Magazine Article


What Goes Around, Comes Around
A Printing Press for Photo Retailers

Jim Capanna, manager of business development at The Total Mailing System Inc., uses a Xerox iGen3 110 Digital Production Press to expand its personalized, full-color digital printing capabilities.

Xerox would not say how many iGen3 units are involved in the Shutterfly partnership deal, but the word is “multiple” units. Xerox ensures that the color output of their press is repeatable every time a document is printed, day-day, week-to-week, across multiple machines in multiple locations.

Although Fujifilm owns 75 percent of the Xerox iGEN3, those interested in purchasing a press must contact Xerox.

At photokina it was exhibited by a Dutch company under the name MyPhotoFun, a Web-based service for creating photo albums, calendars and bound collections of digital photos made up with downloaded software. Their display of photo albums was impressive. Xerox personnel were on hand to explain the details. Xerox considers photo books new business development. Customers can download free software, enhance photos, and add captions in a drag-and-drop layout. The back office software can automatically handle billing and payment to web and print partners.

At photokina, a panel discussed “The digital printing markets of tomorrow.” The focus and conclusion was that digital printing is a tremendously important element in the production of all kinds of communication media, including large format prints to books, brochures, and personalized mail shots printed by the millions. They discussed digital printing as the driver for a comeback for photo albums. Online companies such as Shutterfly get the picture with its multiple iGen3 units. We saw this trend taking off even in China, and predict that interest will be strong at the PMA show in March.

Screen Goes For Digital Press

Last but not least, Screen (USA) introduced two Truepress 344 and J520 digital offset presses last fall. The 344 press has a maximum sheet size of 13.4x17.5 with sprint speeds up to 7,000 sheets per hour. The multiple array laser diode (MALD) imaging heads exposes all four plates simultaneously within three minutes. Screen promotes the Truepress 344 for catalogs, books, sales collateral, postcards, art prints, and more. One photo lab visitor said that he thought Screen has the best option for making money.

The Truepress Jet 520 handles paper widths from 6.4x20.4 with a resolution up to 720x720 dpi. This is a single-pass, inkjet printer with piezo drop-on-demand inkjet print heads from Seiko Epson. There was definitely a visible quality difference between the two Screen models.

Offset Presses at PMA

As PMA looses wide-format printing exhibitors, it hopefully will be replaced with small format digital offset systems. PMA states that the value of the custom photo service market approached $1 billion in 2005 and is expected to double by next year. Digital printing is helping to drive this growth.

Will toner-based printer systems replace true photographic RA4 printing? It’s too early to tell because, as mentioned in the first paragraph, digital photo offset printing keeps getting better and better. Digital offset is much faster than photographic output, and from what we’re seeing, the cost per page will be less and the quality will keep improving. Durst introduced its Jota inkjet photo book system at photokina, but such systems will never match the digital offset electro ink systems in speed and inline accessories.

How do you decide which system to purchase? Or, do you stick with traditional photographic output and an offline bindery system? In the words of FOX News, we report, you decide.