In recent months and years, it’s become commonplace for Xerox and competitors to announce extra-long sheet (XLS) capability.
It’s for a good reason. Bringing XLS to digital presses opens new application opportunities as well as the chance to improve productivity and profit through multi-up onto larger sheet sizes.
In this month’s blog, we look at just how big a long sheet is, how it impacts the litho and digital markets, and which Xerox presses have which capabilities at the time of writing.
Are you considering an expansion to your media range? Read on…
How long is a long sheet?
We would say anything over 330mm x 488mm, the last measurement that is considered standard on most Xerox presses. (SRA3 is a bit smaller than this, 320x450mm).
How long is an extra-long sheet (XLS)?
Xerox markets presses that can take lengths of 660mm and upwards as having Extra Long Sheet (XLS) capability. The width is usually limited to 330mm (but the iGen is slightly different).
Litho printing vs digital printing
We know that most people reading this blog will be well-versed in the pros and cons of litho and digital printing for different types of job. Just in case, simply put, the difference between digital and lithographic printing is that the latter uses wet ink and printing plates. In contrast, digital printing uses toner (or sometimes ink/dry ink) on a press. With litho, ink sinks into the page, while digital toner sits on top of the media.
Why does this matter? Because the different methods suit different jobs. For example, set-up costs are higher with litho, but once the plates are made, large jobs can be completed quickly and efficiently on very large sheets. With digital, short runs are much quicker, and variable print is much easier.
As far as print quality goes though, in recent years, it has become harder and harder for the ‘person on the street’ to tell the difference between two resulting images on standard stocks.
Traditionally, (by which we mean maybe five years ago!) one of the great bonuses of litho was the possible sheet size, while digital print was constrained mainly to jobs printed on smaller media.
However, that’s changing. Most of our Xerox production printers now come with extra-long sheet options. This capability means that our digital presses can handle a much more comprehensive range of applications. It opens up opportunities to do larger prints like book covers and panoramic work with the added bonus of speed of set-up and variable print/personalisation, making digital an ever-more attractive option. What’s more, even common jobs can be more cost-effective and profitable on a shorter run through multi-up imposition.
Which applications suit long sheet or extra-long sheet (XLS)?
Large format direct mailers
Book covers/dust jackets
Large format wraps/clings
Multi-up jobs like business cards and flyers