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Textbook opportunity

Oct 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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With $50 million in annual revenue, Frederic Printing (Boulder, CO) is one of Consolidated Graphics' (CGX) largest operating companies. CGX acquired the 132-year-old printer from the fourth generation of the Frederic family in 1994.

Chris Greene, president of Frederic since 2002, says the company is practically a textbook definition of a commercial printer: “We do everything from business cards to millions of welcome kits for cable customers every quarter [as well as] direct mail and collateral.”

Custom publishing on a roll

Appropriately enough, a textbook opportunity prompted Frederic Printing to install an InfoPrint 5000 a little more than 18 months ago. “About a year and a half ago, we looked at different roll-fed, 4-color inkjet digital solutions,” explains Greene. “The enabling opportunity for us to enter this market was the custom publishing vertical. InfoPrint's track record made it an easy decision. The quality is great and the total cost per page is super competitive. It's really a production machine.”

Ric Davis, Consolidated Graphics' executive vice president of operations, says the new press “complement[s] our massive integrated digital footprint, which is the world's largest. This is a cost-effective investment that offers us a broad range of capabilities to help address our customers' evolving needs, while maintaining the level of quality that they have come to expect.”

The InfoPrint 5000 prints at speeds up to 418 fpm or 1,832 full-color letter-size impressions per minute in 2-up tandem duplex mode using a 20.4-inch web with maximum print width of 19.96 inches.

George Promis, InfoPrint's vice president, color solutions and technology alliances, stresses the device's flexibility. “It's a seamless solution that's scalable,” he says. “We've got three different models available, all of which are field upgradeable. We work to protect the customer's investment.”

Promis cites the InfoPrint 5000's compact design (no venting required), low power consumption and long printhead life as key points of differentiation. Also unique, according to Promis, is the devices' ability to print variable drop sizes.

“The InfoPrint 5000's piezoelectric drop-on-demand inkjet technology with multi-bit per spot for every object on the page, coupled with its high-quality water-based pigment and dye inks designed to resist fading and smearing, optimize the appearance of the output while minimizing the volume of ink consumed,” says Promis. “These Advanced Function Presentation (AFP)-enabled systems support PostScript and PDF; provide accurate, consistent and device-independent color rendering; and provide error recovery, auditability and security benefits.”

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On the run

Uptime has been excellent on the InfoPrint 5000. “We're consistently running it two 8-hour shifts per day, 5 to 6 days a week,” says Greene. “Six months out the year we're running around the clock, 6 to 7 days a week. We've never missed a due date.”

Fast setups and low waste facilitate runs of one, an attractive proposition for textbook publishers' sales adoption cycles. “We'd rather run 50 or 250 books, but if a customer wants one copy, we can produce a single book cost effectively,” Greene reports.

Frederic Printing has found the InfoPrint 5000 can do much more than textbooks. “It's flexible,” says Greene. “The changeover between book and long-run variable 4-color jobs is quick and easy, and we keep [expanding] the stocks it can run.”

Ballots proved to be a natural fit for the new press. “Originally, we did them on an offset press with about a million plate changes for different districts and counties. Then we went to a sheetfed digital press — at 70 ppm we'd produce a couple thousand ballots per hour. With the InfoPrint 5000's speed and capacity we can do a lot more in the limited window we have to print ballots. Previously, we could print 200,000 to 400,000 ballots. Now we can print millions and we can do it more cost effectively.”

Four-color variable data projects are the next logical step. “We've been able to convert a lot of short-run, 4-color projects,” says Greene. “Typically [these involved] large quantities of 4-color shells that were run through a 1-color digital press. With the cost per image and cost per page on the InfoPrint, we don't have to do that anymore.”

InfoPrint has helped Frederic identify new markets. “They've been a great partner, critical to our success,” notes Greene.

It all works together

Frederic Printing's conventional pressroom house nine presses, with both sheetfed and web models represented. Greene doesn't see traditional iron going away any time soon. “If this company is healthy, growing and profitable, it will remain so because we've got conventional presses and bindery, digital presses, direct mail and a fulfillment operation,” he declares. “I'd hate to be the guy on the corner who's just a conventional printer or mail shop or just has a few digital presses. Adding a roll-fed digital press is just one more tool. But it's probably the coolest thing we can offer clients, now, not because of what it does, but for what it allows us to offer clients.”


Katherine O'Brien is the editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at

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Now a wholly owned subsidiary

Ipex 2010 was the coming out party for InfoPrint's new brand identity. As of June 30, 2010, InfoPrint Solutions became a wholly owned subsidiary of Ricoh Company Ltd. The new brand mark will be seen on all products that come out of production after May 14th, 2010; products currently in the market will keep their current logo.

In the news

Meet the InfoPrint 5000 MP

InfoPrint's Graph Expo highlights include the InfoPrint 5000 MP. The newest member of the InfoPrint 5000 family has a smaller footprint. This high-speed digital inkjet printer can run a variety of inks and fluids and can be utilized in various configurations, including twin-engine, monochrome duplex as well as coupling with the InfoPrint 5000 to optimize production of documents using MICR.

The printer complements and is compatible with the existing full color models of the InfoPrint 5000 and provides modularity, flexibility and investment protection. The printer provides a low level of power consumption without compromising its sustained, highly reliable and easy to use features.


More opportunities

“We are a healthy company because we have multiple capabilities,” writes Chris Greene in a guest blog post. “InfoPrint Solutions products have been a great support in allowing us to expand our offerings and build more opportunities. Customers can produce PS, PDF and AFP on the spot, without any alterations or transformations needed.”


CGX launches magazine

This past August, Consolidated Grapics' annual “emerge” conference in San Antonio, TX, drew more than 750 attendees including CGX printing companies, their customers, and CGX partners and suppliers. To keep the dialogue going, CGX recently launched a bi-monthly magazine (also called emerge).