SFU Document Solutions' director Raj Nadrajan (left) and technician Jack Miao check digital printing proofs.

SFU Document Solutions' director Raj Nadrajan (left) and technician Jack Miao check digital printing proofs.

A hidden gem in the basement

February 22, 2007

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Tucked away in the basement of the Maggie Benston building is SFU Document Solutions, which operates one of the most advanced digital printing plants in North America's post-secondary education market.

Five black-and-white printing engines blast out as many as two million pages per month. The Igen3, a full-colour digital production press—the first in the North American education sector—can spew 110 full-colour pages per minute from a PDF (portable document format), with no colour plates required.

The plant's 15 employees can handle everything from 1.5-metre-wide by 30-metre-long posters to postcards, T-shirts, document-scanning services and even CD and DVD duplication, says director Raj Nadrajan. All orders are processed via a web submission system; there are no traditional printed work orders.

"On average, we have between 100 and 150 jobs going at any one time," says Nadrajan. "We're also recognized for one of the best course-pack products," he adds, picking up a perfect-bound book of printed courseware.

Document Solutions' latest innovation is new software for implementing one-on-one marketing. Nadrajan is working closely with SFU Business and SFU Student Services to develop a proof-of-concept for personalized brochures and e-publishing for student recruitment. As a prospective student visits the SFU website and clicks on various programs, the software will begin to assemble a brochure template tailored to the student's interests. It will even include value-added items such as residence information, parking, or a personalized map. "It will have the student's name on it and we'll mail it the next day," says Nadrajan. "Or the student could be guided to a webpage featuring a customized online brochure."

"It's very exciting—it's the future of printing," says Nadrajan. "We're the first university in Canada taking steps to do this." He credits his staff for their willingness to accept new printing technologies and their focus on the quality improvement process.

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