About The Sustainable Print Systems Laboratory at RIT

The Sustainable Print Systems Laboratory (SPSL) at RIT is a collaborative of researchers at RIT focused on understanding sustainability issues in printingsystems.  The main objective of the Lab is to develop insights and tools specific to the print industry that can be used by product development practitioners to better integrate environmental, social and economic considerations into their R&D decision-making process. In support of this overarching objective, the Lab focuses on projects that are:


Relevant: of interest to a range of printer and printing supply companies. In particular, projects need to consider the entire value chain of the print
industry, as well as the entire product life-cycle.


System-level and multi-disciplinary: having the unifying theme of strategic business or product development decision making. The main contribution that SPSL can make is to study the problem holistically and leverage the extensive resources both at RIT and within the Print Industry.


Innovative: involving technical and inventive approaches to reach solutions. While the decisions may be business or product development focused, they ultimately need to relate to technical decisions facing the print industry, a particular print value chain, or specific organization within that chain.


Research Questions:


There are two main classes of research problems that need to be considered in order to achieve the stated objectives. The first is of a systemic nature and considers factors that transcend organizational boundaries. The second problem type is more narrowly defined; developing fundamental knowledge that is needed to guide technical decisions and that serves as building blocks to a systems models.


The following summarizes some of the  broader research questions that we are currently interested in pursuing. However, this list is by no means exhaustive nor static.

  • Is sustainability-driven innovation different than market-driven innovation and, if so, what needs to change in our current R&D process in order to facilitate sustainability-driven innovation?
  • Are fundamentally different business models needed in order to reduce consumption levels and if so how does this impact current product development processes?
  • What are the overall sustainability implications of a particular printing technology and the work flow system in which it is being used, and what can be done to minimize the system’s impact? How can this information be integrated into R&D decisions?
  • What are the implications of environmental performance requirements on other systems requirements? Can the trade-off spaces be formally developed to help product development decision-makers?

Research Partners:


Printing Industry Center at RIT): The Printing Industry Center is dedicated to the study of major business environment influences on the printing industry, precipitated by new technologies and societal changes. The mission of the Center is to continue to develop and articulate the knowledge necessary for the long-term economic health of the printing industry.


The Print Research and Image Systems Modeling (PRISM): PRISM was created with the objective of developing models for printing systems that relate hardcopy output characteristics to system parameters that are relevant to the end users. Armed with such models, the printing systems developers can make informed product architecture and business decisions. In November 2007, PRISM hosted its inaugural research roundtable, which included participants from Hewlett-Packard, Kodak and Xerox in order to foster an open dialog about the challenges facing R&D organizations within the printing industry. A major theme that emerged from these discussions was the need to integrate environmental and sustainable development considerations into research and product development decision-making.


Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision MakingA multi-disciplinary collaborative research initiative aimed at applying cutting-edge computing and information sciences to improve environmental decision making in the public and private sectors. These skills will be particularly relevant for the broader research questions that we wish to pursue.

The Printing Applications Laboratory (PAL) 
:The Printing Applications Laboratory (PAL) offers a wide range of evaluation services and certification programs for companies who want to optimize their products and processes. PAL’s experts routinely help industry clients to develop and evaluate consumables used in offset, flexographic, and digital printing. These consumables include substrates, inks, fountain solutions, blankets and plates.


Chester F. Carlson Center for Imaging Science: This renowned, highly interdisciplinary University Research and Education Center is dedicated to pushing the frontiers of imaging in all its forms and uses.



Print System Test Bed

The overall goal of this project is to create a test bed at RIT that integrates University Press, the Hub and the associated printing resources that they use in order to demonstrate an integrated customer focused decision-tool with a limited set of sustainability & performance metrics for a given print system. This test bed will highlight for print users the tradeoffs among performance metrics in content creation, production, and delivery. However, it is in the development of this test bed that many research questions will be asked and answered. The answers to these questions will lead to insights for tradeoffs in system, service and value chain development. Currently, as part of a MS capstone project in GCCIS, we are developing a software tool in order to demonstrate concept feasibility. Additionally, many of the projects listed below will feed into the test bed development.


LCA Benchmarking in the Printing Industry

The Laboratory is working on a survey to benchmark what is already being done to measure sustainability in print service systems. An industry survey is currently being written, and is expected to be implemented this spring.  Meanwhile, if you know of existing efforts to measure the sustainability of print systems or more information, please contact Marcos Esterman at mxeeie@rit.edu. Alternatively, comment on our Print Research Blog.


