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COLOR PRINTING TECHNOLOGIES:


WHICH ONE IS BEST FOR YOUR DOCUMENT PRODUCTION?

Introduction
Since the introduction of full color printing presses decades ago, the demand for color
documents has been steadily growing. At first, color printing was reserved for only the most
important documents where the high cost of color was justified. As printing technologies
advanced and full color printing capabilities were added to the typical office environment,
more and more documents were printed in color. However, a large portion of the documents
were still being printed daily were in black and white, it being the faster and more cost-
effective alternative. People have always wanted to print their documents in color, but speed
and cost considerations have limited their ability to add color to documents.

This white paper describes the traditional color printing technologies and the types of output
they generally produce, and also introduces an emerging market segment spurred by the
availability of a fast, low-cost color printing technology from RISO.

The Importance of Color


Research clearly indicates that color has tremendous power to add impact to communications,
boosting recall and influencing opinion. Studies done by Pantone® and the internationally
recognized Pantone Color Institute® indicate that “consumers are up to 78% more likely to
remember a word or phrase printed in color than in black and white.” Further to this, “when
color is combined with the written word, it impacts readers with the triple whammy of greater
recall, recognition and attention.” Other research backs up these findings. A study by
InfoTrends discovered that full-color variable data documents also enhanced customer loyalty
and retention, generating 34 percent faster response rates, a 48 percent increase in repeat
orders, and a 32 percent increase in overall revenues.

According to the Institute for Color Research, up to 90 percent of subconscious judgments


about a person, environment, or item are based on color alone. Given these statistics, there is
little wonder that, within the domain of copiers and printers, full color technologies represent
significant opportunities for growth. Currently, there are 42,000 full color hardware placements
and 58 billion copies being generated annually according to InfoTrends, and these numbers
are expected to continue to grow over the next few years.

Full Color Printing Categories


In the traditional full color marketplace, there are three major categories into which full color
printing technologies fall: Production Color, Graphics Color, and Business Color. These three
categories are driven by output needs. Production Color is appropriate for large volume output
where high print speeds and low per-page costs are most important. Graphics Color jobs need
to be high quality (often requiring exact color matching), but are typically not high volume.
Business Color is a growing segment of color that is increasingly common in everyday office
environments. Its capabilities tend to fall somewhere between the high quality of Graphics
Color and high speed and low operating costs of Production Color, offering a trade-off among
these factors.

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None of these three traditional technologies deliver top performance in all three categories.
Organizations choosing among them must prioritize image quality, output speed, equipment
cost, and operating cost as part of the purchase decision. Within these factors, buyers must
make a compromise depending upon their most important criteria. While the importance of
“acceptable quality” is subjective from one buyer to the next, speed and cost are often the
driving factors in purchases for all but high-end printing needs, which are a relatively small
portion of full color unit sales.

Production Color
Production Color devices represent the high end of color output volume and print speeds. In
this space, many devices can easily print well over a million impressions per month.
Technologies used to generate Production Color generally involve plate-based lithography or
large electro-photostatic laser processes. A small group of vendors in this Production Color
space offer devices that utilize inkjet technology. This environment has been experiencing an
over-abundance of used offset equipment in the past three years. On the plus side, the
advancement of digital Production Color technology has helped to make this volume printing
more operator-friendly and has lowered related barriers to entry. However, while there are
numerous applications and needs for the speed of full color Production Color devices,
acquisition cost remains a major obstacle. The majority of the Production Color devices cost
from $100,000 to well into millions of dollars. When this price point is combined with
installation and training fees often associated with this technology, the end-result is a limited
number of unit placements in the U.S. market, as compared to Graphics Color or Business
Color imaging systems.

Graphics Color
Graphics Color fits the need for high quality printing without large production demands; it is
defined by high quality output and low production speeds that range from four to 50 copies per
minute. The simplicity of setup and operation, as well as the maintenance characteristics of
Graphics Color technologies, has led to consistent but modest growth in this category of color
printing. However, this category is also one of the most crowded with options: every major
manufacturer of copier- and printer-based technologies offers a product in this category. Once
considered appropriate for only the big-budget companies, Graphics Color technology has
now found a home in many non-profit organizations, government agencies, and small
businesses. One of the major reasons for this development is the acknowledgement that color
plays a tremendous role in increasing the impact of printed documents. In fact, the lure of full
color is appealing to a wider range of customers than ever before, outweighing the impact it
can also have on cost.

