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The Benefits of a Digital Duplicator
By: David Murphy

So, your church's old copier is frequently broken and increasingly tired, and it's time to get a new one.  Maybe you could get one of those new MFPs that allow you to print, copy, scan, and fax all in a single device. You may know that MFP is an acronym for Multi-Functional Printer, Peripheral, or Product (depending on who you ask). You may also know that lots of churches own or lease them.

Hopefully, this article will provide some insight in avoiding some buying/leasing mistakes on your next device.

There are more than 300,000 Christian churches currently active in North America. About 60,000 of these, roughly 20 percent, will probably be in the market this year for a new MFP. Why 20 percent? Most office equipment is leased for 60 months, so, each year, about one out of five leases expires and a new one is started.

So, if this is your year, what will your church do? You will probably do as you did 42 to 48 months ago; you will get quotes from three vendors, maybe see a demo, decide on one you like, sign the lease, and take delivery.

But, wait. If you signed a 60-month lease only 48 months ago, why are you considering a new machine now when the existing lease hasn't been paid off? Oh yeah, the old machine is tired! There are more misfeeds, more downtime, and higher service costs, and it doesn't have the fancy features that today's MFPs have.

Maybe your office equipment vendor will happily offer to "buy out" your old lease, but you know that the old balance is actually rolled into the new agreement, and you will be paying interest on top of interest. This gets expensive.

There are several reasons why copiers and MFPs have become unreliable over time, but the main culprit is heat. Most copiers and MFPs employ an imaging process called electrophotography, which utilizes a heat process to fuse toner particles onto the page. On many devices, this heat-and-fusing process results in internal temperatures of 350 degrees. Generally, therefore, the higher your average monthly copy volume, the hotter your machine runs and the greater your frequency of misfeeds and service calls.

Bigger, faster machines tend to handle higher volumes more reliably, but "bigger and faster" nearly always means more money. This creates a quandary for the budget-conscious management of the church. Is it worth the extra money to lease a faster MFP that can handle higher volumes?

Churches with an average weekly attendance of more than 200 tend to benefit from using two office printing technologies: a copier/MFP for short-run copy/print jobs and a digital duplicator for longer-run applications.

Digital duplicators are much faster than comparably priced copiers, with 130 page-per-minute capabilities available on models purchased for less than $5,000.  They don't use any heat process, so they are extremely reliable and durable. Most easily handle up to 500,000 copies per month. Durability and long life are two keys to users' happiness.

Versatility is another key benefit of the technology, with the capability to print in either black or spot color on everything from offering envelopes and business cards to newsletters and program covers. Bulletins, flyers, direct mail post cards, and posters can all be printed in color, in house, on time, and under budget.

Digital duplicators use a master-based imaging technology that borrows attributes from the offset printing press. Like a press, all copies are reproduced from a single master.

Here is the process. When an electronic file is sent to a computer-connected digital duplicator, the image is transferred to a master, which is automatically wrapped around a print cylinder inside the machine. The print cylinder rotates over the paper while ink is applied through the stencil-like master material. There is no heat, fuser, or toner used in this simple and cool process. Up to about 5,000 copies can be reproduced from this master, which only costs about 25 cents.

With their high-yield ink and low-cost service plans, digital duplicators have an operating cost that averages about a half-cent per page. Digital duplicators' added bonus is that the cost per copy is about the same whether printing in black or spot color.

More than 30,000 church offices are using digital duplicators in America today. Church users appreciate the product's high level of productivity, versatility, cost efficiency, and reliability.

So, how can getting a digital duplicator for your church office help you love your copier more? Using a copier for copying jobs and the duplicator for duplicating jobs will save your church time and money for years to come.

By using your duplicator for long run-length jobs of 25-plus copies and your copier for short run-length convenience copy jobs, both devices will operate with optimal cost efficiency and reliability. You will experience less downtime with your copier, and it will last longer. Instead of having to look for a replacement after 42 or 48 months, you will likely find that your copier will last longer than your lease term. Extending your copier's lifecycle from three to seven years obviously increases your church's return on investment (ROI), while reducing your total cost of ownership (TCO).

If you are in the market for a new device for your church office, perhaps you would benefit from a toner-based MFP that scans, copies, and prints in full color. But, you should also consider the added value of also getting a digital duplicator for your longer-run documents that require more than 25 copies.

You can then efficiently use both devices for the applications for which they were designed. Both machines will last longer, be more reliable, and create fewer frustrations for your church staff. Everyone in your church office will love the digital duplicator and the copier.

David Murphy is the vice president of marketing for RISO, Inc., www.us.riso.com. He has been working toward improving the way churches communicate for the past 17 years.

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