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Print shop produces high quality work

With printing services at University Press relocated to its Arco Lane site, a new full color digital printer, and print shop employees fully trained to run it, press manager Jim Chisholm believes his season of anxiety is over.
“Depending on who you talk to today, people are either enamored with the print shop, or they think we’re stumbling,” he said. Recent changes and upgrades have placed printing services at MUSC at the point of producing high quality work at a low price and a turnaround that’s as good, or better, than any in the area. But Chisholm said that on the way to getting better, University Press has disappointed some of its customers.
At the heart of the improvements is the new Xerox iGEN3, a high quality, CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) full-color, short-run digital printer. While Chisholm touts the advances built into the iGEN3, he’s quick to note that high-tech machinery in the print shop means little without people skilled to operate it. To give them those skills, he had to pull select employees from an already lean work force to be taught the operation and full capabilities of the new high capacity digital printer.
Leading up to the changes at University Press was the fact that the print shop’s tenure at Wachovia Bank Building was coming to a close, and that the bank property at the intersections of Spring, Courtenay and Bee streets was slated for other uses. At about the same time, 60-month leases were expiring on most of the printing equipment there. The situation left Chisholm with the decision to renew the equipment leases, knowing that the shop’s tenure at the bank building was short-term, or shut down printing at the bank building and move the operation to Arco Lane in North Charleston.
The capabilities of the iGEN3 made the decision for him.
“This is a truly digital press that’s got a footprint (paper size capacity) of 14.33 inches by 22.5 inches. This probably handles 80 percent of our product line.” He said that whereas the print shop’s old production color copier created colors in RGB (red, green, blue), the iGEN3 digitally prints in the more accurate and realistic CMYK, which is what wet ink printers have always done.
Add to that the digital printer’s software function to create personally targeted electronic brochures, addressing the expressed interests of the individuals receiving them. “And we’ll be able to provide database management to send out uniquely tailored brochures to a list on that database. This is not just the in-plant printer for MUSC, but truly a function that’s value-added to whomever wants to use us.”
Skilled as a graphic artist and knowledgeable of the capability of the new digital printer, Geoffrey Cormier applies his knowledge and creativity to the iGEN3’s end product. “I’m taking this new technology and figuring out many different ways to use it for the colleges here,” he said. The iGEN3 produces such a high-end product that as a designer, Cormier said he needs to understand its greater design possibilities so that what he puts in at the front end actually comes out as planned at the back end of the machine. “If the file is set up right at the front end, I can look at the design and know we are not going to get a kickback.”
Gordon Knight, who is offset printing production manager at University Press, said the iGEN3 definitely has a niche in the demand for printed products at MUSC. “When you go to the offset press, to make it cost effective, you have to have longer run lengths.” He explained that because of the initial expense involved in setting up a print run, the more copies printed, the lower the cost per piece. “Say Student Government wants 30 posters. To offset 30 posters, the cost would be astronomical. This machine, with the size it will run—actually a little bigger than 14 by 20–will do a quicker turnaround and a cheaper job with just as good quality as the offset press.”
The iGEN3’s quick turnaround is owed to its dry powder printing process. “As soon as it comes off, you can cut it, fold it or do whatever you need to do with it.” He explained that with offset printing, its wet ink process requires a day’s drying time. The greater flexibility to lower the cost for short runs and still use the offset press for runs of 5,000 to 10,000 or more give print shop customers the best of both worlds.
Knight joined University Press out of high school in 1983. His father managed The Citadel print shop and as long as he can remember, printing has been his life. “This is a whole new world for us to learn,” he said. “We know what we’re supposed to be looking for in color and quality. That came pretty easily. It’s just trying to get some of us old-fashioned people into the computer age that takes a little getting used to. I’m not too old to learn something new, but you have to understand computers were just coming out after I was out of high school, so this has been quite a learning experience.”
As digital production manager, Julia Butler has made the transition from running a high production black and white copier to the more powerful iGEN3, a true digital color printer requiring greater computer skills. “She’s responsible for the proper use of the iGEN3,” Chisholm said. “When she receives a file to be printed, she makes it happen in the most cost effective, high quality and timely way possible. She’s the prime owner of the iGEN3.”
Chisholm said he was pleased by the result of sending press people to the training class on digital equipment. “They are a lot more mechanical than our digital operators. They are used to keeping the presses running and are comfortable fixing things. This cross-pollinating between the printers and digital people works well. I think I’ve diffused the fear factor, because now they seem to be embracing this new printing technology that happens to be digital.”

Friday, March 28, 2008
Catalyst Online is published weekly, updated as needed and improved from time to time by the MUSC Office of Public Relations for the faculty, employees and students of the Medical University of South Carolina. Catalyst Online editor, Kim Draughn, can be reached at 792-4107 or by email, Editorial copy can be submitted to Catalyst Online and to The Catalyst in print by fax, 792-6723, or by email to To place an ad in The Catalyst hardcopy, call Island Publications at 849-1778, ext. 201.