RRD unveils digital inkjet printer

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RRDonnelley sees an opportunity in digital print due to its strong ability to personalize materials
RRDonnelley sees an opportunity in digital print due to its strong ability to personalize materials

While much of the printing industry anticipates the introduction of high-speed inkjet presses from Kodak, HP and other manufacturers later this year or next, last fall commercial printer RR Donnelley & Sons installed the first high-speed inkjet press devel­oped at the company's own R&D center.

“Where technology exists in the marketplace and it is available, we'll buy,” said Mary Lee Sch­neider, chief technology officer at Chicago-based RR Donnelley. When customer requirements can't be met by existing technology, the company will develop its own tech­nology, she added.

High-speed color ink­jet presses, such as RR Donnelley's Integrated Printing Systems 3 1200 DPI (IPS) address a need in the marketplace for faster, less expensive digital printers that still produce high-quality results and are able to use a variety of paper stocks, Schneider said.

“As far as I know, [the IPS] is comparable to other high-speed ink­jet presses,” said Bill Lamparter, president of printing industry consultancy PrintCom Consulting Group, based in Waxhaw, NC, adding that he's seen samples from the equipment and it “looks very, very good.”

The IPS is likely “to bring in some new business” for RR Donnelley, which has been a solid player in the digital printing arena for some time, Lamparter said, adding that RR said at an investor meeting that variable print now accounts for 11% of its overall revenue compared with 3% in 2000. It also reported that customer use of its CustomPoint Web-to-print portal increased 28% in 2008.

“Customers tell us that the most effective marketing will take place in 360 degree pro­grams that link print, Web site, e-mail, social networking and other media,” Schneider had said earlier in a statement. “Digital printing's ability to integrate personalized URLs, or PURLS, is an example of how we are helping customers to realize that vision today.”

The commercial printer currently oper­ates more than 1,000 digital printing units across more than 60 facilities worldwide. This includes six IPS units, according to industry sources.

“The IPS press straddles many different markets” because of its capabilities, Sch­neider said. In addition to direct mail and transactional statements, RR Donnelley has been using the high-speed inkjet press for books, other publications and has even done some testing with newspapers.

The company also has integrated the color imaging technology in its IPS presses into many of its conventional presses, which give customers more options.

“This gives RR Donnelley's customers the flexibility to produce highly custom­ized four color print — long or short run — using the best mix of processes,” said John Paloian, COO at RR Donnelley, in a statement.

In other RR Donnelley news, published reports have said that the company will shutter its printing facilities in Hillside, IL, and Wells, ME, letting go all of the people employed at each. The Maine plant specialized in cata­log and direct marketing printing.

The company also has recently signed a $175 million multiyear agreement with multichannel merchant Orchard Brands to provide 100% of the retailer's catalog printing and postal logistics services. And, in February, the company was awarded a $500 million, multiyear agreement by Publish­ing Group of America, which renews and expands its relationship. All future printing, logistics and premedia services are covered under the agreement.

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