Production BW: KM vs Ricoh vs Canon

ksherrod

Well-known member
Apologies as we are still heavily into research phase of replacing old Xerox Docutech 6180s. Was curious what are the key factors you have looked at when selecting one manufacturer vs another? If you chose KM or Canon or Ricoh...is there one reason you picked one over the other? We are currently running 500k - 1.2 million (11x17 mostly) per month between the two 6180s. We have been demoing equipment and since in theory everything is a step up from the 6180 in most factors, I'm not totally sure we would lose with any of the current options....but of course want the most appropriate device, most reliable, best value... So right now they seem mostly similar with a few give and takes.

Really what is important to us is getting a reliable machine...impressions between calls. All of the potential vendors (except Xerox) seem to offer similar service on site guarantees. Booklet finishing appears more advanced/better value on the KM end (versus spending twice as much on a Plockmatic for similar features, etc). KM and Ricoh seem about roughly the same speed unless you move up to dual engine KM. Demo floor didn't have a higher speed Canon to try out, though the Canon appeared to be a bit less heavy duty than the KM. I don't think the loss in speed against the 6180 would totally be a deal breaker but we would probably notice it sometimes. All machines would save us a ton on electricity versus the 6180s. All machines would be a significant improvement in print quality and stock types/sizes versus the 6180s. All machines would I imagine (still waiting on a couple proposals) be a significant reduction in click cost at the very least.

We are fully aware of Xerox options and have gained a pretty sour opinion of them for the last few years, so that's why I have excluded them from this. We are an all Xerox shop for now, but we have a long list of reasons to look elsewhere and so far they have been unwilling to accommodate.
 
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Puch

Well-known member
We use a KM 1250P. Quality is generally good, almost perfect most of the time. Very dense blacks, awesome contrast on good paper. We sometimes experience tone differences between the sheet sides, which can be cured by cleaning / replacing the corona. There are a lot of ways to adjust the paper handling, eg. we were able to run 70 gsm LWC successfully via slowing the machine down a bit. Registration is also very stable throughout long runs.

My only concern is the cheap RIP, so don't expect perfect PostScript screens on printouts. Over 120-133 lpi the imperfections become visible for a trained eye, but that's not a concern in most of the applications, of course.
 

ksherrod

Well-known member
We use a KM 1250P. Quality is generally good, almost perfect most of the time. Very dense blacks, awesome contrast on good paper. We sometimes experience tone differences between the sheet sides, which can be cured by cleaning / replacing the corona. There are a lot of ways to adjust the paper handling, eg. we were able to run 70 gsm LWC successfully via slowing the machine down a bit. Registration is also very stable throughout long runs.

My only concern is the cheap RIP, so don't expect perfect PostScript screens on printouts. Over 120-133 lpi the imperfections become visible for a trained eye, but that's not a concern in most of the applications, of course.
That's interesting about the cheap RIPs, I am aware that some units are presented with Fierys and some with just the "house brand." I agree that for most (of our) applications, having an expensive RIP on a monochrome printer seems like overkill. The KM 136 I demo-ed did just have the house RIP installed and it seemed adequate.

We will have to test lighter weight paper still, as we do have a customer that loves 16#. Registration on our BW work has rarely been a huge issue, I expect just about any machine would be an improvement over the 6180 though.

Was there a specific reason that you went with the KM? Previously a KM customer or switch teams?
 

Puch

Well-known member
Was there a specific reason that you went with the KM? Previously a KM customer or switch teams?
We were first time buyers, new arrivals into the industry. We did an exhaustive test among the possible contenders, finding out that quality is almost the same everywhere as BW technology is very mature. At the end, KM was the one who throw the best package onto us.

On the other hand, if I was to re-equip the shop now, I would seriously consider buying used machinery. A well-kept BW engine will run for years without problems. If you have a service contract, you can be sure these 'old' machines (say: 6-8 years of age) perform as good as any new one.
 

ksherrod

Well-known member
We were first time buyers, new arrivals into the industry. We did an exhaustive test among the possible contenders, finding out that quality is almost the same everywhere as BW technology is very mature. At the end, KM was the one who throw the best package onto us.

