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It's time for web-driven printing on-demand!

Anand Parthasarathy

Even lay customers can select their choice of text and artwork from website


  • Once payment is made online the print house will feed the job to digital printing machine
  • Indian master printers size up new digital offerings



    ONE-STOP PRINT SHOP: The Xerox Docucolor launched in India... typical of the web-driven print solutions.

    Bangalore: You are in urgent need of a new visiting card or a few thousand wedding invitations.

    The normal route? You go to the neighbourhood job-printing outfit, explain your idea and work with the proprietor till the design is just right — but you just don't have the time.

    The cyber way? You can do all this from home — thanks to the Internet and new generation digital printing systems that will soon see Indian print shops offering a range of sit-at-home job printing services.

    A digitally-driven printing service will typically host a website where even lay customers can select from among hundreds of standard designs, typography and colour combinations to create their own text and art work. They can send this by e-mail using standard document formats like Adobe Acrobat's Portable Document Format and overnight the printer will send a final proof for approval using the same format.

    Once the design is approved and the payment is made online, the print house will directly feed the job from its Internet server to a digital printing machine which is a one-stop-print-shop that can colour-print, cut, fold the job — and even stitch or staple and trim, if it is a book — all at one go. Welcome to the new world called on-demand printing.

    It is one of the two directions in which the new digital `hawa' is driving the traditional offset job printing business in India.

    The other is what is known as Variable Data Printing or VDP — the ability of such digital systems to vary the content from copy to copy, even while printing at the top-rated speed of the press. A leaflet can be customised, every copy carrying information pertinent to just one recipient among tens of thousands.

    "Personalised and variable printing-on-demand is the way for printing houses to create new markets in the digital era," says Vipin Tuteja, Director, Production Systems Group for Xerox India. The U.S.-based company has just brought to the Indian market a range of new digital print solutions, within weeks of their global launch. The Docucolor 4590 is a monochrome 90 pages per minute printer-copier which can create saddle-stitched booklets up to 15 pages.

    At the other end of the spectrum, the 50 pages per minute Docucolor 5000 is targeted at the mid-range production but high quality graphics colour business. The Docucolor 240/250, launched earlier this year, is a highly compact single station colour system that delivers over 40 pages per minute and converts them into finished books for delivery. At entry level it costs just under Rs. 25 lakhs while large systems like the 5000 can set you back three times this.

    Eye on profitability

    At roadshows in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore earlier this month, large groups of Indian master printers sized up these new digital offerings with a canny eye on profitability.

    "You do not have to throw away your offset printers to go digital," Lorraine Curling, the U.K.-based Business Manager for Xerox, assured them.

    "Web service solutions will enable Indian print houses to begin offering online services even as they defer going digital till they make their next upgrade or purchase decision."

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