Author Archives: Guest Contributor

The Impact of Paper and Ink on Inkjet Color

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By: John Crumbaugh, Senior Marketing Specialist, Canon Solutions America

Here’s a bold statement—the first color you have to consider managing when using inkjet technology is the paper. Inkjet is not a four-color process. It’s a five-color process.

How can that be? Consider the three main print technologies of offset, toner, and inkjet. When printing on a toner device, the toner particles sit on the surface of the paper so the paper does not impact the color very much. With offset technology, the ink absorbs into the paper slightly. However the vast majority of the color remains at the surface, so there are more color differences using different papers on an offset press than on a toner device. But the greatest difference in color caused by paper occurs with inkjet technology.

The major component of inkjet ink is water so the substrate needs some absorbency to help the ink dry. This is important for fast production and the proper operation of downstream finishing equipment. In offset and toner printing, the colorant stays primarily on the surface of the paper so the interaction of the toner or ink particles with the paper fibers and the paper chemistry is minimal. With inkjet printing, the colorant gets absorbed into the strata of the paper. In effect, the image is printed into the structure of the paper. Therefore, inkjet images are influenced much more by the formation fibers and fillers that go into making paper than are offset or toner technologies. Ink and paper together make the color gamut in inkjet printing.

Of course, cost, quality, and value must all be taken into consideration when selecting the best media for any given application. The ink and paper chosen will determine the color gamut and aesthetic appearance. The business use will determine whether any additional cost to achieve the maximum color gamut and appearance are necessary. The key point is that there are many options available. The market is changing so rapidly that what we knew last year is out of date this year. As new products come out, new opportunities arise, and people are constantly needing to re-educate themselves.

Since the inkjet paper chosen has such a major impact on the quality of the output, it’s important to understand the three major categories of inkjet papers:

  • Untreated papers—These papers have no special treatment for inkjet printing. They are primarily used for monochrome printing when color saturation is not necessary. They are available in various opacities to minimize show-through. Since there is no coating or treatment to help keep the ink colorant on the top of the sheet, more ink penetrates the paper’s surface yielding images that are softer with a smaller color gamut. Opacity is also affected by inkjet in that the opacity values are based surface readings and not inkjet printing which penetrates the paper.
  • Inkjet treated papers—These papers contain treatments that are added during the paper making process. The treatment is throughout the paper allowing the colorant to sit higher on the surface of the paper. This provides better results in terms of clarity and color gamut. These papers cost more than untreated papers but may also require less ink since the colorant is trapped closer to the paper surface.
  • Inkjet coated papers—These papers restrict the amount of colorant that can be absorbed by the paper thereby allowing the colorant to stay on the surface of the paper. The result is a broader color gamut than either of the other two paper types. These papers are more difficult to make. As a result, the range and availability of these papers is limited, and many come at a price premium

Inkjet ink also impacts the specific colors that can be reproduced. As the ink is absorbed into the paper, the shade, brightness, and saturation of the printed color can change. The deeper an ink absorbs into the paper, the more muted the color becomes.

There are two basic inkjet ink types—dye and pigment. With dye inks, the colorant is molecular; with pigment inks, the colorant particles are solid and opaque. Typically dye inks will be absorbed more deeply into the paper. The colorants in pigment-based ink tend to sit higher on top of the paper and are more light and fade resistant.

Inkjet treated and coated papers can be tailored for either dye or pigment ink to maximize the color gamut. An inkjet paper formulated for dye ink will have a larger color gamut when dye ink is used on that paper. Correspondingly, a paper formulated for pigment ink will have a larger color gamut when pigment ink is used vs. dye. The print application often governs whether dye or pigment ink is the best choice. Originally dye-based inks were less expensive than pigment inks, but that has substantially changed with the cost differential between the two becoming smaller.

With inkjet technology, color management becomes more critical because the interactions between paper and ink need to be managed well for optimum results. That is why inkjet printing paper is the number one component in defining the level of color quality.

