By Lisa Guerriero
B&W output is an important capability for many print environments. The comparatively low cost of monochrome makes it a practical option. B&W devices—both inkjet and toner based—produce books, manuals, bank statements, checks, tax documents, direct mail, and insurance policies.
InfoTrends estimates that monochrome impressions will be at 131 billion by 2018, in its U.S. Digital Production Printing Application Forecast: 2012-2018. The report predicts publishing, promotional, and transactional applications will represent the majority of these impressions. Of these three segments, publishing will be the most stable over the next few years, according to InfoTrends.
“The primary drivers of all digital presses are the continued move to shorter run, on demand printing for applications such as book printing, training manuals, and marketing collateral. The overall B&W print market is declining each year but is significantly larger in pages produced than color,” observes Tracie Sokol, VP, marketing, enterprise services and solutions, Canon Solutions America.
Cost is a primary driver for monochrome demand. “Even as color applications are dominating the conversation about where print is headed, this fact still remains—85 percent of all print impressions in book publishing, insurance, transaction, and regulatory industries are printed in B&W. And the reason for this is quite simple—it’s more cost effective,” says Ed Wong, director, product marketing, Ricoh Americas Corp.
He adds that as long as the cost per page on monochrome printers continues to be significantly lower than the cost per page on a color printer, in his experience, businesses that do not require color for most of their print production will stick with B&W.
For applications like books and direct mail, B&W devices complement color capabilities. Print providers can produce book pages in B&W, utilize a color printer for the cover, and create B&W direct mail inserts with an outer sleeve in color. This enables the ability to offer high-quality monochrome output at lower costs with the option for color.
Vendors continue to release new devices that improve the efficiency, quality, and cost-effectiveness of B&W printing. Features including magnetic ink character recognition (MICR) and media drying systems add to the value and practicality of these devices.
“While cost is by far the main driver for the continued popularity of monochrome printing, speed and productivity are also advantages. Today, monochrome systems have a broader range of media support, improved image quality, and tighter sheet-to-sheet registration,” adds Wong.
Many electrophotographic devices are available for monochrome-only output.
“Since the average monochrome application is printed for an audience measured in the thousands, a good toner-based B&W device will be built with that job in mind and offer many load/unload-while-running features, which enables many hours of unattended print time,” observes John Santoli, worldwide product marketing manager, Xerox.
From text-only books to graphic-heavy mailers, toner-based devices offer ideal quality for a variety of B&W applications. Productivity is also important. Both cutsheet and continuous-feed toner devices are available to meet the speed and quality criteria.
Canon offers numerous toner-based, cutsheet B&W devices in three series—Océ VarioPrint 6000+, varioPRINT DP, and imagePRESS. For applications like books, manuals, catalogs, directories, and statements, “the print quality and speed of our devices meet or exceed the expectations of our customers and provide them with the ability to react quickly to the constantly changing information,” suggests Sokol.
The Océ VarioPrint 6000+ series presents true one-pass duplex printing digital presses. The three versions in the series each print up to 306 pages per minute (ppm), offer up to 600×1,200 dpi, and handle pages up to 12.6×19.2 inches. Transactional and MICR models are available to ensure quick transitions from printing standard duplex jobs to specialty jobs such as checks and transactional work. The varioPRINT DP series offers speeds up to 135 ppm with a smaller footprint. It handles paper up to 12.6×19.2 inches and provides resolution up to 600×2,400 dpi. The imagePRESS 1100 series prints up to 135 ppm, with feeding and finishing options to optimize productivity. It offers up to 1,200×1,200 dpi resolution and handles media up to 13×19.2 inches.
Eastman Kodak’s Digimaster HD Series features three cutsheet devices. The machines offer color with B&W capabilities, and each handles paper widths up to 14.33×18.5 inches and provides resolution up to 600×600 dpi. The Digimaster HD125 produces 125 impressions per minute (ipm) with a maximum monthly duty cycle of 4.2 million impressions, the HD150 prints 150 ipm with a duty cycle up to five million impressions per month. The HD300 offers 300 ipm with a monthly maximum of eight million impressions.
