We’ve got truly extraordinary technology available to the church today, but amid all that, don’t forget some of the tried and true tech tools that have been around the longest and are the technology workhorses in the church office, often overlooked. What I’m referring to here is printing technology: the copier/printing systems you use to create the pieces you print.
Why printing technology is important
Printing technology (You know: paper printing) is still important in many churches even if a church is hi-tech in presentation software, social media, and web-based ministry because when visitors come into your church the communication they get from your church is the church bulletin.
Printed bulletins are still extremely important to visitors—they think of them as the “program” for what will be going on in a service that might not make sense otherwise. The bulletin not only tells them what’s happening in the service, but links them to the social media and events going on at the church.
Additionally, important are your connection cards, visitor cards, or prayer cards, whatever you want to call them. They are essential for visitors to give you their contact information and to give you a way to follow up with them.
Both items are best printed in-house because of lower costs and because of the ability to make last minute changes. To do in-house printing, you need a printer and now we’ll talk about a less familiar printing technology to churches; a way to do printing other than with a color copier.
The printing systems available to churches today have a come a long way from copiers that over-heated and frequently jammed. This heat is generated by wires that fuse the toner to your paper and this heat the greatest liability of a copier.
The first copiers generated so much heat they had a small fire extinguisher attached. Your church copier no doubt no longer has a small fire extinguisher attached to it, but the challenges of printing by heat-fusing toner to paper remain high per copy cost, high energy cost, environmental pollution. But there is an alternative that prints without heat.
The technology has been around a long time—many of you may remember the old Risograph, Ricoh or Duplo digital duplicators. These were inexpensive workhorses in the church office, but their print quality was poor, and they could only print one color at a time.
New printing technology that developed from digital duplicators is particularly interesting because it is an ink-based system that prints without heat and prints in 4-colors.
Why the no heat technology is a big deal
Of particular interest, the RISO corporation has developed advanced large machines (called their ComColor line) that use ink without heat instead of toner with heat to produce the printed product. Here is an example of the cost savings, though on a large scale, the difference is significant:
#1 Copiers use more energy per unit than any other piece of office equipment.
#2 An example of the energy consumption of copiers vs. a RISO printer in a business that had 20 machines:
The heat-based printer energy costs were $9,807
The RISO heat-less machines energy costs were $309
In addition to saving a church money, ink-based printing systems have such low energy needs that they have become popular in a variety of unique locations around the world. They are used in remote ministry operations such as using solar panels or bicycle generators to run duplicators in South African villages.
The U.S. Military uses both RISO technologies (Digital Duplicators and ComColor Printers) in war zones because they can run in desert tents and on C-130 aircraft with low energy generators.
Cost to the Environment
Though this is not a direct cost to the church, all churches care about the costs of what they use to the environment.
RISO digital printing systems use soy-based and rice-bran based inks. In contrast with toner, that is a petrochemical based compound that you are advised not to come in contact with your skin or to inhale. To quote from another White Paper: “Soy inks contain lower levels of VOCs (volatile organic compounds); use of soy inks results in lower amounts of air pollution through reduction of toxic emissions. Unlike electro photographic printers, RISO printers are free from ozone emissions, toner particle emissions, silica dust, and other air pollutants. Also, RISO printers do not emit greenhouse gases.”
Because these systems don’t generate heat while they are running, they reduce the need for additional air conditioning. Also, because the machines don’t give off toxic fumes like copiers do, they can share an office with church staff instead of needing to be placed in a separate room.
To find out more about this way of printing you can look up a local supplier of the ComColor ink-jet systems at the link here.
Sometimes the most important technology is what we use the most
This is one example of some of the new technology available for churches for a piece of equipment you use daily, but there are many other tools available in the print industry to help you and your church. Take some time to explore what’s new from your local office equipment professional. Not only can they make life easier for you, but efficient, cutting edge tools can make your church ministry more effective.