The Inkjet Opportunity: A Guide to Help You Transition Your Business to Inkjet Technology

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Investing in a production inkjet press is a sizable investment, typically costing one to five million dollars for continuous feed color presses. Although today there are lower cost cutsheet inkjet presses with an acquisition price of less than one million dollars, making the transition from either offset or digital toner can be a daunting process. Not only is the technology different, but there are workflow changes, media differences, new finishing equipment options, and even organizational impacts to work through.

A new white paper from Canon Solutions America entitled “The Inkjet Opportunity Booklet” can help you better understand the scope of the process changes your shop will undergo when adding inkjet technology. It is a distillation of a recently published book, The Inkjet Edge – How to Transition Your Business to Inkjet, sponsored by Canon Solutions America and thINK, the independent community of Canon Solutions America production print customers. It is based on extensive interviews of Canon Solutions America customers, solution partners, leading industry analysts, and inkjet experts about how to make the transition to production inkjet as rewarding as possible.

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could “pick the brains” of those who have already made the transition to production inkjet technology, get their advice on what to expect, and the lessons they learned with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight? This concise white paper describes the four reasons why print providers made the move to inkjet; how production inkjet enables personalization and color to enhance existing business applications and open doors to new opportunities; the specific areas of the business that are impacted when transitioning from either offset or digital toner devices; the impact of inkjet on paper choices, workflow, and finishing; and the organizational impact of inkjet on the sales organization, data handling, and estimating.

Print providers tell us that, whatever their reasons for getting into high-speed production inkjet, they were glad they did. They embraced the new technology to improve their internal performance, reinvent their businesses, and offer new products and services to existing and new customers. In fact, the advice from some customers who have invested in production inkjet technology is “Don’t wait. Just do it.” As one major insurance and financial services company said, “Don’t wait, because your competition will just be that much more ahead of you if you continue to wait.”

This whitepaper gives you a taste of the learnings, know-how, and recommendations that are covered in more detail in the book. To obtain a copy of the whitepaper, visit pps.csa.canon.com/InkjetOpportunity. To order a copy of the book, visit pps.csa.canon.com/InkjetEdge.

Achieving Consistent Color Across all your Print Processes

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Contributed by: Ed Jansen, Vice President, Professional Services at Canon Solutions America

As a print service provider, you want color to remain consistent and repeatable, especially when you use multiple devices or print technologies. Ensuring that the color on the proof matches the color on the final output at all times can mean more efficient proofing and production cycles, reduced manual labor involved in color management, reduced waste and rework, and increased productivity for improved profitability.

An increasingly popular way to best analyze color and printing-related issues to assure repeatable, predictable results is to become a G7 Master qualified facility.

G7® is an internationally accepted set of best practices for achieving consistent color reproduction across a wide range of proofing  devices, printing devices (both digital and offset), and substrates. It’s a method to achieve a common visual appearance for output, even when it is produced on completely different print systems. It does this by focusing on a specification for tonality and gray balance. The result is visible improvements in color output, such as:

  • Detailed saturated colors
  • Smoother gradations
  • Improved ¾ tone print contrast
  • Improved highlight detail
  • Improved ¼ tone rendering
  • Gray-balanced neutral imaging.

According to Wikipedia, the G7 method was created by Don Hutcheson, chairman of the IDEAlliance GRACoL (International Digital Enterprise Alliance, General Requirements for Applications in Commercial Offset Lithography) in 2006. IDEAlliance®, a leading non-profit industry association, identifies best practices for efficient end-to-end digital media workflows – from content creation through distribution. It offers a number of qualification levels including G7 Master Qualified Facility (granted to physical facilities qualified to use the G7 Proof-to-Print Process) and G7 Expert (a person certified in the field of color management, process, and quality control for proofing and printing equipment and authorized by IDEAlliance to train in the areas of color and print-related issues).

