Dec. 29 2006 11:42 AM

What's the big deal about tabletop inkjet addressing, you ask? Plenty, if you talk to those who use it. Take Howard Moldofsky for example. He's the president of Howlan Inc. in Wheeling, Illinois. "I've been hooked on the tabletop inkjet system since I purchased my first one 10 years ago. Recently, we upgraded to an upper end, high-speed, high-fidelity tabletop imaging system. It's like having a console system without the high price tag."


The Howlan company slogan is "Imprinting Specialists Doing the Unusual." The slogan describes them well. They not only do the normal imprinting tasks such as adding dealers' names to preprinted catalogs, they also do imprinting to correct other printers' mistakes. Think of them as doctors for printers. When a serious mistake is discovered in a completed printing piece, instead of reprinting the entire job, Howlan takes it, covers up the error and imprints the correction.


"With a tabletop inkjet system, we can handle our printing and addressing jobs quicker, cheaper and with greater flexibility," Moldofsky adds.  And with the kinds of assignments that Howlan receives, they can certainly benefit from those advantages. "We have taken off covers of catalogs that were wrong and recovered them. We had a publisher send us newly printed books for imprinting because they forgot to put the author's name on the cover. Just recently, we had to correct a mailpiece that had an indicia printed with the wrong city and wrong permit number," Moldofsky comments.


Moldofsky explains how the tabletop inkjet system makes life easier at Howlan. When they have to block out an incorrect indicia and imprint the correct one, they can accomplish both tasks in one run, saving time and money. Also, with the tabletop system, changeover is very quick and easy because when different colors are needed, they just swap cartridges.


That's a major time saver as opposed to having to clean out ink lines. "Sure, you can also get those advantages with a console system, but they cost over $50,000, compared to a tabletop that costs just over $15,000," Moldofsky adds.


Tabletop addressing systems are also more affordable and bring today's user-friendly mailing software products to a wider range of users than ever before. Some of the newest tabletop printers have automatic cleaning and positioning, so users don't even have to move the heads into place or deal with ink cartridges. There are also new crossover units that are tabletop-based but offer the rugged feel and performance of console systems.


Moldofsky says the reason he originally started using a tabletop system was really because of customer demand. They wanted greater selections of font sizes, styles and colors than he was able to offer at the time. With tabletops, three cartridges go together to make up one head that gives 11/2 inches of printable area. In that area, you can put one line or 10 lines, but in other systems, it can require six heads to do what the tabletop can do with three. Now Moldofsky can do script fonts, headline fonts and mix typefaces, which of course, makes his customers very happy.


Multi-tasking is another advantage of tabletop systems that Moldofsky cites. As an example, he recently had a job for a major restaurant chain that required sequential numbering for a coupon book. It wanted to put 18 coupons in the book and on the 18th coupon, it needed to add a name, address, city and state. After everything was imaged, the restaurant had to put a cover on the book, die cut it for the address to show, stitch it and mail it. Moldofsky credits the flexibility and speed of the tabletop system that allowed the job to go through without a hitch.


Barcoding is yet another example where tabletops are beneficial according to Moldofsky. You can get 300 to 600 dpi, which is much more readable and reliable than the 150 dpi offered by other systems. And while a laser unit can also give high fidelity, it's a lot more costly than inkjet units.


Moldofsky emphasized one other point about buying tabletop systems. "You have to be sure to check out the service track record of the company you're buying from. Certainly the quality of the system is important, but the quality of the service is just as important, if not more so. After all, if you buy a Rolls Royce and can't get good service, it's no better than a Volkswagen that doesn't work. The company I use gives me outstanding service whenever I need it. If I call them in the morning, they respond to me that morning. That's the way it should be."


Another company that has made the switch to tabletop inkjet addressing is Linzee International, a commercial printing, addressing and mailing firm in Belmont, California. "Our company wouldn't be where we are today if it weren't for the tabletop addressing systems," commented Ziad Ezzatt, manager of the family-owned business.


Ezzatt's parents, who are now semi-retired, established Linzee International as a printing company over 30 years ago. The firm expanded its operations to include mailing services about 10 years ago. Initially, they used outside mailing houses to fulfill that aspect of their business. But after becoming dissatisfied with the quality of the outside mailing services, they decided to handle it in-house.


Linzee purchased its first tabletop inkjet addressing system six years ago. They were so pleased with the results, they soon added a second unit as a backup and to do separate jobs simultaneously. They have since replaced both units with upgraded models. "The new systems are faster and have much higher capacity," Ezzatt states. "Now, addressing and mailing services represent 50% of our business."


According to Ezzatt, speed and efficiency are the two major advantages offered by tabletop systems. "Before we bought the tabletops, everything was hand sorted," he says. "Now, with this equipment, we do a lot of large run mailings. We can do jobs of 100,000 pieces or more and, running at 20,000 per hour, get the job out in an afternoon."


And since it's computer sorted, Linzee can now get the minimum postage rate. "With the Postal Service, if you don't want to do any work, you can pay 37. apiece," Ezzatt adds. "The more work you do in sorting and sub-sorting, you can actually get down to individual mail carrier routes. It's a lot less work for the Postal Service and they'll cut you large breaks on the postage cost. This translates to huge cost savings for our customers."


Ezzatt spoke of other advantages of tabletop inkjet addressing. "They're terrific for addressing post cards," he said. "We can run them through very quickly. So fast that you can't even watch them go through, you'd get nauseous."


"Aside from the speed and cost savings, flexibility is another great advantage of the tabletops. We've addressed nine-by-twelve inch Tyvek envelopes. They're so high glossed it can be difficult to get the ink to dry. But we can adjust the speed so that instead of running at 15,000 to 20,000 pieces an hour, we can slow it down to as low as 3,000 pieces per hour."


Ezzatt also referred to the efficiency of tabletop addressing. He likes the fact that the print heads don't move at all. "Other than the belts that carry the paper, there are no moving parts at all," he adds. "You don't have to wait for the heads to move and drop the address, especially when you have four or five-line addresses, so you don't have to worry about slowing down the machine."


Ezzatt said he is delighted with the reliability that he gets from his tabletop addressing systems. "We've had four machines and we've been happy with every one. There's been very little downtime with the equipment and that's extremely important to us. And the few times we did need service, we received a very quick response from our vendor."


So, what's the big deal about tabletop inkjet addressing? Well, when you listen to how users talk about the benefits high quality and fidelity, speed, cost savings, flexibility and reliability it's pretty easy to see why so many addressing and mailing companies are making the switch to the tabletop systems.


William J. Longua is manager of Marketing Services of Rena Systems, Inc., Oaks, Pennsylvania. For additional information, visit