Category Archives: Printing

MSL – Print & Graphic Art Supplies

Mid-State Litho

Print & Graphic Art Supplies

Search our printing and graphic arts supplies and products by visiting our webshop.

MSL offers a wide variety of printshop and graphic art supplies. A number of products are in-stock and available on our webshop, while many more are available for order over the phone.

MSL has made shopping online for your graphic supply needs simple. You can shop by solutions or manufacturer. If you need help with any items you contact us at 1-800-343-4231 or you can email us at



For additional information or ordering assistance, please contact us at 1-800-343-4231 or by email at

Mid-State Litho, Inc.

Heavy Stock Digital Color Print Systems

Xante Ilumina 650 GS Series Image

Ilumina 650 GS Series

Features at a Glance:

  • 2 Dimensional Textured Stocks
  • Oversized Up-To 13″ x 47″
  • Run Variable Data at Full-Speed
  • Heavy Card Stocks Up-To 32 pt (650 gsm)

The Ilumina 650 Gs Digital Color Press features high definition digital color technology and it includes iQueue Color Smart Workflow with two production models: Ilumina 650 Gs Digital Color Press and Ilumina 650 GS Digital Production Press.

Ilumina 650 GS Digital Color Systems are a complete print solutions that allow you to produce high volume full color sheets, cards, envelopes, brochures, banners and more. They can print on a wide variety of media from text weights to extremely heavy card stocks (up to 32pt), textured stocks, metallics, and label stocks. Ilumina 650 GS Systems are available in two production model and are driven by the automated iQueue Color Smart Workflow.

Workflow Feature Include:

  • Monitor Preview/Job Cost Estimating
  • Project Management/Job Archiving
  • Track Multiple Run Counts/Count Sheets
  • Imposition/Page Nudge, Rotation and Marks
  • Automated Color Management
  • Wide Variety of Screening Options

To receive a copy of your Xante Ilumina 650 GS Series information packet contact us at 1-800-343-4231 or email us at or you can CLICK HERE! 

Leveraging Your Assets

What do I mean when I say leverage your assets? As printers, whether commercial or in-plant, you have machinery that you use to produce product for an end user. These are the assets I’m referring to. As to leveraging those assets, I don’t mean borrow money against them. I am talking about getting everything out of them you possibly can. I feel there are two basic types of assets in a print shop. Those which are the main drive shaft of the shop, and others which are used when needed to support the main devices. Offsets have been the main drive shaft asset for years, but digital print engines are catching up. Regardless of the technology, the same concepts of leverage apply. You need to fill the asset up with work and you want that work to be as profitable as possible.

Since 1974, my entire career has involved selling and servicing offset and bindery equipment. During that time, one thing has been a constant: people trying to get more out of a machine than they are meant to. “More” as in exceeding specifications for sheet size or thickness, modifying a machine to make a job work, and so on. This is done for one reason: to lock in, or get work which other people cannot do. When you are on a level playing field with your competitors equipment wise, anytime you can push the envelope you stand a much better chance of holding a higher profit margin. The more work done in this situation helps to leverage your asset with higher margin work. This fundamental principle of business has always been true and certainly still applies today.

To me the real winner of this game is the buyer who finds the device which is not well known, which has many built in capabilities beyond what the competition is using. What is gained by approaching business this way is the capabilities you get beyond what your competitors can modify or brainstorm their way into. This creates opportunity to fill the bandwidth of an asset or fully leverage it with work at a higher margin.

Focusing on how much it costs to operate an asset you are considering purchasing is valid and needs to be known and discussed. This one sided approach may scare you away before you know the whole story. I believe not enough attention is paid to leverage-ability of the asset being considered. What are the differences in this asset which might allow you to command higher margins? I think this applies more than ever to digital print. In a very short amount of time, digital print has become a commodity. There are a lot of print engines out there today capable of doing pretty much the same thing. When you have what everyone else has, what do you do to get work and hold margins? You talk about the value you add to your customer because of all of the other things you do for them. This helps and should buy you more price consideration than it usually does, but you still have to walk the price tightrope. This is where the buyer who buys with the eye to the different device and  has the fortitude go where most people don’t, has the advantage.

This is a two sided coin. Having the “different device” is only half of the equation. You must take that different asset and figure out how to leverage it to the maximum at the highest margins. In my opinion, the holy grail is when you can compete with a given machine on a level playing field, but have extra capability. Now you have low risk. You are no worse off than if you buy the same machine everyone else has. Over time just keeping your eye open for the opportunities your device offers, you should be able to capitalize. The question comes down to which situation you feel is better: compete head to head, have a device that saves you a penny a click and fight the commodity game; Or, have a device that will compete in that world, but also offers many other capabilities which will allow you to be the only one that can even do the entire job.