On the other hand, if I was to re-equip the shop now, I would seriously consider buying used machinery. A well-kept BW engine will run for years without problems. If you have a service contract, you can be sure these 'old' machines (say: 6-8 years of age) perform as good as any new one.
Gotcha. We have historically *never* bought new printers, second hand or clearance floor models to my knowledge are all we have ever bought. Our Docutech 6180s I would guess have over 200million each on them...they were bought well worn in and now are quite tired but you probably couldn't argue we didn't get our money's worth out of them. But in 2018 these machines are no longer cheap to maintain, are not energy efficient, and are probably due to be EOL'd by Xerox sooner than later. By the time we get rid of equipment it is not worth anything for us to attempt to sell it anyway.

However today Xerox won't directly sell used equipment if we were to pursue them, and at least in their pricing structure its setup to either you have a high maintenance cost and high click cost or you have a lease and a maintenance cost and low click...the difference in the end nearly washes the other out. The difference is we could either have a printer from 1997 that sucks down a ton of juice and isn't all that reliable anymore (Docutech 6180) or something semi-current. If you're going to have a service/supplies contract anyway (as we always do), it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to pick up some older machine for cheap only to pay high maintenance on it and/or potentially have reliability problems.

As another example where used equipment hasn't benefited us, we also have J75s which were clearance floor models...bought 2-3 years ago respectively...these were new in 2013. One is 3 years into its lease, and has registration problems that Xerox can't figure out, and they won't honor the total satisfaction guarantee because it wasn't purchased "new." So after seeing that happen, I would be concerned about buying a used black and white printer and then ending up with a lemon that Xerox (or whomever) can't figure out and then being stuck with it anyway.
 
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Puch

Well-known member
However today Xerox won't directly sell used equipment if we were to pursue them, and at least in their pricing structure its setup to either you have a high maintenance cost and high click cost or you have a lease and a maintenance cost and low click...the difference in the end nearly washes the other out.
That's the business model of the manufacturers, indeed. Honestly, I was sold to it five years ago; now I see things in a different light.

First: BW and color are two different things. IMHO black-and-white is absolutely mature; if you have a good technician around for a reasonable hourly fee, you can do production on them for ever. Your 'ancient' machines are the living proof of that fact. Do a calculation: how much you make on BW prints? We invested a lot of money into our brand new KM 1250P, just to see that many shops around with 10 years old, off-contract Nuveras beat us in pricing, while the quality is almost the same. Having a new, shiny BW machine might be a good thing if you can monetize it, otherwise it's a waste of money.

In the area of color production printers, the situation is not the same, but in five years it will be the same, IMHO. There are good machines with reliable, sturdy mechanism and proven electronics, and there are bad ones. Eg. our KM C1085 seems to be a particularly problematic piece of technology, while the 'entry-level', "family shop' KM C1060 is a workhorse. I'm bashing my had not buying two 1060s for the price of the flagship 1085.

On electricity. Our KM P1250 is eating 15-20 kW at startup, and 6-8 kWh while working. Since it's very fast, most of the time it's idling (1-2 kWh) or in suspended mode (even less kWh).
 

ksherrod

Well-known member
That's the business model of the manufacturers, indeed. Honestly, I was sold to it five years ago; now I see things in a different light.

First: BW and color are two different things. IMHO black-and-white is absolutely mature; if you have a good technician around for a reasonable hourly fee, you can do production on them for ever. Your 'ancient' machines are the living proof of that fact. Do a calculation: how much you make on BW prints? We invested a lot of money into our brand new KM 1250P, just to see that many shops around with 10 years old, off-contract Nuveras beat us in pricing, while the quality is almost the same. Having a new, shiny BW machine might be a good thing if you can monetize it, otherwise it's a waste of money.

In the area of color production printers, the situation is not the same, but in five years it will be the same, IMHO. There are good machines with reliable, sturdy mechanism and proven electronics, and there are bad ones. Eg. our KM C1085 seems to be a particularly problematic piece of technology, while the 'entry-level', "family shop' KM C1060 is a workhorse. I'm bashing my had not buying two 1060s for the price of the flagship 1085.