Explaining Paper Consumption Patterns in the Print Industry

Using a systems approach is central to the Lab’s mission. This project focuses on the development of a system dynamics model to explain the role of IT and other factors over the past 20 years that have led to drastically increased paper consumption. This model can yield insights into what might lead to decreases in consumption as well as into the required technical innovation required to enable that change. For more information, please contact Marcos Esterman at mxeeie@rit.edu


Understanding Servicizing

Contemporary management scholars suggest that sustainability can be addressed by focusing on increased operational efficiency or more environmentally benign products and processes. These changes may not be sufficient for sustainability because they do not address consumption levels. Gains in operational efficiency and environment- friendlier technology may even eventually be counteracted by increases in consumption. By “servicizing,” (otherwise known as product service systems) companies can change the focus of their business models from selling products to providing services, thereby turning demand for reduced material use into a strategic opportunity.

This research program looks at the use of servicing strategies in the printing industry. The first research study looked at the organizational challenges in moving from a product focused company to one that delivers fully integrated product service systems.  (see publication page).  Future research will focus on three critical areas in the development of product service systems in the print industry: Life-cycle analysis metrics and tools (see LCA Benchmarking project listed above), IT tools to enable more sustainable print processes, and strategic and organizational enablers for sustainable product service systems.

If your company is shifting to product service systems or would like more information, please contact Sandra Rothenberg at srothenberg@cob.rit.edu.


Case Studies

Case studies are a critical way to capture detailed information on the management practices and technologies needed for the move to sustainable print systems. They are also perfect opportunities for students to interact with practitioners in the field and apply their education to real life situations. Past research has involved several case studies (see Sustainability Through Servicizing,Formulation and Implementation of Environmental Strategies, and Pictorial Offset Corporation on publications page). Most recently, two MBA students from the Saunders College of Business are analyzing the impact on sustainability of a company’s move to a new World Headquarters office setting.  The move involved a new print center strategy and document management techniques. If your organization is engaged in sustainable print practices and are interested in having a case study conducted or if would like more information, please contact Sandra Rothenberg at srothenberg@cob.rit.edu.


Fusing Process of Electrophotographic Printers

Two fuser test beds have been developed and currently being refined and validated. These devices will allow the independent control and monitoring of temperature, pressure and dwell time. One of these devices is a roller-based system, mimicking current fuser architectures. The second is a stamp-based system that allows truly independent control of the fusing parameters. The eventual goal of these devices is the following:

  • Generate insights that will allow a fundamental understanding of the fusing requirements needed to generate high-levels of image quality.
  • Generate an understanding of the energy requirements associated with different levels of print quality.
  • Generate insights that can be used by R&D decision-makers to improve current system performance, generate innovative concepts to eliminate current tradeoffs, and improve system robustness and reliability.
  • Develop robust control strategies and algorithms based on the insights generated.

Sustainable Freight Transportation Research Initiative (SFTRI)

The Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making (LECDM) at Rochester Institute of Technology has announced a new program aimed at exploring the environmental, economic and energy impacts of global and domestic freight transportation. The Sustainable Freight Transportation Research Initiative (SFTRI) will help build tools and conduct research necessary for improving the environmental footprint from moving goods around the globe.

LECDM is currently working on several projects that fall under the freight
initiative. One is developing a Geospatial Intermodal Freight Transportation (GIFT) tool that allows shippers and policymakers to identify the easiest ways to move freight throughout the country. The mapping tool allows for the analysis of moving goods from origin to destination and can identify the “greenest” routes, as well as the fastest and least expensive routes. This tool has received development funding from federal and state government and has drawn the attention of a variety of industries looking to improve the environmental performance of their supply chains.

If you are interested in having your company be a part of this project or would like more information, contact Jamie Winebrake at jwinebrake@mail.rit.edu or J. Scott Hawker at hawker@mail.rit.edu.


Integrating Sustainability into R&D Decision-Making

The College of Engineering, the College of Business, and an MS research team from the Masters in Product Development program is conducting a study to characterize current efforts to integrate sustainability into R&D decision-making.



