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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2003, MCB UP Limited
A digital duplicator is now a cost-effective (and in some ways more flexible) alternative to a photocopier, a laser printer, and even an offset printing machine.
Everyone wants to keep down overhead costs and "office costs" are a prime candidate. All purchasing of office equipment and supplies should aim to minimise ongoing costs as well as initial investment.
In the past, it was popular for companies to outsource their document production. This was often because there was a shortage of resources and expertise in-house, especially awareness of the various technologies available to carry out cost-effective high-volume print runs. Duplicators in particular were considered both technical and messy, especially in relation to their "clean" competitors such as laser printers and photocopiers.
However, this perception – though perhaps once true – is now outdated. Modern digital duplicators are sophisticated machines, which print digital files via a PC, Mac, network, or by digitally scanning an original copy.
A digital imaging head creates a master copy, which is automatically wrapped around an ink drum. The paper sheet is then fed via a suction belt, and the master applies the image onto the sheet. The more copies produced, the cheaper the price per copy. A real advantage of the machine is its ability to print additional colours, known as spot colours. Spot colours are achieved by changing the ink drum to the required colour, then running the job through the machine again – this feature is ideal for organisations wishing to create letterhead paper or add their logo.
Digital duplicators are specifically designed for high-volume in-house document production and are cost-efficient on runs of between 30 and 5,000 copies at speeds of 120 pages per minute. They can print onto a wide variety of stocks, from carbonless paper to card (53-210gsm), and from A6 postcard to A3 sizes, and they pack all this functionality into a compact physical size.
What is the difference between a digital duplicator and its competitors?
Digital duplicators are environmentally friendly and cost-effective: they use 6 per cent of the electricity consumed by a printer or copier, and save up to 80 per cent on copier page costs, making high-volume in-house production an attractive option. The need to outsource jobs such as letterheads, compliment slips, delivery notes, envelopes, warranty cards, or volume intensive jobs suddenly become a thing of the past. Once switched on, duplicators can print or copy at the touch of a button from books or sheets, or directly from the desktop or network by pressing Print from a PC or Mac. Digital duplicators can also print onto uncoated bond paper or card, which further supports cost-saving messages, as most businesses tend to avoid using costly substrates for volume production.
Digital duplicators print using ink and not toner, and in addition to the standard black, inks come in a wide range of colours and can be matched against any pantone reference, which is ideal for printing corporate stationery. Gold and silver inks are also available – colours which are normally very costly and difficult to work with for offset printers.
Of course, not all is "rosy". Mirroring conventional offset printing, only one master plate can be created and used at any one time, so each sheet has to be put through the machine again to print the other side, and any additional colours. And unlike some copiers, stapling and collating has to be carried out offline (though there is a range of products such as mini collators, staplers and booklet makers that are easy to use and have been specifically designed for volume jobs).
A constant annoyance when printing or copying at high speed is paper jamming, and the time and mess involved in clearing it. A massive plus with modern duplicators such as the Duprinter from Duplo, however, is the revolutionary straight feeding path with suction belt and double-feed detection, which almost totally eliminates misfeeds, doubles, skewing and paper jams, eradicating operator frustration and machine downtime, which in turn saves costs.
With an estimated life cycle of eight to ten million copies and competitively priced, the cost per page produced by the digital duplicator alone offers an attractive alternative to photocopying or laser printing. It bridges the gap between high-volume copying and printing for the office market, and will reduce the amount of expensive outsourcing to copy shops and offset printers.
Digital duplicators are ideally suited to businesses that regularly change their written material and/or who produce jobs at high volume on a regular basis, thus avoiding the relatively high costs of offset printing or outsourcing jobs to copy-shops.