Cheryl Kahanec, Joe Maloy: Digital Inkjet and Toner Presses Complement Each Other in Our Printing Plants
Cut-sheet liquid and dry toner digital production devices, continuous-feed inkjet presses, and output from analog offset presses can all work in harmony within a printing operation to meet clients’ run length, personalization, quality, and turnaround requirements.
This reality gained real-world validation during a PRINTING United Digital Experience panel discussion on Nov. 10 featuring two long-time commercial printing, direct marketing/mailing industry professionals. Cheryl Kahanec, CEO of Quantum Group in Morton Grove, Ill., was joined by Joe Maloy, president and COO of Hooksett, N.H.-based Polaris Direct.
Quantum’s heritage was a commercial sheetfed offset printing operation, which grew its digital footprint by installing four cut-sheet HP Indigo presses and a Canon imagePRESS 7100, along with an HP PageWide T240 inkjet web press.
Conversely, Polaris’ roots were as a direct mail lettershop that morphed into a full-service printing and marketing services provider, which also launched its own creative agency. With a history in roll-to-roll printing expertise using monochrome laser printers, Polaris expanded with a Screen Truepress Jet520 continuous-feed inkjet press, along with Ricoh 7200x and 9210 cut-sheet toner presses, to produce its mix of highly personalized direct mail jobs.
“There’s a misconception [among printers] that you either have inkjet or production [toner] devices,” Kahanec pointed out. “They are actually better together, along with offset. We take an approach of what’s best for how to produce that specific application or job. We look very closely at the needs of the job, and how to handle it from a time and cost perspective.”
Similarly, Maloy pointed to shifting customer requirements that led his roll-to-roll operation to embrace cut-sheet technology. “What’s happening with clients, it’s not 10 million this, 5 million that, anymore. Customers are looking to consolidate and downsize their operations,” he said. “They’re looking to single-source because they don’t have as many production people anymore. So, you need to have more arrows in your quiver. For us, it was an easy transformation — and it was always client-driven.”
For jobs requiring various components, both companies will often deploy multiple printing processes. But both Kahanec and Maloy see shifts in customer buying habits occurring due to COVID-19. At Quantum Group, this includes more digital jobs, and less offset work. Clients don’t want obsolescence and are unsure if they’ll want to change the messaging. She also sees more demand for personalization, and more printing that’s focused on direct-to-consumer.
Maloy said demand for individualization is like never before. “They want [the direct mail piece] to shout out, ‘this is for you.’”
Kahanec concluded by pointing to the fact that Polaris Direct and Quantum Group evolved and adopted similar capabilities from the standpoint of offset, sheetfed digital toner, and roll-fed inkjet printing. “A commercial printer and a mailing company ending up with similar [equipment] configurations — years down the road — says a lot about where the industry is.”
To view this PRINTING United Digital Experience printer panel discussion, and more than 100 other educational sessions, for free on-demand, visit digital.printingunited.com