By Melissa Donovan
Digital print continues to serve the ever-increasing demand for faster, cheaper, and better. While traditional CMYK and even B&W prints on a digital press continue to benefit print providers, enhancements or special effects like spot coats, metallic, and foil are also making headway.
Long able to be produced on analog technologies, but not economical for shorter runs, these special effects are attainable with digital printing thanks to advancements in fifth imaging units and standalone post-print solutions. With the technology available, it is up to the print provider to sell the product—educating their customers on what’s possible.
Here, three print providers share experiences with implementing digital enhancement technologies.
Above: DiscPro customer CBRE requested a short run of a magazine for its investors, utilizing metallic gold ink from a Kodak NexPress SX3300.
DiscPro Printing & Graphics began in 1999 with the goal of providing customers with exemplary customer service. The company employs a staff of 54 out of a 22,000 square foot location in Houston, TX. The full-service print company offers on demand digital printing with a complete in-house bindery and mailing department.
Serving the North American market, DiscPro added digital printing to its business model in 2006. According to Dale Morris, president, DiscPro, it had an immediate effect on sales, and increased business three to four percentage points each year since.
“With digital, we respond almost instantly to customers’ requests. The ability to produce a small run for our customers to test before a larger quantity is produced is reassuring to our clients,” explains Morris.
The company’s flagship digital press is the Kodak NexPress SX3300, featuring a sheet size of 14×39.37 inches. The press enables DiscPro to offer dimensional printing as well as special PMS enhancement with additional print units. Red, light black, clear, dimensional clear, white, and metallic gold units are options available with the Kodak NexPress SX3300. Glossy finishes are also an option.
While the press provides the company with a distinct advantage, it isn’t without its challenges. Morris credits keeping up with software and program upgrades as solving most of the issues. “Anything new presents challenges and our skilled operators continually work with our customers to overcome all obstacles encountered in each project,” he says.
Implementing special effects with the Kodak NexPress SX3300 involves educating customers about the possibilities. “It’s informing our customers of what we can do to enhance their products by simply telling them about dimensional stability and how little it adds to the cost when compared to the overall project,” shares Morris.
A customer will typically consider print enhancements after they review a how-to pamphlet DiscPro put together, which gives them the confidence to build the files correctly.
One such client is CBRE, a repeat customer who Morris says is typically on the edge of technology for special print effects. Taking a total of two weeks from design to print, the metallic gold in the Kodak NexPress SX3300 unit was used to highlight images of buildings in a property magazine for investors. The final piece was 8.5×13 inches, 114 pages plus the cover, and perfect bound. It was a small run and because of this digital print capabilities were essential.
“It showed us how much digital print has changed the print market. This piece would have been extremely expensive—probably would not have been created—to produce using conventional offset,” shares Morris.
The CBRE magazine presents an example of what enhancement capabilities on the Kodak NexPress SX3300 can achieve. All in all, the press’ features enable DiscPro to generate more profit from jobs and give clients a tool to grab their customers’ attention.
Contributing to Growth
Established in 1991, HPG Print of Waltham, MA produces high-quality, short-run digital printing solutions to trade partners and print brokers in the New England area. Six employees work out of an 8,500 square foot space.
Serving the needs of its customer base, the company employs two Xerox Color 1000i Presses. It originally owned a Xerox Color 1000 Press and became a beta site for the Xerox Color 1000i Press with silver and gold dry inks. It liked it so much, it upgraded.
Using metallic gold, silver, and clear specialty dry inks allows the company to expand capabilities for a range of applications. Greg Wallace, president, HPG Print, says the production capabilities of the Xerox Color 1000i Press take its business to the next level. “We saw the clear, gold, and silver dry ink capabilities as a value-added service and a clear differentiator for our business.” As a result, a second press was purchased.
More than half of the work HPG Print produces includes clear, gold, or silver dry inks. Applications like business collateral, marketing materials, and brochures are popular.
While most of HPG Print’s customers didn’t realize enhancement capabilities were easy to achieve with digital print, once educated, Wallace says it is an easy sell. To do this, employees are focused on guerrilla marketing tactics. Working with Xerox’s Profit Accelerator Clearly Different and Clearly Personal Business Development kits help grow awareness in the local creative and design communities.
