Some are die-hard offset press aficionados. Others are convinced that digital printing is the only way to go. But a growing number of commercial printers are seeing the advantage of having both systems in place. Known as hybrid printers, these shops use each type of technology to provide the best results for their customers and allow them the flexibility and cost efficiency to grow their bottom line.
“I don’t believe that you have to choose digital over offset,” stated Imaging Zone president Mounir Murad, who operates a full-service print firm in Washington, D.C. “One process doesn’t have to take away from the other. Instead, choose a hybrid method where you have both processes. They compliment each other.”
That’s the tact being taken by Hatteras, a Tinton Falls, NJ printer. At its newly expanded 170,000-square-foot facility, its offset press line up includes two 40-inch Heidelberg Speedmaster XL105 six-color plus coating units installed in 2011 and 2007; a 40-inch Speedmaster six-color perfector; a 40-inch Speedmaster two-color perfector; a 20-inch Speedmaster five-color plus coating unit; a Heidelberg two-color Printmaster; and a Ryobi 13 ¼ x17 ½ two-color press.
On the digital side, Hatteras fields two Kodak NexPress 2500+ four-color plus dimensional coating unit machines, installed in 2010 and 2006; two Kodak Digimaster E15 imaging systems; a new 2011 78-inch Agfa :Anapurna M2050 UV inkjet wide-format printer; two 60-inch HP wide-format inkjets; a Konica Minolta Bizhub Pro 1050; and three Buskro Aurora UV inkjet imaging systems with duplexing capabilities.
Keys to Growth
“We feel that having both digital and offset capabilities are key to our growth,” noted Bill Duerr, president of Hatteras. “We are finding more and more clients utilizing both our offset and digital capabilities, and often using both digital and offset on the same job. But we know that as time goes on, the industry will move more and more toward digital as customers are relying more on data-driven communication. It is doubtful that offset print will ever go away, but more likely that digital and offset will merge to form a hybrid press that combines both technologies, which we already are experiencing.”
Two years ago as it added more services, Hatteras rebranded itself and moved from being strictly a printer to offering the ability to conceive, execute, and deploy multi-channel marketing campaigns, allowing its customers to reach consumers through print, direct mail, pURLS, email, and SMS text messaging.
“We utilize all of these capabilities because our customer doesn’t want to deal with five different vendors,” explained Duerr. “But you can’t just have offset. Turnaround times are much faster, there’s more personalization, and we need to help our customers differentiate themselves. We use the digital presses for variable data, personalization, targeted to consumers for short runs. Our newest Agfa :Anapurna allows us to print signage, banners, wall and floor graphics. We’re being smart about the work we pursue.”
Pazazz, a leading offset, digital, label, and large-format printing firm located in Montreal, operates both offset and digital. Its two offset presses -- a three-year-old KBA Rapida 142 56-inch six-color UV press and an older, 11-year-old Mitsubushi 40-inch six-color with aqueous coater -- are housed with a two-year-old Xerox iGen4 digital press and Xerox 5000 Nuvera as well as a four-year-old HP WS4500.
The KBA offset press is used to print on paper, board, foil, plastic, flute, vinyl, and styrene (60 lbs. to 48 pt.) with UV and other special effects. The digital presses are used for variable work, such as Quick Response (QR) codes, and pURL mailings, as well as marketing materials and guides and short-run work.
“In the past year, our offset work has increased as we use our Rapida for printing on multiple substrates and having the unique ability to print a 56-inch size with UV that no one else in our region can offer,” said Warren Werbitt, founder and CEO of Pazazz. “Plus, we’re using the Rapida to print on more plastic, board, and flute.”