On electricity. Our KM P1250 is eating 15-20 kW at startup, and 6-8 kWh while working. Since it's very fast, most of the time it's idling (1-2 kWh) or in suspended mode (even less kWh).
Understood. While all of our finishing equipment has been traditionally "off-contract" (to put it kindly..), with mixed results...meaning we end up with a lot of boat anchor equipment as eventually parts disappear or the machine develops too many issues over time... the copiers generally have carried a maintenance agreement. While I could certainly do some things I'm not going to kid myself into thinking I could do it all. I don't know that we've ever looked at just having a staff copier technician, or if there's anyone around town not currently employed by a printer company already that would be worth looking at.

To my knowledge none of our direct competitors are running off-contract digital printing equipment....everywhere I've been around town has maintenance agreements...but admittedly that's been awhile. But where we lose is that we pay the same or higher to keep two old 6180s going as what anyone else could get into a modern non Xerox device for. And we have a lot of downtime, and there are things these machines can't do well like coated stocks/anything not paper basically that we will lose quotes on as well because we would have to run them on the J75.

I agree color vs bw.

Thanks for your thoughts on the 1085 vs dual 1060...that's another decision we will have to make down the road as well. Normally we have kept dual lesser machines instead of one big flagship machine as well, but have been considering what it would look like to do the reverse.
 
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Puch

Well-known member
I don't know that we've ever looked at just having a staff copier technician, or if there's anyone around town not currently employed by a printer company already that would be worth looking at.
I also had that thought back when we had very bad luck in a series, eventually calculating that having our own tech person is only viable if I hire him out for other off-contract studios. Meaning another totally foreign area of operation to me.

To my knowledge none of our direct competitors are running off-contract digital printing equipment....everywhere I've been around town has maintenance agreements...but admittedly that's been awhile. But where we lose is that we pay the same or higher to keep two old 6180s going as what anyone else could get into a modern non Xerox device for.
That must be an object of a small survey. You can't be sure until you ask and get honest answers. I did that and found out that some companies running of-contract (buying parts and toner on Ebay/AliExpress) or the tech servicing their contractual machines takes care of these machines for a six pack (?). Now these are low-budget operations which will always beat us at pricing.

And we have a lot of downtime, and there are things these machines can't do well like coated stocks/anything not paper basically that we will lose quotes on as well because we would have to run them on the J75.
I agree, you are better covered with a service contract. On the other hand, we had to close operation for a week, as the C1085 developed such great problems that parts must be imported right from Japan. One week passed until KM put a surrogate machine in place (a C1060), another week passed until they serviced the 1085. At that point I came to the conclusion that I would be better off with two cheap devices instead of the one flagship.

A note on coated paper: our KM 1250P doesn't really like that kind of substrate. We can run it through, the print will be adequate, but toner will eventually fall of, scratching easily etc. I believe that BW printers were developed with uncoated, 80 gsm office paper in mind.
 
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ksherrod

Well-known member
I also had that thought back when we had very bad luck in a series, eventually calculating that having our own tech person is only viable if I hire him out for other off-contract studios. Meaning another totally foreign area of operation to me.


That must be an object of a small survey. You can't be sure until you ask and get honest answers. I did that and found out that some companies running of-contract (buying parts and toner on Ebay/AliExpress) or the tech servicing their contractual machines takes care of these machines for a six pack (?). Now these are low-budget operations which will always beat us at pricing.


I agree, you are better covered with a service contract. On the other hand, we had to close operation for a week, as the C1085 developed such great problems that parts must be imported right from Japan. One week passed until KM put a surrogate machine in place (a C1060), another week passed until they serviced the 1085. At that point I came to the conclusion that I would be better off with two cheap devices instead of the one flagship.

A note on coated paper: our KM 1250P doesn't really like that kind of substrate. We can run it through, the print will be adequate, but toner will eventually fall of, scratching easily etc. I believe that BW printers were developed with uncoated, 80 gsm office paper in mind.
All valuable insight, thank you.