“Education is key—we want individuals in creative fields to know that these unique special effects are an option and they can greatly benefit what they’re producing,” shares Wallace.
Most customers don’t realize that effects like clear, silver, and gold are attainable via digital printing. It’s HPG Print’s job to introduce them to digital. “Many people think that they need to go to a traditional offset print shop to get jobs with special effects printed, and with that comes longer runs and bigger price tags. With digital, we produce these capabilities in shorter runs at a price that’s more affordable for customers,” explains Wallace.
A recent enhancement request came from a customer looking to have 300 8.5×11-inch data sheets printed. The graphic included an emblem that was gold CMYK. When HPG Print created the proofs, it did two different versions. One was regular gold CMYK. The other used metallic gold dry inks on the Xerox Color 1000i Press. When the client saw the two side by side, it immediately went with the metallic gold and increased the quantity on the job to 400 pieces.
This job illustrates how enhancement capabilities on HPG Print’s two Xerox Color 1000i Presses are helping them grow. Wallace says that within the last three to four years, business has doubled.
“Special effects are a big contributor to our growth. The clear, silver, and gold dry ink capabilities help with the profitability of jobs—these types of inks go beyond the commodity marketplace and deliver incredible value-added services that boost our bottom line,” concludes Wallace.
After purchasing a company in 1998, Mike Dykeman, president/owner, Pro-Lam, became involved with one-sided lamination—something no one else in Calgary, AB, Canada offered at the time. This soon escalated into high-speed, large-volume trade finishing jobs in the thousands, causing Dykeman to move the business out of his basement and eventually into an 8,000 square foot space.
Today, the company offers both one- and two-sided lamination as well as UV flood coating for narrow and wide format projects. Strictly a trade shop offering no traditional print services, it offers nearly every type of finishing except framing.
Three full-time and five part-time employees make up Pro-Lam. Hands on, one-on-one interaction with customers is the company’s goal day in and day out. While most of the clients are in AB, it also has a few in BC.
For nearly to two years Pro-Lam has run an MGI JETvarnish 3D digital spot UV coater, which it purchased through Konica Minolta. For about five years prior to this investment, Dykeman researched spot coaters—a niche he knew he wanted to steer the company into because no one else in the area had the capability.
One day a Konica Minolta sales representative came into the trade finisher’s shop and started inquiring about the company and its needs. During the conversation the MGI JETvarnish 3D came up, and when Dykeman learned it was geared toward digital and saw samples, he was intrigued.
“We wanted a spot coater, but we never thought foil or foil and a coating. We saw it as a game changer,” explains Dykeman.
With limited vendors in Western Canada operating devices like the MGI JETvarnish 3D, Pro-Lam’s services are gaining traction. The majority of its work involves business cards. Other applications include invitations and book covers. While the machine is geared toward small runs, some of its biggest business card jobs involve 6,300 sheets. These usually include a two-sided spot coat and are completed in 11 to 12 hours. Invitations are around 100 sheets or less and book covers run anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 pieces at a time.
Like many of his peers, Dykeman admits educating his customers about the enhancement capabilities Pro-Lam now offers is an involved sell. To promote the service it’s sent out direct mail campaigns and also created a sample book.
The effort is working. The company receives regular in-person inquiries with people showing them a business card with a spot color or foil enhancement and asking if Pro-Lam can do something similar. Of course, Dykeman says yes—and admits that nine out of ten times the card the prospective customer brought in was something he printed.
“This is a huge market to tackle. We have a small machine, but can see the work load getting larger and moving into other opportunities,” foresees Dykeman. Specifically, a few of the company’s potential customers have made inquiries about packaging.
The MGI JETvarnish 3D helps Pro-Lam continue its reputation as an accessible business partner. “We want people to come to us with an idea and we can help them make it reality, even if it’s difficult or hasn’t been done before,” adds Dykeman.
Enhancement capabilities like spot colors, metallic, and foil increase print provider’s capabilities. While the educational curve may be challenging compared to other services, the end game is ripe with rewards. Once a customer sees special effects like gold foil first hand, versus a traditional CMYK graphic, the benefits are evident. dps
Jul2018, DPS Magazine