Thinking about digital...where to start?

ikim86

Active member
We are a trade printer in Southern California looking to get our feet wet in digital printing.

For now, we do have immediate needs for envelope printing (#10, #9, A2, A7, all the way up to 10x13 catalogs...with and without windows. Approximately 30,000 envelopes a month.). Ideally, I would love to start with a machine that can tackle envelopes as well as cut sheets. This way we can start growing our short run business before investing in something more robust.

No clue where to start in terms of brands but I have heard good things about Ricoh service/support. Anyone in Southern California able to attest to that or any other competitors?

Thanks in advance for your input.
 

azehnali

Well-known member
you should look into the versant series specially because of envelopes and the A2 size and up
if you need pricing and service I can offer that also
 

ReproElectroProspero

Well-known member
you should look into the versant series specially because of envelopes and the A2 size and up
if you need pricing and service I can offer that also
Disagree. I have a Versant 180 and feeding has always been a PITA, and quality is incredibly inconsistent. In the winter months when the air gets dry we have crazy trouble with our cyans, and the techs blame the humidity. We have to run any envs or cardstock right now at the highest possible transfer voltage (custom set by the tech) to get any decent cyan quality.
 

AP90

Well-known member
Disagree. I have a Versant 180 and feeding has always been a PITA, and quality is incredibly inconsistent. In the winter months when the air gets dry we have crazy trouble with our cyans, and the techs blame the humidity. We have to run any envs or cardstock right now at the highest possible transfer voltage (custom set by the tech) to get any decent cyan quality.
Our 3100 is going strong with just shy on 6 million on the counter. Don’t seem to have a problem with humidity during winter or summer. But ours is in a very stable environment. Quality of prints is still outstanding. Registration used to be perfect but as of lately is leaving room for improvement. It’s not awful. Just not perfect.
 

SoggyWinter

Well-known member
The Xerox Versants are not a great machine for envelopes and the versants are significantly more pricey in terms of toner charges and machine acquisition costs than a dedicated envelope printer. Envelope printer systems also have flat paper paths and the Versant paper path is far from flat. I would recommend talking to Rico sales and Print Finishing Systems- they both offer good machines and support. PFS has some end of year specials right now that include envelope systems. You would also be wise to avoid Versants because of toner and drum shortages and abysmal drum quality control.
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
While it may seem best to find one machine that does both, why not consider two machines? Each designed to do what they do best. You don't mention expected sheet volume per month. Some great deals can be had on good, off-lease Konica and Ricoh machines for sheets. It's not difficult to find a used iJetColor/Rena/Colordyne envelope printer at a reasonable price. They will let you run any standard window envelope because there is no heat. Otherwise you are limited to digital window envelopes at a premium. Inkjet is rapidly evolving and in a few years it will be a different printing world I think. By then you will have a better idea of what your real needs are, and you will have invested much less breaking into the digital world. An independent leasing company can wrap both machines into one affordable payment. Try to go with 36 months.
 

ikim86

Active member
While it may seem best to find one machine that does both, why not consider two machines? Each designed to do what they do best. You don't mention expected sheet volume per month. Some great deals can be had on good, off-lease Konica and Ricoh machines for sheets. It's not difficult to find a used iJetColor/Rena/Colordyne envelope printer at a reasonable price. They will let you run any standard window envelope because there is no heat. Otherwise you are limited to digital window envelopes at a premium. Inkjet is rapidly evolving and in a few years it will be a different printing world I think. By then you will have a better idea of what your real needs are, and you will have invested much less breaking into the digital world. An independent leasing company can wrap both machines into one affordable payment. Try to go with 36 months.

I appreciate your advice. It makes plenty of sense.

The reason I didn't list expected sheet volume is because we aren't quite sure where we will land after adding shorter runs (<500) to our Adding shorter run quantities to our lineup would likely bring in more orders as we have quite a few active customers. Being a gang run offset shop, we also have a healthy number of 500/1000 qty runs but we have yet to decide whether it makes sense to move those to digital if we end up going down this road. This is what led me to search for a unicorn 2-in-1 machine. That being said, we are very familiar with the value of an "it just works" machine over one that sounds good on paper.
 

wonderings

Well-known member
Could run #10 plain or windows all day long (regular envelopes, not digital specific envelopes) on our old Versant 2100. I would have both high cap trays loaded with it and the only time it would ever jam would be if had an envelope fold in when loading, which happened a few times before I realized what was going on and watched for it. Great colour and very very fast. Only downside on the 2100 (not sure if changed on the 3100) is I had to print to the top tray, not the high cap stacker tray so always had to be there to keep emptying as it took less then 2 mins to fill before it would beep saying full.
 

jwheeler

Well-known member
@ikim86 , a similar discussion has been started in this thread. A few things to think about is speed and quality. Inkjet is going to offer much faster speeds, and generally lower cost per print, however, the quality isn't as sharp as digital toner presses. The colors aren't as vibrant either since the ink is absorbed into the paper vs toner sitting on the surface. It really is a matter of preference and what your clients expectations are. Also, if you need to run full bleed, inkjet is your only option. It'd be a good idea to get print samples off of each machine you're considering (from your own files, never the stock prints they provide you).

