Me & my: Riso ComColor 9150

By Simon Eccles, Monday 13 July 2015

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Stralfors is an international firm that offers integrated customer communication solutions, from high-speed continuous and cutsheet full-colour digital printing to email and SMS and loyalty cards.

mm-stralfors-steve-rowson

Rowson: “The printers do exactly what it says on the tin”

The UK operation concentrates on transactional and direct mail work from its production site in Cornwall. he digital production equipment includes Xerox iGen sheetfed digital colour presses and a Canon Océ ColorStream 3900 inkjet web press, installed in 2013. Providing support for this are the Riso ComColor 9150 cutsheet inkjet printers, installed in 2013. 

Stralfors UK has adopted three Riso ComColor 9150 low-cost single-pass cutsheet printers to supplement direct mail and transactional production on its high-speed continuous inkjet print line. The company says it finds the Risos cost-effective, reliable and easy to use for short-run and reprint work. 

“The Risos fit in as one of several different options that we can provide,” explains Steve Rowson, head of UK operations. “We can offer high quality toner work with Xerox iGens, as well as the Risos, which I’d class as lower cost full-colour but decent quality, then continuous colour and cutsheet and continuous mono. We have moved work from iGens to the Riso, but we’re still growing volumes on the iGens.” 

Costing about £40,000, the 9150 is a four-colour printer capable of running at up to 9,000 A4 pages per hour. The ink is oil based for fast drying and water resistance. Riso has worked to make the paper feed mechanism reliable, with multiple sensors along the path.

At launch Riso claimed that this was the fastest cutsheet inkjet printer in the world. Since then the Delphax élan and Canon Océ VarioPrint i900 have emerged with higher speeds, while the Xerox Rialto 900 offers roll-to-sheet A4 at about twice the number of hourly duplex A4s. However, all of these cost 10 to 20 times the price of the 9150, which remains the fastest in its price bracket. Anything comparable uses toner technology and runs much slower.

Print produced by the Riso technology has a similar look and feel to that from the continuous-feed ColorStream. Switching short-run work to the Riso printers has released capacity on the high-end systems and replaced the need to use pre-printed stationery with mono personalisation devices.

Following an assessment of cutsheet colour printers available in the market, in the end Stralfors found the decision an easy one: “We chose these printers because they represent excellent value in terms of quality of output, investment, running costs, reliability, productivity and ease of use,” Rowson says. 

“In addition the support from Riso during the sales process was professional, helpful and they understood our needs.

“The printers were purchased to support new business wins, which required full-colour duplex printing to tight deadlines.” 

Mail guarantee

The Riso machines also serve as a key part of Stralfors’ mailing guarantee, the ‘100% mailing system’, which was created to ensure every piece of mail is sent. 

Rowson says: “We had also invested in continuous high-speed colour inkjet print technology. Therefore we needed a solution for producing reprints generated from our inserter fleet.

“We are making sure we mail 100% of every single job. As part of that process we read a 2D barcode on the inserter that verifies that the envelopes are in sequence. If not, the system will divert these mail items. Every divert on the inserters will be included in an automated reprint file.

“It’s likely to be too low-volume for the ColorStream so we’d reprint on the Risos in full colour. That’s why it was very important that we get as near as possible to the ColorStream output.

“We have benefited in a reduction in waste associated with printing small volume via continuous high-speed print and the 9150s have helped release capacity on the high-speed continuous printers.” he company did consider other options, says Rowson, but found there was nothing that would provide the quality of output it needed at the right speed and the right price. And the decision has proven to be a very successful one: “The printers are very easy to use, the user interface is clear and operator-friendly with minimal training required,” Rowson reports. 

“The printer itself is robust and very reliable. The ink, being the only consumable which the operators are required to change, is another positive. 

“Jams or other running problems are low in frequency and easily rectified. The colour management software enables us to change the density of colours, and we can also use various ICC profiles and adjust brightness and contrast where required.”

Installation and start-up went smoothly, according to Rowson: “Very easy adoption, solid technical support in terms of preparation and installation resulted in pages being printed during the first day of install. Including training we were ready for live work within two to three days.

“The printers do exactly what it says on the tin, for want of a better phrase. We are happy with their performance, capability and reliability. We are producing very good results with full-colour printing, using standard off-the-shelf substrates.” here were a couple of niggles in the early days, as might be expected. “We have had some minor software issues with the RIP that have been dealt with quickly both within Riso UK and Japan” Rowson says. “These issues have not resulted in downtime necessarily, but have been taken seriously by Riso, which is what you want.

“The service support is very good. We had good response to any problems and the printers are on a preventative maintenance schedule, which Riso manages closely. 

“The support for colour management is also very good and there has been a strong relationship built between our own colour expertise people and the Riso expertise.”

Potential advances

When asked to provide a list of pros and cons, Rowson identifies pluses as: “Speed, reliability, total cost of ownership, flexibility, service and ease of use.” The single minus is perhaps scope for an upgrade rather than an actual fault: “A colour curve editing capability would be an interesting development that would make colour matching easier.” 

Overall, Rowson is very pleased: “The printers are a good fit within our range of solutions and complement well our other print production capabilities,” says Rowson. “We have high-speed continuous inkjet colour, high-quality cutsheet colour (toner) and the Risos. This enables us to provide a range of options for our customers and potential customers.

“They’re not cheap but they’re not expensive. If you get three or four years of good production out of one of these machines then you’re not too worried if you have to replace with a new one. Given the money that Riso invests in R&D, who knows what’s coming along in the future. They’ve also got envelope wrapping now, which is an interesting solution.

“We are very pleased with our investment and I would recommend these printers to others.” 


SPECIFICATIONS

Ink ComColor X1 oil-based

Colours CYMK

Max sheet size 340x550mm

Max speed 150 A4 ppm (75ppm duplex)

Monthly duty cycle 500,000

Max resolutions 600dpi

Stock weight range 46 to 210gsm

Footprint 1,220x705mm

Price About £40,000

Contact Riso UK 020 8236 5800 www.riso.co.uk


COMPANY PROFILE 

Stralfors is an international company that offers integrated customer communication solutions, from high-speed continuous and cutsheet full-colour digital printing to email and SMS and loyalty cards. 

Established in the UK in 1988, Stralfors now processes over 80m mail pieces a year. Its 7,000sqm production factory is in Redruth, Cornwall.

Originally a business forms printer, Stralfors UK’s pre-printed forms are now mainly provided by the group’s Nordic and Polish operations, while the UK specialises in digital targeted transactional and direct mailing for businesses within the financial services sector, retail and utilities firms and government divisions.

Why it was bought...

The company needed a cost-effective cutsheet inkjet system that was capable of matching the output from its Canon Océ ColorStream 3900. This capability represents a key component in the company’s ‘100% mailing’ guarantee to customers, so it’s an important function. Having studied the market options, it quickly realised that the ComColor 9150 offered the best match for its requirements. 

How it has performed...

Steve Rowson, head of UK operations, reports: “The printers are very easy to use, the user interface is clear and operator-friendly with minimal training required. The printer itself is robust and very reliable. The ink, being the only consumable which the operators are required to change, is another positive. 

“Jams or other running problems are low in frequency and easily rectified. The colour management software enables us to change the density of colours, and we can also use various ICC profiles and adjust brightness and contrast where required.”

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