The first Xerox Trivor in operation in the world is safely installed at First Move Direct Marketing, a direct mail business in High Wycombe. It seems a somewhat incongruous place for Xerox to trial its contender for the litho replacement inkjet press.
First Move is not one of the major direct mail printers with oodles of experience running inkjet presses. It is nowhere near either Xeox’s US headquarters in New York State nor its inkjet hub close to Marseille.
However, High Wycombe is not far from Xerox UK head office in Uxbridge, and First Move managing director David Amor has been passionate about the potential for inkjet printing since seeing the first Océ inkjet presses some 14 or 15 years ago.
“I was pretty excited by the potential of inkjet to deliver cost effective personalisation, but it was big and pretty expensive and so not right for me at that point. I decide to wait on the basis that somewhere down the line, inkjet would drop in price and would become smaller and more appropriate for this business,” he explains. “That is now starting to happen.”
First Move is also a long term Xerox customer running iGens and Nuveras to personalise direct mail and marketing material on behalf of a wide spread of customers. While First Move does handle some transactional work, the emphasis is on acquisitive marketing and fund raising for charities. Amor reckons there are around 250 active clients, most too small to interest the major direct mail printers whether using inkjet or not.
He is also a firm believer in direct mail and has set out his beliefs in real personalisation, using images as well as text, in timing and application in a book, Direct Mail 101, to explain that direct mail can “become a predictable – and highly profitable – marketing system”. It is not all about print. The business manages campaigns across different media, handles responses as well as offering design, print and mailing services.
Over the years, Amor says, he had kept in touch with Canon and was introduced to the latest of the inkjet machines developed in Poing. “It was now starting to make sense,” he says. “Being predominantly a Xerox house, I mentioned this to Xerox and was told ‘We do inkjet’.”
There was a certain amount of discussion on this point until Xerox offered to prove it on a trip to Marseille where he was shown the Rialto, the first product to emerge from Xerox’s acquisition of Impika. However, this is an A4 only machine and would not suit First Move.
“Anyway the conversation went on and a new machine was mentioned. We ran tests, none of which was good enough until one sample was returned. This was from the 1200dpi Trivor and pretty closely emulated litho printing.
“By dint of being in the right place at the right time, we became the beta test site for colour printing on Trivor.”
At Drupa the machine was introduced running a dynamic catalogue section which was combined with a static litho section and personalised cover on a Muller Martini line. A professional would spot the differences, the end consumer would most likely not care. The dynamic section comprised products to match the profile of the individual named on the cover.
At the show this was a careful prepared demonstration. But it is close to how Amorsees the future. “I have a deeply held belief that personalisation should not be just about black text, but should also be reflected in the images to create a truly personal offering. We want to run different products in a cost effective manner,” he says.
That requires computing power, both in building the documents from combining templates and data bases ahead of printing and in the DFE to drive the Trivor. This has ledFirst Move to score a second world-first using the first EFI Fiery Rip with an inkjet web press. This has to deliver fully variable pages to the press at its 150m/min operating speed and at 1200dpi resolution.
“Previously Impika has used its own digital front end,”Amor says. The new DFE was tested with a selection of the most challenging pages he could find and it passed.
CVG’s paper was recommended to start with Xerox asking First Move to trial papers from two other mills. One has proved effective, the other less so. There will be other paper trials into 2017 as part of the beta testing. Likewise there will be tweaks to the ink and to the software, both that on the machine and from EFI. Amor is ready for this. It is part of the normal testing procedure.
He says: “It is still early days. This is very much about being able to deliver true variability in images and text to produce a truly personalised product that has the capacity to improve ROI. The 1200dpi quality has been central to that and we have started to use the press in anger and are hoping to do more in 2017.”
The press is running inline to a Hunkeler CS6 II sheeter which can bring products off singly or as 2-3-up stacks. These can then be inserted using the existing mailing lines.
The company had no single customer in mind for the project which has relieved the pressure of expectations. First Move is now providing samples to customers during presentations to show what previously it could only talk about.
“These are customers that do not have the volumes to interest the larger printers that have invested in inkjet, but also want volumes that are beyond the capabilities of the iGens,” says Amor.
“We are an aspirational business. We have not done this because we have a client in mind, we have done it in the belief in the benefits it will deliver to people. We want to work with clients to help them with what they do.”