Business Color
Business Color is the fastest growing of all three traditional full color segments. In fact, with
advances in traditional copier and printer technology, Business Color is poised to take over
black and white output in many segments of many product lines. All the large copier
manufacturers are selling imaging devices that print in black and white for one price and in full
color for another. The image quality of these prints is sufficient for the large majority of the
everyday color demands of many customers.

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Many new devices in the Business Color segment have begun to cross the boundaries into
both Graphics and Production Color. This disruption is due primarily to improvements in
Business Color technologies. The pressure on Production Color may be attributable to savvy
marketing, rather than advances in technology. At the time of this writing in 2007, the fastest
output device in this segment produces a maximum of 65 pages per minute. While the output
quality approaches that of Graphics Color, the speed is hardly in line with the 100+ cpm
characteristic of many Production Color devices. The main attraction of Business Color is that
it adds more flair to documents without dramatically increasing cost. If the customer’s need is
for low cost, while very-high production speed and very-high quality are not a concern, then
Business Color may be a satisfactory choice.

Communications Color: A New Opportunity for Full Color


Recently, a tremendous latent market opportunity was identified for color output that combines
very low cost color capability with very high print speed. For many print applications, the very
high image quality and higher per-page costs of Graphics Color devices is not necessary.
This untapped color category has been identified as Communications Color because the
customer’s need is to communicate more effectively through the balance of “acceptable
quality” color, extremely high levels of productivity and reliability, and very low total-cost-of-
ownership (TCO). In the absence of a fast, cost-effective full color printing solution, print
equipment buyers had previously relied on monochrome imaging solutions for a vast array of
output needs simply because there was no good color alternative that matched the speed and
cost of those monochrome solutions. The Communications Color space and an innovative
printing technology removed that limitation.

The first company to capitalize on this market opportunity and develop a breakthrough
innovation to satisfy it was RISO. Its new patented printing technology is called ComColor™,
which delivers all three benefits—color, speed, and low cost— for everyday applications. This
technology provides users with an unprecedented capability for producing high-speed low-
cost color printing in both lower-volume and high volume environments. ComColor will allow
the market to enjoy the benefits of full color in more documents than ever before, for everyday
use in a wide range of communications, including those where the only previous choice was
black and white.

ComColor Technology and the RISO HC5500


Since its founding, RISO’s mission has been to provide customers with productive, versatile
and cost-effective products. RISO’s HC5500 Full Color ComColor printer delivers this value
proposition to the customer with breakthrough technology, creating new opportunities for full
color digital printing in everyday communications. Its ability to provide full color prints at
unprecedented speed and at an extremely affordable price is causing many print and
equipment buyers to rethink their old options.

RISO introduced the first in the HC Series, the HC5000 Full Color ComColor printer, in Japan
in December 2003. This technology became available to the North American market in late
2004. The newest member of the HC Series, the HC5500, was unveiled in 2006. It offers
customers fast and affordable full color printing for everyday communications. The HC5500
prints at speeds up to 120 pages per minute and at sizes up to 12”x18”—making it the fastest

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sheet-fed inkjet printer on the market today—with low running costs of $.03 per page in full
color. Because its maximum recommended monthly volume is 500,000 impressions, users
can take comfort in a highly reliable print device for many years. With its long machine life
expectation and acquisition costs in the $40,000 to $50,000 range, a very low total cost of
ownership is yet another benefit for volume users.

The HC5500 harnesses two proprietary technology platforms from RISO: FORCEJET™ and
ComColor™. FORCEJET technology combines a powerful print engine, line inkjet system and
high-speed paper feeding system. The FORCEJET platform features a Piezo “Drop on
Demand” inkjet system that can reproduce up to eight gradations per drop. This 8-grayscale
capability results in more vivid images and a depth of color that is not available in laser printed
output. The ComColor Color Management System guarantees outstanding color reproduction
while reducing ink usage, resulting in lower operating costs. A choice of either a powerful
Adobe® PostScript® Level 3TM controller or a GDI controller further expands the capabilities of
the unit. The HC5500 offers the lowest total cost of ownership among full color technologies in
North America.

Summary
The demand for Communications Color will continue to grow as more and more organizations
discover that with the HC5500 they can print color documents as easily, quickly and
inexpensively as black and white documents. We expect this to cause a vast migration of
many print jobs to color that have been relegated to monochrome because of concerns over
cost and speed. For more information about RISO, Communication Color and the HC5500
Full Color ComColor Printer, visit http://us.riso.com.

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©Copyright 2007 RISO, Inc.