Ink-jet Printing : All Applications AcceptedApril 2010 By Erik Cagle
WANT TO discover the true measure of a technology's value to a printer and its customer base? Take that technology for a road test.
That's exactly what Galal Ramadan did. The president of GR Marketing & Graphic Design of Tampa, FL, knew he was sitting on a niche powder keg when he acquired a UV ink-jet printing solution from Kirk-Rudy, the WaveJet UV system.
GR's sweet spot is the medical space. The WaveJet can print 22 lines of type, up to 2˝, with two print heads, and features UV ink and drying for identification card personalization. The shop produces membership packets and ID cards for HMOs, medicare and medicaid programs. The ID cards, of course, feature highly variable data relevant to the holder's insurance coverage.
A recent GR sales call proved the technology to be applicable well beyond the health insurance sector.
"We just came back from a life insurance company that's considering solicitation mailings," notes Ramadan. "And, the other day, we got an inquiry from a casino using membership cards that are inserted into slot machines. Medical has been our niche for a long time. We do membership and fulfillment, including ID cards and member kits.
"But now, we're starting to take that technology out to other companies in Florida. Life insurance and casino clients are both users of laminated cards, which need to be durable and include variable data on them."
Hold the Cheese
Previously, GR produced member cards on a lightweight synthetic stock with a laser printer. Ramadan points out that an ID card can look "relatively cheesy" when it's produced on a thin and uncoated substrate. The printer can now churn out cards in 30- to 40-mil thickness with any type of surface, including UV coating, lamination and PVC.
Ramadan's system has some impressive bells and whistles, including XJET and XMATCH, self-contained camera lighting system for log file and read and write with date and time stamp. Other capabilities include data trafficking verifications, matching 1D/2D image patterns, data matrix, Intelligent Mail barcoding and OCR symbologies. It also offers missing and duplicate piece detection and in-line card and carrier personalization.
If personalization is the heart of ink-jet printing, then surely variable data is the brain. Be it membership or reward cards, kits and packages, fundraising mailers or other direct mail campaigns, ink-jet printing is not viewed as a poor stepchild to offset printing. Trackability and integrated media potential, in fact, make the technology more than a little sexy.