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On-Demand Printing--The Pressure of Offset's Digital Momentum

October 1998
As more digital color presses hit the market, traditional offset operations, like Dallas-based Harper House, are going on-demand.


BY MARIE RANOIA ALONSO


Is investing in a digital color press the right move for progressive, commercial offset printing operations? Buy now, buy later? Buy what? Buy from whom? Why buy at all? The pressure to purchase a digital color printing device or full-force digital color press is only going to get more intense, as more digital color output products—conceptualized and marketed specifically to bolster today's offset printing operation—hit the market.

It seems obvious that today's typical offset printing operation—often rooted in tradition and craftsmanship, and rigidly opposed to making a digital press investment—will eventually find avoiding the digital momentum impossible.

"Offset printers are looking at digital color printing as an investment that they're going to have to make. Sooner or later, they are going to have to move into a digital printing environment. They know this; they can see it in the requests for smaller print runs coming from their customers and they are budgeting for it," concludes Duncan Newton, product manager for digital color printing at Xerox.

Case in point: Harper House.

With an Agfa Chromapress 32i in place, Dallas-based Harper House would have relished the support of an educational tool or some kind of marketing instruction to jump-start its digital printing operation one year ago. With no marketing tools available, only intuition and determination on the part of Harper, the operation pushed forward into uncharted digital territory.

"From day one, Harper House wanted to be proactive on its Chromapress 32i," reports Charles M. Martin, director of marketing. "We knew we had to go digital and we knew, in doing so, that we would have to provide our prospects answers to questions on quality, cost per piece, variable data and more."

The company's founder, Jack Harper, decided that the best way to answer these digital color printing questions would be with actual samples, so Harper House created a series of personalized postcards followed by an oversized brochure on the evolution of digital printing.

"We kept something good in their face at all times, so when the light went off in their heads for a digital color printing job, they would call Harper House," Martin explains.

Recently, Agfa made Harper's job a bit easier via FastStart, a set of more than 20 educational, sales and presentation tools developed by Agfa to assist Chromapress customers in developing a robust, profitable, digital color printing market.
 

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