Konica Minolta provides several monochrome options within its bizhub line, each handling paper widths up to 12 inches. Offering resolutions of up to 1,200×1,200 dpi, the cutsheet devices feature speeds between 95 and 250 ppm, and monthly duty cycles between 1.5 and six million. The bizhub PRESS 2250P model is a twin engine monochrome device that handles long-run printing.
Ricoh’s Pro 8100, Pro 8110, and Pro 8120 are toner-based, cutsheet devices capable of up to a million ipm. The company built these models to accommodate longer run jobs like educational booklets while ensuring quick turnaround and document integrity. Nine paper trays, with a capacity of up to 12,650 sheets, promote longer runs with fewer interruptions.
The toner-based cutsheet printers offer maximum speeds between 95 and 135 ppm, each capable of up to 1,200×4,800 dpi resolution and handling media up to 13 inches wide. The media flexibility of the Ricoh devices enables transitions to textured, coated, or specialty stocks automatically without slowing down job flow. MICR capabilities allow for specialty jobs such as check printing.
Xerox offers several cutsheet toner options. The D95/D110/D125 copier-printers feature speeds of 95, 110, and 125 ppm, respectively. These models target consistent, high-quality reproduction of text, solids, photos, and graphics. Xerox engineered its D136 copier-printer, producing at 136 ipm, for dependability, ease of use, high-quality finishing capabilities, and optional integrated workflow optimization solutions. The Nuvera EA Production Print Systems include multiple options with speeds ranging from 100 to 314 ipm. Targeted for productivity, they feature image quality, media flexibility, and inline finishing options.
The company designed the devices for quality, and they offer either 2,400×2,400 or 4,800×600 dpi, depending on the product line. “Image quality on monochrome applications is normally measured by the amount of vibrancy in text and solid areas, and the level of smoothness in grayscale and half tones,” notes Santoli.
As production inkjet technologies continue to gain adoption, B&W solutions are available to meet monochrome demands.
“We live in a world where book-of-one and cover-driven book applications are no longer radical ideas and short-run printing of back list titles is a money maker for publishers. Add to that the ongoing need for short runs of notifications and other communications, and the reality becomes less about run length and more about the total volume a company has in a month,” suggests Pat McGrew, M-EDP, CMP, inkjet evangelist, HP Inkjet Web Press.
She adds that in most cases, the decision to adopt monochrome printing is cost based. This makes the move to inkjet for monochrome jobs a logical path for companies that do not have a customer base interested in color.
Improved quality combined with high speeds, ranging between 420 and 1,000 feet per minute (fpm) depending on the device, drives the use of monochrome inkjet. “Decreasing run lengths and the need to turn work more quickly both contribute to the increased adoption of digital printing. Additionally, the quality of inkjet print has significantly increased through both hardware and paper advancements,” notes Pete Georges, sales support analyst, high speed inkjet, Screen USA.
Numerous web-fed inkjet presses are available for monochrome printing, offering a variety of speeds, duty cycles, and media capabilities.
Eastman Kodak’s monochrome options include the Prosper 1000, built for customized direct mail applications and book applications. The web-fed system prints up to 650 fpm—3,600 letter-sized ppm—with a monthly duty cycle of up to 90 million impressions. It handles paper widths up to 25.5 inches.
Earlier this year the company introduced the Prosper 1000 Press Plus, featuring the same duty cycle and print widths at greater speeds, printing up to 1,000 fpm or 5,647 ppm. Both versions feature up to 600×900 dpi resolution.
HP’s PageWide Web Press family includes multiple monochrome models, each featuring print speeds of up to 800 fpm and 1,200×600 dpi. HP’s High-Definition Nozzle Architecture (HDNA) technology prevents tone breaks to ensure higher quality images, and the new HP Priming Solution enables an extensive range of standard offset coated media. “With HP Priming Solutions and HDNA technology, inkjet is no longer restricted to light-coverage, short-run work on a narrow range of media,” explains McGrew.
The HP T400 Mono Series produces up to 175 million letter-sized images per month. It has a scalable web width up to 42 inches and print width up to 41.75 inches, enabling efficient production of common formats, including 16-page signatures for book publishing. HP’s T300 Mono Series has a maximum monthly duty cycle of up to 129 million letter-sized images. It features a scalable web width of up to 30 inches and print width of up to 29.1 inches, producing signatures, full-broadsheet formats, or multiple-up documents for a range of applications.