I see you are located in Hungary, while we are central US. I am under the impression that running Xerox type machines without contracts is way more common overseas than here, from what I can tell of user feedback. That may be the difference in our experience.

While I am sure there are some Xerox guys who would do under the table work if you approached them right, most are quite concerned about retaining their jobs and probably would require a bit more than a 6 pack to risk it. We have tried to get them to work on off-contract devices before.

Running coated on BW isn't necessarily a daily requirement for us, just an example of something the 6180 can't do.
 

msaeger

Well-known member
All valuable insight, thank you.

I see you are located in Hungary, while we are central US. I am under the impression that running Xerox type machines without contracts is way more common overseas than here, from what I can tell of user feedback. That may be the difference in our experience.

While I am sure there are some Xerox guys who would do under the table work if you approached them right, most are quite concerned about retaining their jobs and probably would require a bit more than a 6 pack to risk it. We have tried to get them to work on off-contract devices before.

Running coated on BW isn't necessarily a daily requirement for us, just an example of something the 6180 can't do.
Aside from the getting fired part I have never considered doing anything on the side because of the liability as in there is a problem I come and fix the problem, it reoccurs and I am expected to come back for free. Plus on the little hp desktop type printers I see parts online for sale but on the production type stuff I don't see parts readily available. There are some but it's not like I can order anything in the parts book.

​​​​​​
 

TJB

New member
Hello KSherrod,

I was intrigued by your post, and I'm curious where in the Central US your business is located? I'm in Cincinnati and I was curious if you were working with Xerox Direct or one of their GIS Core companies when looking into future options? You are clearly knowledgeable and obviously a customer that anyone would love to have. I'm just trying to understand your issues in greater detail from a sales perspective to see where companies may be losing their way, for lack of a better term. Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. If you have any time to discuss this in greater detail over the phone, lets connect.

All the best!

TJ
513.582.6999
 

ksherrod

Well-known member
Aside from the getting fired part I have never considered doing anything on the side because of the liability as in there is a problem I come and fix the problem, it reoccurs and I am expected to come back for free. Plus on the little hp desktop type printers I see parts online for sale but on the production type stuff I don't see parts readily available. There are some but it's not like I can order anything in the parts book.

​​​​​​
Right, another reason we have never even considered running the Xerox equipment off contract except in transitional periods (ie: let the contract expire then run the machine until it doesn't work, before removing it. Not running the machine off contract with the hopes to keep our costs down). I would guess that any companies that do run them off contract have a warehouse full of spare equipment to play with. We have a couple old Xerox booklet makers which were used off-contract for a longer period only because Xerox EOL'd them...and we had two of them so we were able to have one "working" machine for couple of years. But as you say, parts are tough to come by, it would be easier for us to just buy another one. We actually have 6 Xerox perfect binders and we know a few Xerox guys that are trained on that equipment...but they will not touch them even though in theory we should have parts to make at least a couple of them work decently.
 
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ksherrod

Well-known member
Hello KSherrod,

I was intrigued by your post, and I'm curious where in the Central US your business is located? I'm in Cincinnati and I was curious if you were working with Xerox Direct or one of their GIS Core companies when looking into future options? You are clearly knowledgeable and obviously a customer that anyone would love to have. I'm just trying to understand your issues in greater detail from a sales perspective to see where companies may be losing their way, for lack of a better term. Thanks in advance for your time and consideration. If you have any time to discuss this in greater detail over the phone, lets connect.

All the best!

TJ
513.582.6999
No time for phone, but I sent you a PM.
 

halmac

Well-known member
Have you tried the Canon (Oce) DP 135 series? If you are looking for consistent quality and reliability you won't be disappointed. If you want extra speed the nest series of printers can duplex simultaneously for double the speed.
 

ksherrod

Well-known member
Have you tried the Canon (Oce) DP 135 series? If you are looking for consistent quality and reliability you won't be disappointed. If you want extra speed the nest series of printers can duplex simultaneously for double the speed.
I briefly looked at Canon but haven't scheduled a full demo with their equipment yet because of holidays. What reasons would you choose Canon over KM (one of our dealers offers both) or someone else?
 

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