In your case of wanting the machine to also print cut sheets, you'll want to stick with one of the digital presses from Xerox, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, etc. For short run envelopes, they do a great job, but are not ideal if you need a run of 5k or more. We have Konica Minolta's and they do great, especially since we have the vacuum feed drawers (vs friction tire feed). However, you really do have to dedicate someone to manage the input and output when running envelopes. If you're running cut sheet, you can walk away and come back to a completed job (with periodic quality checks of course).
 

ikim86

Active member
@ikim86 , a similar discussion has been started in this thread. A few things to think about is speed and quality. Inkjet is going to offer much faster speeds, and generally lower cost per print, however, the quality isn't as sharp as digital toner presses. The colors aren't as vibrant either since the ink is absorbed into the paper vs toner sitting on the surface. It really is a matter of preference and what your clients expectations are. Also, if you need to run full bleed, inkjet is your only option. It'd be a good idea to get print samples off of each machine you're considering (from your own files, never the stock prints they provide you).

In your case of wanting the machine to also print cut sheets, you'll want to stick with one of the digital presses from Xerox, Konica Minolta, Ricoh, etc. For short run envelopes, they do a great job, but are not ideal if you need a run of 5k or more. We have Konica Minolta's and they do great, especially since we have the vacuum feed drawers (vs friction tire feed). However, you really do have to dedicate someone to manage the input and output when running envelopes. If you're running cut sheet, you can walk away and come back to a completed job (with periodic quality checks of course).
I was thinking digital envelopes for <5M qty. Anything more and I think running offset and outsourcing to a converter may be more cost effective. Either way we are hoping to find a machine that is more "set it and forget it" as we would likely be running the digital presses with existing employees, at least to start.

We have reached out to Ricoh and they suggested the iJet 1175P and the C7200 and C9200. I have a feeling the price tag on these might be more than I was hoping for. What is ballpark pricing on these units?

Another machine that looked interesting was the Kyocera Taskalfa 15000. Not sure if this runs envelopes but it seems to be able to cost effectively print short to medium runs and somewhat bridge the gap between digital and offset. I'm assuming it can't print on coated stock but if it did, this seems like a very promising machine.
 
5M is quite a lot for digital envelopes. Versants have an envelope kit for the high capacity trays that allow you to stack up to about 500 envelopes, but even then, this machine wasnt specifically designed for printing envelopes. Envelope printing can be kind of unstable especially if you're feeding from the bypass tray, and you can't print anything smaller than a 4" x 6".

The quality of prints on the machine is pretty spectacular, and the registration I personally don't have a problem with. For people that do, usually a baseline calibration followed by a software/SIQA calibration can resolve it. If those don't, then its probably the registration unit that is shot. Can happen during shipping etc.

With that being said, there is a major issue with Versant supplies at the moment. There is a nationwide shortage on drums AND toner. I run a Versant 180 press and its been quite a nightmare. So do not lease one until this is resolved. In terms of click charges, the lowest rate they give for a V180/V280 is $0.039 per color all sizes up to 13x19. You can get $0.0325 for a V3100/V4100.
I'd be more than happy to update you when the issue is resolved.

Best of luck to you!
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
I was thinking digital envelopes for <5M qty. Anything more and I think running offset and outsourcing to a converter may be more cost effective. Either way we are hoping to find a machine that is more "set it and forget it" as we would likely be running the digital presses with existing employees, at least to start.

We have reached out to Ricoh and they suggested the iJet 1175P and the C7200 and C9200. I have a feeling the price tag on these might be more than I was hoping for. What is ballpark pricing on these units?

Another machine that looked interesting was the Kyocera Taskalfa 15000. Not sure if this runs envelopes but it seems to be able to cost effectively print short to medium runs and somewhat bridge the gap between digital and offset. I'm assuming it can't print on coated stock but if it did, this seems like a very promising machine.
iJet 1175P $100,000 The Kyocera/Ricoh/MCS Merlin is $200,000 and will run envelopes including standard windows. Non-coated paper or inkjet treated for gloss. You can get a good used iJetColor/Rena/Colordyne benchtop unit for around $10,000. That will easily handle your 30k volume. Not sure of the current list price on the 7200 and 9200.
 

azehnali

Well-known member
if you are going to buy a digital press to do only envelopes then you shouldn't
a digital press is designed for short run all around machine
no digital press is designed to do tens pf thousands of envelopes daily
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
if you are going to buy a digital press to do only envelopes then you shouldn't
a digital press is designed for short run all around machine
no digital press is designed to do tens pf thousands of envelopes daily
The stated volume was 30,000 per month. That's less than 1,400 per day. And the OP was looking for a machine to do both envelopes and sheets.
 

ikim86

Active member
iJet 1175P $100,000 The Kyocera/Ricoh/MCS Merlin is $200,000 and will run envelopes including standard windows. Non-coated paper or inkjet treated for gloss. You can get a good used iJetColor/Rena/Colordyne benchtop unit for around $10,000. That will easily handle your 30k volume. Not sure of the current list price on the 7200 and 9200.
Thanks for the info. It seems the 1175P is an HP head vs the Memjet head on the countertop units. I have seen samples from the counter top units directly from iJet and was not very impressed. Is the quality any better with the HP heads?
 

gregbatch

Well-known member
Thanks for the info. It seems the 1175P is an HP head vs the Memjet head on the countertop units. I have seen samples from the counter top units directly from iJet and was not very impressed. Is the quality any better with the HP heads?
Definitely better IMO. To me seems crisper and more vivid.
 

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