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Ink-Jet Personalization -- Time to Get Personal

November 2003
By Erik Cagle

Senior Editor

As the war continues to rage between the supporters for freedom in telemarketing and the U.S. government's national Do-Not-Call (DNC) list, the world of direct mail can be heard off in the distance, quietly giggling in glee.

Should the DNC list ultimately prevail, direct mail supporters will be uttering the old farewell line after a partygoer departs: "More beer for us!"

Some will suggest that direct mail remains a far more effective tool for promoting one's products and services as opposed to telemarketers delaying tuna casserole gratification. It is safe to say that personalization via ink-jet imaging in the finishing department hasn't diminished that theory in the least.

"Printers today must be prepared to offer more services with more efficiency to their client base and, in response, suppliers must provide printers with the tools to be competitive, regardless of any trends," notes Homi Shamir, president of Scitex Digital Printing.

Among other issues of relevance are the increasing quality requirements from the U.S. Postal Service with MERLIN and PLANET barcodes, Shamir notes.

"Our 100 percent variable data, digital printing technology coupled with an engineering design platform of modularity allows us to deliver the most flexible printers and printing systems in the industry," he says. "Our product lineup includes printing capability for monochrome, spot or process color printing, printing widths from 1˝ all the way to a full page 9˝ and, as always, the capability to upgrade an existing press and to give life to an older asset."

The Scitex 3700 printing system incorporates a flexible system of high-precision mounting rails for both 4˝ and 9˝ print heads, up to a maximum of 16, to allow users to configure a system to match their business needs, whether printing monochrome or spot color applications. Print heads can be added as needs change. The system is also offered as part of an upgrade package.

Ease of use and uptime are a pair of critical issues that all ink-jet manufacturers are working to improve, according to Troy Greenwald, director of sales and manufacturing for inc.jet Inc.

"Older ink-jet systems can take half a day to start up on a Monday morning," Greenwald says. "Changing colors can also take half a day. On the maintenance side, repair issues force larger users to keep 10 to 20 percent additional print heads in inventory/repair."

In terms of equipment, Greenwald sees a continuing market penetration of ink-jet imaging as lower cost equipment makers employ the technology. "Recent price declines of ink-jet print systems make the technology possible in simpler, less complex systems," he says. "Smaller equipment is sold to smaller end users and, as ink-jet enters those fields, the need for ease of use increases.


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