by: Jeff Peterson
The recent surge in the growth of digital printing in the graphic arts marketplace was evident at the PRINT 05 & CONVERTING 05 trade show in Chicago. The increased booth size for companies like Xerox, Kodak, Oce North America, and others demonstrates how digital printing is continuing to make inroads into the commercial printing market.
A recent study conducted by TrendWatch Graphic Arts, entitled “Digital Printing 2005: It’s Mainstream, Baby!”, looks at the growth and adoption of digital color printing. The study indicates that 15 percent of graphic arts firms plan to purchase a digital press in the next 12 months, 39 percent of digital printers say their volumes are increasing, 42 percent of creatives say their use of digital color printing is increasing, and 22 percent of catalog publishers say that “variable data printing projects” are a top sales opportunity for their business.
With this type of current and projected growth in digital printing, companies offering bindery and finishing equipment are beginning to integrate their equipment to work in-line or near-line with digital printing technology. Muller Martini’s GATF Intertech award-winning SigmaLine technology is a demonstration of this type of combined effort. The SigmaLine system of modular and scaleable digital OnDemand components enables printers, binderies, in-house operations, and others to implement either an in-line or a near-line workflow. SigmaLine consists of eight state-of-the-art modular components that incorporate everything from digital printing, folding, and collating to perfect binding, trimming, and stitching. Utilizing the scaleable and highly flexible SigmaLine, printers and binders can complement their existing capabilities by mixing and matching one or more SigmaLine components as needs grow, or an entire end-to-end OnDemand platform can be installed, where digital files and paper go in one end and the printed, bound product comes out of the other. Several components of Muller Martinis SigmaLine were on display in both the Xerox and Nipson booths at the PRINT 05 show.
Standard Finishing Systems showcased a multitude of finishing technologies at PRINT 05 that work in partnership with leading digital print suppliers. This included the Hunkeler Gen6 UW6 unwinder and RW6 rewinder, connected to a Oce 9000 digital printing system, providing tight and uniformly wound rolls on press. A Standard Hunkeler roll-to-stack slit-merge solution ran in-line with the IBM InfoPrint 4100, producing straight and accurate stacks that could then be easily fed into a Pitney Bowes PAS inserter. In addition, a Standard Hunkeler light-weight roll-to-stack solution ran in-line with a Xerox DocuPrint 1050CF Mulitplex printing system at speeds up to 244 fpm. The Hunkeler bypass conveyor allows straight and fully separated stacks to be easily transferred to a near-line perfect binder, or alternatively delivered in-line to an IBIS Smartbinder.
Bielomatik’s BookMaster B360 and CutMaster B360 are state-of-the-art solutions for efficient and authentic hard cover book production, which are compatible with most current digital printing systems. BookMaster’s computer-based process control enables the operator to produce medium and small runs without constantly recalibrating set-up. The flexible technology is equipped to bind a high quality hard cover book every ten seconds in various spine sizes and cover sizes. The entire process, from incoming order to finished book, provides a system that makes true Book-on-Demand manufacturing a reality and unsold press runs a thing of the past.
GBC has introduced its GBC FusionPunch II In-line Punch for Xeroxs Nuvera 100 and 120 Digital Production Systems and the DocuColor® 7000 and 8000 Digital Presses. These integrated solutions connect directly in-line with the digital press, combining printing and punching into one easy step. There are die sets for CombBind™, WireBind, VeloBind®, 3-hole, and ColorCoil®. In addition, GBCs integrated offset stacker prepares each document for downstream finishing. There is no need for system-generated document separators or for separation of documents by hand.
Lasermark Roll Systems demonstrated a variety of in-line and near-line finishing systems for high-speed digital printers during PRINT 05. The LX Stack solution and an IBM Infoprint 4100 produced 3-up book blocks that were finished near-line using a CP Bourg BB3002 for perfect binding and a Prism P78 cutter provided by Colter & Peterson. Also on display was the RS MultiUp, capable of handling sheets up to 21″ x 36″ in size, outputting 30″ high stacks for easy bulk movement to near-line signature folders or other finishing devices. Lasermark Roll System finishing systems were prevalent in several digital printing booths during the show.
Rollem recently introduced the Rollem Advantage perforating, scoring, and slitting machine that has the ability to perform the highest die-score quality on many types of paper and board materials. It is especially effective for the digital printing market where many of the new printing technologies rely on heat-based fusing processes that reduce and eliminate moisture in the printed paper. This reduction of moisture renders the paper brittle and more difficult to fold without significant cracking. The Rollem Advantage uses its unique 2-stage scoring process that graduates the score depth in 2 procedures to enable a deeper, yet less damaging score to the material. This deeper depth of score enables even the driest and most troublesome materials to be folded without folding damage. Further, the Rollem Advantage has a guillotine-quality cutting capability and any right angle folding machine can be run in-line, creating a one-step in-line process that does the work of three separate machines.
As indicated by the activity at the recent PRINT 05 show and the changes predicted by the recent TrendWatch report, digital printing is making a major impact on the entire graphic arts marketplace. Many manufacturers of bindery and finishing equipment have been swift in stepping up and creating equipment and systems to work in-line or near-line with a variety of digital printing technology. Finishing and bindery must continue to innovate to keep up with the digital future.
The TrendWatch Graphic Arts “Digital Printing 2005: It’s Mainstream, Baby!” report is available for purchase by visiting the secure TrendWatch Graphic Arts eStore online at www.trendwatchgraphicarts.com/special.html or by phone at (866) 873-6310.