Category Archives: Plastic Card Production

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.

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’s Final Digital Freedom Tour Dates

The final Digital Freedom Tour dates will be September 19th and 20th at the Ramada Plaza in Grand Rapids 3333 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI, 10am to 5pm. MSL’s Digital Freedom Tour features the MGI Meteor Digital Press. The Meteor’s construction brings a market exclusive ability to print in super format. Use this to your advantage and provide services that no other print manufacturer can. Super format is terrific for quad-fold brochures, banners, calendars, dust-covers and many other unique items. Show your customer your abilities and help them dream of the possibilities. The patented infrared pre-heater, powerful print engine and enhanced toner compositions give you the freedom to print on a wide variety of stocks and substrates. Print on unique materials like PVC, polycarbonates, Teslin, Yupo, canvas, labels and other synthetics. With the Meteor you are:

  • Free from costly clicks and contracts
  • Free of environmental risks and hazards
  • Free to print laser safe digital work
  • Free to print envelopes on a digital press
  • Free to explore new substrates

Meteor DP8700 XL Digital Press

The Meteor is not the only equipment available for demonstration on the tour. Alongside the Meteor MSL will also show:

  • Mitsubishi Thermal DigiPlate: Mitsubishi Imaging makes going green affordable with the eco-friendly Thermal DigiPlate, the 2-up CTP system ideal for small printers who want an environmentally friendly upgrade from analog and electrostatic plates. The Thermal DigiPlate System is eco-friendly because it is a truly processless system that uses thermal fusing technology to create a high-contrast image on the plate without chemical development, wash-off or ablation.

Mitsubishi Thermal DigiPlate

  • MBM Aerocut Programmable Finisher: Ideally suited for digital applications, MBM’s Aerocut slits, cuts, creases and perforates a wide variety of stocks, including brochures, business cards, post cards, greeting cards, CD jackets and more.

MBM Aerocut Programmable Finisher

  • Morgana AutoCreaser Pro 33: Provides the complete solution to the problem of cracking that occurs when folding digitally printed output. This automatic creaser is capable of handling conventionally printed card, laminates or cross-grained stock.

Morgana Autocreaser Pro 33

  • Morgana AutoFold Pro Digital Folder: free standing folding unit, the Autofold Pro was developed with both digital and litho printers in mind with its ability to fold both precreased sheets. Highly versatile, the Autfold Pro features a SmartScreen touch screen for simple operation.

Morgana AutoFold Pro

  • Dry-Lam FUJiPLA 3220 Automatic Laminator: This two-sided laminator features an automatic sheet feeder and will laminate and trim virtually unattended. Also capable of one-sided lamination, the ALM 3220 can laminate using a matte or gloss finish up to 5 mil.

Dry-Lam FUJiPLA 3220 Automatic Laminator

  • OKI DigiKing Digital Printer: The Digiking is an exciting product available only through MSL. Imagine printing full color envelopes, letterhead, and other unique items easily, efficiently, and economically. The abilities of the Digiking are like no other machine on the market.

OKI DigiKing

If you are interested in having a demonstration of any of our equipment, please call our Flint, MI location at 800.343.4231. And don’t forget to mark your calendar for the last Digital Freedom tour date!

Digital Freedom at Oakland Schools: Exclusive Sample Packs Coming

Oakland Schools

MSL will be at the Oakland School’s Summit Campus Wednesday, March 28th from 10am to 5pm. We invite everyone who has yet to see the Meteor DP8700 XL Digital Press to come and experience Digital Freedom. Along with the Meteor, MSL will be demonstrating:

MBM Aerocut Programmable Finisher: Ideally suited for digital applications, MBM’s Aerocut slits, cuts, creases and perforates a wide variety of stocks including brochures, business cards, post cards, greeting cards, CD jackets and more.

Dry-Lam FUJiPLA 3220 Laminator: This two-sided laminator features an automatic sheet feeder and will laminate and trim virtually unattended.

Graphic Whizard Vivid-Coater XDC-530 Micro Coater: Graphic Whizard and MSL bring you the VividCoater XDC-Micro, an ultra-violet cured coating system. This easy-keeper creates vivid colors, giving you an amazing finish on your project.

OKI DigiKing Multi-Purpose Print System: The Digiking is an exciting product available only through MSL. Imagine printing full color envelopes, letterhead, and other unique items easily, efficiently, and economically.

Morgana CardXtra Plus: Morgana’s CardXtra Plus was developed for digital printers in need of an easy to operate, accurate and cost effective multifunctional finishing device. It can feed sheets up to 12″ X 19″ in size and can trim, cut and crease in multiple positions.

Morgana Autofold Pro: A free standing folding unit, the Autofold Pro was developed with both digital and litho printers in mind with its ability to fold both precreased sheets.

Morgana Digifold Pro: The DigiFold Pro features Morgana’s patented flying knife technology which was developed to prevent the scuffing and marking on digital stocks that are caused by folding using conventional methods.

Morgana Autocreaser 33: The AutoCreaser Pro 33 provides the complete solution to the problem of cracking that occurs when folding digitally printed output. This automatic creaser is capable of handling conventionally printed card, laminates or cross-grained stock.

MSL's sample pack coming soon

In the upcoming weeks MSL will also be mailing out an exclusive sample pack to some of our best customers. The pack will contain multiple samples of the various substrates the Meteor is capable of imaging; Substrates such as PVC and plastics, polycarbonate, coated papers, canvas, super format and more. Be sure to keep your eyes open for your upcoming sample pack. To find out more information about either MSL’s upcoming show or your sample pack, please contact or call 800.343.4231.

