Digital Digest: Worth Higgins Hosts Debut Party for Komori IS29 Press
RICHMOND, Va. — The big tent, catering truck and refreshment stations were located in the lot in front of Worth Higgins & Associates’ facility, but the day’s main attraction was tucked safely inside a small room at Virginia’s largest sheetfed commercial printer.
And it wasn’t a sheetfed offset press, either!
Approximately 300 guests — primarily customers, along with a dozen or so fellow printers — enjoyed sliders, guacamole and the first live peek at Worth Higgins’ new output device: a Komori Impremia IS29 UV sheetfed inkjet press with LED curing. The printer served as a beta test site for the much-anticipated press.
“It was extremely gratifying to see the enthusiasm for the high quality print the IS29 delivers,” said Jacki Hudmon, senior VP of new business development at Komori America. “Even more exciting was hearing from Worth Higgins & Associates’ customers, who had already had jobs printed on the IS29, rave about the results. It validates our product development process and the demand for the unique capabilities this press delivers.”
The Sept. 15 open house, dubbed “The Future of Print,” was the culminating event in a process that began last May with the installation of the digital press. It went into production the following month, and Worth Higgins has given it a healthy workout during the testing phase, operating around 12-13 hours per day, notes Scott Robertz, digital printing systems product manager for Komori America.
As it boasts LED curing, jobs that roll off the 23x29˝ Impremia do not need a post-coating before going into the mail stream. It can handle synthetics, 18-pt. PVC and can go up to 24-pt. simplex. Recently, Worth Higgins ran a 70,000-piece variable printed job.
“Worth Higgins got a job from a customer that was previously cost-prohibitive to print offset,” Robertz said of a client that was producing extremely short-run posters. “Now, with the IS29, they can print high-quality posters in runs of 50 to 100 at an attractive price. They’ve gotten their foot in the door and are looking to get other printing business from them.”
Aside from direct mail and posters, the press had churned out items ranging from postcards to handicap placards and real estate literature. It’s rated at 3,000 sph simplex and 1,500 duplex, and uses Komori gripper technology. As it can do a six-up imposition, that doubles the output of Worth Higgins’ previous digital technology.
The UV ink enables Worth Higgins to use a wider range of substrates without the need for pre-coating. And the LED curing ensures that the ink doesn’t come off the sheet during mailing.
Worth Higgins and Komori provided customer tours of the press. As a demonstration of its capabilities, the IS29 was fed a calendar on 80# Cougar Cover, an uncoated sheet. The result was a clean, attractive sheet with no streaking or banding.
According to Worth Higgins CEO Rick LaReau, the company had been monitoring the progress of inkjet technology for the last four or five years. The company jumped on the digital bandwagon about 10 years ago with HP Indigo, and was looking for the right opportunity to get into production inkjet. So, when another potential beta candidate had to bow out, LaReau approached Komori about testing the IS29.
“We’ve been very pleased with the results we’ve had so far,” he said. “The fact that it’s UV and we’re very familiar with UV inks is very appealing to us. We’ve had some bumps here and there, but Komori has been very supportive. They’ve had techs come out when we needed them.
“In the commercial sheetfed market, this point of differentiation is something our salespeople can promote. It has the larger sheet size; we don’t have to be overly specific with stocks. It doesn’t limit us on small-run jobs. And the quality has been excellent.”
In an era of “me too” printers, LaReau believes it’s essential that his company stay in tune with the needs of its customers, and all signs point to personalization being the future of print.
“It’s a work in progress,” LaReau said of the company’s future foray into production inkjet. “It’s not all things to all people, but it does serve a niche in the market. And the more personalized print becomes, there’s less of a chance that it will go away.”
Komori America President Kosh Miyao commended LaReau and Worth Higgins for providing valuable feedback that led to a couple of changes and modifications that have “gotten us closer to where we need to be.” The buzz surrounding the machine, which bowed at drupa, has the executive excited about its future.
“Just about all of our customers recognize just how unique this machine is,” Miyao said. “There was a tremendous amount of interest in it. Being able to print on most substrates, I believe, makes a big difference.”—Erik Cagle