they could see the benefits it would bring for our students,” he says. “And that’s really what it was about.”
To fit all the new equipment, the shop had to remove some walls and expand to more than twice its size, Lewis says.
One of the district’s plans is to begin printing all of its workbooks on the inkjet press instead of buying them from textbook publishers. One of those publishers has already agreed to supply the files for the in-plant to print, and Lewis is confident the other will also agree. In addition to allowing teachers to receive these materials in a more timely manner, printing the workbooks in-house will let teachers reorder the pages to better match their lesson plans. In the past, some teachers have had to pull workbooks apart and reassemble them manually.
“We’ll be able to print in the order the teachers expect,” Lewis says.
Printing these workbooks and other educational materials — along with items like student agenda planners, graduation programs, and calendars — should keep the WEDJet 100D very busy and lead to a fast ROI, he believes.
“My long-term plan is basically to double the volume in the print shop,” Lewis says. He hopes to increase annual impressions from the current 25 million up to 40-45 million.
“Historically, we had outsourced some printing … and now we’ll be able to bring pretty much all of those jobs in-house,” he notes.
Adding inkjet has changed the in-plant’s workflow dramatically. Instead of printing one job at a time and binding each one in-line, the focus now is on queuing up multiple similar jobs to keep the press running. The in-plant’s purchase of EFI JobFlow print automation software will help with this once it’s implemented.
“Once we get JobFlow in place, we’ll be able to have those jobs queued up and just run, run, run, run,” he says.
The WEDJet 100D prints in full color at 520 fpm on an 11˝-wide web. Moving from a cut-sheet environment to a roll-fed device was a stressful decision, Lewis admits, but “the transition has gone surprisingly well.” Operators have become proficient at cutting rolls and splicing webs after breaks. Rolls are delivered vertically and can be easily rolled to the press. Since the press delivers 8.5x11˝ sheets, any extra blank sheets from the end of the roll are loaded into the cut-sheet printers.
Lewis says the quality of the inkjet press’ output is more than adequate for the one-time use most of the curriculum documents get. For higher-quality needs, the shop uses its AccurioPress C14000.
Like most in-plants, the JUSD Print Shop did a lot of wide-format printing during the pandemic, and the two new Mutoh printers were a big help. Yard signs in particular went a lot faster on the new flatbed printer.
“We could do 10 of them in about four minutes,” Lewis says. “It was amazing to watch.”