Inside the Digital Paper Labs at Xerox and HP
Xerox tests its digital papers to perform in a variety of normal circumstances, such as an office environment. But it also subjects its papers and hardware to extreme climates, to make certain they function optimally beyond operational norms.
At about 60 degrees at 20% humidity, static electricity can build up, causing sheets to separate incorrectly or even stick together, Kurzweil says. At 80o and 80% humidity, paper swells as it absorbs moisture from the air. Paper curls are the result.
Considering that copiers, printers, and digital presses use heat and pressure to apply images to the paper, "if [paper] fibers are not aligned correctly, you get an imbalance in how they react," Kurzweil says. That can lead to paper handling and output problems, and production delays.
And how paper is handled before it's fed into the press can influence the reliability of a print job. "Before printing, acclimate the paper to the climate it is going to be printed in," he says. "Don't go from the truck to the machine if the truck is at 0o and the shop is at 70 degrees."
When printing an e-mail, few people care if some characters occasionally appear distorted or smudged as a result of using mismatched, low-cost, or improperly handled paper. But for a 150-page small run project, "a single flaw ruins the job," says Kurzweil.
While Xerox's scientists say they know 'everything' about the paper sold under their brand, the company doesn't manufacture a single sheet of it. That job is out sourced to a number of mills who manufacture it to Xerox's specifications, says Stephen Simpson, VP for Xerox's document supplies business unit.
Simpson's unit is keeping the mills busy, selling about 1 million tons of cut paper annually, apportioned among 50 categories and 3,000 SKUs. "We go into an account with as much integration as possible," Simpson says. "We aggressively follow up on the install."