Friday, May 28, 2010

The Security Risk of Copier Machines

Your Company Could Be at Risk from Hidden Data on CopiersAs if individuals and businesses didn't already have their plates full concerning security and safety, they must now add digital copiers to the list of potential security risks which could leak sensitive and personal data. While it’s common knowledge that leaving sensitive information in trash bins or on computers raises the risk of identity theft, many consumers and even IT professionals may not be aware that copy machines themselves also put them at risk. If you didn't know, most modern copiers, or multifunction printers, use hard drives just like the one found in your computer to store every single document copied, scanned, or emailed by the machine. A single machine could have years worth of data and thousands of documents which could give away client records, birth certificates, tax forms, financial records, or even employee social security numbers making these copiers a proverbial pot of gold for criminals.

Even if the copier deletes the image, once it has been printed, the file remains on the hard drive until fully overwritten. Off lease and out of service copiers that are no longer needed will often depart without the previous owner even giving a second thought to the nature of the documents the machine previously handled. Businesses that don’t scrub this data before disposing of the machines are handing over vast amounts of potentially sensitive data to the next owner and possibly a criminal. Copier hard drives should be completely overwritten and reformatted with the original copier software reinstalled. However, the best method to absolutely ensure your data never falls into the wrong hands would be to purchase and install a brand new copier hard drive and then physically destroy the previous hard drive.

A recent investigation conducted by the CBS News proved just how dangerous of a problem this is. CBS purchased four used copiers from a warehouse in New Jersey and quickly went about gleaning all the data from the hard drives. The results were worse than anticipated. Two were once leased to the Buffalo police and the copiers were found to have very sensitive information including reports of domestic violence, a list of wanted sex offenders and even information about suspects from a drug investigation. The third machine contained copies of pay stubs that revealed names, addresses, and social security numbers while the fourth machine came from a New York insurance company with over 300 pages of medical records.

As a result, the Federal Trade Commission is tackling the problem and "now reaching out to copier manufacturers, resellers and retail copy and office supply stores to ensure that they are aware of the privacy risks associated with digital copiers and to determine whether they are warning their customers about the risks." Currently there are no known crimes involving information being stolen from copier machines. But now that the potential security flaw has been brought to the public's attention, there will no doubt be criminals who will try this method of identity theft.

Looking for a Copier Rental to help with your next big project? Call 800-736-8772 today and ask about our Office Equipment Rentals.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What is Flexographic Printing?

FlexographyOriginally flexographic printing was called aniline printing and was considered rudimentary at best to the majority of the printing world. Labels that required a higher quality print job have generally used the offset printing process. However, in recent years, great strides and advancements have been made in the field of flexographic printing presses, flexographic printing plates and even the inks used in the process. However, the greatest advancement in flexographic printing has, without a doubt, been in the improvement of photopolymer printing plates and laser-etched ceramic anilox rolls. These breakthroughs have not only allow for full color picture printing, but finer etched presses as well. In the hands of a skilled operator, flexographic printing can rival that of a lithographic printing process.

Flexographic Printing Overview
Flexographic printing is frequently used for printing on plastic, metalic films, foil, cardboard, acetate film, brown paper, white paper, and several other materials commonly used in packaging. The flexo printing process itself is similar to rotary printing in that it employs the same basic principles. In general terms, flexo printing utilizes a flexographic plate commonly made out of rubber or plastic with a raised image or text that is attached to a roller. A second roller applies a specific amount of ink while a third roller keeps the substrate (the material to be printed on) pressed firmly against the flexographic plate while it passes between the two.

There are a varying number of methods which can be used to create the printing plates used in flexography. The first method of plate development uses a light-sensitive polymer in conjunction with a light negating film placed over the polymer. Both are then exposed to ultra-violet light and the polymer hardens where the light passes through creating the imprint on the plate. This process is not very popular as the remaining polymer does not harden but instead has the consistency of chewed bubble gum. The plate will then need to be washed away in a tank of solvent while brushes scrub the plate to help facilitate the process.

