Bill Brunone

Newspapers & Technology continues its 4 Questions series with digital press vendors. This month, Bill Brunone, vice president of targeted inkjet systems for Screen, talks about Screen's newspaper offerings.

How is Screen approaching newspapers and how do you see Screen fitting into this industry?

The Truepress Jet520 is a drop-on-demand, water-based, color inkjet press that can print a variety of publications and direct mail, but is especially suited for newsprint because of its small drop size, grayscale heads and high resolution. With no special modifications, the TPJ520 press is the center of a three-part package for newspapers. This includes workflow and composition software - Screen's Newsworker - that takes into consideration the fact that in newspaper production, each section is printed, stacked and folded in-line, not statically printed and collated later.

The second part is the Truepress Jet520, and the third component is specialized cut/stack/folding (finishing) equipment from Hunkeler.

This combination is proven and ready for placement in the appropriate segments of the newspaper industry.

According to Screen, what are the benefits of drop-on-demand versus continuous inkjet technology for newspapers?

Using DOD technology translates to greater uptime and higher print quality.

Screen's Truepress Jet520 system is based on Epson's piezoelectric head technology and inks are supplied in airtight bladders. Because of this, ink never contacts air or contaminants before being projected from the printhead. This significantly reduces the need for maintenance and speeds startup and shutdown procedures.

Because of the small printhead size, Screen has brought the distance between application of colors to very close proximity, minimizing paper slip and stretch issues that would destroy color-to-color registration.

DOD allows for grayscale printing, and the use of very small droplet sizes gives the reader yet another tier of image quality and clarity. In the unlikely event that there is a problem with a printhead, it can be replaced quickly by the user.

What trends do you see in digital printing for newspapers as far as news products, niche products, etc? What new technologies/features do you see emerging in digital presses that could potentially benefit newspapers?

Once newspaper publishers embrace the idea of distributed print as well as the advantages short-run and variable personalized printing can offer, they will find almost unlimited potential.

From the hardware manufacturers' point of view, what you see is just the beginning of the industry's offerings. You are already seeing variations of printing devices: faster, wider and higher-quality systems, but you will probably also see less-capable systems offering better economics in specialized situations.

The newspaper industry has been talking for many years about the potential benefits of digital printing. Is the technology really ready to deliver these benefits?

We think that the productivity and uptime of the Truepress Jet520 is certainly ready for the newspaper industry, based in part by the fact that the press has been commercially available and in operation by customers for more than two years.

We think that there are situations in which digital printing can be leveraged to reduce costs, increase advertising response or increase the readers' experience. However, we do not think that digital print technology will replace large-run offset printing in the near future. This is primarily due to the greater cost of consumables required - compared to offset printing.

Some of the situations in which digital print for newspapers can be profitable include those (in which) a publisher has geographic areas that are difficult or expensive to service by traditional central print and delivery methods. Placing a digital press close to the delivery point can reduce the cost of distribution and increase customer satisfaction by giving the reader more current content, since printing is done in close proximity to the delivery point, and at the last possible moment.

Publishers can leverage what the direct mail and commercial print industries have known for years: Personalization increases reader response rates, thus allowing publishers to command higher prices for personalized print advertising.

Publishers can also create unlimited microzones, without regard to plate change costs, thereby increasing the appeal of the publication.