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Sep 1, 1998 12:00 AM

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During the trailblazer days of electronic publishing in the early '60s, newly opened XRC, Inc. was taking advantage of digital information to expose electrostatic plates. Later, it was one of the first printers to implement Xerox's 9000 copier and original DocuTech, actually serving as one of two beta test sites for the latter.

Seven months ago, the company integrated Oce's DemandStream 8080DI printing system into its digital lineup as the latest pacesetter venture inside one the world's most demanding environs: New York City.

The result is XRC, already a player in the city's booming print-on-demand book publishing arena, has doubled its digital printing capacity, with the ability now to produce an additional 15 million impressions a month. The 8080DI produces 500 images per minute.

"Just today, as a matter of fact, we accepted a job to do 30 different titles for a client within the next three days," reports vice president Donna Melli. "We're up to a hundred titles we are able to print-on-demand for this particular publisher."

XRC, founded in 1963 by Herman Gimbel, provides complete project management, including warehouse and inventory maintenance, from its 30,000-sq.-ft. midtown Manhattan location and additional facilities in New Jersey. Its specialtyis educational materials, including books, signature booklets, research reports, and training and testing manuals. XRC also produces insurance documents, real estate kits, brochures and pamphlets.

Despite the use of 10 digital printing systems, the 24-hour-a-day, seven days a week operation was finding it harder and harder to meet the demand for short-run books with short turnaround times and low costs. Simply, customers' requirements were incompatible with the existing equipment, which includes Ryobi and Didde web presses.

"We were doing some short-run books, but we couldn't get into the world of the big publishers--for the big textbooks sold in universities and colleges-- because they are used to conventional high-volume, inexpensive runs," explains Melli. "The big publishers have a different agenda and the power to wait. Now we're able to accommodate them at all levels."

It was after extensive market research that XRC adopted the Oce system for having the "best front-end system bar none," says Melli. High marks were given the Oce Printserver 9500 Squadron, the driver of the DemandStream printers, for its high RIP speeds, multiple printer connectivity and variable data printing capability.

"We're able to RIP PDF or PostScript files at rated speed and print real time, which is allowing us to do extraordinary run lengths once in a very short window of time," she says. "None of our equipment was able to do that before, so we've actually opened ourselves up to a whole other segment of the market with totally different types of clients."

Specifically, XRC has penetrated the banking and brokerage printing market, printing personalized financial statements and documents and individualized reports.

As a result of the high RIP speeds, the company has even migrated some of the work from its other digital printers because the new system is better suited. Also because of the digital enhancements, the printer is now comfortable using halftones and gray scales.

Using high-efficiency toner, Oce's LED PLUS imaging technology allows for reduced energy consumption, which means users can choose from a wider array of print media to not only fulfill customer's requirements but save money, too.

XRC has also experienced a significant cost-savings by switching from cutsheet to roll-fed paper as a result of the new system.

With all the advantages of the new digital technology, Melli names the guaranteed ongoing customer support as one the biggest:

"Next to the speed and image enhancement offered, the third item that really pushed us to go with Oce over others was the type of customer support we received," she testifies. "We've had Oce holding our hand through every single new application. When we weren't happy with quality, not only did they change and help and hand-feed software, they literally came in and changed out an engine to make it a faster switch. Also, the analyst support we have on a constant basis, to teach our people to be better and more efficient, is superb. We don't even have to ask for it."

XRC's eagerness to try new technology has once again proved successful.