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Ames On Demand -- Still Rolling On

April 2003
Ames On Demand (AOD) is the digital printing division of Ames Safety Envelope Co. in Somerville, MA. Chances are if you've had an X-ray or have been in the hospital, your health history was stored in a color-coded medical record file folder produced by Ames Safety Envelope, which was founded in 1919.

The company continued to develop new product lines and produced the first color-coded file for Massachusetts General Hospital in 1960. Today the firm has about 40 percent of that market nationwide. Ames has created a number of successful spin-offs, including Ames Specialty Packaging in 1985, and AOD in 1998—both located in the company's 300,000-square-foot headquarters in the Boston suburb.

"We've always tried to stay on the cutting edge of technology. Digital printing continues to evolve and provide new opportunities for the future," says Michael Shea, Ames' senior vice president of manufacturing.

AOD is a full-service printer specializing in digital and sheetfed printing, binding, as well as fulfillment and distribution. Its 20 DocuTech and bindery employees use the latest prepress equipment and four Xerox DocuTech 6180s to produce digital black-and-white short-run books, customized manuals and textbooks for various financial, publishing and educational institutions.

Using the company's BookBuild technology, professors and instructors can select from thousands of modules and custom-build their particular book or course of instruction over the Internet. Then, they can print 25 books or hundreds, whatever they need.

To maximize its DocuTechs' cost-effectiveness, operators print the majority of books two-up on 11x17˝ paper. Those pages are then guillotined to an 8.5x11˝ size and either plastic coiled or perfect bound.

While this system was efficient using plain paper, it wasn't economical when AOD tried to duplicate it for an educational client's request for lab workbooks with perforated tear-out sheets.

Paper Problems

"We couldn't buy 11x17˝ sheets with twin perforations—we could only buy perforated 8.5x11˝ paper, which was very costly," Shea recalls. "This also meant losing the usage charge advantage of printing on 11x17s. So, we knew that we would have to find a converting device in order to do the job cost-effectively."

Ironically, he didn't have to look far to find a solution. Roll Systems, in nearby Burlington, MA, manufactures the DocuSheeter DT roll feed system with running perforator option. The DocuSheeter produces up to 50,000 11x17˝ sheets from a roll (or up to 200,000 duplex 8.5x11˝ images) to continuously feed a DocuTech.

"The DocuSheeter allowed us to maximize our productivity and, at the same time, control our paper costs significantly for this job," adds Shea. "Like many printers we are facing very tight margins, so the savings we experienced cutting and perforating our own sheets on the DocuSheeter allowed us to remain profitable."
 

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