Imagine that you are a biology teacher, and you want to print handouts for tomorrow’s lesson on the human circulatory system. You want to use colour to differentiate between the three independent systems that make up the circulatory system: systemic (arteries, veins, coronary and portal vessels) cardiovascular (the heart), and pulmonary (the lungs). Colour is key here, as these systems run throughout the body, with plenty of overlap and intersections at various locations, so black and white images with labels won’t make for an effective teaching tool. However, when you go to print, you’re greeted with a message on the device’s control panel that says colour printing is disabled. When you contact the district’s business manager to explain your situation, you’re told that colour is a luxury that the district can’t afford, even if it does improve the quality of education. Ultimately, it’s the students who have to sacrifice so the district can save a few dollars.
Now imagine that you leave your teaching job to run the billing department at a large corporation. You’re excited about a new idea to make sure the customer knows that his or her payment is overdue; you want to highlight the overdue amount in yellow to grab their attention. But when you try to put your plan in place, there isn’t a colour printer in sight. Then you remember that company policy prohibits colour printing. When you ask the IT manager to make an exception, he or she reminds you that colour is expensive, and monochrome is your only option.
You don’t have to imagine either of these scenarios, they play out every day in schools and businesses all over the globe. And even though we know that colour can command attention, influence decision making, change perceptions and enhance learning, tight budgets prevent organizations from harnessing the power of colour. Colour is in demand. If we step out of the hypothetical world and look at current printing trends in the wild, colour seems more like a requirement than a nice thing to have around the office.
Given the growing demand for colour, many in-plant print shops are turning to inkjet as the affordable colour solution. High speed, production inkjet now comes in the form of cut-sheet and provides the same versatility found in their toner counterparts. K-12 school districts, universities, colleges, hospitals and municipalities are using inkjet to access the speed and economy of an offset, but on a digital platform that anyone can use.
Commercial Print operations are re-introducing ink to their fleet of devices by adding production cut-sheet inkjet as well. The technology is allowing their customers to convert monochrome invoices, statements, instruction manuals and mailers to affordable inkjet colour. Inkjet makes colour more affordable to the end user while at the same time offering the print_shop a better financial return on their work. Unlike laser devices, inkjets don’t require a lot of costly consumables like toner cartridges, developers, drums, waste containers and fusers. Additionally, inkjets aren’t engineered with a lot of the moving parts that make laser devices more vulnerable to jams and misfeeds, extended periods of downtime, higher service costs and shorter device life spans.
Another advantage of inkjet has to do with temperature. Many of the problems experienced with laser devices are related to the fusing process, when toner is fused to the surface of the substrate using heat. The heat from the fusing process can cause pages to curl, which contributes to more jams and misfeeds and reduces image quality. Additionally, the fusing process prevents printing on plastic or heat-sensitive media like envelopes, requiring such work to be outsourced. And laser-printed pages need time to cool down before they can be processed any further and may be susceptible to cracking or flaking when folded or fed through a finishing device. Output from inkjets, by contrast, can stand up to the stress of being fed through a finisher.
And if you feel “the need for speed”, inkjet offers unmatched productivity. RISO offers devices that generate letter-size colour pages at 160 pages per minute, while larger Xerox and Canon models will yield output at 182 and 300 pages per minute respectively.
Inkjet is a perfect complement to the toner-based printers in a print shop or any office space for that matter. Toner will generate the type of high-quality images required for promotional items, while inkjet will carry the load on everyday documents where colour was once considered a luxury. Some things need to be black and white… your printing is not one of them.