Since 1984 MSL has been in the equipment business. In all of those years we have never had a machine to sell which offers this very type of opportunity, as strongly as the MGI Meteor Pro 8700 digital press does. We have always sold quality equipment which have advantages in production, labor savings and what we felt were the best value we could offer. We have been a dealer of this product since the middle of 2011. An old offset guy diving head first into the world of digital presses. This is what has really stuck in my mind over that time. We now have a product that can compete with all of the big players (Xerox, HP, Kodak) on their playing field. When you look deeper, the MGI 8700 offers a much larger sheet size, substrate capability, envelopes, digital and laminate safe output. Here is the ideal situation, a machine which competes with all of the other players on their playing field, but offers many capabilities none of them can even think of trying to do. If you have the 8700, when your competition sells your customer a 3 panel 8 1/2 x 11 tri-fold, you can counter with a 4 panel. You can do business cards, letterhead and full color envelopes which can all be re-run through any print device without worry of re-melt. You can offer up to a 40” back-lit polycarbonate product or vinyl, Teslin, canvas and many more possibilities. You don’t have to take advantage of any of those capabilities and the 8700 still competes on that level playing field with all of the big guys. This is where the low risk comes in. Head to head with everyone else, the 8700 competes and you can use the advantages you have to leverage this asset with the highest margin possible in a competitive market.

Yes, I am guilty of this article being an advertisement for the MGI Meteor Pro 8700. I felt compelled to write this because I feel this is the real message that needs to be communicated about this product. Being relatively new to selling digital presses, it has become very obvious people are searching for opportunity. We have that opportunity, we just need to get the message out.

By, Doug Barrett

To Click or Not to Click: That is the Question

Click charges are the standard model for charging for output on digital print devices. The MGI Meteor Pro 8700 is one of the only devices on the market which does not subscribe to the click model of charging for operation. Without fail, when we sit down with a prospective customer they get a glow when they hear there are no click charges. “I hate click charges,” is the most common statement made. As the discussion continues you sense a sign of confusion. The next question becomes, “How do I know what to charge?

To me it comes down to a basic way of doing business, which is the same way it is done with offset. You know your cost and you charge accordingly. We supply all of the tools necessary to calculate cost before you ever print a sheet. It is very easy to do and in a short amount of time using these tools will become unnecessary. After you cost out a few jobs you get an accurate feel for what the cost will be. Once you have the  machine, we supply one invoice a month for everything related to operating costs of the 8700. Take the monthly copy count and divide that by the monthly invoice amount. There you have your actual average cost per copy. Do this every month and you have everything you need to know. We can supply reports that differentiate the maintenance items from the toner so that costs can be broken down any way you want to. It really isn’t scary or hard to do.

The Meteor DP8700 XL Digital Press

The problem with click charges are the contracts related to them, which are very confusing and don’t actually cover everything. It is not uncommon to hear of huge surprise charges which weren’t discussed during the purchase process. With offset, you know what it costs you to run: the variable is ink usage, then there are the fixed costs, plates, blankets, rollers ,maintenance and labor. With the Meteor, you have variable toner usage, and fixed costs of drums, developer, maintenance kits and labor. Same concept different items. Click charges are built for worst case scenario cost wise and it is what you pay regardless of the work you do. With the Meteor, your cost is what it really is. Let’s say that you do 300,000 clicks a month. With click charges, you always pay the same amount. With the Meteor, if you do a lot of light coverage work, your monthly bill will reflect that with lower cost. What really matters is the cost of ownership and profit potential. The MGI nearly always has the lowest cost of ownership. We always offer the highest profit potential. Based on its capabilities, the 8700 has potential which no other competitive machine has.

When explaining the cost structure of the Meteor Pro 8700 to a potential customer, we typically take some sample files from them and cost them out with the software we provide with the 8700. We always get the same kind of files, paint jobs (full coverage). We do the calculations and sometimes it scares people off. This is because we can have a job where it is 100% coverage or more on a 12 x 18 sheet and the cost per piece might be $.10 to $.13 while they have $.08 click charges on their device. This is a valid concern but the reality is the average coverage of digitally produced jobs is 35%, not 100%. In that coverage range the Meteor is approximately $.05 cost per piece. Which means for average coverage, we are below most click charges. With the MGI, you pay what the actual cost is.

No Click Charges

As a manufacturer, MGI made the decision to not use click charges as they did with Graphics Arts dealers selling these machines rather than copier dealers. MGI feels the Graphic Arts community is the better market for their equipment to be sold in, as they are more likely to utilize the capabilities designed into their machines. The sheet size, variety of substrates and lack of post finishing issues all lend themselves to Graphic Arts rather than an office environment. The Graphic Arts community is also more prepared for the actual cost of operation model versus the click charge. It is our job to help you understand how the cost works and what the value of our output is. After all, at the end of the day, it is about profit. Is the most important part of the formula the cost to a tenth of a cent, or if you can position yourself to command higher price for a product only you can produce? Take a look at the Meteor Pro 8700 and let us help you understand how the cost model works and what the profit potential is. We know you will be impressed.