The T260 Mono series prints up to 111 million landscape letter-sized, 123 million A4, and 211 million 6×9-inch pages per month.
Ricoh’s InfoPrint 5000 Multi-Purpose Platform monochrome solution offers continuous-feed inkjet printing up to 420 fpm and resolution up to 720×360 dpi. Designed for print service providers with a large volume of data-rich short-run jobs, it features an MICR option to enable applications like remittance coupons, statements with convenience checks, and direct mail with pre-approved checks. An extended media dryer option allows for printing on lighter- and heavier-weight inkjet and offset coated stocks. It can also be upgraded to color.
The company says it designed the device to help customers easily transition to monochrome inkjet with lower overall print per page costs. “Our goal was to offer enough versatility to meet any print shop’s needs, whether they required data variability, fast turnaround for short-run jobs, a combination of crisp B&W and sharp colors, or all of the above,” explains Wong.
Screen USA’s Truepress Jet520EX-Mono monochrome device prints up to 420 fpm—1,833 letter-sized pages ppm—and a maximum duty cycle of 24 million impressions per month. The continuous-feed printer offers a 720×360 maximum dpi. The company also has an option that allows for higher resolution printing at high speeds. New ink developments provide higher density blacks on all stocks.
Nordis Direct is a full-service print provider offering everything from data processing services to direct mail and email marketing services, high-speed laser printing, letter shop services, and full-color digital printing services.
Based in Coral Springs, FL out of a 50,000-square-foot facility, the company produces a variety of applications on a range of B&W digital devices. According to Ronnie Selinger, president/CEO, Nordis Direct, the company operates several Canon Océ VarioPrint 6320+ and Konica Minolta bizhub PRESS 1250 and bizhub PRO 1200 printers.
These cutsheet toner devices produce applications such as postcards, flyers, statements, checks, coupons, and direct marketing materials. It averages 7.5 million B&W clicks per month. The typical run size for its monochrome jobs is 15,000 to 20,000 packages—30,000 to 45,000 impressions.
The company also utilizes several color devices, including two Konica Minolta C8000s, which are cutsheet toner deices, as well as two RISO cutsheet inkjet devices.
“There are times clients will have us digitally print color brochures and buck slips to become inserts that get incorporated into their mail packages where the documents are printed in B&W,” says Selinger.
Having the capability to produce both color and B&W enables the company to digitally print smaller jobs that may not make functional sense to print offset.
Founded in 1973, Total Printing Systems (TPS) is a short-run digital book manufacturer based in Newton, IL. TPS provides a range of services including single to full-color printing on covers and book interiors, an in-house bindery, print on demand, fulfillment, inventory management, and warehousing services.
The company recently invested in a Screen USA Truepress Jet520EX-Monochrome inkjet device, which is used to produce books, manuals, handouts, and education materials. It produces about 16 million B&W impressions per month with typical runs sizes of 750 copies per book, with each copy averaging 200 pages.
The company acquired the Screen Truepress Jet520EX with Hunkeler finishing to address a need for higher speed, higher resolution B&W production. In order to bind the longer runs that the high-speed press offers, the company installed a Horizon CABS 4000 perfect binding line, a more automated head and tail band machine, and an automated Technograf Pronto endsheet maker.
The addition of its B&W inkjet acquisition complements an already extensive digital production line, which includes the Screen TruePress Jet520 four-color digital inkjet web press, two screen bulk ink delivery systems, a Kodak NexPress 2100 Plus, Konica Minolta C8000, Konica Minolta C1100, and two OKI Pro930 color printers.
While some of the books it produces are cover-to-cover B&W, the firm often uses the two Screen devices in conjunction. “Over half of the books we produce are black-only interiors with 4/0 covers,” says Rick Lindemann, VP, TPS. “It just doesn’t make sense to produce that kind of work on a four color-machine, where you could be printing and selling 4/4 work. So it’s cost driven more than anything,” he concludes.
Dedicated to B&W
Customers still demand B&W for an array of application requirements, from books to transactional communications.
While color can enhance output, the benefits of monochrome—low cost and quick turnaround—still meet the needs of publishing, promotional, and transactional applications. dps
Jan2016, DPS Magazine