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Apr 1, 2010 12:00 AM
Lloyd and Donna Blank have changed everything since buying their Stuart, FL, print business from a franchise in 1992. In addition to upgrading the press fleet and prepress equipment, the 7-employee Print Headquarters team has taken on digital print production, design, mailing and ongoing efforts to improve their ecological footprint.
“Green is very important, and we've gone green in pretty much everything we do,” says president Lloyd Blank. “We recycle everything, we use inks that are vegetable based, and we're constantly looking at that.”
Most recently, the shop switched over from Heidelberg's (Kennesaw, GA) Quicksetter 460 polyester computer-to-plate (CTP) device to the Suprasetter A52 with thermal Saphira Chemfree plates.
Print Headquarters runs three small-format Heidelberg Printmaster presses — a 4-color GTO and two QMs. A Xerox 700 Digital Color Press handles shorter runs and quick printing. The shop also has wide-format inkjet equipment from Epson and Roland for banners, signage and labels.
Blank says both his offset and digital equipment can do work such as full-color postcards, but the key to which equipment to use is timing. “Heavier stocks run better through the press, but the press [output] also requires drying time. It depends on timing, the length of the run and what customers are willing to pay,” he explains, noting the lower cost to run jobs offset. “And if there's more bindery involved, it's better to do it offset to reduce quality problems.”
The company provides everything from design through mailing to a diverse base of small business and medical customers. Direct mail is one of the biggest products, with overall mailing being the largest growth area of the Blanks' business.
“We provide what they need on a scheduled basis,” says Blank. “Everybody is doing direct mail, whether an attorney, a doctor or a person who does handy work.”
The shop does some variable-data printing (VDP) on the digital press, but most VDP is performed on its mailing equipment. “We also take in jobs from other printers who have postcards or brochures that need to be mailed,” Blank adds.
Since the switch to metal chemistry-free plates in December 2009, Blank has noticed significant improvements internally. He says the Suprasetter came with a better RIP and made for much smoother operations. “Every now and then, we had to redo polyester plates because they can scratch easily or stretch on press,” he says. The new metal plates handle longer runs with less wear and tear. The Saphira Chemfree plate also delivers faster imaging while using less water.
“We can do more, now, with the Chemfree metal plates,” Blank says. “We get better dots and the screens are much better. We get up to color much more quickly.”
The economy has caused Print Headquarters' customers to buy shorter runs, lately. “In these times, people don't know if or when they're going to adjust prices,” says Blank. “We're doing smaller runs but more frequently, and the quality is far superior. The customers have noticed no change [since the CTP changeover], except that it's easier for us to produce the screens they need.”
Blank says it's wonderful not having to deal with chemistry. “Even the metal plates are recycled and picked up” he adds. “We wanted to go green and improve quality, so it's a plus all around.”
Denise Kapel is managing editor for AMERICAN PRINTER. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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