The second and simplest method uses a computer guided laser to burn the image onto a printing plate. This direct laser engraving process is simply called digital platemaking. The third and rather more complex method is to go through a series of molding processes. The first step of the molding process is to create a metal plate out of the negative of the image or text we wish to print. This metal plate is placed in an acid bath and then used in a second step to create a mold out of bakelite board, glass, or even plastic. Once this second mold has cooled it will be considered a master mold and will be used to press a rubber or plastic compound to create the final printing plate.

As mentioned above, a flexographic print is made by creating a mirrored 3D master of the required image in a rubber or polymer material. This 3D image is then put onto what is called the anilox roll which holds a specific amount of ink since it is covered with thousands of small dimples. This anilox roll will feed the printing plate ink in a uniform and controlled thickness. The ink itself is transferred from the ink roll which has been partially submerged in an ink tank. A substrate is then compressed between the plate and the impression cylinder and the printing job takes place. In order to avoid a final product with a smudgy or bumpy texture, there needs to be insurance that there will never be an excessive amount of ink on the printing plate. To achieve this a scraper is used called a doctor blade. The blade simply scrapes any excess ink from the anilox roller before it can ever be applied to the printing plate.

Flexographic Inks
Currently there are five types of inks that can be used in flexography. Solvent-based inks, water-based inks, electron beam curing inks, ultraviolet curing inks, and two-part chemical-curing inks. Formulation of these inks requires a detailed knowledge of the physical and chemical properties of the raw materials composing the inks which I won't go into. The most important factors when determining which ink to use is how the ink will react with the substrate as well as the environment. Flexographic printing inks are primarily formulated to remain compatible with a wide variety of printing substrates.

In recent years, flexo printing has been steadily improving in number of users, quality, and price. Flexographic printing is preferred over other methods as the ink dries quickly which allows for the machine to run at high speeds and the final product has a smooth finish with crisp detail. Water based inks in flexo printing has also increased in popularity due to the reduced emissions of volatile compounds which benefits the environment and the overall health of everyone in the printing industry. If these trends continue, one day flexographic printing may ultimately replace more expensive printing processes.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Xerox Lean Document Production Services Reduces Production Costs

Xerox Lean Production ServicesIn today's economy many print service providers are turning towards business development services in order to remain competitive in their respective markets. A business production service is designed to give a business or company an outside professional perspective about the methods and equipment that are employed to do business. One of these business production services that are being taken advantage of by print service providers is known as Lean Document Production (LDP) from the Xerox Corporations' Business Development Services department. The Lean Document Production service offers solutions for a business to reduce production costs and maximize equipment, technology, and software investments.

“Staying competitive is a full-time job for graphic communications providers,” said Gina Testa, vice president, Worldwide Graphic Communications, Xerox Corporation. “Xerox’s business development support, particularly the LDP consulting service, offers easy and effective ways to keep ahead of the curve in terms of new revenue opportunities and overall productivity.”

Lean Document Production Service – Productivity Up; Costs Down
You may be asking yourself exactly how would Xerox and the LDP service increase productivity while lowering costs. These gains can be achieved when printing environments are designed and tweaked for maximum throughput which allows the environment to run at optimal efficiency. However, understanding how to achieve these benefits can be challenging in the work environment, which is where the Xerox LDP service comes into play.

The Xerox LDP service compiles a comprehensive assessment of the key operational matters in your printing environment including but not limited to: printer and copier equipment, software, number of employees, usage and peak hours, job cycle times, number of steps and touches, run lengths, print windows, etc. The LDP service is even viable in a number of manufacturing environments including transaction, digital printing, offest, or any combination of the three. Afterwards a specially trained consultant will work closely with you to turn your LDP assessment into a money saving reality by helping you make the necessary adjustments to maximize your printing setup.

“Xerox’s LDP approach and results cannot be matched in the industry,” said Dr. Sudhendu Rai, principal scientist, Xerox Innovation Group. “It allows us to completely understand a production manufacturing environment and tailor the adjustments accordingly. And with our proven and patented solution, outcomes are practical and achievable.”

Looking for a Copier Rental to help with your next big project? Call 800-736-8772 today and ask about our Office Equipment Rentals.