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W2P Breaks New Ground for Printers --Cagle

October 2008
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PRINTING TECHNOLOGIES of the last 20 years transformed the dull, gray-stock sports trading card into works of art. Compare a drab-looking 1976 Topps baseball card to a 2008 issue from the same manufacturer...it's no contest.

Thirty years ago, cards were produced on thin stock, uncoated and unimaginative. Today's cards have glossy full-color photos on both sides, with diecutting, foil stamping and embossing. Some premium cards over the past 10 years incorporate autographs and portions of memorabilia (go to piworld.com and search for the September 2006 cover story on Strine Printing for more on high-end card printing).

Well, the good folks at Digital Printing and Imaging (DPI) have teamed up with Nestlé to produce about two million personalized youth league baseball cards, courtesy of an HP Indigo 5000 press. The promotion is being touted in packages of Nestlé's Drumstick brand sundae cones and produced via DPI's Web-to-print application.

Consumers can visit the dedicated Website, upload an image, enter a youth's team name and player statistics, view a PDF proof and then order a pack of 16 cards. DPI employs an HP SmartStream workflow driving the HP Indigo 5000 digital press.

Kennesaw, GA-based DPI secured the contract for this program based on its experience in digital printing and fulfillment.

"The quality we are able to offer with the HP Indigo press, as well as our highly developed Web-to-print workflows, gave Nestlé the confidence that we would be providing a best-in-class solution that reaches a target audience in a way no other promotion can," stated Susan Moore, president of DPI, in a release.

DPI's workflow systems automatically impose cards in gang runs, with each printed sheet on the press containing 18 different card images. DPI prints 16 sheets at a time, and the cards are UV coated, cut, stacked, packaged and shipped to the consumer in a process that doesn't require collation.

This is yet another example of Web-to-print's prevalence--and relevance--as a point of differentiation for printers to seek new revenue streams.

MILESTONE BIRTHDAY: Ten years ago, Arthur Wetzel sold his printing company, Wetzel Brothers, to Joe Davis and Consolidated Graphics. Wetzel was getting on in years and wanted to pass the torch to an organization that could carry on the company's tradition of quality and innovation, as well as make investments that would enable the company to remain competitive.

Davis recently reported that he attended a birthday party held for Wetzel, who turned an amazing 105 years young in August. Davis was also at Wetzel's century celebration, where the guest of honor arrived in a vintage Rolls Royce once owned by the Shah of Iran.

Let's put Wetzel's first year as a print salesman, 1926, in perspective. Calvin Coolidge was the U.S. president. Benito Mussolini had taken control of Italy. French painter Claude Monet and magician Harry Houdini passed away that year. Robert Goddard launched the first liquid fuel rocket. The Great Miami Hurricane rocked the Sunshine State, while in Chicago, warring factions were taking aim at Al Capone's troops.

Best wishes to you, Mr. Wetzel!

GE HOTSPOTS: So you've just wrapped up a long day of working the McCormick Place South floor during Graph Expo in Chicago. You're exhausted and those feet are telling you a sob story. Still, you've got to fight the urge to head back to the hotel and crash for the night. Here's a couple of prime suggestions to keep the blood flowing.

House of Blues. Right down on North Dearborn, the HOB usually plays host to one manufacturer's event per year. Otherwise, you can pop in and enjoy the excitement generated by house bands and DJs. The Back Porch Stage features live bands nightly at 10 p.m. Visit www.hob.com/venues/clubvenues/chicago/ to learn more.

Excalibur Club. Ontario and Dearborn. This club boasts the "city's largest dance floor," and it features the most amazing house dancers. If that's not your thing, you can enjoy live entertainment, dine and play pool or arcade games. If all else fails, kick back in the lounge, indulge in your favorite refreshment and give those dogs a breather. See www.excalibur-
chicago.com for more info.

And it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway...take a cab or walk. No drinking and driving.   PI

--Erik Cagle


 

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