Me & my: Ricoh Pro C9210


At the beginning of this year Positive in Mitcham, south-west London, invested around £200,000 in three new major pieces of equipment.

Sullivan: "It does what it says on the box"
Sullivan: "It does what it says on the box"

These were a Ricoh Pro C9210 digital production printer, bought direct from Ricoh UK, a Horizon SPF/FC-200L A4 Landscape bookletmaker, supplied by Intelligent Finishing Systems (IFS) and a secondhand Heidelberg Suprasetter platesetter, purchased from International Graphic Supplies. At the same time Positive upgraded its pre-press software to Heidelberg’s Prinect system. The Ricoh is the subject of this Me & My, as the company has built up the best part of a year’s experience with it.

Positive was originally called Positive Images. “We decided to shorten Positive Images down to Positive a couple of years ago, as we felt Positive represented us as a company better,” says Mike Sullivan, production director. The company was actually established under another name in 1993, as Solo Print. The founder was Mike Sullivan senior, and his sons Mike, Danny and Jay are all now directors with different responsibilities within the company.

It’s proved an eventful year for the company, too. In July Positive got together in a partnership with another established printer, Colouration, to form the Positive Print Group, employing a total of 44 staff between them. Colouration had been operating out of rented premises in Earlsfield, four miles away from Positive in Mitcham. These were six single-user units that had been knocked together, but were not ideal for the large-format machinery.

Positive managing director Danny Sullivan and Colouration managing director Tony Dennington both become shareholders of each other’s companies. Colouration moved to the factory unit next door to Positive and the wall between them was knocked down to form one large 3,250sqm space that combines factory and office space.

The companies have kept their separate brand names. Colouration, a family-run business founded in 2001, handles specialist large-format design and print for the display market. Its work ranges from bespoke and premium large-format print to acrylic fabrication and cardboard engineering, as well as making counter units and floor standing permanent and semi-permanent POS for clients in the beauty, fragrance, retail and events industries.

Positive offers a range of commercial design, print, direct mail, web-to-print and multichannel marketing solutions, for clients in the retail, media, financial, charity, cosmetics and health and wellbeing sectors.

The new Ricoh digital press handles all the direct mail work now. Positive uses Cygnus data cleansing and processing software and since 2016 has been ISO 27001 accredited for data security. The Ricoh was adopted in place of an older HP Indigo and is operating alongside a Konica Minolta Bizhub Pro C6500 digital printer, a five-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75 litho press and two older Heidelberg litho presses. Positive also has four Roland DG wide-format printers it runs separately to Colouration’s large-format operations.

There is also a W2P system with Direct Smile multichannel software that can create campaigns that run across different media. “The web-to-print system is an online toolkit and stock management solution, which allows clients to order their own printed materials,” says Mike Sullivan. “It is ideal for our clients that have multiple sites that order printed materials, such as Chestertons estate agents and Hollywood Bowl group.” This links to the Shuttleworth MIS at Positive.

What is the Ricoh press

Ricoh’s Pro C9210 is a four-colour dry toner digital press introduced as part of the C9200 family in May 2018. It replaced the earlier C9100/9100 models, which could print at 110 or 130 A4 pages per minute. The newer models are a little faster: the C9200 prints up to 115 A4 pages per minute, and the C9210, chosen by Positive, prints up to 135ppm. However the real advance came with increased substrate choice. It can accept a broad choice of gloss or matt substrate types including synthetics, carbonless paper, coated and uncoated stock and envelopes. An elastic fusing belt allows the use of textured media. An onboard media library holds automated settings for a selection of branded types. The maximum sheet weight is 470gsm (up from the previous models’ 400gsm), which is enough for small carton work if needed. Full speed can be achieved on all weights.

These presses have long-sheet capabilities, up to 720 mm long as standard, but optionally up to 1,260mm simplex and 1,030mm duplex.

A further boost to throughput comes from the ability to replenish toners on the fly without stopping the press. Other new features include an automatic inline calibration system called Auto Colour Diagnosis that maintains colour consistency and stability.

The press is operated through a 17in touchscreen and can be driven by various digital front-end options, including EFI’s Fiery E-45 and E-85 colour servers, as well as Ricoh’s own TotalFlow Print Server R-62.