Lab Directors

  • Dr. Marcos Esterman, Assistant Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, Director of the Print Research and Image Systems Modeling Laboratory· Email: mxeeie@rit.edu
  • Dr. Sandra Rothenberg, Associate Professor, Saunders College of Business, Rochester Institute of Technology Email: srothenberg@cob.rit.edu

Lab Research Affiliates

  • Dr. Jonathan Arney, Professor, Imaging Science
  • Andres Carrano, Associate Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • Dr. Juan Cockburn, Associate Professor, Computer Engineering
  • Frank Cost, Professor, Associate Dean, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, Co-director, RIT Printing Industry Center
  • William Garno, Director of the Print Applications Laboratory
  • Ms. Susan Farnand, Assistant Scientist, Center for Imaging Science
  • Scott Hawker, Assistant Professor of Software Engineering, Co-Director, Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making
  • Karl Korfmacher, Associate Professor, Environmental Science Program
  • Pam Neely, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems
  • Brian Thorn, Associate Professor, Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering
  • John Waud, Professor of Environmental Science
  • Scott Williams, Professor, School of Print Media
  • James Winebrake, Professor and Chair, Department of STS/Public Policy, Co-Director, Laboratory for Environmental Computing and Decision Making



Sustainable Print

Sustainable Product Design

  • Carrano, A.L. and Thorn, B.K. (2005). A multidisciplinary approach to sustainable product and process design. Journal of Manufacturing Systems. SME. Vol 24. No 3. pp: 209-214
  • Thorn, B.K. and Carrano, A.L. “Integrating sustainable product development into the engineering curriculum”. American Society of Engineering Education. ASEE St. Lawrence Section Annual Conference. November 17-18, 2006. Cornell University. Ithaca, New York
  • Carrano, A.L. and Thorn, B.K. ”A multidisciplinary approach to sustainable product and process design ”.CIRP International Conference in Manufacturing Engineering Education. pp 43-49. June 22-25, 2005. San Luis Obispo, California.
  • Thorn, B. K.; A Design Tool to Assist with Selection of Product Retirement Strategy; Proceedings of 12th Industrial Engineering Research Conference; May 2003.
  • Thorn, B. K., and Rogerson, P.; Take It Back; IIE Solutions; April 2002.
  • Rothenberg, Sandra, Mike Lenox, Frank Field and Ben Jordan. Alpha Motors: Integrating Life Cycle Analysis into Product Design. Teaching Case for Management Institute for Environment and Business (MEB). 1998.

Product Design and Development

  • M. Esterman, Spano, J., Pereda, D., Zimmerman, R., An Exploratory Study Into Process Failures During The Voice of Customer Process In Product Development, to appear Proceedings of IDETC ‘08: ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conferences, August 3-6, 2008, New York, New York, USA.
  • M. Esterman and K. Ishii, The Development of Project Risk Metrics for Robust Concurrent Product Development across the Supply Chain, Concurrent Engineering: Research & Applications, Volume 13, No.2, pp. 85-94, June 2005..
  • S. Kakouros, B. Cargille, Brian , M. Esterman, Reinventing Warranty at HP: An Engineering Approach to Warranty, Quality and Reliability Engineering International Journal, February, 2003, Volume 19, Issue 1, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., Hoboken, NJ.
  • M. Esterman, P. Gerst, P. Stiebitz, K. Ishii, A Framework For Warranty Prediction During Product Development, Proceedings of IMECE2005, 2005 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition, November 5-11, 2005, Orlando, Florida USA.
  • M. Esterman and K. Ishii, Concurrent Product Development across the Supply Chain: Development of Integrator/Supplier Risk and Coupling Indices, Proceedings of DETC ‘01: 2001 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences, September 9 - 12, 2001, Pittsburgh, PA.
  • M. Esterman and K. Ishii, Challenges in robust concurrent product development across the supply chain, Proceedings of DETC ‘99: 1999 ASME Design Engineering Technical Conferences, September 12 - 15, 1999, Las Vegas, NV.
  • A. Rojas, M. Esterman, A Measure of Impact for Platform Changes, to appear Proceedings of IDETC ‘08: ASME International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conferences, August 3-6, 2008, New York, New York
  • Foos, Ted, Gary Schum, and Sandra Rothenberg. Tacit Knowledge Transfer - The Integrators Dilemma. Journal of Knowledge Management, 10(1), 2006.
  • Barragan, Salvador, Charles Cappellino, and Neil Dempsey, and Sandra Rothenberg. A Framework for Sourcing Product Development Services. Supply Chain Management, 8 (3),2003


