Mercury Print Productions in Rochester, NY, an early adopter of inkjet printing for commercial and book printing applications, has been beta testing the new device. “This is a press to build and grow a business with,” reports its president, Christian Schamberger. The Prosper 5000XLi became commercially available in February 2013. Existing customers with 5000XL models can upgrade to the XLi, Kodak says.
Inkjet and Web-Offset Hybrids
On the imprinting side, the replacement of older continuous inkjet printing technology has occurred faster than projected, reported research firm IT Strategies. While final figures are not yet available for last year, 2011 projections were exceeded by some 160 percent ($200 million actual). Kodak cited placements of more than 400 of its new generation S-series imprinting print heads.
As the inkjet-web installed base continues to grow, along with the high adoption rate of color imprinting (despite the fact that adding color costs three times more), IT Strategies expects about 10 percent more growth between now and 2016.
Another contributing growth factor is that print heads now can be installed on mail table/inserters, according to IT Strategies’ research.
Highly relevant content is supported by two major proof points. More targeted print can reduce mailing costs and yield higher response rates. Mini mailers are popular among automotive industry marketers for educational and entertainment purposes, Kodak’s Mansfield notes, as many marketers move away from static, full-page catalogs and less sophisticated direct mail and postcards.
The Kodak Prosper S10 System is designed to enable part-page and full-page variable print inline at full speeds with a web-offset press or web finishing line. With process-color capability, print and marketing service providers can leverage the specialty printing capabilities of offset—including metallics, heavy color saturation, scratch-off coatings, and other specialty inks—to create a high-value product that can be customized with process color imaging inline at high production speeds. This is ideal for direct mail pieces, catalogs, and other custom publishing solutions, Kodak contends.
“Car companies are using the magalog format to communicate with owners and leasees,” Mansfield says. Content changes are based on demographic and sociographic information, such as age, geographic location, and interests. Outdoor enthusiasts use their sports utility vehicles differently than family minivans, he points out.
Literally hundreds of millions of such pieces were produced last year by mega commercial/direct mail printer Japs-Olson in St. Louis Park, MN. The 106-year-old firm has played a major role in the evolution of on-press personalization, migrating from Kodak Versamark technology to its Prosper S series imprinting system in its 750,000-square-foot plant. The company had annual sales of more than $134 million in 2012, and increasingly more of the nearly one billion pieces it produces annually are highly customized. Its president, Michael Murphy, believes in the power of print, having studied at RIT under professor-turned-industry-guru Frank Romano.
CEO Mike Beddor cited the example of a national retailer selling automotive parts. Every week, Japs-Olson prints, imprints, and mails two million to four million digest-sized (5.5x8.5-inch), case-bound, personalized mini-catalogs ranging between 12 and 20 pages each.
Variable information includes recipient names, nearest store location, special offers, QR (quick response) codes, and even maps using geodemographic coding.
“One store may be offering a car wash discount on page 13, while other stores want to promote different services on different pages,” Beddor said. “In Minnesota in February, they may have had a surplus of windshield ice scrapers they are trying to sell.”
These weekly, custom print runs are accomplished on the Prosper S Imprinting System, which uses Kodak Stream Inkjet Technology and its Versamark CS410 System Controller to provide the highest quality in the inline digital printing product line. S10 imprinting speeds of up to 1,000 fpm match those of a web offset press and web finishing lines. (See separate article, “Fat Bottlenecks in the Digital Bindery,” on page 23.)