By Melissa Donovan
Part 1 of 2
Before high-speed production inkjet systems hit the mainstream, many offset printers relied on inkjet addressing and barcode printers to add variability such as addresses and barcodes. Today, many still use this technology to provide a hybrid printing option.
Common applications created from address and barcode printers include, but are not limited to, direct mail, coupons, and inserts. Average run size is anywhere from 1,000 into the 10,000s, making it ideal for these types of projects. However, anything with a high percentage of variability may prompt a print organization to move from imprinting/inkjet addressing to a full, high-speed inkjet device.
Apps for Addressing and More
Inkjet addressing and barcode printers serve key application segments in a variety of run sizes. In many scenarios, these projects benefit from the inherent capabilities of the devices.
For example, Will Mansfield, direct of worldwide sales and marketing – inkjet press, enterprise inkjet systems division, Kodak, suggests that the greatest value of using barcodes “is in adding a means of tracking response rates or adding a security layer to a document for integrity purposes.” Applications that benefit from this include direct mail, coupons, inserts, and newspapers.
Closed face envelope printing, quick response codes, personalized graphics, store locator maps, redemption coupons, business forms, and ballots are just a few other more specialized applications that can be printed using imprinting/inkjet addressing devices, lists Glenn Toole, VP of sales and marketing, MCS Incorporated.
According to William Longua, senior director, digital print group, Neopost USA, “inkjet addressing and barcode printers are designed for high-volume, homogeneous, direct mail applications, which are inherently variable with required postal codes. The average run size varies by product segment, but in the mid-range segment, the jobs are usually in the 5,000 to 10,000 piece range.”
“Inkjet address and barcode printing is ideal for addressing, product decoration, track and trace applications, and gaming/promotions. Our equipment is engineered to accommodate any size runs—from very small to millions of pieces,” shares Jimmy Klimas, technical solutions manager, Videojet Technologies, Inc.
Depending on a business’ evolving needs, at some point a print provider may consider moving from an imprinting/inkjet addressing device to a full, high-speed inkjet printer. Numerous features may sway a decision from one way to the other, but usually variable run quantities are the biggest tipping point.
Toole suggests that when an offset printer has full page, variable four-color requirements in high volume is when they should start thinking about a high-speed inkjet printer.
“When a direct mail piece varies for each page by more than 50 percent, especially in full-color images, it begins to make sense to run this job on a full-color inkjet press instead of trying to produce this job as a hybrid inkjet offset job on press,” agrees Mansfield.
Longua believes the main driver is the application at hand. “If the bulk of the provider’s jobs can be produced in a single print run for which the self-contained output can be dropped in the mail stream, then a full high-speed inkjet system makes sense. The key is that the variable data are printed at the same time as the rest of the piece, which maximizes productivity and minimizes cost. For smaller job runs, overflow works, envelopes, or static content offset output, an inkjet address printer still makes the most sense.”
Bell and Howell, LLC’s JETVision Read & Print solution prints personalized messages, graphics, and barcodes on inserts, control documents, and return and outer envelopes. It features the capability to print control barcodes to automate downstream processes and personalize cards and carriers inline. Inkjet head options include Apollo, thermal ink; Atom, piezo ink; Atlas, piezo solvent ink; and Aurora, Renoir UV ink.
Buskro Ltd. provides the entry-level BK705 or high-end BK1710 equipped with new 2500/5100 series array printheads, available in varying print resolutions of 200, 300, and 400 dpi vertically. The printheads are equipped with Buskro’s TrueFlow ink management system, which combines a simplified ink path. Both devices are compatible with UV-curable or solvent inks.
Kirk-Rudy’s WaveJet V2.5 is the newest update to its WaveJet line. It offers a larger 2.5-inch printhead featuring Versadrop technology, which offers greater functionality by modulating ink drop size. The inkjet addressing system is ideal for coated stocks, plastic, and foils and is available with solvent or UV ink. Print speeds are up to 600 feet per minute (fpm) at high-resolution inkjet printing up to 660 dpi.
Kodak offers the Prosper S5, Prosper S10, Prosper S20, and Prosper S30 imprinting systems. Each offer a 105 millimeter print width with the option to use pigment inks for lightfastness or dye inks for a lower cost per print. They are field upgradeable across the entire platform. The Prosper S5, S10, and S20 run black, spot color, and CMYK—whereas the Prosper S30 is black and spot color.
MCS provides the MCS Eagle with the ability to print at up to 500 fpm at 600 dpi with either UV or FlexPrint ink. The MCS Eagle FlexPrint features the benefits of water-based ink and the capability to print on aqueous and other coated stocks at speeds of over 30,000 pieces per hour. Another product family is the MC Osprey, which provides high-speed production and graphics capability at operating speeds greater than 20,000 pieces per hour with either FlexPrint or UV ink. Lastly, the company offers the Falcon Imager—a third generation of Hewlett-Packard based inkjet systems from MCS.
Neopost’s entry-level tabletop printers, in particular the AS-930, are ideal for offices, churches, and small businesses that utilize direct mail. In the mid-range, the company offers its AS-940 or MACH 5 color inkjet address printers. High-end solutions include the AS-980 tabletop or AS-3640 floor model. Both are modular because they can be placed inline with the company’s heavy-duty feeders, tabbers, and other accessories.
Pitney Bowes offers a full range of addressing printers, ranging in output speeds from 10,000 to 30,000 envelopes per hour. The machines are equipped to work with a variety of material sizes, from postcards to flats at thicknesses up to .5 inches thick. Both B&W shuttle heads and spot color fixed heads are available on these devices. Users have the ability to switch a B&W cartridge for a color cartridge to add a color message line.
The Videojet BX series of printers provide basic addressing to variable graphics, logos, and 2D barcodes at speeds up to 1,960 fpm. A dual printhead configuration operates on a single print engine, allowing the Videojet BX6600 to print four continuous inches of text and graphics in a single pass. The Videojet 4210 is a multi-head continuous inkjet addressing system that allows users to print variable data on nearly any surface including coated substrates such as polywrap.
Address and Barcode
Inkjet address and barcode printers are ideal for offset printers looking for a cost-effective, hybrid print solution. Specific applications benefit from these devices and as long as variability between pieces doesn’t change too much, inkjet addressing and barcode printers are a solution for the printer not yet ready to make the leap to a full, high-speed production inkjet system.
In the next part in this series, we profile one end user who currently works with an inkjet address and barcode printer on a regular basis. dps
Aug2015, DPS Magazine