Turning Over a New Leaf

A new printer and more happening at Falls Printing

Published online: Jan 15, 2021 Articles Rebecca Dement
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For over 66 years, Falls Printing has been serving the greater Idaho Falls community with their wide range of printing capabilities. Now, they’re rolling forward with new advances in printing technology. A new location, website and management are all happening now at Falls Printing; however, most anxiously anticipated has been a new printer.

Sandon Wixom, self-taught graphic artist from Blackfoot, Idaho, admitted the difficulties that come with a non-digitized printer. The printer that Falls Printing has been using is known as an offset printer; it uses plates to transfer inked images onto sheets of paper. These images often appear out of order because many pages will be printed onto one sheet of paper. 

The traditional printing process seems simple, and yet it is quite complex. From printing and folding to trimming and binding, printing a magazine requires a considerable amount of testing, and the work is done by both human hands and automated machines. When the sheets pass through each station of the printer, they receive one color of an image at a time. These colors—cyan, magenta, yellow and black, or CMYK—layer to create the images, though it takes about 400 sheets of printing just to get the color correct and sometimes more reprints are needed because of poor alignment within the machine. The pages are printed onto large sheets in what looks like the wrong page order until they are folded in specific ways to form magazines and booklets. A lot of previous challenges—including timeliness, waste and the inability to edit plates—are solved with Falls Printing’s new printer, the 2018 Xerox Iridesse.

Of the multitude of benefits this new printer brings, Sandon is most excited about how it opens up the possibilities for Falls Printing. The Iridesse uses specialty inks in traditional CMYK colors, but also boasts clear, white and metallic overlay options. The clear overlay can be used to create glossy designs that reflect on the paper under light while metallic overlays—available in gold and silver—were previously only available through the application of metallic foils on paper. Customers can better customize their paper products through Falls Printing with the use of these clear and metallic overlays, and can even customize names printed on each copy because the digital files that the Iridesse uses can include variable data or different information for each printed copy. If printing a booklet, pamphlet, magazine or other folded document, the Iridesse can create up to five creases—rounded or squared—on any part of the document, enabling customers to fully tailor products to meet their needs.

Because the Iridesse is digitized, it is also easier and less expensive now to place smaller orders. 

“Traditionally, printers like us would need to talk people into bigger and bigger quantities, like if you’re going to do a magazine you need to print at least 5,000 copies to make your per-piece cost come down,” Sandon explained,  “With a digital machine like this, it’s more cost effective to do lower quantities. Most people won’t commit to printing a magazine because they think they need to print 5,000 and they can’t change it after that, but now they can have just a few hundred printed.”

One of the biggest factors in bringing down the cost of printing is that plates aren’t needed to print with an electronic printer since it relies on digital files. There are also fewer steps required because the Iridesse automates the entire process from printing to creasing, folding, and binding without requiring a press operator to take the document to multiple stations for these steps like traditional offset printing.

With how much the Iridesse automates, Sandon reassured that this printer isn’t taking jobs away. “You still need operators feeding the machine,” he said. “Also, there are just some things that never go away, so if press operators convert it over to digital, they’ll actually be doing a lot of impositioning. You have to have a technical person there who knows what they’re doing, so it’s more just kind of a shift in who’s doing what.”

Although much of the excitement happening at Falls Printing centers on the Iridesse, there is also a building expansion that has taken place. The previous two-building system has been replaced with one large building that includes a parking lot and reception area. This is all possible because Falls Printing has taken over the property—formerly a liquor store—at 190 1st Street in Idaho Falls. Sandon expects much more foot traffic because this new location will be easier for customers to access and seems to be much remembered by past customers of the liquor store.

“We’re a one stop shop for anything printing,” Sandon said. “We print on promotional material—business cards, letterheads, magazines, bouncy balls that light up, keychains. There’s not a whole lot that we can’t print here. We don’t do just magazines; we can print just about anything. We’ll find a way.”

Click here to read more from the January issue of Idaho Falls Magazine.


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