Digital Presses

June 17, 2009

In the last month, I did a whole series of printers. Today we’re going to look at some truly massive printers in the form of a digital press. Unless you own a print shop or have a large in-house print shop, this isn’t something the average user will be buying. Yet it is something that you should understand as it could be something in use at your print shop.

There are two digital presses with which I am familiar and I’ll tell you a little bit about them. I’ll also mention another one that has been mentioned to me, though I don’t know much about it.

The digital press I know the best is the Xerox DocuColor 5000 as it is what my printer, JC Printing, is using for many of my jobs. It can print as large as a 12″ x 18″ sheet and uses toner to imprint the pages. Basically it is a very high-end color copier. For short-run print jobs, it is really cost efficient. Files are processed by a RIP (raster image processor) and there are several different models available. In short, you send PDF files to the DocuColor and it gives you back printed pages. A few times I have even run the machine as a favor for my printer and I had less than five minutes of training.

Next up is a machine I saw demonstrated last week. The HP Indigo line of presses has different sized models and I saw both the 5500 and the 7000 in action. One thing I really liked was that they used ink instead of toner. The 7000 allows up to seven colors of ink to be loaded, including spot colors! Yes, it costs significantly more than the DocuColor 5000. I’m guessing that the per page cost is also a bit lower. The key is having enough volume to justify an Indigo.

Several of the printers in attendance at the Indigo demo were talking about the Kodak Nexpress and I have had the suggestion that I should see one in action. For comparison purposes, I’d love to learn more about it by seeing a demo.

If you are in a print shop and have needs for one of these devices, I’m sure you get called by sales reps more often than you like. End users who simply want to educate themselves more on the output process may want to find local printers who have digital presses. Learn how they work so that you can better prepare files for output. Along the way, you might also find that outputting your files on a digital press can save you money. If you have no plans to actually buy a press, let the vendor know up front that you simply are there to learn more. They’ll still invite you, but you won’t get a sales pitch.

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Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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