The Coming Of The Digital Dynasty
In-plants all over the country have gone digital and are enjoying a host of big
benefits. Here's a look at what they like—and what they'd like to see—in their systems.
"DIGITAL PRINTING, while convenient, can never match the quality of traditional offset."
Sound familiar? It does to proponents of digital printing systems. They have heard this argument plenty of times before. And, in their opinion, it's an argument without merit.
"It's very high-quality printing," says Meredith's Bob Furstenau of his IBM InfoColor 70. "It's very comparable to offset."
And in some cases, even better. Furstenau, director of digital content management for the Des Moines, Iowa-based publisher, points out that the webfed InfoColor 70 provides duplex printing with excellent registration in sizes ranging from 4˝ to 109˝. He adds that digital systems offer a wider color range than offset. Why? Because the printed pages are one generation closer to the job files.
"The offset compresses a lot down into film and CMYK," Furstenau explains. "This is CMYK, but it's digital and closer to the electronic file. We don't have film and plates."
Webfed, two-sided digital systems don't get all the glory, though. Marvin Shimabukuro, operations manager at Halawa Correctional Facility, in Aiea, Hawaii, speaks very highly of the quality that his shop's sheetfed DocuColor 40 delivers. More importantly, his press operators—the true experts—compliment the system's capabilities.
"Some of the guys say, 'Wow, this is fantastic,' " he claims.
Customer reaction has been similar. Once resistant to the new technology, Shimabukuro's clients—which include Hawaiian state agencies and non-profit organizations—have found the quality impressive. And they appreciate the convenience of cost-effective short runs.
Only need five copies of a particular book? No problem with digital printing. There is no film involved, so extremely short runs are not cost-prohibitive.
"This is where the DocuColor beats the pants off the offset press," Shimabukuro contends. "All we have to do is scan the copy in and make the desired number of copies. You can retain the data, and it's there for future use."