Hybrid Production : Mix and Match Printing
SPC needs to be able to meet its clients' demands for highly relevant, data-driven marketing communications on a very compact production schedule, according to LeFebvre. "We might receive a file with 500,000 to a million names or more on Wednesday, get the job approval on Thursday and then have the pieces in the mail on Friday."
In response to a customer request, the company recently has gotten into another application that combines its digital and offset capabilities. SPC was doing lettershop fulfillment for a program that included loyalty cards provided to it, then the client asked the printer if it would start producing the cards, as well. "So, we jumped into R&D mode, and we're now printing sheets of cards on our sheetfed presses (a Heidelberg Speedmaster XL105 and a 102P) and then leveraging digital technology to variably image the cards."
The card shells may be imprinted in black with personalized data and simple barcodes on up to full variable color, most frequently on one of the shop's three Kodak Nexpress color presses. The sheets are then laminated and diecut into the member cards that are tipped onto a base mailer printed via sheetfed or web offset.
One Workflow for All
Even with the wide variation of the work in terms of run length, format and production processes, SPC is able to efficiently process all of its jobs through a common workflow, according to John Gaspari, vice president of operations. It has had to beef up some of it resources to keep pace with the increase in customers' imaging demands spurred by the color and resolution capabilities of the Posper S10 heads, he adds.
"Customers are very excited about it and they keep pushing us," Gaspari reports. "Rather than running one or two heads—mainly for name, address and maybe a barcode—with variable four-color, they are now looking at how to change more areas of their product. So it's four or five, up to even eight, heads of variable data for a job. With the quality of these heads, clients are also looking for ways to reduce plate changes by making black changes digitally."