Ricoh claims that these presses can achieve quality “comparable to offset,” with “vivid lifelike colours, smooth tonal gradation and fine lines”. Part of the quality comes from the low toner pile height, which minimises glossiness.

Heidelberg sells its own-label version of the Pro C9200, which it calls Versafire EP.

Why was it chosen?

Managing director Danny Sullivan says: “We saw that the Ricoh technology had caught up with the Indigo technology and we needed additional presses.” The Xerox range was considered as well as Ricoh.

“We had no previous experience with Ricoh,” says Mike Sullivan. “We conducted a full review of our litho and digital departments. After looking at a number of different machines, we chose the Ricoh for its high print quality, competitive click charge and the way that the Fiery RIP data can be processed very quickly. We wanted a four-colour machine that can process data and print quickly and we felt that the C9210 met our requirements.”

The other main model in Ricoh’s range is the Pro 7200SX, which is slower but can print five colours including white. Sullivan says that the CMYK Pro C9210 was preferred as Positive wanted its higher speed plus its capability to take long sheets up to 720mm, which the Indigo could not do. Positive did not opt for the longer 1,260mm banner capability.

How did the adoption go?

“The Ricoh was installed in one day and the operators had two days of training,” says Sullivan. “The operators, who were Indigo trained, found it very easy to operate.”

What’s it like in practice?

“It does what it says on the box,” says Sullivan. “Quality is good and the Fiery RIP has enabled us to process data much quicker and increase capacity. The ability to print up to 720mm long has enabled us to print A4 landscape brochures digitally, which is much more cost-effective for shorter runs. Click charges are also reduced compared to the previous press.”

There have been no real problems in the first year, he says. “As with any install, we had a few minor challenges, but we were very impressed with Ricoh’s response. An engineer will be on site within four hours. We have found the Ricoh C9210 to be very reliable. The consumables service is also reliable.”

Pluses and minuses? Sullivan lists all pluses: “user friendly software; powerful RIP and imposition software; reliability.”

So, would he buy it again, or recommend it to other printers? “Yes!”


SPECIFICATIONS

Max speed 135 A4ppm, for all media types

Media weight range 52-470gsm

Max paper weight 600 microns

Resolution VCSEL 2,400x4,800dpi

Colours CMYK

Max print area 326x1,255mm (with optional banner sheet tray)

Process Dry toner with oil-free belt fusing

Paper input capacity Two standard trays with 2,200 sheets each, up to eight trays in total each 2,200 sheet), bypass tray 500 sheets

Duty cycle Peak volume 1.75m A4 impressions/month; normal volume 1m A4 impressions/month

Finishing options Staple finisher, bookletmaker and trimmer unit, multifolding unit (supports six fold patterns), high-capacity interposer, GBC StreamPunch, inline ring and perfect binding systems, twin high-capacity stackers, choice of Plockmatic professional bookletmaking systems

Footprint 2.52x1m

Price Up to £300,000 depending on specification

Contact Ricoh UK 020 7655 0129 www.ricoh.co.uk


COMPANY PROFILE

Positive, founded in 1994, provides a range of commercial design, print, direct mail, web-to-print and multichannel marketing work for clients in the retail, media, financial, charity, cosmetics and health and wellbeing sectors.

Its main production equipment is the Ricoh Pro C9200, a Konica Minolta Bizhub Pro C6500 digital press and a five-colour Heidelberg Speedmaster XL 75 litho press. Finishing capabilities were recently extended with a Horizon SPF/FC-200L A4 landscape bookletmaker.

This year Positive and nearby large-format specialist Colouration entered a partnership as the Positive Print Group, with Colouration moving its printing operations alongside Positive’s factory and combining the two buildings. The two firms employ a total of 44 workers and expect to turn over £5.5m.

Why it was bought...

Managing director Danny Sullivan says the company needed to replace an older HP Indigo, increase its press capacity and offer A4 landscape brochures. After an extensive assessment of the available options the company plumped for the Ricoh because of its high print quality, competitive click charge and the speed of the Fiery RIP.

How it has performed...

“Quality is good and the Fiery Rip has enabled us to process data much quicker and increase capacity,” says production director Mike Sullivan. Click charge costs have also been reduced.

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