University of Virginia Upgrades Digital Color Press
Much of the satisfaction that in-plants derive from their digital equipment lies in the buying: selecting the right device for the right applications at the right price. The good news for in-plants with tight budgets is that hitting those targets doesn’t necessarily mean having to spring for a new machine.
The in-plant at the University of Virginia (UVA) proved it by installing a pre-owned but tuned-up Kodak NexPress last October. The machine, which production manager Steve DeLuca describes as a “four-year-old shell with a brand new box inside,” lets Printing & Copying Services offer its clients better printing at a fraction of the operating cost of the device it replaced.
For years, the in-plant relied upon a NexPress 2100 Classic, a vintage model that became increasingly expensive to service and maintain. A new NexPress, says DeLuca, would have cost $750,000, money that the 33-employee in-plant didn’t have.
That prompted UVA Printing & Copying Services to consider buying used, a decision that ultimately led to the NexPress the in-plant is running now: an SX 2700 with a fifth imaging unit and Kodak’s long-sheet option. It was purchased for much less than the quoted price for a new model.
DeLuca says that both Kodak and the dealer worked extensively on the machine at no cost to the in-plant until the manufacturer certified it — after 17 million original impressions — as ready to run. Following installation, what had been a $5,000 monthly service charge for the 2100 Classic dropped to around $2,000.
DeLuca says that given those savings and the fact that he and his press operator are NexPress veterans, “it didn’t make sense to start over with a new platform” from a different vendor.
The low costs of acquisition and ownership made the investment easier to justify to the university. The approval process was simpler as well, since UVA doesn’t require RFPs to be issued for purchases of used equipment.
In any event, says DeLuca, as the in-plant faces a rising demand for quick turnaround times and short-run color printing from across the university community, it “can’t not offer” the kind of production that the NexPress 2700 is capable of.
The device is being used to print business cards, brochures, trifold mailing pieces and stationery for every department. The 2700’s 14x26” long-sheet option creates new possibilities for oversize pieces like posters, which had been limited to the 12x18˝ format of the Classic until the new press replaced it.
When it comes to print quality and speed, says DeLuca, the 2700 has both. He’s also impressed by the special effects he can produce with the machine’s fifth imaging unit, which can dispense gold, Dimensional and clear coatings as well as light black toner. The 2700’s ability to enhance digital sheets with a clear coating that resembles aqueous, DeLuca says, “has really intrigued our customer base.”
That base includes UVA’s renowned health system, the in-plant’s biggest customer. The shop charges back for its work and does not have right of first refusal on the printing that the university buys. This sometimes means vying for business with local commercial printers, including those with NexPress equipment similar to the in-plant’s.
DeLuca is rising to the challenge by making sure the in-plant’s pricing is competitive and by actively marketing the NexPress 2700’s features and benefits to his campus clientele. The campaign includes an upcoming open-house event at which customers can discover for themselves what printing with the device has to offer them.
They’re “very excited,” DeLuca says, by what they’ve seen so far. He’s determined to keep it that way.
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.