Canon Solutions America offers a G7 Master Qualification service, which helps guide an organization through the process of achieving G7 Master status. G7 Expert Production Analysts will:

  • Perform a broad-based assessment of an organization’s entire print environment, including a detailed evaluation of color management processes,
  • Provide a gap analysis of areas in the print environment that may be costing the organization money or contributing to color inconsistencies, and
  • Train the organization’s staff on implementing changes to create a G7 compliant workflow and facilitate G7 qualification for the organization.

Customers tell us that achieving G7 Master status not only increases internal efficiencies and productivity but also adds to their credibility in color management among customers, differentiates their business, and even attracts new clients.

If becoming a G7 Master qualified facility is something you would like to investigate, you can learn more from the IDEAlliance website at http://www.idealliance.org, or by visiting the Color Management Professional Services section of the Canon Solutions America website at www.csa.canon.com.

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 2

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By: Irving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In my post last week, I reviewed a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands”. Let’s consider how this article translates into the Printing Industry…

How can a company making printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others?

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Become comfortable with your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses – and be able to talk to your potential clients about them.  If a competitor’s equipment can generate 20-30% more copies per minute than yours, and costs the same, the client may argue that their equipment is more productive and you will lose the sale.  But if the client has post-printer finishing need that cannot be done in-line at the equipment’s rated speed the productivity premium may be eliminated.  In fact, using a “faster” print machine may create a total production time slower than your solution.
  • Understand your client’s entire workflow – See the example above.  Understanding what your client’s workflow is, from creation of a print product, through printing, finishing and even delivery, will allow you to build a solution that specifically meets your customer’s needs.  If your client is in no rush to create the booklets to send to its clients, there is no need to provide the fastest piece of print equipment.  If they need documents as quickly as possible, then identify where, in the current process (pre-print, print, finishing) there are the most problems and develop new solutions that meet the client time needs.
  • Have a solid implementation plan, and a fail-safe – Have a solid plan for equipment delivery, connection to print servers and networks, installation and testing.  If the solution is not working to the client’s expectations and requirements, have a fail-safe in place to ensure that the client’s bottom line is not negatively impacted due to your equipment or solutions issues.
  • Have training and mentoring solutions in place – We’ve all been in situations where we buy a piece of equipment or a product and then have to learn how to use it.  Using the Internet has made things a little easier, but, as an organization, do you want your customers to learn how to use your equipment by seeing what someone else does on the Internet?  Identify your client’s most important needs and requirements of the equipment and solutions you are providing and ensure they know how to use your equipment or solution to meet those needs.  Develop focus groups with other users so that they can share issues between themselves (with input from your organization) to develop new solutions they can all use.

The new world of sales is changing in this information-rich environment.  Be sure to use all of the tools your organization provides to provide your potential customers with all of the information they will need to buy your products, services and solutions.  Providing as much information as possible to your customers gives them the power they need to make decisions that meet or exceed their requirements at the most cost-effective price.

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 1

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ByIrving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In February 2014, a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands” identified the reasons that consumers are starting to abandon their prior reliance on brand loyalty in purchasing products.  The use of online information to shop and compare items, and to listen to other purchasers on the pluses and minuses of products is now the way most customers buy products.

For established brands, this makes selling products at a premium price an increasingly difficult thing.  If you are selling a product that is superior to other producer’s products, then you may charge a premium price.  But performance numbers are quickly matched by other producers, and often there is a number of products that are so similar that it is difficult to identify them sitting side-by-side outside of their brand names.  Past performance is no longer a selling point for many consumers; what the product is and how it performs NOW is what is critical to the purchaser.  There are two situations where this isn’t true – when the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product or where the brand confers status (think Louis Vuitton).

For the consumer, the information age means they are making better buying choices (hopefully), and competition has improved quality and lowered prices. It also means that upstart companies find it easier to compete with established producers.  If you make a product that works well at a competitive price, you will quickly become the next Asus, Roku, Hyundai or Kia.  We have gone from stable consumer markets to tumultuous ones, but if you can make a great product, the world will beat a path to your door (or store website).

