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Edinboro Offset--Imaging Ingenuity

March 1998
BOSTON—A city renowned for its historical tea parties, its commons, the Charles, the Pops, the Celtics...and variable image binding.

Well, maybe you won't find quite that description in a Frommer's Guide to New England just yet, but that may change if Edinboro Offset has anything to do with it. In the past two years, this commercial printer has doubled in growth, due in part to a determined attitude—and a process it terms "variable image binding."

Founded in 1947, Edinboro Offset—whose original owner was one of the first people to own an offset press—maintained its small-to-midsize status printing jobs for a targeted market of resellers. The company, however, was looking to develop a specific niche. Fortunately, when a client turned to Edinboro in a pinch, the niche discovered the company.

"About a year-and-a-half ago," recounts President Leland Morgan, "a sales rep from one of our biggest accounts came in with a problem.

"He had one of his customers approach him with the idea of producing a coupon book, and having every coupon in the book be trackable. Every page would be different from the next page—both the print on the coupon and the bar coding on the back would be different."

Edinboro's client had previously seen his customer's project fizzle when a selected bindery could not complete the job. "We took the challenge, handled the books and got the client out of a jam," notes Morgan.

In fact, Edinboro met the challenge so successfully that the end user, Nynex (now part of Bell Atlantic), was elated. "These coupons were returned [to Nynex] and scanned; they knew exactly who was using what coupon," points out Morgan.

Another Challenge
About six months later, Edinboro was served another challenge. This time, Nynex asked Edinboro to automate and produce a run of 400,000 books. Every book would contain up to 150 coupons and feature a punched-out ID card on the cover for each Nynex customer who received the redemption incentive. The number on the ID card then had to match the number on the coupons—necessitating quality checks throughout production.

Two weeks later, Edinboro presented to its customer a 47-page, 4x9˝ perfect-bound book, with three coupons per page. Ecstatic over the result, Nynex refined the product even further, designating that each book should contain coupons toward the front relevant to the geographical area in which each customer resided.

"We devised a way of imaging web-to-web all of the variable information," explains Morgan. "The job contained over 500 rolls. We modified some web sheeting equipment with a camera system that read the bar codes on the web to keep a 100-percent guarantee on the integrity of the data going into each book."


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