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Monochrome Digital Printing--Back in Black

May 1998
Color permeates the world around us—as advertising agencies love to remind us. Live in color, they tell us. Dream in color. And we listen.

The nation's infatuation with all things bright and beautiful has not gone unnoticed in the digital printing market, where a variety of devices, many sporting a Xeikon engine, provide colorful output.

So where does this leave monochrome machines? As full-color digital printing systems steal the spotlight, will monochrome devices fade to black?

Not likely.

"The glamour and glitz is in color now," admits Bonnie Robinson, the "B" in B&J Typesetting, a small desktop publishing operation in Boise, ID. "But because of what I do, I don't need a color printer. The publications I do are not in color. And there's a lot of work out there that isn't in color."

B&J benefits from black-and-white work, and a Hewlett-Packard LaserJet 5000 helps. Although Hewlett-Packard didn't officially introduce this monochrome laser printer until March, B&J had been beta-testing the machine since last July—with pleasing results.

According to Robinson, the LaserJet 5000 acts as an excellent proof printer. And since the laser printer provides 1,200-dpi output, B&J has also been using the device to create camera-ready copy.

"I needed a really high-resolution-output, plain paper printer," Robinson says. "This exactly fit the niche. It does full bleed on 11x17˝, and it is really, really fast. It's blazing."

Todd G. Thatcher, of David Smith Printing, tells a similar story about his company's Xanté Accelerator 8200. Although three computers feed large files into the Xanté, this monochrome device doesn't choke.

"The speed is very good," Thatcher says. "We have a lot of big files, and it does pretty well."

Thatcher works in the design department at David Smith Printing, a commercial printing company in Harrisburg, PA. He points out that his department uses the Xanté primarily for proofing purposes. Here's how.

Whenever a file comes in, Thatcher's department RIPs it to the Xanté. Customers and a company proofreader then look over the output, checking the fonts and other aspects of the piece. Once the job is approved, it goes to film.

Like the LaserJet 5000, the Accelerator 8200 delivers resolutions of 1,200 dpi. And like B&J, David Smith Printing occasionally uses its laser printer to generate camera-ready output.

B&J and David Smith Printing both provide examples of what companies can do with desktop monochrome printers, but what about larger devices? Do machines like the Xerox DocuTech and Océ DemandStream still have a place in a color-saturated market?


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