  • Frank Cost and Sandra Rothenberg, Lean Manufacturing in Small and Medium Sized Printers, Georgia Printer, 38-41, July, 2008
  • Cost, Frank, Pocket Guide to Digital Printing (Delmar 1997). English and Chinese language editions. The English language edition has been through seven printings.
  • Sandra Rothenberg, Ron Hira and Zhi Tang. 2008. Printing Industry Offshoring: Perspectives from U.S. Based Printers, , Outsourcing: An International Journal, Vol 1, No 1: 50-63
  • Freeman, Steven and Sandra Rothenberg, Success Under Adversity: Differentiating Leaders from Laggards During Hard Times in the Printing Industry, A Research Monograph of the Printing Industry Center at RIT No. PICRM-2004-10
  • Cost, Frank, The New Medium of Print: Material Communication in the Internet Age (RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press, 2005).
  • Cost, Frank, Facing Myself (Fossil Press, 2006).
  • Cost, Frank, The Book as Child of the Internet (Fossil Press, 2007).


  • Meyer, Patrick and James J. Winebrake, “Modeling Technology Diffusion of Complementary Goods: The Case of Hydrogen Vehicles and Refueling Infrastructure,” Technovation: The International Journal of Technological Innovation, 2008
  • Winebrake, James J., James J. Corbett, Aaron Falzarano, J. Scott Hawker, Karl Korfmacher, SaiKetha, and Steve Zilora, “Energy, Environmental, and Economic Tradeoffs in Freight Transportation Decision-Making,” Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association, 58, August, 2008.
  • Corbett, James J. and James J. Winebrake, “Emissions Tradeoffs Among Alternate Marine Fuels: Total Fuel Cycle Analysis of Residual Oil, Marine Gas Oil, and Marine Diesel Oil,” Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 58, April 2008, pp.1-5.
  • Wang, Chengfeng, James J. Corbett, and James J. Winebrake, “Cost
    Effectiveness of Reducing Ship Sulfur Emissions,” Environmental Science & Technology, 41(24), December 15, 2007, pp. 8233-8239.
  • Corbett, James J., James J. Winebrake, Erin H. Green, Prasad Kasibhatla, VeronikaEyring, Axel Lauer, “Mortality from Ship Emissions: A Global Assessment,” Environmental Science & Technology, 41(24), December 15, 2007, pp. 8512-8518.
  • Winebrake, James J., Sandra Rothenberg, JianxiLuo, and Erin Green, “Automotive Transportation in China: Technology, Policy, Market Dynamics, and Sustainability,” International Journal of Sustainable Transportation, 2008 (accepted for publication).
  • Corbett, James J., James J. Winebrake, “Sustainable Movement of Goods: Energy and Environmental Implications of Trucks, Trains, Ships, and Planes,” Environmental Management, November, 2007, pp. 8-12.
  • Winebrake, James J., James J. Corbett, and Patrick E. Meyer, “Energy
    Use and Emissions from Marine Vessels: A Total Fuel Cycle Approach,” Journal of the Air and Waste Management Association, 57(1), January, 2007, pp. 102-110.
  • Corbett, James J, James J. Winebrake, Jill Hatcher, Alex E. Farrell, “Emissions Analysis of Freight Transport Comparing Land-Side and Water-Side Short-Sea Routes: Development and Demonstration of a Freight Routing and Emissions Analysis Tool (FREAT),” U.S. Department of Transportation, Research and Special Programs Administration, DTRS56-05-BAA-0001, June, 2007.
  • Winebrake, James J., J. Scott Hawker, James J. Corbett, Aaron Falzarano, SaiKetha, Karl Korfmacher, Steven Zilora, “Application of an Environmental Intermodal Optimization Model for Freight Transportation,” Transportation Research Board, Transportation Land Use, Planning, Air Quality Conference, Orlando, FL, July 2007.
  • Falzarano, Aaron, Sai Sanjay Ketha, James J. Winebrake, J. Scott Hawker, James Corbett, Karl Korfmacher, Stephen Zilora, “An Evaluation of Energy and Emissions from Intermodal Freight Operations on the Eastern Seaboard: A GIS Network Analysis Approach”, Proceedings of the ESRI ArcGIS User
    Conference, San Diego, CA, June, 2007.
  • Hawker, J. Scott, Aaron Falzarano, SaiKetha, Karl Korfmacher, James J. Winebrake, Steve Zilora, James Corbett, “Intermodal Transportation Network Custom Evaluators for Environmental Policy Analysis,” Proceedings of the ESRI ArcGIS User Conference, San Diego, CA, June, 2007.
  • Thorn, B.K., Carrano, A.L., Plaz C.R., Wood, C.R, and Guedez, E. (2006). User-driven design of low-cost, low environmental impact solar ovens for rural populations in developing countries. Journal of Engineering for Sustainable Development: energy, environment and health. 1(1):1-12
  • Thorn, B.K., Carrano, A.L., Wood, C.R., Plaz. “Design, development
    and deployment of low impact solar ovens for impoverished populations”. Industrial Engineering Research Conference, IERC 2006. May 20-24, 2006. Orlando,Florida
  • Clyde Hull and Sandra Rothenberg, 2008 Firm Performance: Firm Performance: The interactions of corporate social performance with innovation and industry differentiation, Strategic Management Journal, 29: 781–789.
  • Rothenberg, Sandra. Environmental Managers as Institutional Entrepreneurs: The Influence of Institutional and Technical Pressures on Waste Management, Journal of Business Research, 60: 749–757.
  • Rothenberg, Sandra, Brian Schenck and James Maxwell. Lessons from Benchmarking Environmental Performance at Automobile Assembly Plants. Benchmarking: An International Journal,12(1), 2005.
  • Pil, Frits and Sandra Rothenberg. Environmental Performance as a Driver of Superior Organizational Performance. Journal of Production and Operations Management,12 (3), 2003
  • Rothenberg, Sandra. Knowledge Content and Worker Participation in Environmental Management at NUMMI. Journal of Management Studies, 40 (7), 2003.
  • Rothenberg, Sandra, with Fritz Pil and James Maxwell. Lean, Green and the Quest for Superior Performance, Journal of Production and Operations Management, 10(3), 2001.
  • Geffen, Charlette and Sandra Rothenberg. Sustainable Development Across Firm Boundaries: The Critical Role of Suppliers in Environmental Innovations.International Journal of Operations and Production Management. February, 2000.
  • Maxwell, James, Sandra Rothenberg, Forrest Briscoe, and Alfred Marcus. Green Schemes: Comparing environmental strategies and their implementation. California Management Review, Spring 1997.
  • Rothenberg, Sandra and James Maxwell. Industry Response to the Banning of CFCs: Mapping the Paths of Technological Change. Technology Studies 4(2), 1997.


