Calif. High School Runs Print Shop With Computer-Driven Duplicator

While operation costs continue to rise and budgets continue to shrink, the high-volume copying needs of educational institutions remain the same. At Ridgeview High School in Bakersfield, Calif., administrators sought a cost-efficient alternative to traditional duplication equipment. Harnessing the latest information technology has always been a top priority at Ridgeview. When the school opened its doors two years ago, it had in place a state-of-the-art electronic data network. A fiber-optic backbone runs throughout the campus, connecting over 200 Windows 486 machines in classrooms, laboratories and the library. Without leaving their seats, students can access reference titles and other applications from a 14-drive CD-ROM tower, and teachers can load programming from a centralized media distribution system. Plus, administrators extensively use e-mail to communicate with staff, including for bulletins, memos, Dean's lists and suspension lists. According to assistant principal Rick Wright, the school has cut paper consumption roughly in half thanks to the network. Into the Digital Age Nevertheless, there remains a sizable need for printed materials. Instead of relying on photocopiers, however, the school has turned to the Risograph, manufactured by Riso, Inc., of Danvers, Mass. These so-called digital duplicators bridge the gap between copiers and offset printing by combining the best qualities of thermal screening duplication with digital scanning. In such units, a built-in scanner is linked to a thermal printhead that cuts a roll of special stencil material. The stencil is automatically mounted on the inking drum before printing and disposed of afterwards. Ridgeview has purchased two Risograph 6300 models, both of which are interfaced to the campus computer network. Any of the teachers or staff can electronically send a document to the print shop, where a full-time operator prepares them for printing. Depending on instructions, she will polish up the document with image-editing software, change the paper stock, etc. Riso released the computer interface just three years ago. It lets users plug in Macintosh or IBM-PC machines through AppleTalk, RS232, RS442, SCSI, serial and parallel connections. Thus, not only d'es the Risograph copy and print, it can function as a scanner, producing 400 dpi TIFF images for uploading to the host system. Showing More Creativity Peggy Killian, the print shop operator, has noticed that teachers have shown more creativity in their work after becoming familiar with the Risograph. For example, she says they frequently add graphics and diagrams, whether they're producing calendars, announcements or lesson plans. Once the duplicator starts a project, Killian can walk away and leave the equipment unattended. But she probably won't be gone for long, because the Risograph prints up to 130 pages per minute&emdash;faster than almost all photocopiers currently on the market. Another advantage is economy, especially for larger press runs. The cost per copy ranges from 1.5 cents to .33 cents, compared to 2 to 3 cents for a photocopier or laser printer.

This article originally appeared in the 06/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.