Friday, 26 February 2010

Design, Print, Deliver

Lots of activity around printing this week. It began with a visit to the Print Service - an excellent team in the department producing very high quality printed materials for the University. There's an impressive array of them on display - and as the production of standard printed materials is declining (more later), they're diversifying into other areas - promotional materials, conference posters and banners, photographs in mounts, albums etc. We specifically went down to have a look at their new equipment - the latest high volume digital mono and colour printers which will enable us to do more work in house, are very efficient and allow us to do smaller print runs, all at a very high quality.

Then yesterday we had a discussion about some of the recommendations coming out of our environmental print review, specifically looking at how we can reduce print, and make what we do have to print more energy efficient and cost effective. Discussion centred around staff printing as student printing is pretty much taken care of - all managed, all double sided by default, large efficient printers, only printed when the job is released - and they pay! It's in the students' interest only to print what is absolutely necessary. Not so for staff I'm afraid. So, a number of options we're looking at, which will all involve a much more managed service for staff, and a much clearer indication of how much printing actually costs. This may meet with some resistance, especially if we reduce the models of printers we will support, and actively discourage or not allow individual printers. Hopefully we will be able to persuade people of the benefits - both cost and environmental. There will need to be culture changes as well, including the way we handle papers for discussion at committee meetings. More on-line collaboration in advance using uSpace, more display equipment in meetings rooms, more personal devices for access to digital papers. When will the iPad be out I wonder....

Finally, to continue singing the praises of the Print Service, it doesn't just print but provides a very high quality graphic design service - often at very short notice. During our tour of the facilities on Wednesday, I remembered that I'd promised to do a poster for a conference next week and had done nothing for it. A couple of us had a hasty meeting yesterday, scribbled something on the back of an envelope, gave it and some pictures to one of the designers, and by today had an excellent poster. Very professional, and done in 24 hours - thanks guys!

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