In the News

Lab Researchers In the News

Press Coverage

  • Young business leaders find cause for optimism
    Sandra Rothenberg, associate professor of management and international business, quoted,Democrat and Chronicle, October 5
  • Dr. Richard DeMartino and Dr. Sandra Rothenberg appeared on “Need to Know” on Rochester’s WXXI TV to discuss social entrepreneurship. November 21, 2008
  • D&C joins RIT in printing industry research
    Frank Cost, associate dean and professor, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, quoted,Democrat and Chronicle, December 31 (Web Link(PDF)
  • Dr. Clyde Hull and Dr. Sandra Rothenberg appeared on “1370 Connection” with Bob Smith on Rochester’s WXXI Radio to discuss corporate social responsibility.
  • Families’ life stories go digital
    Frank Cost, associate dean and professor, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, quoted,Chicago Sun-Times, September 27
    (Web Link(PDF)
  • RIT to collaborate on Web-based publishing system
    Frank Cost, professor and associate dean, College of Imaging Arts and Sciences, cited,Democrat and Chronicle, August 25 (Web Link(PDF)
  • Two RIT profs to speak on autos, climate change
    Sandra Rothenberg, associate professor of business, and James Winebrake, professor of public policy, cited, Democrat and Chronicle, March 12 (Web Link(PDF)
  • The viability of hydrogen transportation markets: Chicken or egg
    James Winebrake, professor of science, technology and society/public policy, quoted, Energy Daily, September 17 (Web Link(PDF)
  • The green bounce: New interest in renewable energy firms
    James Winebrake, professor of science, technology and society/public policy, cited, The Daily Record, July 18 (Web Link(PDF)
  • A report authored by Dr. Sandra Rothenberg and RIT graduate student Diana Mross of the School of Print Media was cited in “Global Report: Germany’s Print Industry” in Printing News. July 12, 2007
  • Dr. Sandra Rothenberg was quoted in “Servicize me” in Sustainable Industries. June 1, 2007
  • Fuel emissions from marine vessels remain a global concern
    James Winebrake, professor of science, technology and society/public policy, quoted, Science Daily, September 9 (Web Link(PDF)
  • RIT prof to study greenhouse gas
    James Winebrake, professor of science, technology and society/public policy, quoted , Rochester Business Journal, July 2 (Web Link(PDF)
  • RIT professor to aid research
    James Winebrake, professor of public policy, cited, Democrat and Chronicle, April 1 (Web Link)(PDF)

Press Releases