Shopping For A Digital Press

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Staff member
Press Expert
Sep 7, 2022
We've spent the last two months shopping for a new digital press. These are the lessons we've learned through the process of shopping for presses.

First a little about us. This will be our 3rd press. We run mostly card stock and all full color. Quality is more important than speed, especially since most of our process is done in finishing, and most of the finishing work is slower than the printers.

One of the things we were looking to add with this new press is the ability to deal with lots of new substrates. Most important is textured stocks, with a secondary focus on foil stocks. For these specialty stocks what we've found is that you either need to go with a printer that is designed specifically for a particular specialty stock, or you need to go with something expensive like an Indigo. For example, the Ricoh 5100 does a marvelous job on linen and other textured stocks.

Here's what we've found as we started talking to the various companies about their products.

Another thing we've looked for is responsiveness. How quickly can we get someone on the phone? A remarkable number of dealers don't seem to want our money, because we don't get calls back. This has been especially true of Xerox. The only Xerox dealer who called us back was one selling low-end machines. We have calls into others, including Xerox corporate. In fact, I've left voicemails 3 times with Xerox corporate, and filled out the online form on their web site, and have yet to receive one phone call or email after four weeks of waiting.

HP Indigo
Everyone seems to think pretty highly of HP Indigo, so our audit wouldn't be complete without it despite the fact that our click volume is far too small to make that sustainable. We looked at their smallest press. It is the most expensive machine we've looked at, but also had the best image quality. However, it is certainly not a green button machine, so isn't really a good fit for our current staff. They quoted us 8 cents per click, $250,000 for the machine, and a number of additional service fees. Also, their print area was the smallest of all the printers we looked at, and the gripper left bent edges on the sheet which would require trimming before some of our finishing equipment would receive it without jamming.

Ricoh c901 GA+
Ricoh had the best demonstration and most responsive sales staff out of everyone we talked to. The image quality was not as good as the Canon, but was very good. The Ricoh also seemed to have the best front-back registration other than the Indigo. The 901 did a fair, but not great job with the linen stock, and couldn't handle the foil at all, it kept jamming. That said, they showed us the 5100, which does a remarkable job on linen, almost as good as the Indigo. Ricoh was the only one to give us a 2 hour guarantee on technician responsiveness. They quoted us $2600/mo for a lease on both the 5100 and 901, with a 4.5 cent cost on color clicks. They also locked their click cost in for 5 years.

Canon ImagePress C6011
The Canon has excellent image quality, about the same as Konica. It doesn't have as good of registration as Ricoh, and I know from experience that maintaining consistent color on Canon's is really tough. It does a fair job with the linen stock, although not quite as good as the Ricoh 901. It handles foil remarkably well, although the toner scratches right off. They guaranteed "same day" service provided the call was in before 1pm, so that's not nearly as good as Ricoh. The quoted us $2,000/mo plus 4.6 cents per click, and a 10% inflation of the per click charge per year.

Konica Minolta Bizhub C7000/8000
We have not yet had our demo of the KM machine, but I wanted to bring them up anyway. They were the fastest to call us back, which is a huge plus in my book. In addition, they were also the only ones to bring up that they had a color specialist on staff in our area who will work with us to ensure consistent color. Now we of course asked that of the other companies (some did some didn't), but Konica is the only one who offered without asking. To me that means they were the only ones really paying attention to what we were asking. Though I have to admit, Ricoh and HP were the only ones to offer us a solution for linen stock.

If I can impart one other piece of advice to shoppers out there, it would be this: Every machine is going to have it's share of problems. Your best defense against that is a good service team. Make sure that whomever you're buying the printer from has a good number of technicians in your area trained on your model of printer. Make sure they also have a good number of printers in your area. And go visit one of those machines in the field (not just the showroom) and ask questions of the proprietor using the machine.

Anyway, I hope that any of this information might be useful to prospective buyers out there.