Building a Field of Opportunities with the Xerox CiPress

Xerox CiPress 500 at dmh Marketing Partners in Iowa. (Double click image to enlarge.)

“Is this heaven?” asks John Kinsella.
“No. This is Iowa,” says his son.

And it was Iowa, like a scene from the “Field of Dreams” movie, that rolled beneath our wheels as we hurtled across the plains. Xerox had rounded up a collection of high-volume customers and a couple dozen industry analysts and press to see the first installation of its CiPress 500, the new waterless inkjet press installed at dmh Marketing Partners, an enormous direct mail operation based in Mt. Pleasant, IA.

High-speed inkjet printing may be poised to change the game in printing, but no one is taking it for granted. Some of the leading equipment vendors are taking the bold (and remarkably smart) step of not merely placing first-generation machines on customers’ shop floors, but actually partnering—in every sense of the word—with key customers to develop the technology in real-world production printing environments.

HP has been doing this with its T-series inkjet systems at O’Neil Data Services in Los Angeles, and a similar relationship between dmh and Xerox is clearly a partnership in bringing the CiPress machine to market. With dmh cranking out some 8.5 million mail pieces a day, the company has both the cred and the volume to test the new machine thoroughly.

The Waterless Advantage

Announced at Graph Expo, the CiPress 500 production inkjet system uses polymerized resin pellets—about a millimeter in diameter—that come in cyan, magenta, yellow and black flavors. These are melted and fired onto paper where they harden on contact. Like with toner, there’s minimal penetration into the paper, which eliminates the dot gain issues of aqueous inkjet systems.

A key advantage is that the machine can print on some very inexpensive papers. I snagged a sample book that had the same images printed on papers ranging from a seriously cheap 45 gsm newsprint to a 148 gsm opaque smooth stock. The colors are reasonably consistent across the brightness levels and image quality is more than acceptable for the applications the CiPress is likely to be used for. We’re not talking photobooks or car brochures here—just full-color transactional documents, third-class opportunities, and maybe newspaper inserts. There is some show-through—it’s not unlike what one would see using toner on the same substrates, and less than some aqueous inkjet devices—but this is always dependent on the paper and amount of ink used.

CiPress ink and print head

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