Let’s look at the sales situation that is a bit outside of this “new” sales paradigm – where the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product.  In the past, Coca Cola was a brand synonymous with this type of product.  Wherever you went around the world, if you purchased a Coca Cola, it would taste exactly the same and it would not make the consumer sick (because the water was pasteurized in the bottling process).  World travelers really built the Coca Cola brand, and as world economies improved citizens of the world had enough ready cash to buy one bottle of Coke.  Coca Cola has such a foothold in the US and other countries that they have increased market share in consumable beverages using their bottling companies if not their Coca Cola syrup to provide regional and local beverage favorites in every country they have a bottling plant.

So how can a company making copiers and printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others? Check back next week for a couple of solutions!

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

How Pizza Changed the B2B Customer Mindset

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Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

We all know that technology continues to transform the ways companies serve consumers at a rapid pace. But have you thought about how these new conveniences are changing the mindset of B2B customers? One of the most noticeable changes is how access to real-time, detailed information in peoples’ personal lives is also becoming an expectation in their professional lives.

Shoes Shipped Fast; Pizza Personalized; Forget the Taxi

Maybe this change started with shoes. The Zappos mantra of exceptional service in the form of selection and delivery times moved the expectations bar higher. Then Friday night pizza delivery morphed from a phone call to a mouse click or screen swipe. Order pizza online at Domino’s and you can choose olives on the left or right and know who’s making it. Then the “Dominos Tracker” allows you to watch your pizza move through various stages of production with a notification when it’s left the store. It’s a similar situation when you want to avoid the hassle of hailing a cab. When you order car service through an app like Uber, you can see the fare and precisely how long until your car arrives. And like your pizza, all large shipping companies, including the Postal Service, provide the ability to track a package you shipped or a product you ordered along its delivery route to its final destination. These consumer experiences, and many more, are transforming how customers expect to be served in business settings.

Changing with the Changing Mindset

This nearly instant access to information has shifted the mindset of the B2B customer. They want – and need – a similar level of transparency on the status of complex projects and transactions, in as close to real-time as possible. At IWCO Direct we’ve noticed this changing mindset. We are streamlining our workflow processes with tools that add value and make it easy to do business with us. But we’re not stopping there. We’re transforming our customer experience model and production processes. By enhancing our digital workflow, we will give our customers more robust views into the status of their jobs, along with the tools they need to make their job easier.

All of this is being implemented with the understanding that every individual action collectively creates the customer experience. From accounting to the production floor, we all play a role. As you can imagine, this is quite the undertaking. We’re very excited about how it will transform the experience for our customers and more fully engage our employees. We plan to share updates on our progress and additional insights in the coming months, so please check back often.

You can read more posts like this on the IWCO Speaking Direct Blog. 

Blog Author: Pat Deck
Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and graduate of The Citadel and the Naval Postgraduate School. Bringing the “work hard, play hard” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly five years. Commissioned Officer of the U.S. Navy, music and travel lover and Chicago Bears fan. 

Canon Solutions America Hosts Sales Meeting, Talks Digital Adoption

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Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

I recently had the honor of being invited to be a guest speaker at Canon’s annual sales meeting. Presenting at the enormous MGM Grand in Las Vegas was quite an experience. My topic was the growth of color digital printing in the direct mail space with a specific focus on how our customers are using the technology and why IWCO Direct chose Canon Solutions America.

I took the opportunity to explain, from a customer perspective, the advantages and disadvantages of CSA’s equipment, as well as areas that need improvement. My presentation was followed by a spirited Q&A session. It was a great opportunity for IWCO Direct to provide CSA with customer insight on their products.