By, Doug Barrett

MSL is now a Xanté dealer

MSL is excited to announce our new partnership with Xanté. Xanté is a leader in printing technologies providing innovative, state-of-the-art tools for the high-end graphics and prepress markets. This new partnership will bring many new opportunities to MSL and all of our customers. Xanté manufactures some of the most popular print solutions in the industry, creating cutting edge technology, products and services which allow you to be more productive and profitable in your business.

Some of the new products you will find include:


Impressia Multi-Media Print Systems

Xanté Impressia Digital Multi-Media Print Systems are the affordable way to go digital and meet the demand for fast full color letterhead, cards, envelopes, forms, brochures, mailers, labels, banners and more.

Ilumnina GSIlumina GS Series

The Ilumina GS Print Systems from Xanté are complete high-production digital color solutions that allow you to meet the demand for fast full color printing. They feature high definition color technology, the iQueue Color Smart workflow and high volume feeders / delivery conveyors.



The Xanté PlateMaker6 CTP System is the affordable solution that allows you to produce high quality, high resolution polyester plates without processing chemicals. The complete CTP solution features the iQueue Ultimate Wokrflow that automates prepress production and streamline the entire platemaking process.

To find out more about Xanté  and their equipment, call MSL toll free at 800.343.4231 or locally at 810.238.7370.

Welcome to Drupa 2012!

Perhaps the most definitive expo and trade show for the graphic arts and printing industry, Drupa takes place every four years and is the international trade fair for prepress, printing, book binding and print finishing. The show opened this morning in Düsseldorf, Germany and will continue until May 16th. MSL President Doug Barrett is in attendance along with Ellen and Steven Barrett. If you plan to attend the show and would like to meet them there, please call our office at 800.343.4231 to schedule a meet up.

MGI’s booth promises to be one of the most exciting, as they unveil their new B2 sheetfeed digital InkJet press, the AlphaJet. The AlphaJet will effectively bridge the gap between the advantages of offset (speeds, accuracy and quality) and the benefits of digital technologies (on-demand, no make ready and variable data), while providing the same flexibility and versatility that is a hallmark of all MGI’s digital solutions.  This InkJet press will feature  production speeds of up to 3,000 sheets per hour, 6 color UV InkJet printing, spot UV coating and full variable data printing.

Check out a couple of the latest shots taken today at Drupa 2012!

Horizon at Drupa 2012

MGI at Drupa 2012

Scan 3D Objects

Scanera Top-Face Pro

The Scanera Top-Face Pro allows you to scan 3-D objects and produce ultra-high resolution images. Perfect for colleges, libraries,  museums and other learning institutions, the Scanera makes it possible for students and other visitors to examine artifacts or other delicate objects in detail without risking damage to the original object, providing a hands on experience never possible before. The Scanera captures textures, including wood grains, and is also a great asset for printers looking to expand into artwork, creating realistic textures. The Scanera is capable of wide-format scanning, up to 23″ x 33″ at 130 million pixels and will scan textures up to 4″ deep. Easy to operate,  Scanera’s high speed viewing and editing software allow you to see with “scanera eyes” with image enlargement of up to 250X (display equivalent of 100 dpi) and real time digital zoom of 1%-3,200%.

Create realistic 3D prints with the Scanera

To learn more about Scanera, please contact MSL at 800.343.4231 or email

Static in Printing

By, Steven Barrett

Static can be a tough enemy in print manufacturing. Just moving sheets from place to place can generate static and in the right conditions, static can ruin your day. Static is caused by many phenomena, but the most common culprit is friction. Sheets traveling along a register board or sliding on top of one another as they pile up can induce enough static to turn a stack of sheets into a brick.

The number one solution to static is prevention. Preventing static comes from controlling the work environment. Temperature and humidity are the two largest factors. Moisture in the air can absorb static charges. Without moisture in the air, the charge has nowhere to go and will accumulate. During dry times of the year it is recommended humidifiers be used to moisturize the air. Ideal humidity is roughly 40% between 64 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Static Electricity

There are other things you can do to help alleviate static buildup. Ensure your machinery is properly grounded back to the wall outlet, and ultimately to your buildings main ground. Insufficient grounding is another way of trapping static; we often see people hanging tinsel in the paper path to absorb the static. This approach is sound, but relies on the machine’s connection to ground.  Air flow can quite literally blast away static, some products on the market contain a core  installed in an airline which will de-ionize air as it passes by. This neutral air is great at absorbing charges as it flows past.

