In the high-stakes world of mass mail manufacturing, the cost of printing errors can be significant. Not only is mail manufactured at extremely high speeds, but the range of high-value personalization features utilized today to increase response rates makes matching variable printed materials, envelopes, and attached cards without errors increasingly challenging.

Despite the rise of digital marketing, direct mail is still broadly utilized by retailers, educational facilities, non-profits, financial companies, healthcare, and political organizations to get their marketing messages out to target audiences.

For some time now, this type of mail has already used variable digital printing techniques to personalize marketing materials and envelopes. This was already considered “mission-critical” given the internal contents of an addressed envelope may contain sensitive financial or health information and should not get into the wrong hands.

Now, with a trend toward adopting a hyper-personalized approach, matching the various component parts of a mail piece – messaging, addressing, envelope, attached cards, etc. – is even more critical.

Hyper-personalization in direct mail is a strategic approach where marketers leverage past purchase records, browsing habits, demographic details, and other available data to customize messages and offers for individual recipients. A hyper-personalized strategy can significantly improve the efficacy of marketing endeavors by increasing open rates, click-through rates, and ultimately, boosting sales.

For these reasons, securing the right mail manufacturing system is of paramount importance. Most systems are a combination of technologies from inkjet systems that employ different types of technologies and even inks, to inserters, card attaching systems, and tracking and cameras that verify printed information is correct, and that items are properly matched together. Software often ties the entire process together.

Unfortunately, critical components such as the software, the camera systems, and even the inkjet printer may be sourced overseas – a factor that might not be immediately evident without digging deeper. This approach can limit the equipment manufacturer’s ability to make any changes to hardware or software given there are no engineers or product designers on staff.

“Sometimes direct mail service providers view inkjet systems as ‘just a printer’ that doesn't need to be that high integrity, and they don’t know that until they have a problem,” says David Loos of MCS, Inc, a company that designs, manufactures, sells, and supports industrial inkjet imaging, tracking, and inserting systems and solutions for the mail manufacturing industry.

Alternatively, there can be significant advantages to working with suppliers that can offer a customized, end-to-end mail manufacturing solution.

“By owning and controlling the technology in-house, company engineers can make changes or customizations as issues arise to provide a superior solution with full accountability for results from design to implementation to nationwide support,” says Loos, adding that this is the best way to ensure the end-to-end system delivers error-free results.


At Summit Direct Mail Inc., the Dallas, TX based company has the capability to produce 2 million personalized pieces of mail per day. Founded in 2003, the mail operations are in four facilities throughout Dallas for a total of approximately 230,000 square feet, run by 160-180 employees.

The company is a provider of print, mail, and fulfillment services in addition to other multi-channel marketing and digital communication solutions. The company offers digital printing, offset printing, direct mail, product/literature fulfillment, and transactional mail, web to print/e-commerce, and complete online marketing automation services.

“If [the mail] doesn’t get opened, nobody wins,” says John Barber, President of Summit Direct Mail. “The more personalized you make something, the better it performs and the higher the response rate.”

“The amount of data [for personalization] that is out there now is so immense compared to what it was, and now the technology allows us to use it,” adds Barber. “Every way that you can mail it to make it look personalized, we do it.”

Today, this can include a laundry list of techniques designed to stimulate and track responses to an individual from Unique Offer Codes to Personalized URLs, and intelligent mail barcodes. Outbound phone calls, SMS, and text messages to an individual can be tied to these items.

For example, a custom Personalized QR Code is a unique branded appearance of a QR Code. With customization options like varying colors, patterns, and background, or adding a logo and CTA frame, one can design a unique QR Code that represents the brand.

A company’s prospects and customers will scan the QR code on their direct mail postcards, brochures, letters, and envelopes, etc. with a smartphone camera, and they will be immediately sent to a website, personalized landing page (PURL), social media platform, YouTube video, given a digital coupon, and more. The possibilities are endless. Barber says they have seen an increase of over 80% in scans from these codes since 2020 when going online via mobile devices.