Digital Explosion Continues

The biggest takeaway from this year’s sales meeting was how quickly the adoption of color digital printing technology has accelerated in the past 18 months. As well as direct mail, book printing and packaging are also leaping into digital printing. This technology is evolving so rapidly that supporting disciplines, such as consumables (ink and paper) and workflow (software tools), are scrambling to keep pace and support the process. That’s why IWCO Direct works collaboratively with all our vendors supporting the digital print process to ensure they stay in sync with our changing needs and with each other.

Support for Our Troops

My favorite part of the meeting was participating in CSA’s team building exercise. We not only assembled 500 care packages (consisting of toiletries and personal care items) for our troops stationed abroad, we also listened to servicemen and women speak about receiving care packages and what it means to receive support from back home. There was also a Marine Color Guard, which opened the activity with the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an outstanding event.

TPAC Committee Update

In December I completed my term on CSA’s inaugural Transactional Print Advisory Council (TPAC) committee. It was an excellent experience. Not only did the TPAC team make an impact on CSA’s approach to the design and functionality of the ColorStream equipment line, it also shaped their approach to color digital printing as a whole.

I have also been asked to join a newly-formed customer steering team, which will provide input to CSA on a variety of issues. This team will allow IWCO Direct the opportunity to interact with CSA senior management, engineering and marketing to express our ideas and recommendations on all areas of our partnership and business relationship. Canon has demonstrated they take our input seriously, which has made our participation very rewarding.

Our first big event is a soon-to-be-formed customer user conference. This conference will provide CSA customers a wide variety of opportunities for input and education. Our first meeting will be in April. Stay tuned for more information.

Overall we had a great time in Las Vegas. We’re excited about the direction of our partnership with Canon Solutions America and the efforts being made by the TPAC committee to shape the future of digital printing. It’s also encouraging that CSA is so eager to listen to its customers and make changes based on their feedback.

You can catch more from Dave Johannes on IWCO Speaking Direct Blog

Blog Author: Dave Johannes
Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations. Richland College and Greenville Technical College. IWCO Direct team member for more than seven years. 35-year veteran of the Industry. Graphic Communications Innovator Award and Allan J. Williamson Continuous Improvement Award winner. Personal business philosophy: “Provide leadership based on the principles and courage required to live the change and drive the results we strive for.” Loves wine tastings and cooking with his wife. Texas Rangers fan.

Convergence to Digital Inkjet Shifts to Hamburg Facility

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This morning we announced the expansion of our digital platform with the installation of an Océ ColorStream® 3900 at our Hamburg, Pa. facility. As the news release referenced, and as Joe Morrison noted in a recent post, the next 12 months will mark a period of aggressive investment in digital inkjet technology. This strategy will capitalize on the convergence to digital that is reshaping the direct mail industry.

Our customers have experienced eye-opening results using highly targeted and personalized campaigns that only digital print technology can produce. In some cases this equates to double or triple-digit lift in response rates. But that’s not the only benefit they’re experiencing. Using the single-stream optimization that digital technology allows also lowers their postage cost. We will expand on how our digital technology impacts postage in an upcoming article. Digital print technology also powers cross-channel campaigns by making it easier for print communication to connect consumers to online channels.

Harnessing the power of digital print technology does require an adjustment from marketers and their design team, however. If you’d like more background on what we mean, please read some of the content we’ve developed that relates specifically to digital printing.

We will be making more investments in the coming months, as we’re intensely focused on having the best digital platform in the direct marketing industry. If you have any questions about our digital capabilities or designing for digital, please feel free to contact our Sales or Creative Services teams.

Post by Jim Anderson of IWCO Direct. Chief Executive Officer and graduate of American University in Washington D.C. Bringing the “we versus me” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly 15 years. 2010 Harry V. Quadracci VISION award winner from the Printing Industries of America and 2008 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee. Avid golfer and NY Football Giants fanatic. 

