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Finishing Touch

Nov 1, 2006 12:00 AM


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Postpress

In 1991, Barry Newland opened an Insty-Prints franchise in Richmond, VA. Although the company was launched during a recession, growth has occurred at an average of 10 percent a year with current annual sales of $1 million. It has moved twice, changed its name to Allegra Print & Imaging in February 2006 (upon the renewal of its franchise contract with The Allegra Network), and expanded from its initial 1,260 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft. The continued growth and the increased square footage have enabled the purchase of more advanced, specialized and technical equipment. With the combined folding and creasing capabilities of Morgana’s (Marietta, GA) DigiFold, Allegra is poised to keep growing.

From strip mall copies to a total solutions provider
Allegra started as a traditional quick printer, but during the last seven years has expanded into direct mail and marketing. With 10 employees, it is a total solutions provider offering design, offset printing, digital printing, variable-data printing, a full bindery and a complete mail house. On the offset side, it operates three presses, which Newland, president, describes as “small, medium and large.” The small is an ABDick 9870, the middle is a Heidelberg Printmaster 46-2 and the large is a Heidelberg Speedmaster 52-2. The copy center operates four digital copiers: two black-and-white and two color.

Allegra began digital work 10 years ago with a pair of Canon imageRUNNER 600s, which the company used for six years, and later upgraded to two imageRUNNER 8500s. For digital color work, Allegra operates a Xerox DocuColor 12 and its newest digital machine, a DocuColor 250.

Make way for Morgana
With the arrival of the DocuColor 250 came the need for greater postpress capabilities. Allegra began the search almost immediately following installation. “We knew that the type of work we wanted to do—high quality 4/4 brochures—could not afford to have toner cracking,” says Newland.

Initially, the plan was to purchase just a creaser and run material through a conventional floor model folder, but with its combined creasing/folding capabilities, Morgana’s DigiFold was a better solution. “The DigiFold was better for our shop because it gave us redundancy,” explains Newland. “We actually fold small jobs on it if our large folder is tied up with another job. We looked at other equipment that could do elements of what the DigiFold can, but because it is a combined unit, as far as I know it has no true competition in the market right now.”

Morgana had a place in Allegra’s earliest days. Newland’s previous floor-model folder was a Morgana UFO he bought from a local commercial printer. “It was eight or nine years old and very used,” he notes. That folder stayed with him for several years until the company required more fold plates. Newland’s familiarity with Morgana prompted him to respond to an ad for the DigiFold. “The inquiry was sent to their local dealer, which was Coleman One,” he says. “We were taken to see a demo, and when the time was right, we installed it.”

Do it with DigiFold
The DigiFold runs at 1,500 sph and can be set to operate in three modes:

  • “Set to fold,” for standard folding configurations. Once the fold and sheet length have been selected, it automatically sets the creasing and folding position.
  • “Set to” mode. The operator dials in the creasing and folding positions. This mode is useful for difficult configurations, such as the closed-gate fold, and for jobs requiring extra creases.
  • A third mode allows the machine to work as an automated creaser from which work can be delivered flat. The creasing option also can be bypassed for folding conventionally printed pieces and lighter stocks.
Designed for the print-on-demand market, the DigiFold is ideal for a printer as heavily into digital printing as Allegra—close to half of its work is digital. The machine is a knife-fold unit, which Newland notes is better for digital work. “We use the DigiFold not only for folding digital work, but also for folding pieces that have gone through offset presses, such as fold-over invitations,” he adds. “It’s much more precise than a floor-model folder.”

The DigiFold was installed at the beginning of 2006, and after only two hours of training, Allegra was ready to go. “We had some initial glitches when it was first installed,” says Newland. “The dealer was very responsive, Morgana was very responsive, and they actually installed bigger cooling fans. They were on the ball. They took care of it.”

The relationship didn’t end with installation. Says Newland, “I referred Morgana to our franchise’s vice president of technology. We just had our franchise convention, and because of our interest in their product, Morgana was invited to have a booth at our trade show.”

On the horizon for Allegra is continued expansion into process color work. Planning is underway to install a four-color Heidelberg Speedmaster 52 next year.

See www.allegrarichmond.com.



About Morgana
Founded in 1978, U.K.-based Morgana Systems, with its U.S. operation in Marietta, GA, is a developer of finishing solutions for the digital print market.

It works closely with companies such as Xerox, HP Indigo, Kodak NexPress, Xeikon and Konica Minolta to provide the equipment and service back-up that helps digital printers streamline their finishing operations.

About 80 percent of Morgana’s United Kingdom-made products are exported, and the company has built a global network of dealers and distributors covering all major world markets. Along with its two most popular products, the Documaster creasing and booklet making machine and the DigiFold combined creaser and folder, Morgana offers a range of document finishing solutions that includes creasers, creaser/folders, folders, numberers, bookletmakers, cutters and drills.

Visitors to Graph Expo 2006 could see Morgana’s latest creasing product, the DigiCreaser, which is intended to fill the gap between semi-automatic models, such as the company’s Electro-Creaser, and fully automatic units, such as its AutoCreaser. It runs at up to 4,000 sph, takes a maximum 13 x 24.8-inch sheet, and has the ability to crease nine times per page with a minimum distance of 0.0157 inch between creases. To learn more, visit www.morganausa.com or call (866) 463-5060.


Carrie Cleaveland is assistant editor of AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at carrie@americanprinter.com.