Significant Upgrades Reshape Richardson ISD In-plant
When Laura Galipeau joined Richardson Independent School District as Print Services manager in April 2020, the district had just made an important decision: it would keep its in-plant open. This was not a foregone conclusion. Filled with antiquated equipment, the shop’s service was not keeping pace with the needs of the 39,000-student district, located in Richardson, Texas, just north of Dallas.
Historically, the department had a mix of offset and light production digital technology, with the main focus being on offset. Often, this meant jobs took longer to run and may not have been produced as efficiently as possible.
“We needed to upgrade our production [and finishing equipment] to faster speeds,” Galipeau says.
With support from the Richardson ISD community and a 2021 bond election, the seven-employee in-plant was able to upgrade and become a fully digital and more productive in-plant.
Galipeau was tasked with overseeing the overhaul. After months of preparation, the most recent upgrades were implemented this summer. Altogether, they make up an impressive list that spans the entire operation:
- Xerox iGen 5 with 5th print station — This digital press replaced older color printers that were slower. Not only can the iGen 5 hit the school district’s colors better, Galipeau reports, it also allows the in-plant to print a wider range of applications, such as business cards, tickets, and possibly even elementary school yearbooks.
- Two Xerox Nuvera 288s — These black-and-white printers replaced three older Nuvera 120s. “We needed faster machines, and both combined are faster than the three,” notes Galipeau. With the Nuvera upgrades, the ability to insert color pages into black-and-white jobs was added. This brings significant savings when printing jobs with both, as the click charge for a black-and-white print on a color printer is much higher than on a Nuvera, she says.
- Xanté En/Press — This digital multimedia press replaced two offset presses and is mainly dedicated to envelope printing.
- C.P. Bourg Sheetfeeder in-line with a Plockmatic PowerSquare 224 bookletmaker — Replacing an older bookletmaker, this combination is more “hands off” Galipeau says. It is not only faster, she adds, but produces books with more pages: up to 224. It combines the processes of stitching, folding, square spine forming, and trimming.
- Duplo DC-646 with integrated folder — This slitter/cutter/creaser helped the shop bring business cards back in-house. “This will allow us to cut them quickly,” she says, with less chance for errors. In addition to cutting, it also takes care of the rest of the finishing process in-line, such as scoring, perfing, and folding.
- Fujipla ALM3222 automatic laminator — “We were doing a lot of lamination off a 24˝ laminator, and then had to sit and cut out every one,” explains Galipeau. “We got this because it will cut itself. You stick it in, and it comes out already cut. It’s a huge time saver.”
- Mimaki JFX200-2513 EX — This flatbed printer (maximum print area: 98.4x51.2˝) was purchased to run larger sizes and larger quantities of jobs on rigid substrates that would take hours and sometimes days on other equipment.
- Mimaki UJF-7151 Plus — This UV-LED printer was brought in last summer to do projects like yard and metal signs. Galipeau notes that it is also used to print swag items such as pens, cups, or popsockets, “whatever is needed, up to 6˝ tall.”
- Mimaki UCJV300 printer/cutter — This replaced an older wide-format printer, and brought in new features such as the ability to run clear and white inks. “Right now, we run posters, banners, stickers, floor graphics, wall graphics — everything,” says Galipeau. “It’s been running nonstop.” So much that the shop is looking at adding another wide-format device.
- CWT Worktools Apex Plus 2516 flatbed cutter — This allows staff to quickly cut work to size, rather than having to manually manage that process. “A lot of times, we’re printing stickers or wall graphics; we can just print it off and stick it on there to cut for us,” says Galipeau.
- CWT Worktools Apollo XL 165 wall cutter — This, Galipeau says, was acquired specifically to allow the shop to cut larger sheets down to size quickly and easily.
- RSA WebCRD — Finally, the shop is in the process of implementing this online ordering software, to replace the old process of submitting forms or sending emails. The goal, Galipeau says, is to get everything moving through the single system once it’s fully implemented.
A One-Stop Shop
It’s a long list that Galipeau notes is “very unusual, but they were ready for a change. We really want this to be a one-stop shop.”
That said, this equipment list is far from complete. Galipeau is already making plans for what to add next.
“If they gave me a building, I could fill it,” she says. Her goal is to keep as much in-house as possible and provide support for PTAs, booster clubs, and local nonprofit organizations. Future goals include creating a career and technical education program for students who will then leave high school ready to enter the industry with experience.
One of the options she is considering is a coater/foiler, which would allow the shop to produce graduation announcements in-house, among other applications. She would also like to bring in T-shirt printing, but doesn’t think the shop has the space for that equipment currently.
To get the district thinking about the in-plant and using it, Galipeau plans to re-launch the shop with a new logo and marketing materials. She will be presenting to the upper leadership and all of the principals to let them know what the upgraded in-plant can do now. She notes that the district isn’t going to mandate anything, or force anyone to use Print Services, so she estimates that it will take a few years to get people to use the in-plant as their first choice.
“We hear ‘I didn’t know you could do that,’ even for the simple things,” Galipeau says. “My goal is to make sure no one can say that, or say they didn’t know we had a print shop.”