To see more, visit http://www.iwco.com/blog/

Digital Printing Technology In Action

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Last week, IWCO Direct President Joe Morrison described how the dramatic shift toward digital printing technology is driving IWCO Direct’s investment strategy. This technology increases relevance of marketing communications, makes cross-channel integration easier and allows for integration of Big Data into direct mail campaigns – all of which drives stronger ROI for our customers. And if PRINT 13 was any indication, it truly is the future of our industry. Today I’d like to offer a hands-on look at our latest digital printing technology. We’re excited about our new presses and hope you enjoy seeing them in action.

 

Blog Author – Dave Johannes
Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations. Richland College and Greenville Technical College. IWCO Direct team member for more than seven years. 35-year veteran of the Industry. Graphic Communications Innovator Award and Allan J. Williamson Continuous Improvement Award winner. Personal business philosophy: “Provide leadership based on the principles and courage required to live the change and drive the results we strive for.” Loves wine tastings and cooking with his wife. Texas Rangers fan.

This post is provided by IWCO – see more from their blog Speaking Direct

Convergence to Digital Drives Strategic Investments

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It’s no secret that the direct marketing community is in the midst of a dramatic shift toward digital printing technology. We have embraced this “disruptive force,” and it drives our investment strategy. Marketers today need their messaging to be more personalized and relevant to the recipient, and we strive to lead the way for our customers.

How did this transformation begin? There’s no doubt the market drove advancements in digital technology, as marketers demanded solutions that would provide more relevant communications with their customers and prospects. Starting in 1994 with Don Peppers and Martha Rodgers in their book “The One to One Future,” this concept created an emphasis on personalized interactions with customers. Of course, these advancements (and the dream of true 1:1 marketing) were still years away until digital printing technology could offer higher speeds and affordable costs.

We kept an eye on the digital space for a number of years, looking for the convergence of print/color quality and affordability. Then we “got our feet wet” with short-run automated marketing programs delivering complex, highly-personalized, expected or requested communications using cut-sheet devices.

Now we have found a robust solution for large-scale direct mail in our partnership with Canon Solutions America (Océ). Their ColorStream® presses provide the speed and capacity needed for large volume digital mailings with the color fidelity our customers demand.

More conventional campaigns with minimal text variability and static images are still well supported by traditional production workflows like litho printed shells and monochrome personalization. However, targeted campaigns that have variable text and images truly benefit from digital technology. We use our digital printing capabilities to add both flexibility and value.

Those aren’t the only benefits. A digital production workflow better supports Enhanced Carrier Route Walk Sequence mail sortation for our customers using geographic marketing for their mailings. And as the merger between online and offline channels continues to evolve, IWCO Direct supports a range of print technologies that allow mail recipients to seamlessly access personalized online content.

With advancements in digital printing technology have come outstanding results. Our customers have seen repeat instances of triple-digit lift in gross response rate (GRR), and the overall success of direct mail has led to strong interest, testing and rollout from a number of industries including healthcareinsurance and telecommunications.

With an eye to further advance our digital capabilities, we continue to test other options to stay ahead of the evolving technology curve – and we’re excited about the addition of the following presses across our platform:

  • Océ ColorStream 3900 in Hamburg, Pennsylvania (November 2013)
  • Océ ColorStream 3900 in Chanhassen, Minnesota (January 2014)
  • Two additional ColorStream 3900s (Later 2014)

The future looks bright for targeted direct mail campaigns and true 1:1 marketing. At IWCO Direct, we continue to take the lead by investing in the latest digital equipment and technologies. For a closer look at our digital presses in action, stop back next week for a new video from Dave Johannes, Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations.

Blog Author – Joe Morrison
President and graduate of St. Francis Xavier University. Favorite award or recognition: Joining IWCO Direct’s leadership team and Board of Directors. Bringing the “stay focused and improve every day” philosophy to IWCO Direct for more than six years. Canadian Chartered Accountant, avid golfer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

This post is provided by IWCO – see more from their blog Speaking Direct