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Color Copiers - Candid Copy

January 2001
BY CHRIS BAUER


Maybe, just maybe, commercial printing continues to be too traditional of an industry. Color jobs, even those that are short runs, often will still be directed through the sheetfed offset press department. Film is produced, plates are made and the presses have to be makereadied. Then we wait for the job to dry and send it to the bindery.

Meanwhile, color copiers are waiting in the wings, sneaking a peek at short-run jobs traditionally sent to those offset presses. Copier vendors say that their products are best suited to take on those fast-turnaround jobs that are still being routed to the pressroom.

Chris Bilello, national digital business development manager for Minolta, recalls starting out with Canon about 10 years ago as a systems engineer. He worked with the first customers to connect color copiers for printing. He notes the initial target was any business that was looking to sell color copies—copy shops, small commercial printers and in-plant facilities.

From the beginning, color copiers have been met with acceptance in the print-on-demand world, he explains. But he is now seeing more acceptance with commercial printers, due to what he says are obvious reasons.

"Speeds have increased dramatically, prices have gone way down, the power of the front ends—the controllers—has increased exponentially and color management has gotten a lot better," Bilello stresses. "It is easy now to get good looking color without a lot of work, compared to how it was a few years ago." Also, the cost-per-copy has come down, he adds.

"The biggest advantage of a color copier is the price," Bilello continues. "The machines today are printing at 30 to 50 pages per minute (ppm) and are selling at the same price that the (Canon) CLC 500 did back eight or nine years ago, printing at 5 ppm. The initial Canon connected device with the Canon controller—that was before you could even buy a Fiery controller—sold in the marketplace for more than $100,000—and that was for 5 ppm. Now for less than half of that you can be fully connected, printing and copying at around 30 ppm."

Short-run color work, for example a print run of 5,000 or less, is a perfect fit for color copiers to handle, confides Janet Cain, director of product marketing for the graphic systems division of Canon USA.

"With the quality approaching near offset, the increasing capability for media handling and the flexibility found with the connectivity of a color laser copier/printer, one-to-one marketing applications for direct mail have become a perfect fit for our products," she says. "They also offer additional revenue opportunities for the commercial printing market."
 

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