According to Barber, to stay at the leading edge of hyper personalization, Summit Direct Mail continually invests in new technologies. Since the company was founded in 2003, Barber says he has worked with MCS to acquire high-speed inkjet systems, high-speed inserters, and TK 1000 high-speed web press.

A leading supplier of high-speed mail manufacturing equipment since 1989, MCS’ inkjet and tracking products are designed and manufactured in the USA. With thousands of systems installed in the mailing and marketing industries across North America and the world, MCS equipment has been used for many mission-critical mailings including two U.S. Censuses and many vote by mail elections.

According to Barber, MCS provides all the features that, “puts the sizzle in [direct mail].”

One example is MyFont, a new way to address mail with real handwriting using MCS high speed inkjet technology. As an optional feature in the new MCS Raptor 10 inkjet software, envelopes and teasers can be printed in natural and customized handwritten fonts – not pre-designed selections. For years, nonprofits and financial services industries have used this proven technique to increase response rates for advertising mail.

“MCS’ equipment allows our innovation to come to life. It allows us to put our vision on paper and allows people an easier way of responding,” says Barber.

The speed of the entire end-to-end system is also important when considering the ideal mail manufacturing equipment. Summit Direct Mail recently purchased one of the fastest inkjets in the industry, the TK 1000, that can run more than a thousand feet a minute.

“It's one of the fastest inkjets in the marketplace, and the lowest cost per impression,” says Barber.

He was also impressed with the speed of the card attaching technology. MCS’ Card Attaching lines are available as single stream or dual stream, which increases productivity with the option for 2up production at up to 20,000 pieces per hour.

“The technology matches the two [cards] and then allows us to lay down two cards at one time so we can put them down twice as fast,” says Barber.

Super Accuracy

Art & Negative is another top print and fulfillment solution that offers a wide range of commercial printing services, including direct mail. The company can produce up to 30 million pieces of mail per month on its high-speed printing equipment including newsletters, nonprofit mail, postcards, as well as enrollment kits, credit card marketing, and promotions for universities and colleges.

According to Jim Myers, vice president and one of the owners of Art & Negative, the company purchased its first inkjet system in 2004 for printing self-mailers, promotional material such as postcards, brochures, or catalogues mailed without an envelope.

Myers says he was familiar with MCS equipment having worked at another printing company before returning to his family business in 2001. He says most of his competitors also utilize MCS equipment.

MCS offers the largest family of inkjet technology, including the Falcon Eagle, Osprey, and Condor, all driven with one platform, MCS’ Raptor software. All MCS products can drive multiple print heads, even if they use different technologies like piezo and thermal ink jets, that can deliver a variety of water-based dye pigment, polymer pigment, and UV inks.

Art & Negative later purchased a FlowMaster high speed mail inserter from MCS that can achieve speeds up to 12,000 envelopes per hour. Inserting machines automate the process of inserting documents, flyers, or other materials into envelopes or packages. As Art & Negative grew and needed more capacity, the company continued to purchase additional FlowMaster inserters.

The system includes MCS’ Perfect Track Tracking System that includes Match Mailings, Read & Print, Output Verification, Electronic Double Detection, Insert Verification along with extensive logging of data including time, date, operator name, machine ID, piece ID, and destination of piece.

“The tracking system can also take a picture of the item. If it's in the healthcare arena, they want verification that person passed through your machine, it can take a picture and track [every piece of mail],” says Myers.

Myers says he appreciates having one company to contact. MCS has its own network of support technicians nationwide for technical support as well as installation and training.

“If there is ever an issue with the equipment, you can call them, and their technicians can remotely access the machine and fix any type of software updates or see any error codes you might be having to troubleshoot issues via the internet. Then, if needed, they can send a technician in to help,” says Myers.

Myers says MCS also works with him to find solutions that fit within a defined budget. “If I have to come in at a certain price, most of the time they have been able to work with us by offering solutions or other models that will get the job done,” explains Myers.

Summit Direct Mail’s Barber agrees. “It's not only speed and personalization, but also the price efficiency,” says Barber. “At the end of the day, we have to give our customers what they want, and they want it at a low cost.”

For more information on MCS and their inkjet printing solutions, visit, call 800-728-0154 or email