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Nimble & quick

Nov 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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Will Rogers, Oklahoma's favorite son, famously declared he never met a man he didn't like. Similarly, John Roberds and Jan Fairless, president and vice president, respectively, of Odyssey Digital Printing never met a Xeikon press they didn't like.

The Tulsa, OK, shop's pressroom houses a Xeikon 50D and 5000 as well as the first U.S. installations of the 3300 (2008) and 3500 (2010). Other equipment highlights include a direct imaging press as well as seven large-format printers: two UV flatbed inkjets, three solvent inkjet printers and one thermal inkjet printer.

The 52-employee operation specializes in point-of-purchase, packaging and labels. At a recent press and analyst briefing co-hosted with Xeikon, Odyssey showcased some short-run customized projects that have helped it maintain its competitive edge: customized golf ball boxes as well as candle packaging and labels.

Acushnet, manufacturer of Titleist and Pinnacle golf balls, had long realized the allure of customization. Golf balls featuring corporate sponsors' logos are popular gifts at trade shows, charity tournaments and other events. But what about the package itself? As most golfers know, golf balls, like eggs, are sold by the dozen. (There are three golf balls to a sleeve and each individual box of balls holds four sleeves.)

In 2003, Acushnet asked Odyssey to produce customized boxes in run lengths of 1,000 or less. The boxes often feature a sponsor's logo, a course's signature hole and the event's name and date. Odyssey can produce runs as short as 24 boxes.

Acushnet combines templates and customer supplied logos and photos to build the files. PDFs are then sent to Odyssey via FTP. Prepress operators place the PDFs into printing templates. A press operator queues the jobs. Prints are rewound for coating and diecutting.

The boxes, now largely produced on the Xeikon 3300, are printed on 16-pt. Iggesund paperboard, UV coated and then finished on a Preco ( roll-fed, optically registered, 40-ton die press and a Universal folder gluer.

Dies typically are changed eight to 10 times per shift with each changeover generally completed in two minutes or less. From the time the order is placed, the turnaround time is five days.

Shine a light

Yankee Candle ( approached Odyssey in 2008. The company is the largest specialty branded premium scented candle company in the United States. The South Deerfield, MA-based company originally sought a solution for producing samples. Previously, samples were ganged with longer runs. Yankee employees cut and pasted the output to create prototypes.

In addition to quick turnaround time, print quality was paramount. The candle maker wanted digitally produced output to be indistinguishable from conventionally printed work. Company officials reviewed output from other digital presses but only Xeikon met their standards. Odyssey printed some sales samples for Yankee in 2008. In 2009, Odyssey produced packages for Yankee's retail outlets: bilingual tea light boxes for the Canadian market.

The process starts with rolls of prints that are UV coated and rewound. Next the rolls are diecut on the Preco. The die cut pieces are glued and folded, counted assembled into sets and boxed for shipping. Total production time is two to three days, depending on capacity availability and volume.

Custom photo label candles are Yankee Candle and Odyssey's latest short run project. Users can put their own photos on jar candle, tumbler or votive products. Popular applications include wedding favors, new baby announcements and holiday greetings.


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

The label line up

Xeikon 3000 Series includes one new model — the Xeikon 3050 — and an upgraded replacement for the original Xeikon 3000 model: the Xeikon 3030.

Each press offers 1,200-dpi resolution. Models are divided into two maximum web widths: 13 inches and 20.3 inches, with each width available in entry-level or the higher productivity versions. Entry-level versions are designed to be field-upgraded to the wider and/or faster specifications. All can print on self-adhesive materials such as co-extruded films, Bopp, PVC and PET, paperboards and paper with weights ranging from 40 to 350 gsm as well as transparent and opaque foils. No precoating is required.

Xeikon 3030 | This 13-inch web width entry model is field-upgradeable to any of the higher Xeikon models. The Xeikon 3030 replaces the original Xeikon 3000 model introduced at Labelexpo Americas 2008. It features the latest enhancements to the print engine and runs the QA-I toner. Rated speed is up to 31.5 fpm. Existing Xeikon 3000 presses can be upgraded the new Xeikon 3030.

Xeikon 3050 | A new entry point for users looking to move beyond a 13-inch web width. Maximum web width can go up to 20.3 inches. Rated speed is up to 31.5 fpm. It is upgradable to a Xeikon 3500.

Xeikon 3300 | A high-volume label press, for use with the most common web width of 13 inches; it can handle a web width as narrow as 7.9 inches at speeds up to 63 fpm.

Xeikon 3500 | Announced in May 2010, this flagship model prints at 63 fpm and offers the wider 20.3-inch maximum web width; can handle a web width as narrow as 9.8 inches. It can produce up to 6,135 sq. ft. per hour on a wide range of substrates. QA-I toner meets FDA guidelines for indirect and direct contact with dry food.


Flexible format wins a fan

Nashville, TN-based Ambrose Printing specializes in religious publishing, retail communications and educational testing. The company prints church bulletins, sports media guides, point-of-purchase work, special event kits and catalogs. In addition to labels and general commercial printing, Ambrose offers kitting and fulfillment services.

“The key has been really understanding what our customers' needs are, and not doing what everybody else does,” says John Ambrose III, president and the fourth generation of his family to lead the company. “Our most valuable resource is the experience of our craftsmen, who average 17 years of service.”

The company was founded in 1865 as the American Book and Job Office. Joshua Henry Ambrose, who was then secretary-treasurer of the Nashville Chattanooga & St. Louis Railroads, purchased the company in 1886 and concentrated on ticket printing.

In 1905, the company was renamed Ambrose & Bostleman, which was soon changed to Ambrose Printing Co.

Ambrose's 70,000-sq.-ft. plant includes two 40-inch presses, one 56-inch press and 22¾ × 38-inch web press. On the digital front, flexibility was a top priority. Ambrose wanted to print on a wide range of substrates and page sizes. Earlier this year, the company installed a roll-fed Xeikon 5000 press to cost effectively produce short to medium run VDP work.

“Xeikon is the only toner-based digital color press available that has no frame or sheet size restrictions, and produces offset-like quality,” Ambrose says. “In addition, it prints on both sides of the substrate at the same time and has little to no makeready time, which allows us to be more productive and efficient.”

The Xeikon 5000 lets Ambrose print jobs 19½ inches wide and up to 64 inches long. The press can print on coated and uncoated paper, with media weights ranging from 40 grams per sq.m/27 lb. text to 350 gsm/130 lb. cover. “It's opening up areas for us that we were not used to, and we're excited to see how this will help us grow into new markets,” Ambrose says.