To summarize, take control of your environment. Add humidifiers during dry months to keep your humidity over 35%. Ensure your machinery is well grounded to your electric panels. As a last resort you can turn to specialty products that will de-ionize your problems.

Notes on Aqueous Coating

Aqueous Coated Printed Sheet

Aqueous Coated Printed Sheet

Aqueous coatings are bigger than ever in today’s printing market. An aqueous coater is often built directly into a printing press because it is ideally applied immediately after the ink. The coating itself has numerous benefits including a beautiful glossy shine to the finished product and improved durability for jobs that might be going through the mail.  Benefits on the production side are quick dry-times that allow the job to be shipped out right away or flipped over and printed again in a short amount of time. There are many misconceptions in the world of aqueous coatings that we will address in this article.

Many variables exist in aqueous coatings. Differences in infra-red dryers, anilox application rollers, coating formulas, and mixes all play into the behavior and final look of the coating. All reputable coating suppliers offer guidelines for their coatings providing specific details and instructions to follow.

In addition to manufacturer specifications, there are many broader guidelines and general rules to follow. First we’ll start with the coating itself. Plan ahead; when shooting for a high gloss, large amounts of coating must be used. This will limit your options later on.  Jobs with a heavy coating applied for high gloss can only be coated on one side whereas lighter coatings can be done on both sides of a job.

Coatings are applied to the sheet by means of an anilox roller. An anilox roller is designed specifically for this purpose and has a special surface covered with a large number of tiny pockets or cells. The cells act as buckets to evenly disperse the coating on the sheet. Cell count is measured in LPI or lines per inch which is a count of the rows of cells per inch around the diameter of the roller. Cell depth is a specification exclusively for anilox rollers. Cell depth determines how much and how thick the coating applied to the sheet is.

Anilox Roller Cells Magnified at 400x

Anilox Roller Cells Magnified at 400x

The viscosity will cause the look and behavior of your coating to vary. Viscosity is a measurement of how runny or thick your coating is. This is controlled by adding water. Viscosity is measured with a tool called a Zahn cup, which is essentially a bucket with a hole in it. Measurement is made by filling the Zahn cup with coating and using a stopwatch to measure how long it takes for the coating to run through. Viscosity will also vary based on the environmental temperature around the press. A cool coating will be thick and a warm coating will be runny. Most suppliers suggest an environment between 66 and 78 degrees Fahrenheit for an optimum performance. You should consult your supplier for mixing guidelines to control the viscosity of your coating.

In regards to drying your coating, it is generally recommended to maximize the airflow in the dryer rather than simply turning up the heat. Aqueous coatings dry by evaporation, and while heat accelerates evaporation, without proper airflow the surrounding air becomes saturated and moisture has nowhere to go. Excess heat in the dryer can cause problems like curling or in extreme cases can cause fire. As a general rule, it is recommended that coatings are dried at 95 degrees Fahrenheit on the first side and 90 degrees on the other side. Most manufacturers recommend that your heater never exceeds 105 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjusting the speed at which your press is running also has an impact on drying because of the simple fact that a slower sheet will spend more time inside the dryer. Work and Turn printing offers the best dry times.

When considering foil stamping, ink jet, laser printing, or ink over coating to name a few specialty applications, consult your supplier for specific information.

‘Tis the Season…

For Print! The holidays are a busy time for those in the printing industry. Paper is used to wrap gifts, send cards and package and ship presents. So, in celebration of the season, this article is going to focus on the holiday tradition of Christmas greeting cards.

Greeting Cards are a Holiday Tradition for Many Families

Until the 1840’s, it was already a tradition among families to write Christmas letters or to send a handmade Christmas card. The post office became so overwhelmed with the practice, the U.S. Superintendent of Mails asked Congress to abolish or limit the practice in 1822. Instead, mass production of holiday cards began in England in the mid 1840’s when Sir Henry Cole commissioned artist John Calcott Horsely to create the first printed Christmas card which could easily be sent to numerous family and friends. Each panel on the outside of the card depicted people helping the poor and needy, and the inner panel showed a family enjoying a festive Christmas. It contained the simple message, “Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year To You”. Christmas greeting cards began being printed in the US in the 1870’s by a German immigrant named Louis Prang in Boston. Today, the American Christmas card is still a popular tradition, with more than 2 billion cards being sent each year.

MSL is happy to play a small role in this holiday tradition, providing print equipment and service to Michigan based card manufacturers. Offset presses such as the Sakurai Oliver 96 SD Series Fully Automated Offset Press are used to create quality products for consumers to enjoy, hang on the back of doors, in the hallway or on the fridge, sending a little Christmas cheer to someone else.

Happy Holidays, from MSL!

How Products are Made–, Volume 5
The Great Idea Finder–