MSL attends CARTES in North America

Cartes in North America

This past week MSL Systems Specialist Steven Barrett attended CARTES in North America. CARTES in North America is a new business event designed to promote the smart technologies in the large and dynamic North American market, particularly those related to plastic card production. Attendees saw exhibits featuring cards, devices, data processing equipment manufacturing, software and security systems such as IT security, biometric technologies, identification, authentication, trusted technologies, payment solutions and physical and logical access control. Other conferences and exhibits discussed the potential deployment of EMV standard, the arrival of NFC-enabled mobile phones and the numerous e-government and security applications. Based on the international success and development of the existing CARTES events in France, CARTES in North America provided a high level business event for all involved in the smart security industry or those looking to learn more about it. This year CARTES in NA took place in Las Vegas, NV from March 5-7.

According to CARTES officials:

North America is emerging as an attractive region for the smart card industry. The US and Canada have huge potential, as their governments are taking initiatives to introduce smart cards in various industry segment. Moreover, the contactless smart cards have become increasingly popular in the country over the recent past, the volume of contactless payment cards is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 26% during 2009-2012. The SIM card is the largest segment followed by payment & banking, health & government and access control & pay TV. The fastest growing market sectors are projected to be health & governmental, leisure and payment & banking. (Source: RNCOS “Global smart card outlook” 2010, IMS Research “The Americas market for smart cards and smart cards Ics”2010)

MSL is excited to learn more about the benefits of plastic card production and smart technologies and what they can offer the printing industry. By attending CARTES, Steve has brought back with him greater knowledge of this market, which we in turn will use to help our customers grow their own businesses and expand their revenues.

To learn more about this fascinating market segment, please feel free to contact Steve Barrett at or 810.577.5599.

Steve Barrett CARTES in North America

CARTES in North America

CARTES and IDentification is an annual expo and show originating in Paris that highlights the industry’s latest in plastic card production. This year, for the first time ever, CARTES will be in North America. March 5-7th in Las Vegas, NV card technologies will be on display, promoting the smart technologies of card manufacturing. Featured topics and innovations include identification and authentication solutions, mobility and digital security, the arrival of NFC (Near Field Communication)-enabled mobile phones and e-government and security applications. Cartes in North America will be held at The Mirage Hotel, opening March 5 & 6 9am to 6pm and March 7 9:30am to 2pm.

Cartes in North America

MSL’s own Steve Barrett will be attending the show in March. Mid-State is dedicated to keeping informed of the new technologies and markets which will affect your business in the years to come. Plastic card printing is becoming a larger, more specialized market niche. We want to ensure our customers are offered the best service and information available.

If you’re attending the show please contact Steve Barrett. You can reach him at or call 810.577.5599.

CARTES & IDentification, 2011

The Eiffel Tower

Last month, November 2011, MSL’s Doug and Ellen Barrett traveled to Paris, France to the CARTES & IDentification expo. MGI, a major European manufacturer, was their host. CARTES will be in North America March 5-7, 2012. More information about that show will be posted as it becomes available. MGI unveiled the new Meteor DP8700 XL multi-substrate digital press and new features for the JETcard inkjet card factory at CARTES 2011.

For more information, please read the press release from MGI.

CARTES & IDentification

At the expo

MSL's Doug Barrett discusses the Meteor DP8700 XL Digital Press
MSL’s Doug Barrett discusses the Meteor DP8700 XL
MGI's JETcard

MGI's JETcard

First Stop: Plainwell, MI

The Digital Freedom Tour: December 14th & 15thMid-State Litho invites you to join  us in celebrating digital freedom and the Meteor DP8700 XL Digital Press at the Michigan Career & Technical Institute (11611 West Pine Lake Road Plainwell, MI 49080 Directions), December 14th & 15th, 10 am to 5pm. MGI’s Meteor presents new opportunities for printers looking to grow their business and expand their clientele. Let us demonstrate how the Meteor will benefit you, giving you the freedom to explore new substrates, utilize large formats, print laser safe digital work and more! The Digital Freedom Tour will soon be making stops in Detroit, Lansing, Traverse City and Saginaw.

Along with the Meteor, MSL will also be demonstrating the following equipment:
MBM Aerocut Programmable Finisher
Dry-Lam FUJiPLA ALM 3220 Automatic Laminator
Graphic Whizard GW6000 Finisher
Graphic Whizard Vivid-Coater XDC-530 Micro UV Coater
Graphic Whizard Creasemaster

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Please RSVP to or call 800.343.4231

After the Kick-Off

Yesterday was the second and final day of MSL’s Digital Freedom Tour Kick-Off Party. The turn-out was great, and we want to thank everyone who attended for coming, despite the ugly weather. We especially appreciate the feedback from our guests, who complimented us on our knowledgeable staff, friendly and helpful atmosphere, and the wonderful food we had. We worked hard to make this event an enjoyable experience for our customers, and love hearing that people had a good time. If you were unable to attend either days and would still like to learn more about the Meteor DP8700 XL, please feel free to email marketing at at anytime for a brochure and other information. Don’t forget that MSL will soon be taking our show on the road, coming to a Michigan city near you. The Digital Freedom Tour dates and locations will be announced on this blog, our website and via email. If you haven’t signed-up for our mailing list, doing so will guarantee you don’t miss MSL and the Meteor coming to your area.

Again, thank you everyone for making this party a success and we look forward to seeing you all on the road during the tour.