• Lois Ritarossi

New Inkjet Applications and Efficiencies for In-Plants

Updated: Jul 29, 2020

There has been widespread adoption of inkjet platforms replacing digital toner and offset printers in the last five years. Newer inkjet technologies from several manufacturers have improved image quality and substrate flexibility. Many in-plants have justified the cost of new inkjet platforms based on three criteria: reduced cost of running inkjet over older print devices, increased speed, throughput, and the elimination of pre-printed shells.

Opportunities Beyond Operating Costs

Beyond the lower processing cost and improvements to throughput, inkjet also provides many advantages from a manufacturing perspective. One large school district was able to install full color, cut-sheet inkjet to replace multiple black and white toner devices. While most of their output was black and white, they leveraged the lower cost of inkjet to change applications to full color and impact learning outcomes. School districts have long believed they can’t afford color printing and structured their in-plants for black and white printing. Inkjet has enabled full color printing at the cost of black and white. By printing in color, teachers and students are finding documents are visually interesting, compelling more reading, increasing retention, and support better learning in a multi-channel world.

Workflow Improvement

Adopting inkjet has also delivered dramatic improvements in workflow by allowing personalization and variable data. Jobs that were previously collated, boxed and shipping by hand, are now run with inline finishing by school or class with shipping instructions. This workflow change eliminates manual labor, reduces errors and provides faster turnaround to teachers and students.

Inkjet enables full color, variable data and personalization. Eliminating pre-printed forms, separate print streams for black and white and color components and inventory management drive the cost savings from inkjet. Many in-plants have improved the appearance and use of printed materials by adding color and streamlining the manufacturing process, while providing flexibility to the content and document owners.

Postal Optimization - Whole Pennies

In-plant print mail operations in financial, insurance and health care sectors have leveraged inkjet platforms to commingle multiple documents across different lines of business to qualify for higher presort postal discounts. Merging data streams across lines of business to electronically commingle more documents into one larger mailing enables significant postal savings. When we compare the cost of toner or offset printing to inkjet, the savings is often in fractions of pennies per page. With postal presort rates ranging from $.412 to $.459, electronically commingling multiple documents could mean a savings of two to four cents per piece of mail. Smart in-plants have been able to save up to $.031 per envelope. Whole pennies per envelope add up quickly with large volume mailers, providing postal savings that have a significant positive impact on budgets.

Wow Applications

In-plants in verticals like higher education and retail leverage inkjet technologies to create new applications that wow their customers every day with creative solutions. Larger sheets sizes and ever-expanding options for media and textures with specialty finishing deliver print applications that are engaging and increase the value of print. What previously was cost prohibitive from an offset perspective or challenging to produce with in-house devices like short run posters, or personalized booklets, can be run and finished effectively with inkjet and a well thought out workflow.

Smart print applications now include Augmented Reality and rich media to drive interactions to the web and other digital media. The previous complexity of managing different covers and match mailings in a labor-intensive finishing process is eliminated. Effective data management and versioning in the source data files create custom inkjet print applications for each recipient.

In-plants have shared success stories about leveraging inkjet to create posters, booklets and direct mail solutions that they previously could not create cost effectively. By reimagining and improving each step in the manufacturing process, while also leveraging data to produce print that drives engagement, in-plants are providing relevant inkjet driven solutions to their organizations.

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