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US Post Office "Print on Demand" Kiosk

New IBM Postal Kiosk

Dave Crotty

Note: The IBM kiosk was removed from the Schaumburg location on July 31, 2009. A new stamp showing the Statue of Liberty was issued sometime in early 2009 as shown in Figure 4.  October 2009

 The Story as of September 2008:

    Jay Bigalke of Linn’s Stamp news scooped us on the story of a new IBM “Print on Demand” Kiosk being tested at the Innovation Center post office in Schaumburg, Illinois. The article in the August 25, 2008 issue describes a new type of post office that also is testing this Automatic Postal Center (APC) kiosk that prints postage that is significantly different from examples previously reported.

     At the August APS Stampshow this writer saw Jay Bigalke receive an award recognizing his philatelic work. After the meeting I congratulated Mr. Bigalke on his award as well as the excellent article. He tells the story that he had been travelling through Chicago to visit family in Wisconsin when he visited this new post office as part of his work with Linn’s.  As the postal workers gave him a tour of the facility they asked if he would also like to see their new kiosk. Of course he would. That is how he happened to be the first to report this.

    Member Yong Liu who lives in the Chicago area visited the Schaumburg post office to provide us with some examples of the stamps. The kiosk prints any denomination between 1c and $25.00 on precut papers and prints either a single stamp, as shown in Figure 1, or a sheet of ten stamps, Figure 2. The single stamp is printed on a 90x50mm peelable label that has a 47x27mm cut where the stamp is printed. The ten stamp sheet is printed on a 110x140mm precut sheet peelable sheet with ten 47x27mm cuts for the stamps. There is a peelable strip between the two rows of five stamps.

    The phosphorescent stripe is pre-printed on the two sizes of papers. The location of the stripe appears to depend on how the papers are loaded in the kiosk. The sheet of 10 provided to us by Yong has the stripe to the left of the stamp. The sheet shown in the Linn’s article shows the stripe to the right. We can only assume that the intended position should be to the right of the stamp as shown for our singles in Figure 1.The new stamp is inscribed with “IBM” to distinguish it from the “APC” machines that are made by Wincor-Nixdorf and vended by IBM.

    It should be noted that the stamps that we have seen from this kiosk do not print the rate directives, First Class, Postcard, Priority etc, that we have seen from the APC. We wonder if different modes of operation might produce stamps with the rate directives. 

    As a follow-up, this writer contacted USPS and spoke with Michael Adams, manager of Retail Service Equipment & Access Innovations. Mr. Adams tells us that the Innovation Center, Figure 3, where the kiosk is being tested is part of a study to revise the USPS retail environment. The center has a variety of equipment to attract customers, including a Redbox DVD vending machine, a financial ATM, a small Office Max store, wifi internet access, business machines and business meeting rooms. The IBM kiosk itself is a revision of the IBM/Wincor-Nixdorf APC that amongst other features does not have a postal scale. Mr. Adams points out that the “Print on Demand” kiosk is designed to replace the current stamp vending machines that have not produced enough sales to date and will not replace the APC system. The USPS has invited IBM, NCR/PB, and Wincor/Nixdorf to continue working on the design and to include more attractive stamps. Future tests are planned and they may produce stamps with patriotic, wedding and holiday themes.

Meter Stamp Society Quarterly Bulletin, Autumn 2008



Figure 1. Three examples of the IBM Kiosk Stamps printed for the $.27 postcard rate, $.42 letter rate and $4.80 priority rate. These stamps were printed individually and have rounded corners. 


Figure 2. A sheet of ten stamps from the IBM kiosk printed for the $.42 letter rate. Phosphor bar is reversed from normal. These stamps have square corners.


Figure 3. IBM Print on Demand Kiosk in the Schaumburg Innovation Center. APC in background

Figure 4. This stamp was printed at the IBM kiosk from some time in early 2009. The stamp was printed is books of 10 or as a single stamp. The kiosk was removed from the location on 31 July 2009.



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